Category Archives: Personal

Dealing with writer’s block if it weren’t obvious

I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the past few months, and I’m not trying to disguise this as anything other than an obligatory post this time. I feel compelled to still write something by the last hour on the last day of the month, because I’ve made at least one post every month since this blog started. It’d look weird in the archives to show at least one missing now. I missed when I was able to get a post up per week on average.

I ended up busier than I expected to be, so I wasn’t able to get my entry for this month’s Carnival of Aces finished in time. Because of the theme, I thought it’d be an ideal prompt to write a detailed post about ace-ace relationships and mixed-orientation relationships, and I was especially wanting to address the challenges associated with each type.

How does writer’s block feel to you? Is it a lack of ideas of what to write about, or having too many ideas at once? I usually feel like it’s too many ideas at once, trying to juggle several different ideas for posts, starting the drafts for them, but unable to finish any of them on time. That happens because when I get an idea, I want to write it down before I forget, but it can lead to this. There’ve been some other ambitious ideas for posts I’ve been working on this month but haven’t yet published.

EDIT: Oops. I didn’t correctly remember what the theme was for last month’s Carnival of Aces.

Identifying asexuality in hindsight

This entry is for the November 2015 Carnival of Aces: “Reasons I should’ve known I was asexual”

(I was in a rush to get this published, so there may be proofreading errors)

Looking back, there can be many ways for an individual could’ve realized their asexuality, but didn’t. It may not have been obvious at the time, and only becomes obvious in hindsight. I’ve had my share of those experiences.

In middle school and my earlier years of high school, I was largely oblivious towards sexuality and romance, and was lucky that I didn’t have either pushed on me seriously during that time (though I did deal with teasing from immediate family who kept insisting I must be “in love” with one of my male friends). It was in the later years of high school that I started to feel negatively towards sex and romance as I became more aware of the suffering caused by both, which for me coincided with me becoming aware of my asexuality and that it likely wasn’t going to change. In my earlier years, I thought I’d grow out of it, but by my junior year of high school, I didn’t, and I didn’t want to.

It’s weird; in my earlier years I thought asexuality was the norm in a sense, but also thought I’d probably outgrow it to accept my future roles in life. I understood that many others wanted sex, but not that they had an intrinsic desire for it, so when I did overhear sex-obsessed peers or see them on TV, I thought they were exaggerating at first!

Maybe it was the aversion to sex and romance that I thought I’d outgrow specifically. With my awareness of asexuality, I became aware that the suffering related to sex and dating is much more common than I thought, if nearly everyone desires them.

Probably the biggest thing that should’ve made me realize I was asexual was my attitude towards sex and relationships, specifically that I couldn’t understand why others hyped up sex so much, and claimed to desire it so much that a relationship without it wasn’t seen as real. I also couldn’t understand why others were frustrated over not having sex, or not having it for weeks or months.

Those things on their own don’t instantly point to being asexual, but it is a common experience among other asexuals that could’ve warranted me looking into the community to see if the label fit, but I didn’t originally think to seek out the asexual community, or why I felt the way I did about sex. To me, it felt like commonsense. Isn’t it commonsense to outgrow an obsession with sex after realizing it’s not the life-changing magical experience that it’s hyped up to be, or hear from others that it’s not? At other times, I dismissed my feelings as me being cynical and overly analytical, and just didn’t think about it further until I was out of high school.

I thought logically, how is sex love when people have it all the time without meaning? No one says that one-night stands are an act of love, after all. I also didn’t understand how sex, or the lack of, can get in the way of, or ruin relationships that are otherwise perfect.

Being averse to sex doesn’t always mean being asexual either, but can be linked, and someone can become aware of their asexuality because of it. That I found the idea of sex to be repulsive, and the way that affected me, could’ve clued me in to the possibility of being asexual. Because I don’t have any desire for sex, I can’t imagine it ever having any appeal; it just seems like something that would take a lot of effort on my part for little or no gain for me, with all of the risks to sex. What some people say feels like the greatest form of closeness just feels invasive. All the risks and none of the benefits. The only way to go through with it would be to repress those feelings, but I’d have to force myself to do it, to override those feelings of repulsion, but with no guarantee it’d actually work.

One of the earliest things that could’ve clued me in was that in middle school, and my earlier years of high school, I frequently read teen magazines, and the sections that interested me the most were the fashion tips, and the articles about unusual life experiences, though I still did read the sections about relationships. There were often articles about guys, and written by them, often with pictures prominently on the pages, I thought they looked good, but didn’t think that I was supposed to swoon over them, and didn’t realize some readers would be more interested in the pictures than the text!

Another thing that should’ve clued me is that while there wasn’t much of an emphasis on abstinence until marriage where I grew up, I was aware that many others were told that they needed to abstain until marriage. I thought “Ha! I could abstain for life, because I want to!”, and couldn’t comprehend that sexual abstinence can be a struggle for others. That is a way some asexuals realized their asexuality.

I don’t know if this counts, but when I read Nineteen Eighty-Four in my sophomore year of high school, I didn’t understand at first why the Junior Anti-Sex League was seen as a problem, since I couldn’t relate to the concept of sexual desire, nor what it’s like to have nearly all outlets for that desire denied. I understood the part about only procreation being permissible as a duty to The Party, because sex didn’t appeal to me, that it being work, a sacrifice or duty to another person made sense to me. I didn’t agree with it, but it made sense.

Perhaps one of the most clear giveaways to me being asexual is implicitly being told that everyone is either straight or gay (or maybe straight, gay or bi), and I felt like none of those applied to me. In this situation, some asexuals thought they were straight just because they knew they weren’t sexually attracted to the same gender, others thought they were gay or bi for not conforming to heteronormative expectations. Some thought they were gay because they knew they weren’t attracted to the other binary gender. I didn’t really think about it much, and for some time, I didn’t use a label for my orientation. I didn’t think there was one until later in high school when I thought if there are people attracted to the “opposite gender” (I didn’t know of non-binary genders until years later), the same gender or both, that there should also be people who aren’t attracted to anyone.

How can signs like these be missed? The topic of sex and sexuality didn’t come up much in middle school or high school, aside from sex ed. I didn’t think about it that much in middle school nor my earlier years of high school, but I sort of thought I would outgrow my aversion and lack of interest for sex or romance. I thought I’d go through the dating-obsessed phase that was expected, which would also make me open to sex and tolerate it (for the other person and their pleasure at least, if not for my own), if not actively want and enjoy it, but I didn’t, and I didn’t notice since most of the friends I had didn’t talk about sex nor romance that much. They didn’t seem to care, and I didn’t either, so my lack of interest didn’t stand out to them, so I didn’t think I was the odd one out, and I even thought those who were wanting sex were the odd ones out for a while! Years later, I found out one of those friends was asexual and aromantic!

I didn’t like the idea of having sex just to please another person, but that being the only way I could envision sex also could’ve been a clear sign of asexuality, but one I still overlooked, perhaps because the idea of sex as a duty they have to endure if they can’t enjoy it, is so normalized! Of course, I found that idea repulsive, which contributed to my later ideological reasons for rejecting sex, because I believed no one should have to suffer through that.

If my lack of interest did stand out among my friends, I likely would’ve it noticed sooner because it would’ve had a more significant impact on my life back then, but I also likely would’ve gone through a phase of feeling broken too, a phase I’ve been lucky I didn’t go through.

Belated 1 year anniversary!

(warning: brief talk of sexual coercion)

This was intended to be the 1-year anniversary post for this blog, which was back on the 5th, but I had been busy keeping track of, and writing about the archiving controversy between AVEN and the bloggers, and have also been busy with some other projects, but better late than never!

It was in late July last year that I got encouraged to write my own blog, and contribute to the ace blogosphere, which I started with some comments on The Asexual Agenda, though it was on August 5th that I created this blog and made my first post.

I had so much to say, but there was a lot I was holding back on due to my fears of not being understood. That still held me back despite the encouraging comments I had gotten on my blog, and some posts on The Asexual Agenda. It’s self-defeating considering why I started to blog. When asked why do we in the asexual blogging communities, write our blogs, I would’ve answered that I blog to: contribute to asexual discourse, contribute to the discourse surrounding the rejection of sex, to share my experiences, and to find others who can relate, because they also need to be reached out to.

Sharing my experiences is the most difficult part, and it still is because I know I’m an outlier in the asexual community. I’m thankful that I’ve had commenters say that it does matter that I speak up about my experiences, as isolating as it may be.

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Felt broken over how I feel about romance

I’ve found a lot of affirmation in knowing that there are others who also feel uncertain over whether they experience romantic feelings or not. I’ve found many posts published last year that helped me be sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. In particular, it’s difficult for me to discern what is romantic vs. platonic, and what constitutes a (non-codependent) romantic relationship exactly. I was also happy to see that there were specific terms for it: Wtfromantic or quoiromantic. I was also happy to find out that romance-repulsion exists as a concept.

However, during that time, I still felt broken for both my romantic orientation and repulsion towards romance, because I was in a relationship with someone who wanted a conventional monogamous romantic-sexual relationship, while I was repulsed by the idea. I also didn’t freely agree to it, but that’s a different issue. He had romantic feelings for me, but I wasn’t sure if I had romantic feelings for him, or if what I was feeling was just codependency, manifesting as a strong sense of obligation to do what he wanted, to make him happy no matter how much I didn’t want to do what he wanted to.

Admittedly, my understanding of what romance is, may be skewed because of my experiences, though over the past few years, I’ve developed much more nuanced understandings of romance and different relationship models, so I could question what is a romantic relationship like without codependency.

I’ve taken other peoples’ word for it that they can experience healthy, non-codependent romantic relationships, but that is something I’ve never experienced for myself. Is that desire to make someone happy, to the extent of self-sacrifice, a natural part of romantic love, or is it just a symptom of codependency?

I also questioned what sets romance apart from a platonic relationship, if there are no such thing as inherently romantic behaviors that define a romantic relationship, if there’s no inherent difference in level of commitment between the two, or no inherent difference in openness or exclusivity. I don’t know if I’ve asked these questions because of my romantic orientation, or simply because I’ve gained a more nuanced understanding of both romantic and platonic relationships, but was wanting to know what the inherent differences are.

There were several times that my “partner” demanded a yes/no answer to the question of whether I love him, by which he meant do I romantically love him, and want to be in a traditional monogamous relationship with him. I was afraid to answer either yes or no.

My answer was that there are different kinds of love, that I don’t see love as being just the one kind he had in mind. I also told him that I had a strong sense of obligation towards him, and that I care about him, but he said those answers were a cop-out, and they only frustrated him more and more, as he kept pressing the question, which also made me feel guilty and broken. From his perspective, I was completely missing the point, and trying to dodge the question with non-answers. From my perspective, the answer I gave counted as a form of love, though a different kind than what he may have had in mind, and he was disregarding other forms of love.

I knew I was quoiromantic, but began to hate it over this issue. I wished I could’ve given him a definitive answer either way, but also the thought of being sure I didn’t have romantic feelings for him also made me feel broken. Even if I were sure that I didn’t have any romantic feelings, I may have still been afraid to answer no.

I also felt bad about not being honest so much sooner, because not only would that have prevented so much stress for me, he could’ve spent that time finding someone he was much more compatible with instead of putting his hopes into a relationship that wasn’t going to work. It felt like we were holding each other hostage, which ironically is how I used to perceive romantic relationships.

What also made me feel broken is that I didn’t overcome the past. I thought I was past this, but I had this same issue with the same person 4 years earlier! It was after I found the asexual community that I began to develop a nuanced understanding of what romance was, but that still wasn’t enough to save me from falling into this situation again!

I’m free of this situation now, but I regret that it had happened again, and took so long to break free of, but when it ended, it was for the best for both of us.

Asexuality and Codependency: Vicious Cycle

This entry is for the June 2015 Carnival of Aces: Mental Health.

(warning: talk of emotional abuse, sexual coercion)
I’m very lucky that I’ve had positive experiences with therapy. None of my therapists knew of asexuality until I told them about it, but they were willing to understand. I was nervous about mentioning it to each therapist I came out to, and the first one was the most difficult for me, because of why I was there.

3 years ago, I saw a therapist in order to get help for my codependency, so I had to explain the dysfunctional relationship I was in, and the dynamics of it. My therapists didn’t show any sign of being judgmental, but fear did hold me back from coming out for some time, because of my bad experiences with the friends that I first came out to.

These “friends” frequently policed my identity, with my sexual identity being the part that they were the most insistent on policing, because they didn’t think I was capable of knowing what mine was for myself. This issue wasn’t exclusively about asexuality, because they also knew that I’m repulsed by sex, and have an ideological rejection of it.

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About time I tried to introduce myself for the new year?

First post of the new year, and I’ll try to actually introduce myself! I finally got to updating my “About” page, which I’d been putting off since I started this blog in August.

I intended to introduce myself, and the background information that relates to my viewpoints, the scope of this blog, and what it’s supposed to be about. Because of how complicated it is, and that there are a lot of concepts that may be unfamiliar, I intended a multi-part introduction as soon as I started this blog to explain it all. It got put off again and again because of the difficulty, and my own tendencies to procrastinate. There’s also a lot of pressure to get this introduction done just right.

I could say that I got most of it done, but not in the way I expected. Over the months, I wrote pieces about it, but here, I’m going to piece it together.

The first part turned out to be my entry for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces. (warning: talk of sexual coercion, ableism and invalidation) It worked out perfectly that I started this blog in August 2014, and that month’s Carnival of Aces was about the “Unassailable Asexual” concept. The first people I came out to, were some unsupportive friends, who frequently, and thoroughly invalidated my asexuality. I internalized their invalidation, in ways that are directly related to the Unassailable Asexual concept.

I wrote a few follow-ups to that post. The second part of my introduction, was a post that I drafted that was titled “If I can’t be asexual, I’ll be antisexual instead!”, which was about the toll their invalidation took on me, how I nearly did cave into unwanted sex because of them, but how I managed to save myself.

I split that drafted post into two parts because of the length and difficulty. The first part was published, and re-titled as “They nearly pushed me over the edge“. The second part retained the original title, but has yet to be published. It was one of the most difficult posts I’ve attempted, but I did end up explaining the main points in my “About” page, if that counts for anything, so those would be parts 2 and 3 of my introduction then. As I said in part of this draft that did get published:

“To many asexuals, the asexual community is a refuge from the hypersexualized world; it’s the first place they find out that they’re not broken, nor wrong for not wanting sex, and feel affirmed to meet other people who feel the same way!… I had to turn somewhere else to find that assurance that I was needing… I needed to find another site of resistance against compulsory sexuality, and the sexuality that was being pushed on me. I had to take a very different path.”

I was dissuaded from finding the asexual community, but I was able to save myself from caving in. I didn’t say it outright in that part, but was going to in the second part, it was from the Antisexual Stronghold that I realized that I’m not wrong for not wanting sex, and that I don’t need religious reasons to say no to it!

I also intended to write a post showing the difficulties I had when I first found the asexual community, and that some of these difficulties are ones that I still struggle with. I wrote something, but still haven’t finished it. I’ve clashed with people on AVEN before, over differences in terminology of all things, and because there were some things I took the wrong way. Let’s put it this way, AVENites saying that they understand that I’m not an asexual elitist, and that I don’t hate sexually active people, but say that I’m not antisexual, I’m using the wrong label, and that I mean sex-repulsed instead, isn’t helpful to me. I’ve gotten frustrated, because it seemed like no one was listening.

I found the terminology and concepts from the Antisexual Stronghold to be very useful, despite being impractical to translate into English, and I don’t want to give them up and completely assimilate to AVEN’s standards just to be approved by the membership of AVEN at large. Sure, I’d fit in, because this is very isolating, but I’d feel ungrateful, like a backstabber. I’d also feel broken (or more broken). I’m not simply a sex-repulsed asexual, like some people say I am. I consciously rejected sex, and it wasn’t for religious reasons, nor was it a sacrifice of any sort. It is that rejection of sex that I consider the most important part of my sexual identity. I feel broken if I can’t use a term for this, and AVEN doesn’t have one.

I did explain how and why I’m currently part of AVEN’s Project Team, which could be considered the last part of my introduction. Now that I explained all of this, and pieced it together, you can see just how strange of a candidate I am for the role. This is what I mean by my concerns over conflicts of interest, and how much worse those concerns are now that I’m on the PT. Sometimes that still eats away at me, thinking this was a mistake, and that I should’ve never ran for this position. I knew this’d be an issue before I ran for PT, but I wanted to contribute, and further serve the asexual community despite that.

I’ve expressed regret over the path I took, because it’s so hard to explain, and is isolating. Sometimes I wish I had found the asexual community right away. I could’ve had a straightforward introduction, and fit in. I wouldn’t have had the clashes that I did. On the flip side, I know so much about the voluntarily celibate, including the self-identified antisexuals and what they mean, because I didn’t find the asexual community first. It is because of this knowledge that I challenged the monolithic approach towards “celibacy”, and am using this knowledge to create resources.

What is it I’m on the Project Team for?

This is the 1-year anniversary of my election to AVEN’s Project Team. Full terms last for 2 years, and barring something like wanting or needing to step down, or winning a moderator election that was too tempting for me to not run in, I intend to serve a full term.

Specifically, my role that I was elected into is the Resources and Survey Director, a position created for an election in early 2013, as a way to restart the official AVEN census in English. The only official English AVEN census done was in 2008, and while later attempts to restart it had been made, they hadn’t been successful.

My history marks me as a very strange candidate for the Project Team. They’re a group of volunteers elected on AVEN to manage projects on asexual visibility and education, and are considered responsible for the AVEN brand name. Of all the Project Team members that AVEN ever had, I know that I’m one of the least representative, because of my history, and because of it, I feel like I can’t be trusted with handling their brand name. How did this weirdo win an election, and what am I in it for? I really did see myself as a darkhorse candidate.

Like anyone else who has ran in a PT election, I’m enthusiastic about raising asexual visibility and education. I spend much of my time on AVEN greeting newbies in the Welcome Lounge board, and answering questions in Q&A. When the Resources and Survey Director position became available again later in the year, I was eager to run for it, because I have a background in psychology, and from it, a background in statistics and research methods. I could put some of that knowledge to use for the survey. I’m also interested in the history of the asexual community, and how much it’s changed over the years.

So many people I’ve seen on AVEN’s Welcome Lounge board, and tumblr’s #asexuality and #asexual tags, wrote about how they felt “broken” or lost before they found the asexual label. It’s also sad that many have dealt with a lot of sexual peer pressure, and thought they were “broken”, or something was wrong with them that had to be fixed. Some wrote about how they went to far as to try to “cure” themselves. It was all because they didn’t know that asexuality is real, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

However, my focus isn’t just on asexuality, and I’m concerned about possible conflict of interest because of it. It’s been nagging at me ever since I ran in my first election. That’s why I said I feel like I can’t be trusted with the AVEN brand name. As you might know, I identify with the rejection of sex first  (your terminology may vary!) and asexuality second. There are parts of AVEN’s terminology and framework that I disagree with, and there have been times I’ve been discontent with how “celibacy” as a concept gets taken for granted, leading to the assumption it’s simply not having sex, and not something that needs to be elaborated on.

With the survey, I took matters into my own hands. This is not to say that I singlehandedly wrote the survey. Certainly not. Writing the survey was a team effort. Each of us were mainly involved with different sections. The preliminary results supported what I’ve observed in the asexual community about celibacy/sexual inactivity: Most don’t actually identify as celibate as part of their sexual identity despite all the talk about “celibacy”, mainly because of the connotations of that term. Most would just say they’re sexually inactive, or don’t use a label for it, and that many of them don’t have a set length for their sexual inactivity.

It’s important that there are now statistics behind these observations. Talking about “celibacy” is actually pretty confusing in asexual spaces, and the results from the survey may give a better idea of what a lot of people in asexual spaces mean by that term, and show that even for asexuals, it can still be more than just not having sex.

There’s nearly no visibility for celibacy/long-term sexual abstinence that’s voluntary, and for non-religious reasons. I believe that’s detrimental to the voluntarily celibate*, including those within the asexual community.

The stereotypes that asexual and voluntarily celibate people face, are many of the same ones. A lot of great efforts have been made to fight against those misconceptions towards asexuality, and asexual visibility has grown a lot just this year, and great job to everyone who contributed!

However, that understanding of how asexuality doesn’t mean sexual repression, or that it doesn’t mean shaming others just for having sex, may not extend to the voluntarily celibate. Asexuality isn’t any kind of celibacy, and distancing asexuality from it, because they aren’t the same thing, is necessary. However, not acknowledging celibacy, other than “asexuality isn’t it”, may undermine one of the intended ideas the asexual community fights for, and that is to not have sex is a valid option.

People aren’t likely to connect the dots and think “Oh, I get it! Many of the stereotypes surrounding asexuality also apply, and people who don’t want sex, regardless of sexual orientation, are also erased by society, and may feel like something is wrong with them too!” I don’t want them to be left behind, because of the harm of not knowing that not having sex is a valid option. Not everyone who doesn’t want sex is asexual. I’m afraid that there’s this unintended message of “It’s okay to be asexual, but not okay to not want sex”, or “It’s okay to not have sex, but only if you’re asexual”.

I’m advocating for asexual visibility efforts that save people from falling through the cracks. This includes positive acknowledgement of related groups that have a considerable overlap with asexuality, whether individuals in that group are asexual or not. Within the asexual community, there are ways sex-repulsed asexuals fall through the cracks, and ways that aromantic asexuals do too, making it difficult for either group to talk about their experiences. The understanding of alloromantic asexuals and sex-indifferent asexuals, who are considered more “familiar” to mainstream society, won’t extend to aromantic and repulsed asexuals respectively, unless those groups are outright included, in a way that doesn’t try to gloss over them. Right now, I’m trying to do my part with creating 101-level resources.

Sometimes I’m surprised I made it this far on the PT, but I did make it to my goal: To be on the PT for at least 1 year, and finish the 2014 survey.


Footnotes:
*I know I’ve flip-flopped between multiple different terms here, but I often use “voluntary celibacy” as an umbrella term for anyone choosing to not have sex, regardless of what label they actually use for themselves, because this terminology issue is a minefield to navigate. It sounds contradictory, knowing that there are people who’d rather identify as other labels (myself included!), but it’s easier than saying “people who choose to not have sex”.

I fought the monsters, but became one myself: A musing about relationship expectations

Full title: I fought the monsters, but became one myself: A musing about relationship expectations incorporating Nietzsche’s philosophy, with a brief ranting about romance novels
Content warning: Aside from the Carnival of Aces link, all the other links in this post discuss abuse.

This post is intended to be for the November 2014 Carnival of Aces: Expectations in friendships/relationships. (not sure if it counts though, because much of this story took place before I found the asexual community)

One of Nietzsche’s most famous quotes is very fitting for my experiences with the expectations surrounding romantic relationships:

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster… when you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

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How did Asexual Awareness Week 2014 go for you?

So, it’s coming to a close, or already did, depending on your timezone! Did you do anything to celebrate it?

I tried to. I spent some time looking through the #asexual-awareness-week tag on tumblr, and found so much great stuff, but I didn’t have the time to re-blog much. I’m still working on the 101-level material page, though I fell behind on what I intended to do, which was post up a section every day during AAW.

During the week was when my full-time job started, and it was a huge adjustment that I’ve been struggling with.

If you did something, feel free to share it here! I hope I can still write a post rounding up as much AAW 2014 stuff as I can!