I am a hopeless romantic, and I must confess: I hate it! When I was younger, I had these unrealistic visions of what my love life should and would look like. I thought true love was something magical, because that’s what I was sold. Now that I’m older, I think I know what true love is, and it doesn’t look like the perfect picture many people paint. Fairy tales don’t exist! I am not sure I’ve ever truly fallen in love, and the way I know what true love is, is because I’ve experienced what true love IS NOT. Being a quintessential Libran, I haven’t given up on love, and I know I never will. I was taught by somebody who loved me unconditionally, who recently passed away, that the meaning of life is love. No more, no less. Of course, I’ve also learned that life is full of suffering, so perhaps true love is the antidote to that suffering.
I have been in mostly long-term relationships, ranging from one year, to nearly ten years. The one exception is my most recent ex-girlfriend. It was supposed to be a hookup and a friendship. It ended badly, just shy of three months into it. Looking back, I see that I was repeating a pattern I’ve lived out so many times before, and I’m so glad this pattern was broken at the beginning of February. She wasn’t right for me, but I thought to myself, “this is an opportunity to enforce my boundaries. This is a chance to test out whether or not I’m ready for a healthy, adult, long-term relationship.” Did I feel in my gut that it was wrong? Of course! But I went for it anyway. What was I thinking?
About three weeks into our “whirlwind romance”, we started discussing the possibility of changing our relationship status on facebook. I was hesitant to do so, but then I remembered a time in the not so distant past where I was in a relationship with a guy, yet he refused to change his facebook status to reflect the truth. That seemed fishy to me, and I knew right then and there that something was amiss. Finally, he caved in to the pressure I put on him and we were “In a Relationship”. I suspected he was cheating, and I may or may not have used my technical prowess to hack into his accounts where I found evidence of flirtation with other women. That didn’t stop me from continuing to go against my better judgement. My gut told me he wasn’t right for me, but it was convenient at the time. Foolishly, I went through extreme measures to keep him satisfied. We even did what some people would consider, “swinging“, but I considered it something else entirely.
Back up to a few months ago, and I caved in to the pressure to change my relationship status. It was official, I was in a relationship with a woman (well, a girl actually); for the first time in my life, I was out of the closet. It was a liberating feeling to finally be completely out. It isn’t as though I hid it but at the same time, I had been in primarily heterosexual relationships; I felt I was doing so for my own protection but I was really just too afraid to confess to my family that I was “bisexual” (though I prefer the term queer). I was already out to the majority of my family and all of my friends. I sported rainbow and HRC stickers on my truck for years, even when I was with men. If anything good came from this relationship, it is the fact that I finally feel unashamed to say that I am queer.
Some of my family had a chance to meet this new girlfriend; I met some of her family as well. She kept saying how she was “so happy” and “in love”, and I believed her. But I also held her to a higher standard than she is capable of. I told her I wanted 50/50 in the relationship, in spite of the fact that I was dominating the relationship, because I was 7 years her senior, more knowledgeable, and had a whole lot more life experience than she did. I expected her to communicate her feelings. I expected her to allow me to be myself; she did not like many of the things I do or have done in my past, and I wasn’t willing to give those things up just because she didn’t approve. However, the sad truth is I *did* give those things up because I wanted to make her happy. As though I hadn’t made that mistake before and failed miserably! WHAT WAS I THINKING?
“What the fuck am I doing?” I asked myself. I knew in my gut this wouldn’t last, that she and I were too different to make it work. I still did my best to make it work, but in reality, the only reason I stayed was because I needed help making ends meet. The entire time, I felt an emptiness and there was a point where I had to force myself to feel what I told her I was feeling. We were lying to ourselves, and each other. I remember that prior to getting in the relationship, she texted me, “I’m just tired of being lonely, and it’s nice to have somebody around.” Alarms went off in my head. I said, “oh shit, she wants this relationship for all the wrong reasons!”. Every time I fail to listen to my gut, it backfires on me. Not only do I not listen to my gut, but I have a history of not listening to my best friends and closest family members. They are the ones who know whether or not a person is right for me, even when I can’t recognize it. I have to remember going forward that they have my best interests at heart, and would never steer me in the wrong direction. The key is listening to my intuition, and listening to those who know and love me best.
Right before Christmas, this ex-gf and I had an awkward conversation about how she didn’t want me to dabble in adult entertainment anymore. Last year, I needed money, and I found out that there is good money to be made as an adult entertainer. I wasn’t doing porn, but because I was a “phone/webcam actress” it was a huge problem for her. I told her that I felt no shame with regards to my body and that my profiles are caricatures; they represent a version of me that is a fantasy rather than reality. I don’t think she understood this concept; she called it “disgusting” and said, “you’re belong to ME! Your body is MINE!” to which I replied, “no! This is MY BODY and I am not willing to change who I am for anybody! You don’t belong to me either! Your body is YOUR BODY and I am not going to tell you to be somebody different to please me.” I then proceeded to tell her that the issue was about her own feelings, and I asked her to tell me what it was she was feeling, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. In fact, she was hardly able to express her feelings appropriately. Her mood could change like a light switch. She took a swing at me in front of my friend, who said, “that is not acceptable. I know you have a lot of anger, but Celisa has been in abusive relationships before, and that is JUST NOT OKAY.”
Having what I call a “tendency for co-dependency” is not something I want in my relationships anymore. I tried to explain what this meant, but again, she couldn’t grasp the concept. Maybe the problem was that I am too much of an intellectual; maybe I over-analyze situations too much; maybe I’ve spent too much time in therapy/reading self-help books. Whatever the issue is, clearly I held this girl to a higher standard than she was capable of handling. What was I thinking? My good friend told me, “you weren’t fucking thinking“.
I am a radical activist. I am queer, I am fat, I am disabled, and I am proud to be all those things and so much more. When it comes to my love life, I made a decision a while back to accept nothing less than the best for myself, because I know I’m worth it! In January, 2013, the man I had been in a relationship with snapped, and his abuse escalated to an all-out assault. He beat the shit out of my sister instead of me, though I was in the middle of his violence that night and I got hurt in a way that lasted a lot longer than any of the physical pain I felt in the days after. He had only just started to put his hands on me consistently; his verbal abuse took on a new form as he threatened to tie me up, and said he would kill me. I had had enough! I was finally ready to let him go, and he couldn’t accept that fact. After the assault, I was determined to never let this happen again.
At the beginning of 2013, I decided that I would not get into a relationship with anybody for a while. Yet I also created profiles on dating sites. I obviously wasn’t really thinking rationally and I was extremely vulnerable. Since I stated that I wasn’t interested in a relationship, and that I was looking for dates of any gender, I got a lot of messages from “heterosexual” cis-males, looking for easy sex. I think some people believe I am easy because I’m a confident fat girl who recognizes that I am in fact sexually appealing. Combine that with my outgoing attitude, unique personality, and the fact that I’m “bisexual” is also something men seem to be very interested in. Well guess what, I’m not THAT EASY. Yet at the same time, a friend with benefits was kind of what I was looking for at the time. I figured it would be a way to get over my ex, and would boost my ego as well. Boy was I mistaken! I ended up meeting a total douchebag; he used lines on me that were flattering, interest, and unique. He lured me right in. I slept with him way too soon, but after that first night, I felt great. At least I thought I felt great for about twelve hours after. Then he distanced himself, called me needy, and treated me like another notch on his bedpost. I specifically told him I would not be treated as such, however, I learned that people treat you the way you allow yourself to be treated. What was I thinking?
I let him come back another four times, and we became good old-fashioned fuck buddies. It was exactly what I thought I was looking for, but I knew in my gut he was a selfish jerk, all about sex, and that he wasn’t doing anything for my self-esteem. Every time he left, I felt empty. He is the one who introduced me to the most recent ex-girlfriend. Now I’m able to see clearly that the fact that I met her through him was just a bad sign. It wasn’t supposed to be a relationship. Once again, I find myself asking a question I’ve asked so many times before: What was I thinking?
What space was I in mentally when I “fell in love”? What was I feeling when I was casually hooking up with people that made me feel like shit? At this point, I can clearly see that I was feeling insecure, lonely, and was desperate to experience any kind of connection with another human being. Whether that was a sexual connection, or what I thought was a romantic connection, anything was better than feeling alone. Yet I always ended up feeling lonely and empty in each and every relationship I’ve had thus far. I just didn’t love myself enough to be able to love another human being in a healthy way, and that’s why none of my relationships have lasted. My most recent relationship ended with a bang, much like my last. She attacked me – hit me, kicked me, and scratched me. It might not seem that bad, but she was well aware that I have physical disabilities and she could have seriously injured me. I had bruises and my joints were swollen. Lucky for me, this time I didn’t let the emotional hurt I felt in the immediate aftermath consume me. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and knew it was for the better. I grieved and cried for about two days, but I leaned on those who will always be there for me, and I have come out on the other side. I don’t miss her, I don’t love her, and I don’t harbor any ill feelings toward her either. I also know that I can’t be her friend, anymore than I can be friends with my last abusive ex. Once a person crosses that line, I let them go and never look back.
These days, I can identify my feelings, and sitting with them while alone is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. When I’m in a relationship, I can focus on taking care of somebody else and will easily ignore my own feelings. On my own, I’m forced to look at my issues and actually deal with them. Being by myself is a very scary proposition. I am making a conscious decision right now to be alone because I want to figure out how to make myself happy without having a significant other. If I can learn to do that, I know I’ll appreciate a relationship when I’m finally ready for one again. I need to take some time to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made in the past, and that’s why I’m writing about what I went through. I need to hold myself accountable, and that’s why I’m being honest with those closest to me about where I’m at in my life right now. They know what’s best for me and are able to see clearly the things I am unable to see when I believe I am, “in love.” It turns out that what I thought was love was actually lust, and I shouldn’t have tried to force square pegs into round holes.
Part of the problem with co-dependent people is they think they can fix the other person, in a relationship, or otherwise. When it comes to romantic relationships, oftentimes we think, “this person’s love is going to complete me.” That notion is completely unhealthy, and unrealistic. If we feel like we’re incomplete from the get-go, we’re setting ourselves up for failure, because another person can not fill the emptiness we feel inside. That’s why I know I need to learn to find a way to make myself happy.
I have learned the hard way that it really is true that in order to love somebody else, you first have to love yourself. I am tired of feeling pain when a relationship fails to meet my expectations. I deal with enough pain as it is. So for right now, I am taking a break so I can focus on getting my shit together. I need to fall in love with myself, and maybe some day, I’ll fall in love with the right person – somebody who is healthy, working on their issues, and with enough self-love and respect to allow me to be myself. A good friend of mine recently said, “if they don’t worship you, if they don’t treat you like the Goddess you are, if they don’t put you on a pedestal, they aren’t worth your time.”
She’s right. I haven’t given up on myself, and I haven’t given up on love either. When all is said and done, love is the one thing that matters the most in life. For all those who love me as I am, thank you. I am blessed to know you and I’m grateful for your acceptance. I love you, too!