Belated Asexual Awareness

Tuesday 21 January, 2014

If there’s one thing I’m mostly disappointed with myself about, during what I’ll call The Absence of 2013, it’s that I missed Asexual Awareness Week. It’s something that I never wanted to miss, even if I had nothing new to add, because spreading awareness and understanding is that important. But I did miss it, and now I want to fix that.

Better late than never, as I say.

As it happens, I don’t really have anything new to say about what being asexual means or what asexuality is, that I didn’t already say in 2012, or in 2011. From what I know about the asexual community, in all it’s little coves that it’s found in, it’s unfortunately just the same as it was when I last spoke about it. There’s civil unrest and quite a few short tempers. Asexuality is not being helped by those people who have this wacky idea of what acceptance is, as long as you accept what they say and belittle others who disagree with them until they either go away, or agree.

Why yes, I am talking about Tumblr.

Anyway! What I want to talk about today, is friendship.

There’s nothing much more important to me than my friends. Whether that’s because that’s just the sort of person I am, or because I’m disabled, or because I’m asexual, a sum of all those things, I don’t know. But it’s a fact.

My friendships make my life worth living.

To me, my friends are my first port of call. I imagine my life’s priorities to be in a rucksack with as many pockets as I need, and everything I need fits into this rucksack, and only things that fit into this rucksack are what I need. There is an order to this rucksack, and they are ordered by priority.

Sometimes my priorities change a bit. Sometimes my friends do go from being in the main big chamber to being in the smaller chamber of the bag, like for when my health gets too bad and dealing with it swallows up all my time and energy by no choice of my own.

But these things that are in my rucksack, they might move around a bit, but they remain in my rucksack. Hell, even education, which I’ve not attended since I dropped out of university and became a failed journalist, remains a priority. It’s placed in the little scratchy Velcro pocket at the very front of the rucksack. It hurts to put my hand in there, it usually takes more effort than what I get out of it deserves, but it’s in there.

Are we all following my rucksack metaphor for life?

To sum up: I’m asexual, I have friends in my rucksack, and I don’t have a boyfriend pocket, because my friends are mostly all I need in life. As well as food, sleep and good medication.

Ok? Ok!

So. Now that I’ve made myself sound like a wierdo…

These days, there has been a slip of how important friendships are for people. There is something out there teaching our society that, at some point in life, friendships should be put on the back burner for romantic and sexual relationships. Trying to keep a friendship exactly the same as it was before at least one party enters into a relationship is seen as, at best noble but unsustainable, and at worst pointless and childish. Having a third wheel at the side of a romantic relationship is not good for the relationship, but let me tell you, it’s no fun being that third wheel either.

The solution is almost always for the party who doesn’t have a romantic other half to get a romantic other half. Or other friends. Other friends hardly bode well for the friendship, if they care at that point, where as an other half at least evens the score.

Or that’s what my observations and partial experience has taught me.

But when you’re asexual, or when you’re an asexual who doesn’t want sex or a romantic relationship, or like me, an asexual who wouldn’t mind a falling into a non-sexual relationship but don’t plan to go looking for one because there’s a minefield of sex out there and really, I don’t need anything extra in my life than the friends I have… (rucksack is full) That solution is not a solution. It’s like asking me to grow an extra spleen. Why? To make it easier for everyone else?

But very recently, as understanding as my friends are, one of my friends – the friend behind the idea of me signing up to a dating website, even – who is very happy in her relationship and, I consider myself very lucky here, isn’t one of those people to put aside friendships for romantic relationships, said something which upset me regardless of how she meant it.

Happy in her relationship, she asked me if I had any news about anything romantic in my life, and I told her my usual answer. No, and I doubt there will be, and that’s fine.

And she said “I don’t want you to end up alone, though, do you?”.

Now, let’s ignore the fact that we’re in our twenties and have plenty of time to not be alone before we’re both old and grey, and hopefully sometime after that too, and focus on how those words hurt. What I think she meant was, “We’re young and we’re lively people, you need to get out there now and meet people. I’m happy, I want to make sure that you’re happy too.”

But unfortunately, I can’t help but take those words differently. To me, those words said “Friendships only go so far and last so long. When we’re older, you won’t be able to depend on mere friendship to get you through life. We’ll all have something more and more is better.”

It gave me this mental image of something like the ballroom scene from Labyrinth, except everyone is dancing with everyone else, there’s no David Bowie, and I can’t cut in because in this weird world I’ve imagined, nobody dances with friends anymore.

I’m aware that sounds more bizarre than the rucksack metaphor, but that’s what came to mind.

What my friend said, which so many other people think and automatically say as well, it makes me feel like everyone who isn’t asexual imagines that being asexual is what leaves you lonely and alone. Where as, from my point of view, it’s other people who don’t see how important friendship can be that can make me feel lonely and alone. Other people deciding for me that not having a romantic relationship will make me lonely, upsets me.

This isn’t universal for asexuals. Many asexuals have romantic relationships, some have sexual relationships and they’re happy.

But for those of us who need friendships in our lives, this is how a modern hyper-sexualised society, where two is a couple and three is a crowd, can make us lonely and alone.

Friendships are enough for me, if my friends can be around to be in them.

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Guess Who’s Back, Back Again. I am back, tell your friends!

Wednesday 15 January, 2014

So… *Insert Obligatory “Rumours of my demise….” Paul McCartney quote here*

Hello there, everyone who might be reading this right now! Also, happy new year, merry belated Christmas, and an even more belated happy birthday to this here blog. Hope anyone who might reading this is well, and if they’re not, I wish them as speedy a recovery as possible. (And if they’re not reading this, well, then… they’re missing out, aren’t they?)

Now, I’ll admit, that last entry probably wasn’t the best entry to come before a radio silence. If I accidentally gave anyone the impression that my bout of bad health then threw me head first into No Man’s Land, I can only apologise.

It was the start of a bad bout of health, but shortly after that entry I experienced what I like to call a Systematic Failing of the Modern Ways of Life.

Here’s what happened, in short, that led to a seven month absence from this here beloved blog.

I moved back to Liverpool. Remember that entry where I talked about how bad council houses are? With the wooden planks to put up a curtain rail, and the porous flatpack materials that didn’t have protective coatings against the rain, so the damp got in and there was mould? And no storage space to speak of? Well, a bit of dodgy wording on my part in that entry, but that was the house I was living in.

Was being the key word there. With speed I never knew housing associations were even capable of, my poor old family put in for a move on an emergency, health related basis, and we moved two weeks later!

But, as much as this place is better – We actually have storage space now! – No council property comes without problems, and my room was and continues to be quite a bit of a problem.

Lack of room in my bedroom means no room for my over-bed table that my computer was on, which I used with a wireless keyboard and mouse. I tried to continue to use my computer by using it on my knee, but the laptop had a history of overheating. I couldn’t use my laptop in the living room, where my table was, because for a good portion of the year, every single member of my family was unemployed and trying to do anything that required concentration, became impossible. When I’m in the room, it seems like everyone just wants to talk at me and ask me questions and throw riddles at me to solve.

The bad news is, that laptop had a partial motherboard failure. The good news is, my legs came out unscathed!

No floor space within the limited area I can turn my head to watch telly along with busy walls meant no television or DVD player.

My blackberry started having software failures, a problem usually easily solved with a reset and an update, but no updates available even when my computer was working meant that my phone would need to be fixed by blackberry itself, which would have costed more than a new phone.

So I bought a new phone, which I had a massive allergic reaction to due to some cleaning substance used in the factory process. The battery also got too hot to hold the phone, but it wasn’t clear at the time because of the allergic reaction. So I got it replaced, and the phone was the same* so I had to return that one again for a full refund and account cancellation.

So that was me without a phone and full use of a laptop for quite a few months. Limited use of a DVD player, but I couldn’t make any notes whilst watching any films, so no reviews. I was allowed access to my Mum’s little netbook, but the poor little thing couldn’t even play youtube videos.

As well as a bad bout of health, even more hospital appointments, and a two month bout of flu, full chest infection, Laryngitis, possible bout of SAD.

I didn’t have much to talk about, I’d been completely knocked out of my writing rhythm and the longer I went without updating, the harder it seemed to get started again.

I didn’t want to dip in here with something important without explaining all the little things that led to this being unintentionally abandoned.

Then I got a new computer. Family members who like to ask me questions, talk at me, and throw riddles at me, went back to work, meaning I can at least use my computer in the living room in peace. My need to vent my outrage at social inequality came back, and, well, I still need a solution in relation to review writing, but I do have some notes lying around on some films I’d seen but didn’t have a chance to write a proper review for.

And I have an entry for Asexuality Awareness Week in drafts waiting to be posted!

So, ok, there was a gap, but I’m back. It’s full steam ahead now, my friends! Think of me as your female blogging version of Sherlock Holmes. I survived Movenback! (Yes, that was a pun.)

I will return you to your scheduled programming, whether you like it or not.

Thank you for reading.

~AFJ~