“I cannot be myself around you.”
As those words left her lips for the third time in just as many weeks, a thumping ache oozed through the beating muscle in my chest.
There are times in your life when you must make a decision that truly goes against everything you want and this morning was one of those times. Some people later label these acts as regret and this may in years to come become just that. But for now I have justified my decision to leave a woman I truly care about because being in a relationship with me has affected her ability to be herself.
That’s what I’ve labelled this act, that’s the reasoning she has been given and I can see she’s content with that. But the decision I made this morning is anything but selflessness. The irony in all of this is the fact that I am leaving my girlfriend so she can be herself because I want to continue coasting through my life not being myself.
For the past 22 years I have lived as a straight woman. For the past 6 months I have been in a relationship with a woman. Imagine living your life and suddenly realising that maybe you’ve been living it wrong—that’s where I am at the moment. It’s hard coming to terms with the possibility that your identity may be changed. It’s even harder when your own identity crisis is in turn ruining someone else’s. She is an amazing woman who has been nothing but understanding throughout this process. If patience was a person she might just be it. I have been in relationships before and believe me when I say I know what being in love is.
And I can see it in her eyes.
She wants to express it and we live in a world where expressing love openly should be considered a fundamental human right. Every time we walk side by side, she inches her hand closer to mine and allows her fingers to intertwine mine. This act of affection is too much for me. When I broke it off with her this morning I said, “It’s not you it’s me.”
For once this clichéd excuse held truth.
I am not comfortable with my sexuality and it has led to the demise of perhaps one of the best relationships I’ve ever had. I can hear it now: ‘Just come out it won’t change a thing.’
That may just be true.
I know that my true friendships will remain and perhaps an act like coming out might even weed out some of the superficial relationships that I know I could do without. Nevertheless, I am scared to change how I am perceived.
How vain I must be.
But whilst we are closer than ever before to having equal rights, we’re not there just yet.
This scares me.
What scares me even more is that my sexuality will become my defining trait. It will be my lead description. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% for equal rights, but I want to live in a world where being gay becomes somewhat of a social norm.
I don’t want being gay to define who I am, I want it to be a part of who I am. There’s a difference.
Do you have a gay friend? Do you introduce or describe them by their sexuality?
Because trust me, whilst I find women attractive, it’s a trait that I no doubt share with millions of other people. And I want to be defined by something that allows me to be some what of an individual.
Written by Tanika Robertson. Photo via mongrelmedia