How bright is your rainbow?

Have you ever been asked by someone not to be you? You know, asked to “dial down” a character trait, or to enlarge a minimal part of yourself? Well I have a few times and by chance it happened to me last weekend. It was suggested to me prior to a party that I not ask a particular person any questions. “That person doesn’t like questions!” I should understand, right? WRONG! My motto is this: the only social rules that apply to me are the ones I put on myself. I refuse to be boxed in, or categorized by norms, because no such thing really exists- only words, but I realize (begrudgingly,) it’s part of life. Not too mention, I’m extra cranky about it because I recently broke out of one proverbial box, only to be put in another. (No Pun Intended- but more on that subject later. The easily offended may want to stop here.)

You see, to ask someone like me NOT to gather information about my surroundings and especially the people in it, is counterintuitive to my psyche. I spent thirteen years from grades kindergarten through twelfth grade in sixteen different schools-yep that’s right; I went to sixteen different schools. Correct, that’s a new school every year, and sometimes two new schools a year for all thirteen years of my primary education. I learned early how to get by with my uncanny ability to “interview” people in order to figure out what I needed to know, or whom I needed to know. Personally, I wouldn’t trade my experience attending different schools for any other “white-bread” education. I learned invaluable people skills like how to relate to others quickly on a deeper level, and to that extent, I learned how to become a chameleon.

Growing up I tried on everything and everyone for size, it was my mission to fit in and it worked. I always had a lot of friends no matter where I moved, although I can’t say all my friendships were real. I wasn’t purposely manipulative; I was just always the “new girl” trying to get by. I called myself or became whatever group accepted me. Sometimes I enhanced tiny parts of myself to fit in; other times I curtailed character traits that didn’t match up. Although I morphed and changed in order to find acceptance, I never truly felt at ease. However, there were parts of me similar to the friends I picked, and the clicks I chose, but it was never enough-I always felt slightly different.

So when I say you cant label me (well maybe you can call me crazy) because Ill disprove you wrong, my argument would sound something like this: I’m white trash, and I’m a rich princess, I’m a hippie, and a punk, I’m a born again Christian, and I’m Jewish, I’m a gym monkey and a stoner, I dropped out of college and I’m an intelligent, I’m green and an over consumer, I’m Anglo and an American Indian, I’m liberal and I own a shot-gun, I listen to NPR and The Bert Show, I ask a lot of questions, and I keep to myself, I’m straight and I’m gay. Who am I? I’m all of it and none of it!

In my opinion, the bottom line is this, I, like most of us fall somewhere between the shapes on the categorical grid. We are complicated beings with many factors contributing to our individual make-ups. It’s possible to be a little bit of a lot of things, and it’s equally plausible to house a large amount of a few characteristics, or beliefs. And we all have the ability to hold opposing emotions in the midst of it all. Ergo, we are indefinable, unlabelable, except to say we are made up of small parts that make our whole. But since we use language and its full of terms and descriptions, and I’m trying to “talk” my way out of being put in a box, I want to note that within each label used there is an extension of another. OK, enough, now on to the stuff that sells-sex!

AH, which brings me to my flavor of the day, my sexuality. In the past year my flag has outwardly turned from straight with a barely visible muted rainbow, to a pastel colored smiling homo, with hetero colors still in the background. Just like all of our peculiarities’, our taste for sexuality isn’t so cut and dry as Alfred Kinsey proved in his research. Below is a quick over-view of his theory of the heterosexual-homosexual continuum. Although I think it’s a solid base, I know for me personally it’s a lot more complicated than a seven point scale, furthermore, I think sexuality is not limited to the act of sex alone, at least for me its not.

(Now would be the time to stop reading if you’re starting to become anxious.)

Heterosexual-homosexual continuum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A heterosexual-homosexual continuum, sometimes referred to as a sexual continuum, is a psychological and philosophical understanding of human sexuality that places sexual preferences on a continuum from heterosexuality to homosexuality. This concept stems from Alfred Kinsey’s 1940s surveys of sexuality; significant numbers of Kinsey’s subjects reported bisexuality of varying degrees, rather than the strict heterosexual/homosexual division that had been previously assumed. This work was expanded by Fritz Klein, who hypothesized that sexual orientation was a dynamic, multi-variable process, involving attraction, behavior, fantasies, emotional and social preferences, self-identification, and lifestyle.[1] This continuum was an important influence on the feminist and gay-rights movements of the 1970s and 1980s as academics and movement leaders tried to distinguish between one’s sex — e.g. being male or female — and the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of gender and sexuality.
According to the American Psychological Association:
Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior). Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. […][2]

The Kinsey scale attempts to describe a person’s sexual history or episodes of their sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reports, an additional grade, listed as “X”, was used for asexuality[1] . It was first published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) by Alfred Kinsey, Wardell Pomeroy and others, and was also prominent in the complementary work Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953).
Today, many sexologists see the Kinsey scale as relevant to sexual orientation but not comprehensive enough to cover all sexual identity issues. They suggest that sexual identity involves at least three different spectrums, sexual orientation being only one of them (two others being biological sex and gender identity).[2]
Table of the scale
The scale is as follows:
Rating Description
0 Exclusively heterosexual
1 Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 Equally heterosexual and homosexual; bisexual.
4 Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
6 Exclusively homosexual
X Asexual, Non-Sexual

At this point in my life I would say I’m a five on the continuum scale, although at one point I might have said I’m a one, then maybe I a two, and then a three, and four until I arrived at a five. Today I am a five, where are you? Your answer may be different than the truth; maybe you don’t know your true sexual orientation, maybe its always changing. Mine certainly was a surprise to me when I actually admitted it to myself. Well, I shouldn’t say a surprise, but I was floored with what the implications of my thoughts and feelings meant once I tried to define them.

I started questioning myself a few years ago when I couldn’t figure out why I felt so BLAAAAHHH! Here’s how the internal dialogue went: “Why should I feel this way, dissatisfied with my current condition, situation etc? Aren’t I living the dream? A husband, two kids, boy and a girl, two dogs, a house (almost with a picket fence), I mean it definitely deserves to be behind one. The life of an upper middle class housewife, with no real worries of dire consequences. But still, I can’t find it in myself to be truly happy.”

My ex-husband and I had recently started couples therapy mainly because I no longer had the desire to make love to him. This lack of interest on my part started a few years prior to our beginning therapy. My disinterest was always blamed on our young children. It was always my excuse, “I’m loved out!” “They have been hanging on me all day!” or “I am physically and mentally worn out!” The excuses came and went. Eventually he started asking, “What is the real reason?” I would answer something to the effect of “What do you think is the reason? If it isn’t this, I don’t know.” He would always say, “Are you trying to sabotage?” My rebuttal never changed, “I don’t know, I don’t know anything anymore.” Things went on this way for a while; he would try different tactics to get his pathologically male needs met. He stopped talking about sex and eased up on pressuring me for a while. Then his understandable irritation would build up and every few months we would have the same conversation over and over again. The same pattern continued, but he tried adding other elements to his game, (ones I’m certain would work for a woman who’s a one, two or three, or even four on the scale) by helping around the house more, giving unsolicited massages, managing the kids, and any and everything else he though would work. Unfortunately for him, his attempts were futile. I tried convincing myself to just do it, “what was the big deal?” “Just get it over with!” until one day, I did just that, I tried “getting it over with”, because it was my “wifely duty,” and it enraged me!

I spent a few years trying to figure out how NOT to have sex. (Good fodder for a coffee table book.) I talked to my friends about my woes, they always laughed at me and said it was “normal!” I think I spent a full year dramatizing my sex life, as topic of conversation during long runs with the girls. We’d train for races, running for hours and all I could do was complain about not wanting to have sex with my husband. I even said to them one day, “Maybe I’m a lesbian!” They thought that was hysterical!

Actually, as I’ve said before, the “girls trip” race weekend commenced on the heels of my questioning my sexuality. I’d ask myself, “Why don’t you really want to be intimate with him?” I thought, “Well maybe I’m just A-sexual- no couldn’t be, I feel sexy and full of need for a physical connection with someone. Maybe I’m Bisexual?” it all sounded good. Then I went to so far to think, “Maybe I’m a Lesbian?” the less desirable alternative for my then, current situation.

In addition, the weekend prior to my trip, my husband stayed out until five thirty in the morning after a night with friends. Now, to his defense, I did publically kiss a girl, (Break into song now: “And I liked it!”) at a pool party we attended. He was there and I did it in front of him although without giving any consideration to him, and for the record, NO, it wasn’t Susan.

Obviously, he was upset by my actions, but I felt indifferent about it, I think he stayed out late the next weekend to punish me or to blow off some steam. Although this was not the first time he’d stayed out late, one of many actually since we first met, but this was the first time I felt oddly unmoved by his behavior, and that was scary. I knew we were in trouble.

However, when I look back, I plainly see the signs of this feeling manifesting. I went from being the jealous type, and easily upset over his attention given else where, to feeling drained and annoyed by him all the time. Here’s the thing about jealousy, it creates heat and for me I needed it in order to get hot, if you feel me. Basically, I’ve surmised in the past, my sexual experiences with men were at some point sparked and fed by a jealous flame. I guess it was my way of making the sex work for me. (More about this later.) Eventually in the marriage, my jealousy wore thin due to the amount of energy it takes to raise children, and maybe because I matured some too. Once the fire burned out, I started to feel annoyed by his requests. As I affectionately like to say, “I can’t deal with a man and kids!

Eventually he became so fed up with me we went to see a marriage counselor. After one session with W, an Imago trained therapist, I discovered that I really didn’t trust my husband or any man for that matter. I probably never did, because that was the only way for me to make it work. Sounds sick, right? Yep, it was, but I found my way out of it. The person I really shouldn’t have trusted was myself. I was the deceitful one.

Trying to interpret my own lies, I booked an appointment with a therapist of my own, apart from the couple’s therapy with him. I intended on getting to the bottom of my sexual identity crises. However, I soon discovered that I didn’t need someone else to tell me if I was gay or not, I mean I was falling in love with a woman. I thought, “If I am in love with a woman that most definitely puts me in the bi-sexual category, and maybe even slightly into the Lesbian category??” but, those are just terms, Bisexual, Lesbian, A-sexual- it is all semantic bullshit! I say love is all encompassing!

But, my story doesn’t end here, and don’t be frightened if there is a lack of intimacy in your own marriage, there’s a lot more to my story. My sexual preference didn’t change over night, it started a long time ago, but I chose not to see it. Or maybe I just didn’t know to look for it. Next week I’ll discuss more about my past and how it may or may not have influenced my choices, but either way there was always a little patchwork of lesbian inside me.


About Runs With Tigers

I'm like air, forever flowing, moving, changing, gaining and losing myself, undefinable. View my complete profile
This entry was posted in in love with a woman and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to How bright is your rainbow?

  1. Kendra says:

    Interesting, all the sexuality information and your own account.
    I know I love women, Id rather look at women than men, I mean I
    design clothes and never have a desire to dress men. Women are so much more
    interesting looking and beautiful. But I definatley feel uncomfortable when I think of being with a woman sexually, like I wouldnt know what to do.
    It bugs me that someone would ask you to tone yourself down, I would love to go to a party with someone like you because you’d make it more interesting, Id just hang out at your side and prepare for fun!

  2. andrew gitlin says:

    Labels are always wrong they simplify what is complex. There is no self without other. Your gender and sexually is in part due to your relationships. There is no self without context. Your gender and sexuality is in part due to the context in which the relationships take place. What a fluid notion of identity does is point to commonalities and differences as ever changing. Hetero, Homo, male, female separates. Importantly for me, fluid identity allows for alliances that are at times hidden. Your writing inspires such alliances.

  3. Ed Katz says:

    Hi Shannon,

    You’re a gifted writer.


  4. Pingback: 2010 in review | Monocurious, reality is better than fiction

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