Monday, 8 October 2012

The Bad Lesbian?

When I look back on my past relationships, I realize that each of them taught me something different about myself but one fluid, consistent trait I noticed about myself was that I was pretty good at "faking care of people"-definition (verb. fayk-ing-kare-of-pee-pil): "The act of pretending you like taking care of people." I hated being the one who had to remember what time dinner plans were, hated having to be the one that packed lunches, made Dr's appointments, called about that error on the electric bill, handle the apartment manager, run interference with my friends, be the sounding board for work problems,  make excuses for why you weren't with me, be the protector of your feelings and stabilizer of your moods, putting up with your paranoia, and watching meerkat documentaries. But most definitely, I hated being the one who had to answer the age old questions, "What should I wear?" and "Does this look okay?" because, alright..seriously, let's break this down: I don't care what you wear as long as it's not a knitted hat in the shape of a Panda bear head and while we're at it, newsflash:  If I didn't think your clothes were okay to begin with, I wouldn't have dated you at all.


After years and years of finding myself in the same position no matter how different I approached each new relationship with each new woman-whether she was older, younger, wiser, dumber, slower, faster, stronger, weaker, bigger, or smaller- somehow, I would end up unhappy with the role I had fallen into. Setting my own feelings aside to be sure my partner was happy seemed to be such a noble act. It was instinctive and for the longest time I was PROUD that I would do this. WTF? I would compromise the things that were most important to me, to be sure my partner got what they wanted. "Oh, you don't want to go to dinner with my family? No problem, I'll blow them off." ..."You don't understand my friendship with my ex husband? No problem, I'll distance myself."  "You're not into spoken word events? It's ok, we don't have to go." ..."You don't want to watch football? It's alright, I'll watch a Lifetime movie with you." ..."A threesome? COOL!" ...."A long weekend with your kids?! Of course!" ..."You can't pay your cell phone bill? Yeah! No worries, I got it covered."...."Your parent are alcoholics? I see no issue there!"..."A big, stupid dog? Great!" .... Things like that. Over and over. The minute my mouth opened and my agreement to some ridiculous, preposterous thing that ever fiber of my being was screaming: "No!" to, the words would escape from my brain to my lips and turn into "Sure!" Two seconds later, I would be standing there thinking, "What just happened?!"


I never thought of myself as retarded, but my quest to be the perfect girlfriend was getting so out of hand that I began to wonder. I knew I had to take a step back and take a look at myself. I mean, Jesus Christ, what was happening here? I was like a bull in Spain- I'd see a red flag and instead of running away, I would charge right at it, full force. I had myself believing by being so agreeable I was fucking irresistible. Worse than that, there was this burning desire to fix the broken ones- like I was some sort of Bob Villa of the Lesbians. When I finally did take a step back, after the last fiery, blazing "Backdraft" of a burn- I realized it was all on me.  There was something about being me- football loving, cat lover, family girl, non-dog fan, laundry goddess, not a nature lover, never liked folk music, still eating carbs AND meat-lesbian that I was somewhat ashamed of.  Part of me knew it was because I felt like I didn't fit in. I was 40 years old, been out for 12 years, had a ton of failed relationships behind me and I had to get this figured out. I wasn't carrying a petition around, or waving a banner in a parade. I didn't want to live with a girlfriend right away, I didn't want to NOT be around my family, I didn't want a tattoo, I didn't want to wear a tie or get my hair cut like "Shane" from "The L Word", I didn't want to play softball, I didn't like kayaking or camping, I didn't own any lesbian fiction books, and I had no desire to go to The Dinah, wear a trucker cap or get pierced.


What was wrong with me? "FUCKING NOTHING! This is who I am." I had to keep reminding myself of that. That was the first thing I had to make peace with. The second was that I did come out later in life, so I wasn't struggling with my identity or my "look", aside from the fact that I liked women.  I already dressed in jeans, t-shirts, big, clunky shoes, sneakers, sketchers, the occasional baseball hat. My family was understanding, accepting, and I was lucky enough to not feel bad or have a traumatic, awful coming out story. I had a circle of straight friends that ranged from my high school days to present time that were supportive and respectful. I had a circle of gay friends who were fun, cool and loyal. So, with all these things already in place, why was I acting like such an friggin' idiot when it came to my romantic relationships? I didn't even know what I was looking for, and that was the third thing I needed to assess. ("Hey, how about someone that can take care of themselves?!")  I'll admit, sometimes, my atrocious decisions were based on "hot pants". A big time attraction to someone could knock me off course instantly- like when a golf ball sails off a driver perfectly into the air, then hits a tree branch and drops to the ground in the rough with a "plunk".



So, when I met my wife, I decided I would do things differently. Ohhh, yes. I would be honest. About EVERYTHING.  Even though I kept thinking: #1. She's a lot younger than me #2. She's smokin' hot ("Fore!") #3. She's extremely logical and #4. She's a pretty good lesbian. And, now let's go over a few things pointed in my direction  #1. I'm old  #2. I'm not hot  #3 Logic? What's logic? I'm completely emotional and #4. I'm a bad lesbian.

So, you can see what we have here are all the components of a Ridley Scott action film, complete with the makings & budget for explosions, crashes and catastrophe.


I was trying out a new thing, where I was going to be completely honest about myself, my likes, my dislikes, my turn on's, my turn offs, my past times, my mistakes, things that annoyed me, things that I enjoy, and foods I eat. All the while, waiting for her to consider these red flags and like any normal logical person, bolt like lightening.


But she didn't go anywhere. Instead of considering that I cannot stand birkenstocks, kidney beans, or teenagers, or that I never made my Catholic confirmation because I was behind the church getting stoned, that I only wear white tube socks, and I'm diabetic- instead of seeing these as huge red flags waving in the breeze, she just processed the information in the "getting to know you" file. Didn't see them as red flags at all! This honesty thing was working. I didn't consider the things I was learning about her as red flags, either, like the fact that she was a gazillion times smarter than me (she could even read music!) or had to make exact change for the cashier every time we went out, or that she could watch TV Land for 10 hours straight, or that she liked "The Gilmore Girls" (not just the first 3 seasons, ALL of them) and that she could hook up electronics fearlessly. I didn't even feel threatened by this! The time we spent on the phone, obviously because of the distance we were dealing with back then, allowed us to learn more about each other's upbringing, parents, family, friends, being honest about feelings, past relationships, failures and successes. It gave both of us time to divulge, process, understand, and know each other without pressure. More importantly- we were communicating endlessly, without rolling around in the sack, and post orgasmically "loving" every single thing about each other until the sun comes up and reality hits you like heartburn from a bad falafal. It was a new way of doing things for me. Things were so level- without spiking highs & lows, that at times, I looked at my cat (who could care less) and would say, "Can you fucking believe how right this is?"


 It was fine that I liked watching football on weekends, and she liked to read. It was fine that my cats slept with us, one on her head and one on my legs. It was fine that we had dinner at my mother's twice a week. It was fine that my ex-husband & his fiance were my friends. It was fine that my credit history was just now being restored. It was fine that I had made mistakes. It was fine if I didn't feel like going to the store. It was fine if we missed a music festival. It was fine to order pizza and stay in on a Friday night. It was fine that I was being honest. It was fine that she was being honest. Of course there are things that we learned about each other that we didn't agree on. Ok, whatever- she likes grapefruit juice. Disgusting, bitter, tart, makes your ears sting, grapefruit juice. She can't pass up a sale on "Tom's" shoes. So what? I cry during EVERY stupid, idiotic, half-baked episode of "Grey's Anatomy". I eat hot dogs from Costco and can burp the smell into the air 30 minutes later. It's all stuff we've learned along the way that we can tolerate in each other without a fear that we're over compromising. She knows I gag from wet hair in the shower drain, so she cleans it. She knows I can't ever be the one to sniff the milk if it's day past it's expiration date. I know she's going to change clothes 2-3 times a day, so I handle the laundry. She knows I sometimes forget to look for "Free Range" on the egg carton, so handles the shopping. I know to tell her that her ass looks great in her jeans as we're heading out to dinner, because it does, not because she had to ask. She gave up meat, I could never do that. She likes raw red peppers as a snack, I prefer Cheetos.  She thinks before she speaks, I react then revisit. We love theater, arts, movies, comedy shows, family, cheese, and fuzzy slippers. It's okay that I'm not the more ...familiar...kind of lesbian. I'm not a vegan, I don't own hemp clothes, an Ani DiFranco CD, a rescue dog, or a pukka shell necklace.  I don't use the word "organic" very often, or have a hybrid car. I'm perfectly happy that Jemma doesn't endorse teflon frying pans, that she recycles, likes classical music, thinks NFL salaries are absurd, is okay with me texting her while she's in the bathroom, still likes wearing dresses sometimes, can play Wii Fit for hours while I sit & read Twitter zingers and that she has a great relationship with her own family as well as mine.


I even feel better about the things I didn't like about myself- like, for instance, how emotional I can be. I found someone to balance that with her logical way of handling things ("Arizona will walk again, she'll have a prosthetic leg and everything will be back to normal by next week"). If there's anything I've really learned is that if you have two highly emotional lesbians, it's like "Little Miss Matches and Little Miss Gasoline" ALL the time. Not good. Balance is necessary.


 It's as easy as it should be. Even the hard parts. We handle our differences with respect and understanding. If I make a mistake or if I handle something poorly, she doesn't consider it a fault and put it in a column to tally up later. We don't consider it a win/loss, we will genuinely apologize to one another if we feel we were wrong. That way is cooler than taking back one half of the charms you got each other on a whim past the jewelery store on your 3rd date, or having to get a tattoo turned into something else, or boxing up the ol' CD's for the big split, or someone sleeping on the couch in a huff or explaining to your friend why your standing on her doorstep with a 12 pack of beer and 2 joints at 11:30pm. What's even cooler, especially for me, is that at no time along the way did I feel like I needed space, elbow room, copious amounts of air, (a proven side effect from "faking care of people") or that I had to choose between the things I liked and the things she liked, or my family, career, pets, shoes, clothes, TV shows or snacks. And the coolest of all? I finally understood what it meant when people would say "You'll find someone who will love you for you."  So... I'm doing pretty damn good for being my honest bad lesbian self. In fact, maybe there are no bad lesbians. Just individuals.


(For the record, my wife is the most patient, tolerant, and yes, logical person you could ever imagine ....without any sort of meds!)


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