Subtext bites: The pitfalls of dishonesty in realtionships

Nov 30th, 2016 | By | Category: 2016-2017, Opinions

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By Ariadne Wolf
Opinions Editor

hate subtext, and it hates me.

It’s one thing to watch characters in a show sigh at one another longingly, then run away for some manufactured nonsensical reason. That is the kind of thing that my fanfiction-addicted high school-aged self could really get behind.

It’s really not nearly so pleasant in real life.

I spent a few minutes talking to somebody after class about the weather the other day. It was probably the dumbest conversation I’ve had the entire time I’ve been at this school.

It was probably particularly idiotic because I spent the whole time trying to figure out what I was supposed to say to move the conversation to somewhere past the point of conversation.

Stuff like this is hard enough when you haven’t spent years having your brain fucked with by parents who much preferred you believe yourself insane, than believe they were exactly who they tragically were, and still are.

So, yeah, some of this is me. Some of this is because I spent 10 years having an eating disorder while my peers were figuring out romance and relationships.

A lot of this is because flashbacks and sex don’t go hand-in-hand real well.

Still, I can’t be the only one. I mean I tend to think I am, because PTSD is like that, it’s one of those things too many people have and virtually every one of those people feels ashamed of. It fucks with your brain and your sense of reality, and it makes me so insecure about my sanity that anything short of “fuck me, here’s when” seems like maybe I could just be making it up.

I’m one of those people who would rather give offense than accidentally invade someone’s territory, so I spend a lot of time alone. I’m not sure that’s even such a bad thing.

Sometimes that seems like a really awful thing.

Because hey, we all need relationships. Chances are, nearly all of us are ill-equipped to handle them, because our parents are divorced or abusive, our peers have been bullies or have encouraged our blase and overly cynical attitudes, and our role models have fucked or ignored us.

Still, what would we do without them?

Relationships aren’t like food. I can’t just toss them aside and walk away when I can’t deal, until whatever I’m feeling passes and I can handle the thought of it again.

So too much of the time, I  walk away from these encounters with no idea of what actually happened.

Feeling totally confused and lost doesn’t really help with having a sense of grounding, so I just push it all aside and walk away, hoping my brain will be clearer the next morning.

That almost never works.

I don’t exactly have any great wisdom to impart here. I think the worst thing about this topic, though, is how lonely and isolating it can be. I know I’ve spent a lot of my life avoiding real romance by either pretending feelings I didn’t have, or holding on way too tight to situations that were toxic or doomed or just not right for me at the time.

So maybe I just want to say, to myself as much as to anybody: keep trying. Don’t settle for something that “looks” right in lieu of something that feels right.

Don’t treat sexuality like a performance so long that you forget that it’s also a sensibility, a way to connect with your body and with the world, and something that has at least the potential to mean something magical.

Dear self, don’t buy fishnet stockings and then wear them only for someone else’s benefit. Wear them for your own.

Don’t manufacture someone else’s sexuality and wear it like a straitjacket. Create your own kind, tailored precisely to fit you, and change it as often as you need to in order to reflect every bit of new growth you do.

I’m too old to believe in happy endings. What I do believe is that we have more power within our romantic relationships than we do basically anywhere else in our lives, so jokes about Twu Wuv aside, those relationships matter.

I might never get past the point where smiling back at this girl petrifies me. Still, acknowledging that is something, that’s a step. It’s a punch thrown in the face of people who’ve got a problem with me loving women.

It’s one more blow against my eating disorder’s insistence that being anything other than thin means being an immoral slutty unlovable slob.

There’s an abyss where everything I could become lives, and sometimes there are these people that abyss shows up around. Sometimes that abyss seems too scary to risk a single step in, but then there are these moments where staying outside of it also seems dangerous.

Interpreting subtext line by line is fun and time-consuming, but it also transforms love into the kind that’s claustrophobic, the kind that dies off slowly and contributes to entropy as it does.

Maybe sometimes it’s all a person can do. Maybe for now it’s enough to remember how to feel, or really, in my case, to learn for the first time.

Doesn’t make me wish any less for subtext to become story, to become action — for me to stop drowning in words, and start saying them instead.

 

amwolf@willamette.edu

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