The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— Robert Frost, 1915
A poem that has withstood the test of time and is frequently quoted, even by those who do not know the poem, and one that many people can identify. The road to identifying your sexuality has many twists and turns and far more paths than the two mentioned in the poem. Throughout my life I had travelled many roads, for many reasons, and not always the correct ones, and whilst I’m not sure I am on the perfect path yet, I am certainly much closer to finding it.
High school is a confusing and frustrating time for everyone, we know that, and it certainly didn’t help me understand myself. For ease I tried to take the well-trodden path. The other girls in my class had decorated their lockers with posters of David Beckham, Keanu Reeves, George Clooney and other popular figures at the time. I didn’t understand why, I put up a poster of Michael Jackson because I liked his music, apparently that was the wrong thing to do. So, I put up some posters of singers with the “babyface” look because that was slightly more appealing than the stubbly, hairy guys.
Fast forward a few years towards the end of high school when we’re starting to realise that there are other options (a British private school so there weren’t many). Two girls started dating! This shocked the school, but one of the girl’s was the deputy head mistress’s daughter and a rebel and so after a while it was presumed that this partnership was just to annoy her mother. Was it? No idea, I’ll never know, but the students’ consensus was that they were pretending. During one lunchtime a girl made a statement that the female form was more beautiful than the male form. I replied with a resounding yes, whilst other girls were shaking their heads. But I wasn’t a lesbian, I didn’t want to be in a relationship with a woman. I shrugged it off, the girl who had said that had had many boyfriends and she thought the same so didn’t think it meant anything.
Then came boyfriends. Pretty much if someone asked me, I said yes, because they were interested in me and surely that’s how it works, isn’t it? Let’s just say none of these boyfriends are really the kind of guys my parents were thrilled to meet. Bringing home a 31 year old at midnight, when I was 17, asking if he could stay the night because he forgot the key to the house, and his parents were asleep, was definitely not a great first move. The choices didn’t really get better. I never met any guys I wanted to ask out so only relied on the ones who asked me. Honestly though, even though I craved being in a relationship, I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, sex is messy and exhausting and just not that thrilling. Maybe I just hadn’t found the right guy yet.
When I was in my early 20s, I had moved to Australia by this point, and I had fallen in a big hole. I had been conned by some “friends”, I had taken a year off from university to save some money, but had lost everything, I had no place to live and no one that I could trust. Then I got rescued by a friend of an ex. He was so charming and a gentleman. He did drugs, but when he found out I couldn’t stand them, he stopped. He stopped doing drugs for me! He gave me a rent-free room! He encouraged me to get back to uni and he supported me while I was doing it! Plus, he cooked and was happy to clean! This was it, wasn’t it? It must be, why else would he do all this? The relationship bloomed and things were going great. We got married and started trying for a baby. But after 7 years together, things were wearing down. The seven-year itch, right? We’ll get through it, look how great we are together, it's like we’re best friends…
It took a long time, but success, baby boy is on the way! Wow, the whole pregnancy thing is not as easy as some people make it out to be, or at least it wasn’t for me. I didn’t have morning sickness; I didn’t have any physical problems, but I certainly didn’t have the pregnancy glow. Peri-natal depression. Regular appointments and check-ups. I hated being pregnant. Baby comes, full blown post-natal depression, and I end up being hospitalised. Luckily SA has one of the best post-natal depression wards in the world and I owe so much to them, but it took a long time to work out what was happening and why it was taking so long for me to start feeling better.
It was clear to my doctors, and everyone else around me, that the marriage wasn’t working. There were many reasons, which I won’t go into, however, at one point my husband said that we didn’t have sex anymore and when we did, he felt like he was raping me. I can’t remember if I said it out loud or not, but I certainly thought that that was because that’s what it felt like to me. (Disclaimer: at no point did he actually rape me).
Eventually, I spoke to one psychiatrist, who asked, after discussing activities I enjoyed as child, if I was happy being a girl. My immediate answer was yes of course. But later that evening that question hit home. Suddenly all these paths were revealed to me that had been in darkness before and I had a lot of thinking to do. I recalled that discussion at school about the female form and after talking to my doctor I realised that I am probably a lesbian! Wow! I had never even considered it before. Sure, I knew I found women more attractive, but that’s because they’re pretty. Wasn’t I always told in those teenage magazines about how fabulous Jennifer Anniston’s boobs look in that dress, and how Jennifer Lopez’s cheekbones are highlighted with her new haircut, and gosh, look at the shade of lipstick on Angelina Jolie. All women think other women are beautiful, don’t they? Apparently, straight women find men attractive, and their penis is actually a draw card. Who knew? My mind was blown!
Dating women was so much easier than dating men, and the sex was better too! My first girlfriend was found out of desperation and eagerness to try out this new path. I definitely preferred this path. But my mental health crashed again. Ok, old patterns die hard, bad choice of partner, learnt my lesson (I hope). Met my second girlfriend, and this time it was mutual. We spent time talking at a picnic with a lesbian group, and she was great. We liked the same things; she was great with my son and at one point she leant over to brush of some grass that was on my back and all I can say is wow! So that’s what they mean when they say there was a spark. I wanted to get to know this lady! We took it slow; I was up front about my situation and what I had been through, and she was great about it. Let’s just say it was a really fun path to be on! Then it happened again, my mental health crashed. I had to break up with her. I don’t know if she ever realised why or how hard it was (I’m so sorry, if you’re reading this C). Why is this happening again and again? Am I destined to be alone forever?
I continued meeting up with the lesbian group because it felt like the right path. But as it turns out, that path diverges too. I started finding out about things like drag kings, which sounds so fun, I’ve met people who are trans, non-binary, bi, bi-romantic, and many other things. I started doing research, found out way more than I could ever have conceived of. Eventually I found that the path, or the label, that best suits me is agender, homo-romantic, asexual. When I said that to my psychiatrist, there were lots of notes taken and I had to repeat it several times. Is it my final path? I doubt it. I’m wondering if maybe I’m bi-romantic, if the penis thing is taken out of the equation, as I’m asexual, but then I change my mind again.
My next big question, of course, is how do I meet someone who understands my needs? As it turns out, my last relationship failed because her sex drive was much higher than mine. Society deems sex to be important in a relationship, so where does that leave people who are asexual? The last psychologist I saw said that she doesn’t think I will claim to be asexual when I meet my next partner. That statement was really upsetting. She obviously didn’t realise that asexuality is a real thing and not just a temporary status whilst in between partners.
Asexuality is becoming more recognised, and its own paths are starting to be recognised. Demisexuality, no sexual attraction until you know the person, is now recognised. There are asexuals who are also aromantic, and asexuals who still want relationships. Even those who want relationships can then be divided into those who abstain from sex completely, and those (like me) who still partake in sex to please their partner and for the intimacy, but don’t feel the need to.
Whilst I have yet to meet another agender, homo-romantic, asexual, I have met other people on their own less travelled path, and this has encouraged me to continue down mine. Fiction has been a great help to me in identifying different aspects of my sexuality and gender identity. I have recently discovered a few books that have asexual characters who are trying to form relationships and I hope to find advice there. My mental health has been steady for nearly 2 years now and I feel happy with myself. As the poem says,
“I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
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