Coming out of the Closet as a Dreamer.
I went on a date recently — something which I have not done for more than a year now. The guy was kind, intelligent, hard-working, and an introvert.
We both appreciated the good qualities of the other, and could hold a conversation. However, I believe both of us were on the date in the first place because we were seeking something outside ourselves.
In my case, I was there because I wanted the reassurance of knowing that men find me attractive, that I can meet someone new and make conversation with ease. I was also attempting to distract myself from the sting of a recent heartache. My perception of him was that he was there because he feels the pressure of his thirties approaching, and he doesn’t want to be un-partnered for much longer.
This is a pressure that I do not feel so much, even when my family asks me if I have met anyone new. I know several strong women who are either well into or beyond their thirties and happily (for the most part) single. Many of the people whom I admire, teachers I have met online, are single women in their thirties or forties. The idea of being alone as I grow older does not frighten me.
I miss feeling a mutual spark with someone in a romantic and sexual sense. While I value and enjoy platonic relationships as much as romantic ones, touch and sensuality are my love languages, and I have been deeply in romantic love with the same person for a few years now.
In one of our recent conversations, he rejected me in a more serious way, and I knew it was time to turn my focus more toward my happiness. Since I don’t know exactly what makes me happy, I have been trying different things — dating again being one of them.
During the second outing with this new man, our previous partners became topics of conversation. I noticed that he spoke about his with some resistance, so I did the same. Inside, I did not truly feel it was wrong or too soon to bring up the topic. At my age, I know most people will have already been in one or two significant relationships and may have children.
I have been in a long-term relationship, and although I was not in a relationship with the person I mentioned that I love, it did not hurt any less when it seemed all signs were pointing toward moving on. It felt like this new man expected me to become jealous of his ex, and that made me think, because he expected it, perhaps he is a jealous person too.
I was reluctant to speak about my romantic past. I did bring up my long-term relationship briefly, but I was not forthcoming about my non-relationship, my unrequited love.
As the conversation went on, he eventually asked me, “How do you probe for information?” I was taken aback, and responded that I don’t. “Of course you do,” he said, “you already did.”
I was still in shock from the abrupt turn that our talk took. I was in shock from being accused of something that was not my intention or my truth. He explained, and apparently, I had committed a faux pas earlier in the conversation by asking him questions about his ex.
He had mentioned she was from another state but knew the Upstate New York area well, so I asked if she visited here often. I can see now why he would interpret that as probing, but when I asked it, I was intending to be conversational. I listened to his answer about her and forgot about it moments later. An hour further into our conversation, he was still thinking about it.
At one point, he asked me, “How the hell are you single?” The grief I have been holding in my chest and throat wanted to spill out, but I would not allow myself to talk about the one I love and how the entire journey of that love brought me here. He will run, I thought. He will think I am crazy.
I laughed about the whole experience with my sister afterward, saying that I felt it was time for me to “come out of the closet” about my non-relationship. No, I don’t feel a need to reveal who he is or any details, only that I hold feelings for him that run so deep that I have questioned how society handles love and what love truly is.
Dating does feel fake to me — at the heart of our outing was only this: “I am here because I need something outside myself.”
I miss touch, and I crave it. I think about the person I love every day, and I want to come out of the closet. I want to allow the grief to pour from my depths, but I am stemming its flow, even now.
I don’t want to only come out of the closet about him. I want to come out of the closet about being a more evolved soul. I want it to become a societal norm to not be jealous. I want it to become socially acceptable to love more than one person, to not declare certain types of love as superior to others.
I want it to become normal for people to abstain from dating and relationships if they feel those things do not resonate with them, if they are only engaging in them to feel accepted or to be like everyone else. I want it to become normal to love deeply and without condition, and to not feel abnormal when we cannot turn to hatred or judgment for solace.
I want to live in a world where people handle hearts with a more delicate touch, where rather than judging where people have been and where they are going, we simply observe. I want to live in a world where, rather than numbing our pain, we have the courage to feel it.
During the date, he mentioned that he didn’t like the song “Imagine” by John Lennon. He said the lyrics struck him as silly and unrealistic. What a silly idea, that we could all live in peace, or that we could all subscribe to different ideologies while not feeling the need to make any one “wrong” or “right.”
But it is exactly that kind of thinking that keeps me in the closet — that pessimism about humans in general regarding our intentions and the potential of our love. Many people will not believe, or they may reject my kind of love as a form of insanity, and that’s sad.
But there will be many people that it helps.
I am a dreamer, and although I feel terribly alone at times, I know I am not the only one.
Heidi Hendricks has been published in Adelaide and Buck Off Magazine, and was a finalist in the Adelaide Literary Awards 2017 with her essay, “Nonlinear.” She is passionate about music, and plays the guitar as a hobby. She is currently working on a book of poetry and essays. Her favorite topics are self-exploration, unconditional love, and healing.