The end of all things 2021ish

It’s the end of another calendar year, and it’s tradition to have new year’s resolutions. I don’t do that anymore. My goals are ongoing. But I do like to reflect a bit, because one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve traversed further into adulthood is that if you’re willing to work at it, your level of self-awareness gets…sometimes frighteningly fine-tuned.

2021 was an interesting year for me, and in the U.S. I’m seeing our country openly tearing itself apart (as opposed to doing so behind closed doors and euphemisms) – open hatred and bigotry combined with the nefarious side effects of American “rugged individualism” (read: “me first, screw you”) has made for an interesting landscape. One that, in all honestly, has kept me up at night and brought on bouts of rage that I don’t particularly enjoy but also recognize are important and healthy, especially in this context.

This was the year I found out I’m in (early stage) liver failure, have a kidney full of stones (one doctor’s words: “Some people are just stone makers”), and that my skin cancer has returned (treatable but expensive because U.S. healthcare is a joke).

But it was also the year I graduated from a writing program with a solid draft/outline of a story about magic and violence that I’ve been working on for a few years and published authors giving me guidance and feedback, one in particular (if you’re not reading Eleanor Brown, why not?), and two more stories coming up right behind it – one a rewrite of something I originally wrote in my 20s then shelved for reasons I honestly regret now, and something completely new that’s been erupting out of me these last few days. I can see the various origins of this latest one, and the very clear core theme/question.

I spent a lot of time in libraries and coffee shops and the botanic gardens. I read a lot and wrote even more and earned a graduate certificate in my field and have just started a new one in a topic that’s near and dear.

I started a new job that I have mixed feelings about. I have things I love about it and things that are driving me crazy.

I’ve begun openly discussing the fact that I’m asexual – something I only really, fully accepted back in October 2020 (I’ll have to post about that revelation process sometime), although I recognized that something was different about me back in 1996. I struggled for decades to understand what it was. When I realized it, I tossed it aside for a while, but 2020 was the year I went, oh shit, I’m asexual. And 2021 is the year that it just exploded out of me.

I was afraid of the consequences. I thought it might end my marriage (it didn’t – it just opened it up to new possibilities), but it did end a “friend”-ship with someone who was being catfished by someone claiming to be asexual, and apparently my coming out, in her mind, was a confession. (Note: I’ve never catfished anyone in my life.)

2021 was the year that I more fully embraced the idea that not everything requires forgiveness or closure or “getting over it.” Sometimes grudges are healthy.

My ace-ness had made me spend a lot of time this year reflecting on language. I didn’t understand asexuality was a thing back in the 90s and 00s, which is why I struggled to understand and articulate how and why I was different. And when I tried, I had men telling me I was wrong and women telling me I was a lesbian and therapists telling me I had trauma. Turns out I’m a panromantic aegosexual. (I do have PTSD, but for reasons that have nothing to do with my romantic/sexual orientation.)

I don’t know when I first heard the term asexual, but I know that I misunderstood it for a long time. Some people may think that plethora of labels around gender and sexuality is getting ridiculous, but for someone like me, having more terms and labels and descriptions has helped me understand what it is that I experience. Without that language, I was lost. For years. And 2021 was the first time that a piece of me that made no sense and was frustrating and screwed up relationships suddenly made perfect sense.

And maybe that’s what I’m taking out of 2021 – what’s sharpening my writing – putting things into language in order to better understand them. Be that sexual desire (or lack thereof), cultivated grudges, or how magic and beauty and violence and hatred can co-exist in the same world – it’s all come out this year. And I don’t see that slowing down in 2022.

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