I want to tell you who I am. I want you to understand how I feel. But I can’t.
It’s not that I don’t know - I do. I just can’t find the right words. Most of the time I have to explain my identity with flow charts and diagrams.
The dictionary is backwards; it’s playing catch-up to define a moon we’ve only just landed on as we dissect ourselves to find words and meanings which help us understand who we are, coining words for gender identities and sexualities nobody knew existed and nobody still does because the gap remains in the dictionary, the book we all swear by to tell us what everything means.
When I turn to this Bible of words I find it lacking. I can say I’m asexual, but that’s only painting a picture in a single hue.
More people are beginning to understand, but I want everyone to understand, and understand it all, because I do, finally; I have definitions bursting from my skin with no words to attribute them to, and it hurts. I want to set them free.
I know who I am. I just don’t know how to say it.
It’s like I speak a different language, but we use the same words; a language where a crush isn’t lustful and attraction isn’t sexual, where orientations have binary directions and logical definitions.
I envy those who can use words to describe who they are, those who can say they’re bi or pan or homo or hetero. That neat little label which paints me in all my colours seems so far out of reach.
None of the words fit. I’m attracted to everyone, so you could say I’m pan, but never in the same way. My two crushes have been on women, so you could say I’m hetero, but I’m not. I could be bi-sensual or bi-aesthetic, but the label is inaccurate and vague, so often used to refer to binary genders.
Romantically, sensually, aesthetically - my three faces of attraction point in different directions. The words we use aren’t useful.
Whether I’m aesthetically attracted to a random man, sensually attracted to a non-binary person or romantically attracted to a woman I know well, the only words I can use are ‘I’m attracted to you’; and if I tell you that, I have no idea what you think I mean.
There are so many words for love, but all of them imply sex; there are so many words for attraction, but I can’t confess it without implying some lustful desire. Hot, sexy, beautiful; they all imply more, when there’s nothing wrong with less.
I’m so much more complicated than our neat, simple and tidy words can describe, and maybe we all are. Maybe we’re all eclectic messes, finding parts of ourselves in labels others will understand, trying to ignore the colouring outside the lines.
But the problem is… well, we use different dictionaries, and they’re both playing catch-up. Neither has the words I need. Neither can help me tell you who I am. Neither can help you understand how I feel. I want you to know, because I know, but I can’t.
The paint on the palette is drying, and I have no idea what to paint.
Alex Stabler is a Creative Writing student from the UK. He is, as you might imagine, asexual and probably something else aromantic-y but he has far too many deadlines to bother working that out yet. He has previously been published in Volume 1, Issue 2 of The Asexual, which was a tremendous surprise he hasn't really recovered from. He also struggles to stop himself slipping terrible puns into his writing and is really bad at writing bios about himself.