I really want a girlfriend. I want to be in a relationship. For a number of reasons, that’s really hard for me to say.
I write about my desire for a girlfriend with great fear and trembling, because it forces me to acknowledge my understanding of my sexuality as a man with cerebral palsy. I’m also afraid of it because this recognition involves a short detour into some of the inner workings of my personality. I’ll write about the loneliness that makes up part of me, and then I’ll turn away from it, to face the great joy that comes from communion with another person. And, as usual with me, this reflection will also include some theological discourse.
Okay. I am a young man with cerebral palsy. As such, I’m also a sexual being: I appreciate both the emotive parts of body language, and the profound verbal connections that people make when they care for each other. I love smiles, and I love hugs; I enjoy it when people hold hands, and I live for deep conversations. As I’ve come to know myself more, I’ve realized that I appreciate all kinds of human embodiment. Thus, I strive to be gentle, and to see the beauty in everyone.
Nonetheless, when I was very young, I didn’t see beauty in myself, so my view of others was deeply skewed. I felt that others were full of life, and peace, and energy, and I had nothing to offer. This has proven detrimental to some of my relationships; I will not acknowledge that painful self-pity in this reflection…except to say that I have been loved into existence. Because of my family, and my loving friends all over the world, I am ever more aware that I am brave, smart, funny, strong, patient, easygoing, passionate, steadfast, compassionate, and a good listener. And a lover. I am a great lover. At the very least, I hope I will be!
So, when I was very young, I didn’t, um, experience significant relational success relative to erotic or romantic relationships. I was deeply aware of how I felt, but felt mystified by girls (now women): “She’s nice, and she’s pretty. But I look funny, and I walk funny. How will I appear? Will she really like me?” The next step was, “What if we have to talk? What the hell do I say?”
Dances were very difficult for me, because I had a skewed body image. I took very little joy in that part of high school. I deeply longed to know others, not only spiritually, but physically too. In “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono sings,
I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire…
I felt broken most of the time, and I really wanted to know what it was like to kiss lips like honey, and to feel the healing that being with another person could offer. As Leonard Cohen, another songwriter full of authenticity and passion, cries, “O solitude of longing / Where love has been confined / Come healing of the body / Come healing of the mind.”
After years of confusion, and rejection—mostly from women who didn’t understand my intensity any better than I did—I found friends in my late undergraduate, and upon my arrival in Toronto. I made female friends, and male ones too, who would eat, drink, and sing with me. Many would also pray with me, and go to concerts. That was a wonderfully liberating experience! Through the love of others, I began to understand my sexuality in a way that hadn’t been possible before. I felt the beginning of a new fullness to replace my burning desire. Come, healing of the body; come, healing of the mind.
I still had to confront my own embodiment, of course. That took years—truly, about seven of them, since I became aware of that need—and a certain amount of main force, too. Happily, Andre, my best friend—I’ve mentioned him before—took me along to his dance class in 2010. There, as we were partnered off for dancing, I discovered a group of women who were patient, kind, and fun-loving, and I began to actively deal with the vagaries of a lopsided body and skewed spatial sense. It became easier to approach women as I learned how to work with my body in all its complexity, to distinguish left from right, to pause for balance, and to harness (some of) my energies in action as well as conversation! 🙂
And, at long last, I found somebody. She was a sweet, smart, and affirming woman. We had a great time together: we ate out a lot in a period of a few months, we browsed a couple bookstores, and I learned to appreciate the Lethal Weapon film series. (Sidebar: I totally recommend the first two movies.) Like all good things (except for the love of God), that relationship had an end; I feel like I learned a lot. And the most important thing? I had kissed honey lips, and felt healing in her fingertips: she gave, and still gives, awesome hugs. That was an experience of real communion, brief though it was.
I do still have issues with my intensity. Yes, I am intense; I prefer the word “passionate.” I tend not to deter, disguise, or diminish that passion with specific controls, and I’ve been told sometimes that I elide the power-relations between men and women. In my deep yearning for intimacy, I often forget that other people don’t want to have the kinds of intense conversations that enable me to thrive. I long to touch others; I want to have intimate conversations; and I…dammit, I want to tell other people all the things I feel. While I know that many people will shy away from the white-hot light of authenticity that I would shine on all the parts of my life, I love others. I want to show that love to everyone, and to somebody very special. Someone who loves me, and who affirms me in all my intensity.
To that end, I’ve constructed an inner narrative that allows me to navigate my interactions with women with much greater success. I’ll talk more about that in the future.
I’m getting closer: recently, an older couple with whom I sometimes worship took me aside after Eucharist, and told me that someday, I’d be blessed with that very special person for whom I long. I felt very affirmed, because I was told (again?) that I have many qualities that will make a relationship awesome, on my end. In short—in contrast to my portrait of myself as a teenager—I am awesome, and I will someday find (be found by?) someone awesome, too.
But I stiiiiill haven’t fooooound what I’m looking for…
Whom, rather. Not yet. And, for right now, that’s all right. It’s all right; it’s all right…for He moves in mysterious ways. 😀