Cracking Open the Closet Door: Being Ace and Muslim

I am not entirely sure how to start this. Introductions are high on my list of horrors, finding themselves ranked above my pesky pigeon plight and just under the frankly fearsome fate of failing if I try to publish, again.

Forgive me. I resort to humor when I am uncomfortable. Allow me to turn off my taciturnity toward this tediously troublesome topic and return readily to my rattling rhetoric.

Okay. That was my last one. Promise. I’ll just get right to it.

This is my personal tell-all on how I pretended not to be asexual for the entirety of my life, displayed on the internet for all who do not know me to see.

Because no one I know goes on my website. Ever. This is our little secret, internet.

Just a little background on what an asexual actually is, I have zero sexual attraction to people, regardless of gender.

I was raised by Muslim, Middle Eastern parents. My entire life, I was told that my future consisted primarily of three things: going to school, making something of myself, and starting a family of my own–kids, husband, the works. That last one was not an afterthought. It was important both culturally and religiously, and I never doubted that.

I still do not.

On a trip down memory lane, one could see little me growing up completely different than literally everyone else. I was weird. People commented on it openly. They said it to me; They said it to my parents; They said it to almost everyone who knew me. It was never a positive thing.

My parents were very loving and supportive. I was their daughter and that was me, and they loved me. I have always been absolutely terrified of disappointing them, because everything I have, they gave me without a second thought.

Growing up, I had a ton of friends, but I felt extremely isolated. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t get the things other girls liked and they didn’t get the things that I liked. I was weird, and everyone knew it. I couldn’t control that, and it was hard. You try being one of those kids who know that they are complete deviations from the norm, all by their lonesome, not really sure what to do about it. So, I clung to at least one thing that would make me the same as everyone else: crushes.

I had crushes on the most random boys; I had nothing in common with them at all, but all I needed was to fit in, so anyone fit the bill. I didn’t talk to any of them. I just told my friends. I had to start faking it since elementary school, and I got very, very good at it as I grew older. I even had myself convinced:

“This is normal. This is what I am supposed to want, so this is what I want.”

It became a sort of mantra. I stopped wanting to fit in very early on, but I now understood that it was extremely important in my most basic belief system. I had to get over it. I had to get over not wanting to be with someone at all, because I had to do it eventually.

Then, I hit college, and I “fell for” my best friend at school. We hung out all the time, and I thought, “Okay. This is good. This is okay. I can deal with this.” I completely convinced myself that I had fallen for him. In my head, I figured, “This is obviously a Muslim girl in love, right? It has to be.”

It wasn’t. It was me, once again trying to convince myself that I was just like everyone else. I even had my friends convinced that I was truly into him, and the lie got so out of control that I had to tell even more lies to cover up that lie. I couldn’t admit it, but I was too terrified to even contemplate the possibility of the truth, let alone tell someone else.

After that, I went through guy after guy. My parents would introduce me to someone, I would give it a shot, and then find a reason not to go through with a marriage. It became a cycle. I’ll give him the time of day, I’ll have “won” him, and then I’ll come up with any reason to high-tail it out of the relationship as if my feet were on fire.

I had–and still have–everyone completely convinced that it isn’t that I don’t want a romantic relationship of some kind, but rather, I have too tangled a mess of commitment issues to stick to one guy. I welcomed that label. It was served to me on a silver platter. I was not aromantic or asexual. I was afraid of commitment. It was perfect.

I have lied so many times to so many people, because I couldn’t let one soul know that I was this much of an anomaly. I have always known that stepping out from under my fairly comfortable invisibility cloak would go one of three ways: people would think I’m either lying, completely screwed up beyond human comprehension, gay or that I still haven’t met “the right person.”

Not one of those possibilities was appealing in any way.

And I was right. I told someone very close to me, and I regret it whole-heartedly. I am positive that she thinks I am confused or lying.

It might not seem like a big deal, but I struggled with this for the vast majority of my life. Being asexual and Muslim is several degrees of hard, because even though there is nothing that mandates that I must get married or “I’m going to get it,” marriage is too fundamental to just ignore.

I am a girl who will get married because she has to get married, not because she wants to.

I will stay in my tiny little closet, making no noise and pretending I don’t exist.

That is my burden to bear.

Immediately regret telling her. I think she thinks I’m lying or that it isn’t a big deal.
It is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. I’m Arab and Muslim. The concept of marriage–regardless of who the person is–is a HUGE deal. You have to get married. That’s it. Being aromantic is horrible when you haven’t got a choice.
What the hell was I thinking, telling someone? Never again.

I opened the closet door just a crack and told my friend that I’m aromantic, today. Sure, I bitched out and just threw it in the middle of conversation and moved on to the subject of pizza to avoid talking about it, but I did it, didn’t I?

Don’t you judge my pansiness.
Don’t take away my victory.
At least I said it.

Somebody Oughtta Tell ’em That Broad is Crazy

First order of business: aromantics are not insane. They are people who simply deviate from the “norm.” If this is a difficult concept for you to grasp, by all means, move right along.

Notice that I did not claim that I’m not crazy. My own insanity, I am not inclined to deny.
I place myself in the looney line for many other dreadfully disconcerting discernments, but that’s awfully unrelated to the topic at hand.

Dear Internet,
You don’t know me. I don’t know you. Let’s keep it that way.
Prince Charmander Charlie the Third

I have completely lost my mind.

Aromantic Non-Asexual

How do you tell someone you’re dating that you’re aromantic?
“I like you…as long as we each stay in our own respective corners.”
“Let’s try not telling each other how we feel.”
“Let’s not hug.”
“Let’s not hold hands.”
“Let’s just refrain from all nonsexual physical contact.”
“It’s not you. It’s me.”
“No, seriously. It’s me.”
“Wait, I’m not breaking up with you. I just don’t desire you romantically.”
“I don’t actually feel anything.”
“I’ve been lying this whole time.”
“I’m doing what they tell me I should be doing.”
“The normal thing.”
“That doesn’t mean I like it.”
“Oh god.”
“I am a bitch.”

How do you tell your friends you’re aromantic?
“We have always chalked my aversion for monogamy up to commitment issues.”
“I pretend to care more than I do so no one thinks I’m crazy or lying.”
“The thrill of chase is all I care about.”
“I don’t like him.”
“I don’t truly like any of them.”
“I am just not supposed to be alone.”
“That’s what everyone says, anyway.”
“That doesn’t make me fucked up or weird.”
“But you would think I am.”
“So I am trying to be normal.”
“Everyone wants to be with someone.”
“But I would rather be alone.”
“It’s not that I’m a crazy masochist who wants no people in her life.”
“I do want other people around.”
“I want friends and family.”
“But romance is foreign to me.”
“I don’t understand it.”
“So I pretend to.”
“Quite well, I might add.”

No Romo