Femme Invisibility

The struggle is quite real when it comes to femme invisibility. As a more feminine presenting lesbian (75% of the time, I’d say), I am often presumed to be straight. This makes dating/meeting people interesting because it often puts me in the position to be the one to make the first move because other women may not always see me as a potential mate.

It also gives me privilege. I “look” straight. I “look” Christian. I can visit my family down south and not have anyone question my physical appearance or mannerisms. I can use the bathrooms I want to without a second glance from others already in there. I don’t normally get called a dyke or lesbo unless I happen to be with a partner.

I recognize the aspect of privilege when it comes to being mostly feminine presenting; however, I want to talk more about the frustrations because they are issues that I have dealt with and that I continue to deal with.

As a “chapstick & part time lipstick lesbian”- contrary to what the media likes to advertise- I don’t find myself super attracted to super masculine presenting women. I’m not opposed to dating them, but they’re not normally who I “swipe right” on.

I like women. I like curves. I like boobs. I like dresses. I like long hair. I like girly women. I think I also like women who are like me: kind of in between, go with the flow, can wear a dress or a suit and feel damn good no matter what she’s wearing. I like fashion fluidity.

It’s funny that I talk about the struggles of not being able to properly advertise myself physically as a lesbian because it’s not like I’m that much better at picking out more feminine lesbians myself. I will admit that I believe in gaydar 100% and I think mine is in pretty good shape.

I rely on eye contact and a woman’s walk a lot. That’s just me.

In all seriousness, femme invisibility is a thing, yes, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. I think other lesbians also need to be more accepting of lipsticks because they’re not all straight girls in disguise looking for an experiment. Be more optimistic when approaching a feminine presenting woman.

My second relationship with another woman.

I met Mary when I was in 2nd grade. We rode the same bus together and I remember us giggling on the ride home one day because all the girls had been given “menstrual kits”. We opened some pads and examined the tampons all while laughing like maniacs. I also remember attending a birthday party of hers and inviting her to one of mine.

Time went on and she moved elsewhere and started online school. The reasons aren’t really important and we lost touch.

Just a few months into my junior year of high school, I was at a football game (I was in the marching band) and it was 3rd quarter, so we got a break to eat and mingle. I ran into her at the food court. After quickly catching up on the past 5 years, for some weird reason, (I call it gaybie syndrome) I felt the need to immediately out myself and let her know that I was a flaming homo. Her physical appearance suggested to me that she, too, might be one. She did not disclose, but I wasn’t really fishing for an answer anyway.

We exchanged numbers without any intent on starting a romance. Nevertheless, about 3 months passed and by the winter of 2014, we were an item.

She made the first “move” via text by letting me know that during our last visit she really wanted to kiss me. I remember being shocked and a little turned on at her forwardness because previous conversations never suggested any attraction from her end. It was unexpected.

So, the next time I drove over to her house, as I was leaving, I asked her if I could kiss her. It was obvious to me that she wasn’t going to actually make the first move and I didn’t have an issue with that. I was the first female she ever kissed and I’m sure she was quite nervous. She was not my first kiss, and I remember thinking about how the kiss was so bad. It really was. It was an awful kiss and I was rejoicing in that fact because the same night that we bumped into each other, I had just split with my first girlfriend of 1-2 years.

I wasn’t over my first girlfriend. I was hoping that there would be no “spark” with Mary because I secretly hoped that my heart would forever belong to Maya. My story with Maya is something I’ll share in a future post because it’s a good one. It’s a little crazy and not all pretty, but I look back on what was happening between us fondly.

*I have changed the names of both of my previous girlfriends for at least some privacy; however, I purposely made them both “M” names because that was the case for me- 3 girlfriends in a row, actually. It must be a curse of some sort.*

Back to the story:

I kissed her. It was awful. I was happy about it.

Eventually, I did fall in love with Mary and she with me. She was a little more dominant in everyday life than I was; however, I was still very much independent, opinionated, stubborn, and strong-willed. I thought it was nice to be with someone who acted like they knew what they wanted. I liked giving up some control for once.

We did EVERYTHING together. We would text all morning and day while I was at school and then we would hang out when I got out, as long as I didn’t go to work. Even when I had work, I would get off at 10pm and drive to her house.

I, truly, for a time, thought she was the one. It’s a story everybody has gone through- especially lesbians, I think. It’s just so easy to feel so connected to another woman. I thought I was going to marry her.

6 months into our relationship, most of my family had met her and they liked her. She bought me a $500 promise ring. We went on date nights and she would insist on paying. After 8 months, she even went to Germany with me and my family. She also bought a new car in this time because she cashed in on her VanGuard account (or something like that). In the Fall of 2015, I was attending college. She became my roommate for about 4-5 months. She eventually dropped out and started pursuing a certification/degree in aviation maintenance at a different college.

The red flags were there before 6 months hit. They became even more prominent at the 8 month and 1 year marks. I don’t know why I stayed so long. The flags were small at first and they progressively got more intense and more abusive as the relationship continued.

When she told me she loved me for the first time (over text, UGH), she freaked out because I wouldn’t say it back.

She ignored my texts and calls for an entire day because she was mad about something I didn’t do or say. When I got to her house (I was worried SICK), she was sitting on a riding mower just playing on her phone and she made me guess why she was mad. I don’t even remember what it was about.

When she gave me my promise ring (something we had NEVER discussed before), she started pressuring me to buy her one.

When I wanted to go to bed after work, she would guilt me into staying at her house longer than I wanted to by asking me “Don’t you love me?”, “Do you do everything your mother tells you to?” (My mother had a 12am curfew for me, and I gladly abided by it because I’ve always enjoyed going to bed early.)

She was constantly telling me that my family clearly hated her. Not just disliked, but hated. She would also say negative things about my mother, who I fucking love and who has never done ANYTHING to hurt me, ever.

She started pressuring me to pay for more of our dates, even though I made it clear that I didn’t want to eat out or go on expensive dates. She would say “Let’s go here!” I would say okay, because as the person invited, I wasn’t expecting to get the bill, but when the bill came around, she would look at me. I should also note that her family is old money and she had cash to blow that no 18 year old should have. I had next to nothing.

She went to Florida with me and my family for my mother’s wedding. She would not conform to what the group did or ate and insisted that we drive around town until we found a Burger King. It was the most stupid and embarrassing situation and I wish to this day that she had not come on that trip.

There was just so much guilt and manipulation in everything she did, I can’t even pick out all of the scenarios.

One day, we were driving down from Atlanta from picking out her new bedroom furniture. I was trying to tell her something and she turned the music up. I turned it off and tried again, but she turned the music back up and refused to listen or talk to me the rest of the way home.

That same day ^^, we were almost at her house and I laughed at something I saw on my phone. She asked to see what was so funny. I said that we were almost home and I would show her when we arrived. She insisted on seeing it then and there and she leaned across the middle compartment to grab my phone, the car swerved and hit the curb, and she popped 2 tires. She blamed me for the popped tires and demanded that I pay for them both. I’m glad to say that this was about the time where I had had enough of the abuse and I did not pay for those tires.

There was a period of time when I didn’t want to have sex with her because I wasn’t finding it enjoyable anymore and I just wasn’t feeling well. She did not respect that at all and pressured me almost daily to have sex with her.

I felt isolated from my friends because she would get angry that I was spending time with them instead of with her. She would do the same thing even if it was family that I was spending time with.

There are more things and events, but they don’t matter. This relationship was abusive and I didn’t realize it until 1 year afterwards. I learned a lot about myself during this time. This relationship also affected how I function in current relationships, both romantic and platonic. It affected how I see people. It changed a lot for me.

We were together for about 1.5 years. I should’ve left after 6 months, but I didn’t have the courage, the words, or the support.

Internalized Homophobia

I had my first “Aha!” moment when I was in 6th grade. At that time, I didn’t even know what “gay” was.

The story goes like this: I was playing soccer with my team and an older girl named Caitlin was playing with us. She was from a more experienced team called Lightening and she had played with us many times before. This time, however, I found her in my vicinity more than usual and as she ran past me, I stopped in my tracks. I stopped running, I forgot the ball, I was just standing there like an idiot.

It was her smell. She smelled like flowers and it was intoxicating. I had NO IDEA what the fuck was happening, but I got it together and continued to play the game.

I told my mom about it immediately and she said to worry about those feelings when I was a little older and not to stress about it now.

I didn’t seriously evaluate what I felt that day until about 4 years later when I fell in love for the first time. It was incredible.

This post is about my internalized homophobia, though. So, let’s jump in. Between 6th and 10th grade, I learned more about what some of my family and community and a great deal of society thought about those who experienced same sex attraction. I learned more about God and his apparent disapproval of the same behavior. I learned more about sexism and double standards.

I learned that gay was not good.

Fast forward 2 serious relationships with other females plus a 3 month adventure with another girl. I was now 19. I found myself in a position to explore a relationship with a man. I took it.

I dated him for 8 months. I put everything into the relationship, but to no use. I was gay.

I have wished for my “gayness” to disappear before. I remember feelings of disappointment and irritation for not being a good person. Because gay people aren’t right. There’s something wrong.

I remember feeling angry and confused when people said that I was choosing this “lifestyle”. I still get so angry when I’m told it’s a choice. Who in their right fucking mind would choose to be looked at so disgustingly?

I feel like to my more conservative family members, they see me and think, “if only she would date men, she would be the perfect person, granddaughter, daughter, etc.” I’ve always done well in school. I don’t enjoy drugs and I don’t drink often either. I visit my relatives, I volunteer, I’m always employed, I have friends. I even went to church on my own accord for a few years and even now, even though I am not religious anymore, I have no problem going to church with family if they want me to join them.

But I’m gay.

I’m almost the perfect package. I’m almost the perfect granddaughter. Almost. There’s just that one little flaw. “If only she’d just come to her senses, accept the Lord, and realize that it’s unnatural to date the same sex. It’s disgusting. It’s not right. It’s not Christian. It’s not decent.”

“You turned my daughter gay”

“She wasn’t like this before you”

“You took advantage of her good nature”

“You’re disgusting”

“You’re too young to know this is who you are”

“You can be gay, you just shouldn’t act on your desires”

“I understand that you’re gay, but I don’t want to see it”

“It’s okay to be gay, just don’t wave it in my face”

“It’s only okay for women to be gay, but two dudes is fucking nasty”

After being told these things, it should come as no surprise that I found myself absolutely hating my sexuality. Everyone around me, it seemed, was telling me how wrong it was and how I shouldn’t act on it, especially not in public.

The worst types of homophobia are the indirect moments of it. For example, 99% of my family NEVER asks me about who I’m seeing or if I’m interested in anyone. When I was presumed to be straight, there would always be questions about the current boy I was interested in.

I also recently went through a breakup. It sucked. The woman I was dating is an amazing person and our reasons for breaking up were primarily distance and conflicts in our future desires (children, mainly). There is no bad blood between us, so I had nothing to be angry at. I was just sad. My family knew that I had been seeing her. They even met her. When I returned back home without her or mention of her, there were no questions. There were no “how are you dealing with this” or “are you okay” questions. I was disappointed because I thought some of my family was more okay with my “lifestyle”, but apparently not interested enough in it to ask how I was handling something very emotional.

In the past 2 years, I have learned to truly love my sexuality and the community it allows me to have. Being around other people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum makes me feel most loved and safe. I don’t have to act straight or omit information when telling a story or talking about my hopes and dreams. I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions and I’m not gawked at when out with a partner. I am so thankful for that community.

It’s a daily obstacle to assure myself that I’m enough exactly how I am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t have to change myself to make others more comfortable in their ignorance.

I’m learning to live my life with pride in myself and I hope you do, too.

Insomniac or nah?

I started having issues sleeping right around the same time my anxiety and panic attacks revealed themselves (about 10-12 years ago).

With that being said, bad sleep/insomnia also runs on my mom’s side of the family. My mother does not sleep well and neither does her mother.

For me, the issue doesn’t seem to be falling asleep. In fact, that happens quite quickly sometimes. However, I wake up multiple times throughout the night. This leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted when I have to get up for work.

I actually function quite well and don’t feel much of a drain throughout the day, but it’s annoying not sleeping completely through the night.

What have I done to combat my sleeping issues? Let me list them for you.

  • Weighted blanket- I don’t actually know if this makes a huge difference, but I love it. I love the weight and warmth. It was one of my best purchases.
  • Melatonin
  • Baldriparan
  • Cooler room temp- This has helped the most.
  • Noise machine set on white noise- I would like to note that I wear earplugs at night AND I still have the noise machine on because I can hear it through my plugs and still reap some of the benefits (it drowns out the other sounds in my house like my roommate getting off of work at 2am)
  • Ear plugs- Happy Ears. Buy Them. Now. They Are Amazing.– I spent years going through a multitude of earplugs ranging from foam to wax to this silicone version and I’ve made my choice.
  • I find that taking a hot shower (just body, no hair washing) right before I go to sleep is nice.
  • I stop drinking liquids at 7pm so I only get up once to use the bathroom during the night.
  • I sleep in complete darkness.
  • I have made my bedtime 9pm every single night whether it’s a weekday or weekend.

I’ve never actually been diagnosed with insomnia, but I’ve also never asked my doctor about it because it seemed normal to me. I will probably ask my doctor about further options the next time I visit just to get that professional opinion, but I don’t see much changing.

My Anxiety

My anxiety always feels like I can’t take in a full breath. It always feels like yawning and then not hitting the “top” of your yawn. It’s a heavy weight on the top of my chest. It’s shallow breaths. It’s a fear of not being able to breathe and not having anyone there to help.

Once on the brink of a panic attack, my legs and arms get tingly/partially numb. Everything around me begins to sound like white noise.

From there, it goes one of two ways: either I sit down somewhere and ride it out or I start trying to implement my coping skills and hope it goes away.

I have a few coping skills/tools and some of them are silly, but when you feel like you can’t breathe, there’s not much you won’t do to relieve it.

  • sitting down/squatting in an almost fetal position seemed to calm me
  • applying makeup, specifically eye liner or mascara that would require more concentration
  • eating food
  • brushing my teeth
  • shaking my hands and arms to get feeling back into them
  • podcasts for distraction
  • calling someone on the phone
  • writing in my journal

I also have collected prevention tools over the years and I don’t use them all, but I’m sure it would help.

  • When I first went into therapy I was told to use something called the Alpha Stim SCS.
  • Since the end of May of this year, I’ve also been trying CBD oil. Honestly, I haven’t felt much of a difference, but I also haven’t been taking it regularly for the past 3 weeks.
  • I’ve been drinking more water and eating more healthy foods.
  • Sometimes I take lavender pills.
  • I try my very best to get good sleep and enough of it, but that has been a lifelong challenge that I can expand on in another post.
  • I do not consume a lot of alcohol, and when I do, I limit myself to a single glass of wine or beer.
  • I stay away from caffeine.
  • I’ve been trying to move more through stretching, just getting up more at work, and actual exercise, but I’m lazy and sometimes I can’t be bothered even though I know it would probably help immensely.
  • I continue to push myself to do things that make me a little uncomfortable because you have to conquer the things you fear to overcome that emotion.

My anxiety has never kept me from going on adventures or living my life, but it has limited how far I would travel for those adventures and it gets annoying when all you want to do is enjoy yourself, but these “what if” questions won’t stop buzzing.

It’s a struggle, yes, but yesterday’s therapy session felt promising. Read more about it here.