“...When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.”
— Pema Chödrön
For months during 2009, I ignored Dwayne*, even though we had two classes together. Dwayne positioned himself behind me in one class, and we were forced to be in a group project for another class. I wore black every day; I recognize now I was in mourning. In mourning for a romantic relationship that was only real to me.
As a result of working in a group together, I broke down and spoke to Dwayne. He made excuses about why he was in a relationship and how he only hooked up with this young woman out of loneliness while going through personal issues with his father. He told me he was emotionally using her, and the reason he didn’t confide in me with his challenges was he didn’t want to burden me since he cared about me. Dwayne claimed he didn’t care as much about her, so it was easy for him to lean on this woman. I wasn’t sure what to believe, and I was still nursing the wounds from the summer. For the next nearly four years, Dwayne was absent from my life as I became involved with another guy.
In 2013, Dwayne and I somehow reconnected platonically. I realized I had forgiven him at some point, in the time we had been apart. I threw a large birthday party that year and invited him. By the time Dwayne arrived to the party, I was drunk and I kissed him; he kissed me back.
Following my birthday party, we grew close again, but it was very different this time around. We went on dates, and we emotionally supported each other. We didn’t have sex or kiss. It was almost like getting to know each other all over again…the right way.
Dwayne loved comics, but had never been to Comic Con because he didn’t believe in treating himself, despite the fact that he had the means to do so. In October of 2013, I surprised him with an early birthday gift, tickets to Comic Con. That weekend was a profound experience in many ways, one of the chief reasons being that we had a deep conversation. For the first time, we had a real discussion about how we truly felt about each other, and where the current state of our relationship was going.
After that conversation, I promised myself I wasn’t going to move the relationship forward any further unless Dwayne committed to me. I remember it was an autumn day in November; I called him, nervous and nauseous. Dwayne answered, and could hear the uneasiness in my voice. I said to him, “Do you want to be with me?” He said, “Yes.” I made him repeat himself because I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly. He laughed and said, “Yes, I want to be with you.” Life couldn’t have been better.
Then tragedy hit.
Not a week later, Dwayne learned his father passed away. Dwayne had to go to his father’s home country to bury him. That was the last I ever heard from him. Dwayne came home and blocked me from social media, blocked my friends from social media, and blocked my phone number. Nearly six years later, I still do not have an explanation for why he cut me off. Dwayne’s actions would inflict a deep wound upon my psyche. It’s a wound I carry with me to this day. A fear I am trying so hard unlearn: the fear of abandonment.
As traumatic as this was, the next chapter of my life had already been set in motion. Let’s go back a month prior, to October of 2013. I met a young woman, Sunshine* (that was her nickname for me). We met at a women’s conference I attended for work. Sunshine approached me, held out her hand and introduced herself with the utmost confidence. She was dressed in fitted men’s slacks that hugged her voluptuous hips, a button-down, blazer, and a loud bow tie. She had gorgeous eyes that looked like miniature suns, soft curly hair, a perfect shape up, caramel skin, and a bright smile that was both innocent and endearing. I remember thinking in my head I had never met a more beautiful woman. Immediately, I had to push the thought out of my head because I was straight…right? Also, at the time, I had every intention of embarking on a relationship with the man I had hoped to be with (Dwayne).
Sunshine and I ran into each other again at my office because our organizations often collaborated with one another. Somehow, I had never noticed her prior to that conference. I had challenged her previously at the women’s conference to develop a workshop for women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). She accepted my challenge, but asked for my help. I happily obliged.
We grew acquainted quickly, and went out one night for frozen yogurt. I knew she was the type who wouldn’t let another woman pay for her. Despite her push back, I treated her anyway. That night, I found myself unloading my insecurities about the men I had been involved with to Sunshine. She was a really good listener and, at that moment, I noticed that she subtly flirted with me. I dismissed it, because to me, a beautiful gay woman like her would never want me. (Noticing a pattern with my self-talk?)
Shortly after this night would come the fateful episode when Dwayne would cut me off. I was devastated by his violent, sudden exit from my life – again. I had a hard time dealing with his betrayal and his absence. Since Sunshine was often in my office, I found myself crying on her shoulder. I fell apart in her arms, and her willingness to listen to my trauma helped turn our acquaintanceship into a close friendship.
Moving into 2014, Sunshine and I really connected, despite the nine-year age difference. We were both very ambitious, overachieving women, hell-bent on changing the world for the better. She and I shared an awkwardness about ourselves. We often had people around who adored us, but most people rarely knew who we really were. Most importantly, we bonded spiritually. For the first time ever, I had someone in my life who spoke my language, someone whom I felt understood me on a soul-deep level. During this time, Sunshine’s flirtatious advances increased, and I pretended to myself that I was ignoring them.
That March, I took a trip to London for my graduate program. During my time in the UK, the only person I could think about was Sunshine. I had developed the largest crush on this woman for all of these months without admitting it.
When I returned to the states, I was gifted my own office, away from my colleagues. I remember Sunshine came to visit me; we wanted to catch up privately, so we closed the door. I was so uncomfortable because I wanted her so badly. Everything about her seemed to arouse me in an aggressively intense way. It was something I had never felt before with any man. Her lips, voice, smile, hips, laugh, ass, breasts, eyes, skin, even the brilliance of her mind turned me on.
That night, I texted her and told her that I felt it was best she didn’t come by the office any more. She demanded an explanation. No matter how much I tried to give her a superficial answer, she was too intelligent to believe me. I finally confessed that I was attracted to her. That text message changed my entire life...forever.
To be continued…
*Name changed to protect identity
Profile Photo Credit: The Divulge Project