I Wish I Could Ask You…

TW: abuse

I will never see or speak to you again. That is, undoubtedly, a good thing. I do not want you anywhere near me, now or ever. After I left you, even being in the same city – with 150,000 other people – felt too close.

There are so many things I want to ask you, though I know I will never get the chance. Things I still don’t understand, can’t make sense of. It’s six years since I left, and I am still picking up the pieces. Still unpicking, untangling, rebuilding, relearning. You could give me answers, but we both know you won’t.

I want to ask you what you were thinking. I was so young. A legal adult, yes, but far too young and far too broken to fully understand what I was getting into with you. I want to ask you why you couldn’t be the responsible fucking adult and walk away.

I want to ask you why you laid so much responsibility at my feet. When you made my youth, my body, my adoration a salve for your bruised ego, did you know what an impossible corner that put me in?

I want to ask you if you ever believed the things you said in the beginning, or if you only placed me on the pedestal so you could blame me when I inevitably toppled off? I’m not sure which would be worse.

I want to ask if you ever heard a word I told you.

I want to ask you who you thought I was. You always told me I might be able to be something extraordinary, if only I’d let you shape me like an artist chipping away at marble. What I understand now is that I always had that potential inside me, and it had nothing to do with you. Did you see that, too? Did it scare you? I want to ask you if you always knew I’d grow up and outgrow you and walk away someday.

I want to ask you how you got so quickly and so completely in my head. Was it intentional? Calculated? Was it a challenge, or do mind-games just come naturally to you?

I want to ask you if there have been others. How many? Do you have a replacement for me, some other naive young woman you can seduce, ensnare, tame, blame, destroy? What have you told her about me? Am I the devil incarnate, the one whose name you’ll throw at her as a comparison when she steps out of line? Am I the one who fucked you up? Do you blame me for the way you treat her?

Most of all, I want to ask if you regret any of it. If you have any sense of the havoc you wreaked, the damage you caused, the scars you left. I want to ask you if you enjoyed breaking me as much as it seems like you did.

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I’m Not Looking Forward to Christmas

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
– Garrison Keillor

My feelings about Christmas have fluctuated over the years. Please bear in mind that I am an ex-Pagan who now identifies as an atheist. So I’m approaching Christmas through the lens of the cultural phenomenon rather than the religious observance.

When I was little, I was – like many children – fully into the magic and sparkle of Christmas. In my late teens and early 20s, it became a nuisance that dragged me away from university (where I was far happier than I had ever been anywhere else.) For five years, it was also the time that my then-partner fucked off out of the country for 2-4 weeks at a time (sometimes longer), leaving me behind and increasingly resentful.

Christmas and I have come to an uneasy truce over the last couple of years. There are aspects of it I enjoy very much (sparkly lights! My ridiculous garish rainbow tree! Mince pies and brandy sauce!) and elements I do not care for (obscene expressions of capitalism on speed, most Christmas music, the cold.)

For the last few years, Mr CK and I have made our own – appropriately offbeat – traditions. Fortunately, my family are very chill about the whole thing, so we avoid expectations that we MUST go home on Christmas Day. As long as we all get together at some point over the holidays, we’re all happy.

This year, though? This year I just can’t.

2020 has been a trash fire for so many people in so many ways. And, though we’re now on the home stretch at last thanks to the long-awaited vaccine, I can’t imagine that at least the first part of 2021 is going to be much different.

I don’t feel celebratory. Honestly, I just feel fucking tired. I’ll be happy to raise a glass on new year’s eve and wish 2020 farewell, even if nothing will immediately change. But Christmas just feels like an obligation. Like something false and forced that will inevitably just remind me of everything I haven’t been able to do this year.

I’m sharing this to let you know that however you feel about the upcoming holidays, it’s okay. Whether you’re excited to celebrate, dreading it, or just can’t bring yourself to care, it’s all valid. There’s an enormous amount of cultural and social importance placed on Christmas. That can all feel like a lot of pressure even during good times. Which this year emphatically is not.

To vaguely tie this back to sex (since this is ostensibly a sex blog,) I’ll consider it a win if this year’s Christmas celebrations in the C&K house amount to a good fuck and a week of sleep.

How are you feeling about Christmas this year, loves?

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

Pancakes

I love making people pancakes the morning after a night of filthy sex.

I don’t know quite when this tradition or this association started, but it’s now firmly entrenched in my mind that an overnight date should ideally end with a lazy, late-morning pancake breakfast.

Food is one of my love languages. I love the ritual of making a loved one a cake for their birthday (or, let’s be real, any other special occasion.) Adding flour and eggs and chocolate chips and infusing the whole thing with love. I love dashing around the kitchen whipping up a feast for a group of friends. God, I miss dinner parties. Years ago, I taught myself how to cook vegan (I wasn’t yet even vegetarian at the time) because a dear friend adopted strict veganism overnight and it seemed like a good way to show support.

And I love making pancakes the morning after the night before. Whether we’re grinning at each other across the kitchen table with filthy, hot memories still fresh in our minds, or balancing trays on our laps and trying not to spill syrup on the bed, there’s something delightfully intimate about eating breakfast together.

If I’ve let you stay over (or I’ve stayed over with you,) it means I trust you to see me at my most imperfect. It’s one thing to get dolled up and go out to a restaurant and then go home and fuck and slip out before we fall asleep. It’s another entirely to let you see me with bed hair, morning face, pre-coffee blearly eyes.

A lot of my sex is pretty casual, but I still care deeply about everyone I get naked with. Whether we’re long-term partners or friends who also fuck occasionally, I want you to know how loved and valued you are. Making breakfast is my little way of saying “I want to do all kinds of hot and dirty things with you. But I also want to hang out in our pyjamas and eat pancakes with you.”

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Loving Someone You’ve Loved Forever

“We had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”
– Louis de Bernieres (from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin)

I won’t knock New Relationship Energy for a second. It’s fun and it’s wonderful. Who doesn’t love that part at the beginning of a new relationship, where you’re feeling each other out, learning each other’s bodies and minds, figuring out how you fit?

But for me, the best things in a relationship have always come with time. Things like learning how to move around each other in the kitchen as we make a meal together. Knowing exactly what treat to bring back from the store to make the other’s day a bit brighter. Hearing I love you in words like “drive safely” and “you need to rest“. A whole shared language of jokes, memories, experiences, trips, fights and resolutions, fucks, films, friends, and so much more.

And sex with someone I’ve loved forever? For me, that’s where the really good stuff is. When there’s no pressure to be perfect. No worries about what if we don’t fit, what if it doesn’t work, what if what if what if

No fear I won’t be good enough, because they’ve already seen me at my worst and they still love me. Knowing that if I don’t come, they won’t think my body is too finicky or complicated. Knowing that if a body makes an unsexy noise, we’ll laugh it off and carry on. Being 100% certain that if I say no, they’ll respect it and still love me. Not being scared to take my clothes off, because I know they find me hot, stretch marks and body hair and all.

All other things being equal, I’d far rather have sex with someone whose body I know. Someone who knows mine. The creativity that comes with keeping the lust and the spark alive over years. Morning sex when we’re still half asleep, afternoon sex when we’re both working from home, giggly sex when we’re just on the right side of tipsy, sex club sex when we’re getting off on showing off.

I’ve never understood people who think long-term relationships are boring, that forever love is unexciting, or that sex with someone you’ve loved for years has to be less passionate.

So yes, casual sex is fun and NRE is wonderful. Give me the breathless excitement of fucking someone for the first time. Give me the heart-skipping moment when one of us finally moves to kiss the other. Bring it on – I love that stuff. The ability to enjoy that stuff over and over, without hurting anyone, is part of why I’m polyamorous.

But more than that? Far more than that, give me waking up next to someone I’ve loved for years. Bodies that can keep rediscovering each other every time we come together, again and again and again for years. Give me the two puzzle pieces that know they fit together.

Give me roots that have grown together underground. In the face of all that, the pretty blossom is just decoration.

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

The Me Who Never Met You

TW: abuse, suicidal ideation (in the past, am safe now)

There is a version of me who never met you.

In another life, I am whole. In another version of the story, the ending is different. Somewhere in that parallel universe, I am different.

In that life, I do not jump at nothing. I don’t have walls six feet thick around my heart. I don’t have nightmares about the goofy, charming smile I fell in love with, the smile that hides the monster that terrifies me. The monster I cannot tame with pleasing and placating and fucking and offering myself up as a sacrifice, even though I’ve tried.

In that life, I have not spent thousands of pounds on therapy just to stay alive. I have not been medicated and hysterical and within an inch of slashing my wrists alone in a random hotel room because of all the times you convinced me I was nothing.

The me that never met you might have had a chance to be alone for a while. That girl could have spent the best years of her youth travelling and learning and fucking and fucking up and spending all that energy on literally fucking anything else but trying in vain to meet your impossible standards.

The me who never met you might have kept more of her softness. Gentleness might have still come naturally to her, rather than being something unfamiliar and alien she had to relearn piece by piece. She might not have had to forge steel psychic armour just to survive.

There is a version of me who never met you. I wish I had been able to know her.

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I Don’t Want Children (and That Doesn’t Mean There’s Anything Wrong with Me)

I don’t want children.

I think I was about seventeen the first time I uttered that sentence out loud. My partner at the time and I had discussed how many children we’d have someday, and what their names would be. Because that’s what you did when you were in a loving relationship, wasn’t it? Get married, buy a house, get a dog, then have children.

But at some point I realised that parenthood didn’t fit with the vision I had for myself of my future. I wanted to write books, I wanted to travel the world, I wanted to adopt animals and make a home with my partner. But could I see myself as a mother? Every time I thought about it, it just didn’t fit.

“I don’t think I want children,” I said to my partner. He shrugged – he hadn’t really cared one way or the other and had mostly assumed we’d have kids some day because he assumed I’d want them.

Think of the (hypothetical) children!

I think the next time I said it was when I was starting to tell people I was in a polyamorous relationship with my now-ex and his wife.

“How is that going to affect your children someday?” people asked me with a sniff of disapproval.

“I don’t want children, so it’s irrelevant,” I replied.

This statement was really far too much for a lot of people to cope with. I was told I’d change my mind, that I was too young to know, that it wasn’t fair to these completely hypothetical unborn not-even-conceived children for me to choose not to have them. That I should give up the life that made me happy to have kids I didn’t want. I was even told it was unfair to the hypothetical future husband people assumed I’d end up with one day.

Being upfront about it

I’ve always been very upfront about my complete lack of maternal instincts to partners when we start getting serious. I don’t want to spend years with someone only to find that our life goals are incompatible!

I’ve also always been very clear with anyone I have sex with, when the topic of birth control comes up, that an unintended pregnancy will end in a hasty abortion (and that this is not up for debate.)

“But how do you know? Won’t you regret it?”

How do I know this is what I want? I know because every time I allow myself to imagine being a parent, I am filled with an immediate and visceral feeling of “NOPE.”

Can I absolutely guarantee I won’t regret it someday? Of course not. But I think it’s tremendously unlikely, given how much I generally love my life as it is. Despite being constantly told that I’ll end up alone, I don’t see how that is possible when I have loving partners, a supportive family, and amazing friends. And honestly, is some vague fear of being alone in the future a good reason to bring a new life into this world? I don’t think it is.

If I pushed myself to become a parent out of some misguided sense of duty or caving to pressure, I think I’d regret that.

Late last year, my nesting partner Mr CK had a vasectomy. My risk of unintended pregnancy was pretty low already (all bow before the mighty Mirena!) but that decision just removed any doubt or possibility of birth-control failure. When it was done, all I felt was this overwhelming, searing relief. No lingering “what ifs?” or sadness for what might have been. Just, thank goddess, that’s one less thing to worry about.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“I just think there’s something deeply wrong with women who don’t want children.” I can’t remember the precise context in which I heard this statement, now, but I still remember the sentiment. And it’s everywhere.

Maybe it’s not usually so explicit. But the implied-or-directly-asked question again and again and fucking again is always some variation on, “what’s wrong with you?”

Nothing is wrong with me. I’m not broken. This decision isn’t the result of some unresolved trauma. I’m not missing a piece of my heart. I’m not selfish, I’m not filled with hatred for parents or children, and I’m not incapable of love. I just… don’t want to be a mother.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, or with me.

I’m moderating comments on this one, hateful ones won’t get through. Anything you can say – that I’m a failure as a woman, that I’ll regret it, that I’ll die homeless and alone with seventeen cats – I’ve heard before and I’m done arguing with. Be nice!

[Quote Quest] The Way I Loved You

The thing is that you brought this out in me. How could I want it with anyone else?
– J.M. Storm

TW: emotional and psychological abuse, gaslighting. Sorry that I’m writing so much about my abuser right now – I’m processing some things and writing helps.

“The truth is, I don’t think I’ll ever love anyone else the way I loved her.” I remember saying this to one of my play partners, a year or so after the relationship with my first girlfriend ended.

“You won’t,” he said, surprising me. “What you’ll eventually realise is that that’s a good thing.”

I didn’t understand exactly what he meant then, or for several years afterwards. In fact, I don’t think I fully grasped the whole truth of this statement until I left my last abusive partner.

My play partner was right. I’ve never loved anyone else exactly the way I loved her. That would be impossible.

Firstly for the obvious reason that no two people are the same, so how could two relationships or two types of love be the same? But secondly, because she and I represented a specific moment in my life. I was very young, just barely over the cusp of adulthood, and still a baby queer barely peeking a toe out of the closet. She was the first. She was the person who took my hand and guided me through those early, tentative explorations.

No-one else can be that, nor should they try to be.

What we had was many things. It was beautiful and it was terrible. Sometimes, as we struggled to communicate and connect in a world that was very much against our brand of queer, polyamorous love, I felt like I might die. Other times, I was sure she was the one great love of my life. But there is one thing it was not: sustainable.

When I met my abusive partner, in some ways it felt similar. He gave me the same dizzy, giddy, love-drunk feeling. Kept me slightly off-kilter. Made me feel like I was losing my mind.

What I didn’t realise then, that I know now, is that with her those feelings were the symptom of first love between two people who were trying their best but were ill-equipped to handle the intensity. With him, though, they were symptoms of deliberate manipulation. I was constantly off-balance because he put me there.

I often felt like I was dying when I was with him. He was the oxygen I needed to breathe, and held the absolute power to cut off my airways if I displeased him. (Despite my best efforts, I often displeased him.)

One of the things I mourned when it all went so badly wrong was what we’d had in the beginning. At that stage, I still romanticised the sleepless nights, the desperation to drop anything and everything else to please him, the way he made me feel simultaneously like a precious but fragile doll and like his saviour.

What I know now, that I didn’t know then, is that that wasn’t romance. That was grooming. That was textbook lovebombing, holding me up on a pedastal so I’d be disorientated and broken and compliant when he inevitably threw me off it.

Maybe you’re just not who I thought you were, he’d say. And that was all it would take to have me desperately trying to prove that I was who he’d said I was on one of those early dates where we’d stayed up all night talking and fucking. Because I wanted to get it back. I wanted those soaring highs again. I wanted to love like that again.

Now I realise that I never will. But I never will because I am older now. Wiser. A little more jaded, perhaps. But I can protect myself now. And that means I will never again allow myself to be taken in by superficial charm that masks something much more sinister.

So no, I’ve never loved anyone else quite the way I loved her, and that’s okay. I’ve never loved anyone else quite the same way I loved him, either – and that’s a good thing.

Have I loved just as hard, just as deeply, just as wholeheartedly? Yes, absolutely. But the same? Never.

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

[Quote Quest] Breathe

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.”
Louis L’Amour

TW: this post contains discussion of abuse in relationships

Leaving an abusive relationship is like relearning how to breathe.

People talk about learning how to trust again. I’m still working on that one. They talk about remembering how to sleep through the night, how to stop jumping at shadows. For me, it was relearning how to breathe.

Being with him felt something like the emotional equivalent of being trapped underground, where the air is dirty and the roof is made of rocks that will come tumbling down on your head if you make one wrong move. Like having a crushing weight pressing down on your chest, which is slowly suffocating you but which you think will kill you if you remove it.

Leaving was like emerging into the sunlight but not knowing how to breathe air that is clean and safe.

The truth is that, for many survivors, the point of leaving is the beginning and not the end.

And not just because the point where we leave is statistically the most dangerous.

My ex didn’t come after me physically after I left him. Violence was never his way. Psychological manipulation was his game. He was clever enough to be the master of the mindfuck, and I was naive enough to let him far enough into my brain that he’d rearranged my psychic furniture before I knew what was happening.

So no, I never feared he would kill me. But he kept playing his head games with me, finding ways to make sure I never felt safe. He emailed me out of the blue for the most spurious reasons, throwing unfounded accusations of infidelity and betrayal. He demanded money. Then he bullied his way into access to my home. He, or one of his friends (I’m still not sure which) kept tabs on me via a sockpuppet account on Fetlife, tracking who I was dating and which events I was going to. On one occasion, my current partner and I caught him driving past us multiple times while we were out in a way that made me feel like I was being watched.

Is there any wonder I didn’t feel like I could breathe freely until I saw definitive proof that he’d moved to a different city hundreds of miles away?

It was difficult for me to claim the label of abuse and apply it to that relationship, because he didn’t hit me. I wondered if I was being whiny, if – as he said – the only reason I felt like my mind was being systematically broken was because I was crazy. Even once I left, I asked myself if what I’d experienced was really that bad or if I’d deserved it because I pissed him off.

So no, leaving isn’t the end.

It’s the beginning of a journey of healing that can take months, years, whole lifetimes. I will never be the person I was before him. My life can be divided neatly into three parts: before, during, after.

Leaving is the first step on a long, long, long road of learning how to be you again, free from your abuser’s influence. It’s the first tentative grasping at the straws of, “maybe I’m not crazy. Maybe it all really happened exactly as I experienced it. And maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t okay.”

Leaving is the first gulp of clean air into lungs that have forgotten what that felt like. It’s feeling your chest expand as that crushing weight gradually lessens and then lifts.

It’s relearning how to breathe.

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This piece was written for Quote Quest, a new weekly meme by Little Switch Bitch. Click the button to see who else was inspired by this week’s quote! And if today’s piece resonated with you, you can always buy me a coffee to say thanks!

Rape is Not About Attractiveness

TW: this post discusses rape and sexual violence. If you’re a survivor, please feel enormously free to step away and care for yourself. If you’re not a survivor, please try to read this one to the end.

This isn’t the post I wanted to write today, but yet again I found myself falling down the hellish rabbit hole of rape apologism on social media today.

I’m used to this. It’s just part of being a woman who talks about sexuality, sexual violence and feminism in a public space. I hate it, it makes me angry and sometimes it makes me cry. But I consider these issues too important to not speak up. Sometimes, though, the reality of talking about sexual violence on the internet straight up retraumatises me. Today was one of those days.

“You’re too ugly to rape”

This is a summary of what was said to me on social media today.

What upset me wasn’t the insult. Aside from the fact that this person doesn’t actually know what I look like, because I don’t show my face on Twitter, I don’t much care if random men think I’m hot or not.

What bothered me was the deeper implication, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

Circa 2014, I inadvertantly started a civil war in my local kink scene by speaking out about sexual violence. (No regrets, would do again, the resident rapists all told on themselves, etc.) But at the time, I wrote something about how I’d experienced several sexual assaults of various kinds in my life. Someone wrote in response, “LOL, she thinks she’s hot enough to have been assaulted “multiple times.””

The idea that only “hot” people get sexually assaulted, or that speaking out about sexual assault is some kind of statement on one’s own attractiveness, is profoundly fucked up and shockingly common.

“I wish people wanted me so much they couldn’t control themselves”

This has been said to me a number of times by men over the years, including but not limited to former romantic partners.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the implication here is that sexual assault is a privilege. The implication is that being wanted enough to be sexually violated is something to be grateful for. Something to be flattered by.

Like, sure, one in four women (very conservative estimate) are sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime… but they should just shut up and be grateful because some guy really really wishes someone he’s attracted to and wants to fuck anyway would throw him down and have their way with him.

Rape isn’t about attractiveness

How likely someone is to experience sexual violence isn’t even remotely correlated with their level of attractiveness (insofar as attractiveness is even a meaningful or measurable thing, given that it’s so absurdly subjective.)

Rapists don’t rape because they’re attracted to their victims. Physical attraction to another person isn’t a button that turns a decent human being into a monster. Everyone is capable of controlling what they do sexually, even when they’re super turned on and super attracted to someone. Most of us know this.

It’s not a fucking brag when I say I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times in my life. It’s not a “hey look I’m so hot everyone wants to fuck me!” If I speak up about the worst and most deep-seated traumas of my life and your reaction is “lol she thinks she’s all that” then that shows something deeply and profoundly wrong in your understanding of how sexual violence works.

Rape isn’t even about sex

Rape is a crime of power. It’s not about the perpetrator being so overwhelmingly aroused, so overcome with lust, that they couldn’t help themselves. It’s not about sex at all.

To be raped isn’t to feel wanted and desired. It’s not some fucking ravishment fantasy out of a shitty romance novel where the hero you were totally gonna fuck anyway rips your bodice and has hot passionate sex with you. To be raped is to feel violated in the most fundamental way. To feel as though your body is no longer your own.

To still occasionally have nightmares thirteen years later.

Because rape isn’t sex. Rape is violence. And it needs to stop.

I’m accepting tips that allow me to keep giving time and energy to this incredibly exhausting work. But even more than that, I’d love it if anyone who could afford it made a small donation to Rape Crisis.

Firework

Something a bit different today. I actually wrote a draft of this post a long time ago and am only just ready to share it. This is the true story of the girl I call my firework.

You are the reason that I breathe…” I hear our song, quietly playing on the office radio all these years later, and I am transported back. I don’t remember her birthday or what her favourite colour was any more, but I do remember the important things. The way she grabbed me for that first kiss, the one where I thought my heart would stop. How she was so tiny I had to bend to kiss her, yet I still felt so protected when I was in her arms.

For months, she was only words on a screen. We typed, typed, typed our words, back and forth, night after long night, but it was never quite enough. It was a long time before I even saw her face. I didn’t need to. Just her name, just those three little ellipses to indicate her typing, was enough to send my foolish teenage heart into a tailspin. She was the first person I ever knew who I could be completely myself with. With her words, she reached through the screen across the miles separating us and wrested my truth from my fingertips.

I was only eighteen; she, twenty-five. The first moment I saw her, 3D flesh-and-blood, real and alive and right in front of me on the platform at New Street Station, I knew I was lost. I knew that, whether she was with me for a decade or walked out of my life tomorrow, she would always linger like a brand upon my skin.

She taught me how to make love to a woman. But much more than that, she taught me how to say yes when something I desperately want, but am afraid to want, is offered to me. She taught me how to love unreservedly, how to give of my whole self and then more. With her, I dared to hold hands in public and kiss in front of people who might not approve.

“To hell with what they think,” she told me. Her bravery made me brave, too. We only got abuse shouted at us in the street once.

Of course she broke my heart. We broke each others’. I fell too hard, too quickly. She withdrew. We were both too young, too afraid. We didn’t know how to communicate. There was the built-in inequality, right from the beginning, of age and experience – of the fact that she was my first love, and I was not hers. We didn’t know what we wanted. With her, I entered a second rush of adolescence, when I was barely through my first.

It was only later, when I’d finished crying into bottles of strong alcohol and convincing myself she was the only great love that would ever come along in my life, that I realised a fundamental truth: I will never love anyone else in the same way I loved her. And that is okay. That is even good.

What we had, though beautiful for its brief time, was neither comfortable nor sustainable over the long term. She was not the gentle, comforting fire of long-term companionship. She was a firework; beautiful and dazzling and then… gone. And fireworks are precious, but there is a reason we don’t set them off in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

We will never be friends. Of that I am absolutely certain. On the one occasion in the last ten years that I’ve seen her face – Facebook is a curse – I found the longing still there. Dulled, yes – dulled by time, by the memory of how things ended, by the more real and present and immediate affection for the person I love now – but still there. Indelible. She is indelible, a handprint in the book of my life.

It took me a long time to get over that heartbreak, and longer still to get over the anger that I manufactured to protect myself from the pain. But now? Now I am thankful for those brief, fleeting, perfectly imperfect three months.

She, my firework, taught me to be proud to be a queer woman, and for that I will always love her.

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