when i knew #22.
by Michael King
“I spent so much of my childhood and adolescence working myself out of a bad situation. The home I lived in was very abusive. I was afraid to go home after school because I knew I would get screamed at, hit, manipulated, or sexually abused depending on the day and my stepfather’s mood. He hated my ferocity and did everything he could to break me down. Eventually, I threw myself into school because I finally realized that was the only way to independence and safety. The other parts of my identity were left unexplored for over a decade.
“Before I even knew how to describe it, I was a highly sexual person. I was sent to counseling several times during my elementary years for masturbation. There, I was instructed on how to hate my body and bury my sexuality. I remained in that pit of self-hate and ignorance for a very long time. I didn’t even know I was being sexually abused until I got to high school because I knew nothing about anything sexual. I was so scared and angry that I had difficulty communicating with people about simple things, never mind what was wrong. I didn’t trust counselors and therapists after my earlier experiences and refused their help. I was a mess of a teenager and am very lucky to have come this far. I moved out of that home less than ten days after I turned 18 and have never looked back.
“I had a very serious boyfriend in high school more out of insecurity than anything else. At first he was a lifeline and later he grew to be an irritant. I absolutely despised myself for having failed to save myself for marriage, and it eventually tore us apart. Not even six months after that relationship fell apart, I found myself yet again in a very serious relationship with a different boy and still deep in self-hate.
“While I was away for study abroad, I started reliving my worst memories in my sleep. At the encouragement of the man I was then engaged to, I came back to the United States early. The nightmares didn’t stop until I made the effort to process them and a commitment to healing the gaping holes and scars. That engagement ended very poorly a couple of years later due to a number of things, and I was thrown into a very dark place.
“During the soul-searching aftermath of that engagement, I started to realize that I wasn’t making life goals because I wanted to achieve them. I was just making the ‘standard’ life goals because that was what I had categorized as normal. I finally gave myself permission to just be. It took me a long while to figure out who I was, what I wanted, and where I wanted to be. Once I stopped trying to shoehorn myself into a mold I didn’t fit in, I started developing new interests of all kinds and noticing old ones that I had suppressed. I had always known that I found people of all genders to be intriguing and beautiful, but I had categorized it as wrong and dirty to entertain same-sex attraction. After I jumped into all my new interests and started projecting my newfound self-confidence, I realized that I shouldn’t limit myself to one gender just because society had decided heterosexual couples were default. I could be whoever I wanted to be and be romantic and sexual with whoever was willing to give me those chances. Once I threw away society’s rulebook, I realized I was a pansexual, polyamorous pagan who owed no one an apology. I was 24 when I finally learned to love myself.
“I don’t make it a point to discuss my relationship dynamics with people because I don’t really enjoy being the pariah of the group. Being pansexual is relatively easy to explain to anyone who understands bisexuality. Being in a polyamorous relationship is not easy to explain, and I won’t volunteer that information unless I know the asking party very well. I tire of being called a whore, a slut, and a hoe. I don’t want to hear concerned parties tell me or one of my partners that we aren’t committed, aren’t serious, aren’t safe, and are taking advantage of everyone involved. Polyamory requires very thorough communication. If a problem comes up, we talk about it. Immediately. Leaving problems to fester is not good for any relationship. I have many diverse interests and not everyone is into all of them. That’s okay, and the beauty of polyamory is that they don’t have to be. When I became active in BDSM, I decided I was never again going to be monogamous because it’s cruel to ask someone to do something they find repulsive. Now, I think it’s really good that each person gets to enjoy what they find appealing and no one finds themselves in a situation they wouldn’t enjoy.”