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Through Trauma Treatment, I Was Able To Accept My Panromantic Asexuality

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with my sexuality.  Ever since I was a child, I’ve grappled with feeling like I was different from other people.  I’ve frequently pondered about whether or not I experience sexual attraction, and whether or not I identify as straight.

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However, being confused about my sexuality was especially stressful for me as I grew up in a Christian/Catholic household.  I was taught that identifying as anything other than straight was “ungodly” and I didn’t even have the chance to learn about questioning my gender because I just accepted that I was female, as this was “How God made me.”  I found that as I grew up, I became meek when it came to my sexuality, and I just identified as straight because I was fearful of coming out as anything else because of what I had been taught through religion.

However, as I began to have relationships and become sexually active, I didn’t feel like I was being true to myself.  I felt like I was just giving into who I thought I was supposed to be, and because I hadn’t learned of any other sexual safety apart from abstinence, I found that I was very naïve when it came to sex.  I never felt like sex was something that I wanted to do, but that it was just something that other people expected from me.  I never remembered experiencing sexual attraction myself, and while I was an undergrad I tried to come out as asexual.

Many other people tried to shut me down when I tried to come out about my asexuality because they didn’t think I was asexual based on my previous relationships, and they blamed this new revelation on sexual trauma that I experienced in my past.  Since I was so timid when it came to defining who I was, I hid this side of me from the world again, because I felt like I was doing something wrong.  I was used to being submissive and I gave in to what others said about me, without standing up for myself.

I experienced various traumas growing up, as well as various mental health struggles, which eventually led to a nervous breakdown when I graduated with my master’s degree in social work.  I spent time in a behavioral health hospital for many months, followed by a period in an eating disorder recovery center, and it wasn’t until I received this help and began to work on my trauma that I was given the chance to really question what I had been told about myself, and to define who I was.

It was during this time that I was taught more in-depth about the LGBTQIA+ community, and I was able to further explore my asexuality.  It was hard for me at first to grapple with my feelings about my asexuality, because of how people had said I only felt that way based on my past trauma.  While my trauma and mental health struggles had led to me being able to explore my sexuality more in-depth in treatment, I found that my trauma was paramount in helping me discover who I really was.  Learning more in-depth about sexuality during this time also allowed me to discover that I identify as panromantic, which made me feel even closer to my true self.  However, nothing needs to happen to a person for them to identify as asexual.

Asexuality is as inherent as any other sexuality, but unfortunately, in our hypersexual world identifying as asexual can be difficult for others to understand because individuals tend to argue about someone identifying this way.  Asexuality tends to be a more misunderstood form of sexuality based on the large gray area that exists between sexual attraction and asexuality, not to mention that gray area that exists around romanticism.

It has taken me a long time to define how I really feel about my sexuality, and as I continue to work on myself through therapy, I am still discovering who I really am.  While my trauma didn’t “cause” my asexuality, it did create an avenue by way of treatment to help me learn that gender and sexuality aren’t black and white.

I am very thankful that I had and have access to treatment to address my trauma and discover who I really am.  I don’t know who or where I’d be without it.

Lead image Getty Images

Originally published: June 10, 2021
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