When you come out of an abusive relationship - in Dawn and I's cases it was abusive marriages - the world isn't an inviting place to exist. Everything is strange and foreign to you in ways that both terrify and confuse you. One the one hand, you are getting used to no longer being abused and it is exciting for a few blissful moments at a time until you realize that you are not being abused and you start waiting for the other foot to drop. That's the other hand - you are always, always, waiting for someone to hurt you and to make things normal again. At the point in time that I moved in with Dawn - we were at different stages in recovery from our exes and at different points of readiness to date again.
Dawn was a month and a half out of the marriage she was coming from, and I was more than a year out of mine. This is a really important point in our story because the psychology of abuse is different over the time you spend away from being abused. For her, the terror of her ex still loomed over every decision she made at every point in time. For me, I no longer felt the oppression my ex used to put me through on my choices as an adult - though the fears they instilled in me were still proving hard to break. We were in different stages and we remain in different stages. It started out we were just roommates. I was moved in to babysit her, now our, daughter while she worked full-time and my trust fund could allow me $450 for rent every month as well. The purpose of me coming to the house was to help get her back on her feet reliably; and that worked for everyone involved.
I still wasn't out of the closet as a lesbian, and had recently been in a string of hetero relationships, trying to force the hetero storybook I was fed growing up. Though I have never really had any interest in men, and I find copulation with them repulsive, I felt I had a narrative I was supposed to live up to as a member of my prominent family would. She - well yeah - her nickname is literally The Lesbian/The Dyke, and she has been gay and known it her whole life basically. So, that was a thing. Sure, I occasionally joked around about how men are kinda gross and that if I had the choice I would be a lesbian and she usually rubbed it off at "your identity isn't really a choice," until it became abundantly clear that I wasn't honestly joking. The more available women became to me, the less I seemed to show any interest in men at all. She saw this and casually pointed it out over time.
Then, the crush happened. I was accustomed to watching her play with Tawnie, her six-year-old daughter, and it was entrancing. I have two children of my own - a two-year-old named Jenny and a four-year-old named Alex, and Dawn, her whole persona was exactly what I was searching for to join me and them in our lives. That was the first time I seriously felt my heart grow weak at the sight of her, and it was thrilling - in both senses. Firstly, I was excited at the prospect that maybe she would fall for me in return if I tried hard enough. Then, I was terrified that she would end up exactly the same as every bad choice before she came along.
When she found out that I was falling in love with her, she gave me the chance to work for it. I was allowed to date her in a literal sense, and to show my commitment to being with her. She was scared like I was. The last thing either of us wanted was to end up in the same old situation - abused yet again. So I did. I took to showing her the new form of love that I was hoping she'd return to me. This was an exhilarating process because it gave me the power to define for myself what exactly was my definition of a healthy and loving partnership. What did I want to receive? What did I want to share? What did I want to give? Those were questions I could answer through my own actions and what I asked for in return.
Giving her love was difficult in a few areas because she was still so badly scarred from the abuse of her ex. It was easy for her to mistake my tired or sick or sad as aggression; this is something I come to call the "Mad At Me Complex" - if you are not obviously pleased with what or how I am doing, then you are 100 percent obviously upset with me. She still struggled with that - and does to this day (mine is less severe now, but it exists). Part of our courting was me consistently reminding her that I was not upset by her, me encouraging her to pursue her life and to make her own choices and to be her own woman. I just wanted to see her happy again.
I found that I am a pretty easy girl to take care of. When it comes to romance, I am more into soft, not sexual, physical affection and words of affirmation. Translation being that my preference is to be held close and told that I am wanted, loved, and that my efforts are doing something good. Beyond that, I take pride in being a provider figure for my home. Paying part of the rent and some of the bills makes me feel good, going grocery shopping and running the kiddo around are some of my favorite things that I do. So, I figured out what kind of partner I wanted to be; and in doing so I figured out what kind of partner I wanted. Dawn suited that to a T. Every area I had something to ask, she had no issue meeting my needs. We fit so perfectly together in theory - so, on November 1, we made it official and became a couple.
Then, the relationship anxiety kicked in for both of us and it became awkward and uncomfortable after about the first week. I had become more clingy and needy, and she was too reserved and flinchy for me. I was more consistently certain I was doing something wrong, therefore certain she was always mad at me (and the same went for her). Before the week was out neither of us felt right in the relationship and we decided to end it mutually and beneficially instead of trying to force it and getting hurt. Here is where the hilarity that is our relationship comes in - we forgot to follow through with breaking up. Though we no longer claimed the relationship, we still kissed and dated, and I still watched our kid for free and still took care of my share of our needs. It was consistently adorable between us. By Thanksgiving, we were back on track in a relationship that had happened incredibly naturally.
We still struggle not to think we've done something to upset the other, but now it is on a level where we feel safe asking "Have I done something wrong?" instead of flinching or running. This has opened the door for us both to help heal one another. For Christmas, she asked me to adopt her child, and I said yes. I agreed that I wanted to make Tawnie ours, and be there for her, no matter what comes between her mother and I. She's an amazing kid, Dawn is an amazing woman, and with her help I am out of the closet and feeling much more honest in my skin as a lesbian. It's January 10 now, and we're happier than we've ever been. I am working a part-time job, she works full-time, and we make it happen.
Stay tuned for updates on The Dykes.