Trust or trussed: where are you bound?

  • Posted on November 16, 2014 at 4:48 pm

life and danceI write about relationships because I want to understand them better. I would very much like to be ‘in a relationship’, and it may happen, but meantime, I’m working on not getting it wrong, and working out my previous misconceptions. As I said last blog, I am OK living alone.

Meanwhile, the encounters I have with people raise questions I’ve never addressed, or had to, before.

I lived most of my life in a secure monogamous marital relationship. It was safe, because my wife had women friends, and whilst I could have, I didn’t have men friends. I had women as friends, but not that I could go out with. She knew men, but only rarely went for lunch with one, and he was gay. I had lunch with women – I worked with them, I socialised in the same spaces – but I still vividly remember the time and place when I said to one: ‘I wish I was a girl and we could just go out for a pizza together’. I spent hours with another, talking about my growing realisation of being transgender, and she was the first friend with whom I went out for lunch as I am now. The retrospective comment about each of these friends was that I was suspected of having, or being at risk of having, an affair.

My marriage was a strong and enduring one, and we loved each other. Nevertheless, the trust we had was fragile enough that ‘opposite sex’ friendships were a challenge. We were safe so long as we played the ‘same-sex game’. For me and my female friends, this game extended into their relationships too. We all played the same game. We knew that people who did not, ran into trouble. Maybe the sex or the attention or the affection (which I did feel) would derail our marriage. Trust? Maybe we were just trussed. Bound, to survive.

Over the past year I have had to confront my own feelings about personal relationships that have the potential to become something more. I have no appetite for the dating market, meeting people to test compatible likes and dislikes. I would love to find a friendship in which I learn another and they learn me, and that turns into love, loyalty and commitment. But I have stopped thinking that the next friendship might be ‘the one’, which makes it easier, so I enjoy friendships that come and go. And now that all my battle-to-be is over, I am no longer the obsessive, wearing friend that I was was for a few years. Now, as a single woman attracted to women, I am finding another angle: being a friend to lesbian couples, and how that might be felt. Under what circumstances might I again be a challenge?

Where am I bound?

I think that I have settled quite clearly on my sexuality, because I like the way women relate far better than men. I have good male friends, but that’s as far as I ever want it to go right now. Yes, I am a touch curious to know what hetero sex is like, and I’m sure it might well be fun, tender, loving and fulfilling, but I don’t think on the whole that men understand how women work. I want the deeper understanding. And I feel that understanding wherever I go. Among female poets, musicians and dancers. Even in groups looking at life issues, where more often than not there are mainly or only women gathered. What I find is that there is a bond that somehow transcends enormous differences. But what when the differences are small? What when you feel real closeness? Unlike my marriage picture above, there isn’t an opposite in the same way, and the partnership has a different kind of trust. Unaccustomed as I am to lesbian partnerships, I can only rely on what I see, read, and what those experienced in lesbian relationships tell me. I have known of jealousy in a lesbian partnership where I was a friend, and a potential challenger. In any partnership, trust can become more like trussed. How far can friendships go before they get too close? I really don’t want the complications of challenging anyone’s partnership.

Right now, I am the most unbound I have probably ever been in my life. It’s great for having a new start, but not so great when you’re looking for another in the same place, and especially when you’re both enjoying the freedom! And at 58, it’s getting harder still to find. I joke about having a new birth certificate that also knocks ten years off, but that’s only how I feel!

And so I come to my week’s event that triggered this blog. In dance, I encounter perhaps the greatest honesty and trust I have felt in any social setting. I don’t feel that with everyone there, some definitely not so much, so I can be wary about how I dance with some men – I know that men are men and women are women in a majority sense of presumed attraction and interaction, and that I don’t have ‘lesbian’ written across my t-shirt. But women do know this better, and my dance with women is very trusting. I am taken by surprise so often in dance.

I enter the barely-lit dance room, feeling quite depleted by the week at work and being out every night. I drop to the floor, and floor-dance by myself. I haven’t chosen my space, I just move as I feel the need. I become aware of another, moving as I am, close, despite the small group in the room. We touch. Accident? We move, together. No. We are drawn. We move together. In a slow exploration of space, contact, touch, in communication of something shared, I find myself closer to any human being for several years. I have never moved with another person quite like this; it’s at once extraordinary, simple, inexpressible, profound. It isn’t intimate. Yes it is. It goes on, and on. Our eyes are closed, at times the only contact is bare feet; or fingertips, or it’s an embrace. I am nourished. She is nourished. I think: this is trust. This is not trussed. This is where I am bound, unbound. This is the most beautiful place on earth; it belongs beyond. We part wordlesly, we rise, we dance alone, and with others, passing something on. I finish the evening as the music fades to silence, lying with another, having dropped to the floor with her with a shared gracefulness.

Could I have done this with the partner of the first? Yes, she is someone I have also danced with previously. She is away. Did that matter? No. What I felt, gave, shared, is for giving, and goes so much deeper than ‘relationships’. As a reassurance about my place in this world, it was immense. And I know I could never have known this while I was married, and I know I could never have encountered my own wife in such a beautiful and profound way. She saw only a man, not the graceful and tender woman beneath her expectations. Others watch my dance, and they see this, flowing out. I’m not slender and lithe, not willowy and slight, but my dance speaks for me nonetheless.

It is marked, or moulded, or characterised – by gracefulness, flow and tenderness. I give and share in great trust.

I have so much to give. I don’t know where I am bound, but I am not trussed.


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