“being a femme is not just a way of presenting, it is a way of loving. It is a way of loving others, but most of all it is a way of loving yourself.”
I love that Hannah wrote this. During the first few weeks of my current relationship I remember feeling that something wasn’t quite right. When we were together I was so ecstatically happy, but when we were apart I worried that something was missing.
Even before we started dating and we’re spending a lot of time together under the guise of friendship, I remember I didn’t feel as nervous as I usually did when I had a crush. I didn’t feel panicked when replying to texts, or afraid of saying the wrong thing. For the most part I was confident that she liked me.
In place of the agitation I usually had when I had crushes, I instead felt like I was being pulled towards this woman. It felt inevitable.
After a couple of weeks of dating I realized that what was missing was the doubt I had constantly felt the last time I had tried dating. I wasn’t second guessing if she liked me-I knew she did. I didn’t have to second guess what she was looking for in this relationship because she had told me. I had found someone who would hold my heart like it was a precious thing, who would take care of it and keep it safe.
I think it’s easy to buy into the notion that love has to be tumultuous, with break-ups and jealousies and last minute proclamations at the airport. The object of your affections is your whole world and without them you are empty.
I think it’s something else entirely to come to a relationship with a sense that you are important and deserve to be treated well. To choose someone who doesn’t consume you, but rather meets you where you are, and wants to move forward as partners.
I don’t think I could’ve come to that kind of relationship earlier. I needed the time to find my own self-worth. It took me a long time to accept that no one was coming who would help me heal from the places I had felt broken. I had to learn that I was smart and capable, and I could heal myself. I needed to find the part of myself that I loved and take care of her.
I knew I didn’t want to date someone who thought I couldn’t take care of myself. That way leads only to condescension and unequal power dynamics. I wanted someone who would know I was strong, even when I felt weak. I knew I was enough, just as I was, and I needed someone who would remind me of that if I ever doubted again.
I have been so lucky. I found someone who believes that I am a tough flower. She supports my crazy dreams (to the point where one time I said I might want to move to Minneapolis but didn’t know if I could live so far from the ocean and she researched the proximity to bodys of water). She accepts my femmeness, my vulnerability and my friendships and my crazy outfits. When we face challenges she has inspired me to grow. She makes me a better person.
It can be hard to accept a love like this. It can be scary to see your own value. It is scary to accept the way it challenges you to be better and answer it in kind. But it is also so fulfilling. By loving and being loved I have found a home, in myself and in someone else.