I think and talk a lot about dark and painful issues relating to womanhood and lesbianism. But I want to focus on how processing and addressing these issues in my life has created avenues for genuinely healthy and even creative/unconventional women-centered connection.
My partner and I have a new friend, “Lor,” who is a lesbian from the Dominican Republic. She’s outgoing, laughative, and outrageously flirtatious with us both. S (my partner) and I have always been a fairly easy-going couple, not generally the kind to become jealous or possessive as long as we trust that the other person is being transparent. We have guidelines for this and we communicate often and openly about our boundaries in the context of our long-term partnership. It isn’t that we’re polyamorous. We don’t seek that relationship configuration in our lives. We’re just flexible and open-minded about giving and receiving affection as a principle. S is exuberantly affectionate to a lot of people in her life, and I can be like that in my own subtle way, so it works out.
Every time we have been together with our friends and Lor, she has been touchy with one of us in a lighthearted, flirtatious way, or she makes some kind of borderline lewd comment. It’s all in good fun. We enjoy it because our relationship is equipped to deal with it and because Lor is bursting with this special kind of sunshine and charisma that neither of us can help but embrace. She has this way of making dirty lesbian jokes without either of us feeling offended or objectified. It’s all pure Lor fun.
This Sunday she came over to mine and my partner’s new apartment. She has been struggling lately with a sudden breakup, so her exuberance is punctuated with shards of true sadness. I really admire how she allows the sadness to come through. One moment the three of us are laughing and joking around, and the next moment she is saying how some detail of our conversation really reminds her of this woman she loved. We all took a moment to allow her to feel that way, and then she said something like, “Okay enough, girls, fuck this. I didn’t come here to cry! Get me another beer!” We all laughed again and S reminded Lor that she had ten years of social work experience and more to come, so she would be damned if she didn’t let Lor talk it out.
A few beers into the evening we all sat on the couch to look at cat pictures, watch Bjork videos on Lor’s phone, and share a pint of Ben and Jerry’s together with three spoons. At some point we found ourselves intertwined. Six legs and six arms going every which way. S had her arm around Lor, and I was sprawled out over S’s and Lor’s lap as Lor played with my hair. We caressed each other and bathed in a warm glow surrounding us, entertained by Bjork while creating space for Lor’s moments of sadness.
I laid there in my drunken state feeling like somehow this was a small arrival point, a gift on my sometimes challenging journey through life. There have been times when I have been exceptionally lonely and isolated from people, specifically women. There have been times when I have been so disconnected from myself that I couldn’t connect with others very well. I’m keenly aware that at any moment we can experience immense grief and loss. I can lose my loved ones or my health. A country can erupt into war. Our own mental illness issues can rob us of any enjoyment we would normally have for a moment. The people who are supposed to love you and take care of you can abuse you. All those things are made harder when you are conditioned to hate yourself. There have been times when I didn’t want anybody to touch my body or even look at me because it overwhelmed me and brought on waves of discomfort and trauma. So when I was laying there surrounded by two women I have connected with in very different ways while experiencing the support and openness and huge amount of respect and trust the three of us women had to offer each other, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and immense satisfaction. It was pure contentment. I belonged in that moment. Do you know that feeling? You just belong in that moment, with those people, in that spot, doing that thing. No justification was needed. No explanation or analysis. It just fell into place for an hour or so, and it worked.
I don’t know what Lor needed that night or if she had planned all along to have a bit more of an intimate bond with us than more traditional friends, but I hope she felt respected and safe. It hope it felt as warm and sincere for her as it did for me. I don’t know what comes next. Probably more lighthearted, inexplicable moments between us. More friendship. More instances of women supporting each other in my life. Amen to that. I’ll take as much of that as I can.
Maybe when, in my darkest hours, I decided to rebuild my life without abusers and overwhelmingly without men, I also became more open to unconventional friendships and relationships. These completely divine, undefinable moments among women seem to find me more often now. And I’m completely, completely okay with that. It doesn’t always look like a half-drunken cuddling monstrosity. Most of the time it isn’t that. But on Sunday night that’s how it materialized and I’m really thankful that I was in such a healthy place with myself, my body, and my relationship that I could enjoy it.
When I allowed my love for myself and my love for other women to fully emerge, oh my god, I can’t put it back in a box. And isn’t it so lovely that increasingly I am choosing people who don’t ask me to? It’s hard to talk about this without feeling twinges of guilt, because somehow it seems like other people might find some sort of fault with it all. It was easier to enjoy what happened before I tried to talk about it, but I really wanted to share what felt like an uplifting scene for me.