Growth (& sharing a poem)

CoA prompt for Jan 2020 – “New” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 9 Jan 2020 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled after the roundup. (As of now, the Carnival of Aros WP hasn’t released its Call for Submissions or Roundup links, so both go to the direct posts from ~aro-neir-o.)

1) New things you have learned since discovering aromanticism (about yourself, about aromanticism, about other arospec people, about the queer community in general, etc.).

I’m not sure to what extent having to interact with family that involves re-closeting myself has created a temporary and/or artificial split in how I approach aspects of my identity. I don’t necessarily combine gender musings with aro musings, for example, and especially when it’s far more obvious in my daily life while closeted on the gender front, I just don’t prioritize finding out I’m under the aro umbrella in the same way that other aro bloggers seem to. Maybe it’s the fondness for sideblogs where they’ve made the choice to prioritize their aroness in that space, but I alternate feeling like a lurker and feeling like I’m intruding where I don’t belong. It’s not quite as dire or pessimistic as the phrase ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ suggests, but I guess I’m at a stage where other things have to take a higher priority for now.

I’m not trying to get some sort of reassurance that I can include myself in the aro community with this. (I figure someone would’ve asked me to stop writing submissions for the Carnival of that were the case.) It’s more that I’ve realized that not every group or community is made up of 200% committed Ride Or Die people, even if said group is considered young and relatively smaller than more established groups. I’m under the aro umbrella, but as an example, I’m just not going to be at the forefront of aro community leadership or education efforts. I don’t have the time, energy, or in-person capabilities for certain types of community building like that, y’know?

2) New things you have learned since interacting with the aro community (about yourself, about aromanticism, about other arospec people, about the queer community in general, etc.).

It’s mildly annoying when I interact with an allo-allo person who assumes that something I’m doing platonically is romantic, but I have to work on stopping myself from reacting too quickly (out of a place of hurt) when aros do it. I’m afraid a somewhat public post about my perspective of greyro included that type of a knee-jerk reaction, but I’m hoping to do better in 2020.

3) New experiences you’ve had since learning about aromanticism and/or discovering your own aromanticism (e.g., new types of relationships, new types of feelings, new vocabulary that you found described you, new conversations you’ve had with others).

Confession: When I was first trying to figure out if I was somewhere under the aro umbrella at all, I came up with a term that I felt encompassed my specific experience. It kinda, sorta has overlap with a few other terms that I’ve seen a few times (definitely not often), but I’ve honestly never felt like sharing that term would actually accomplish anything in the aro community. It might lead to someone creating a flag or something, but I just don’t see it catching on or being helpful.

Other: I really like the idea of crafting a relationship through collaboration with my friends (not related to QPPs or waverships, but inspired by that level of intent to talk about where the friendship may be going), and I know at least a few of them have already figured out some of amatonormativity’s side effects. Occasionally, some aro vent posts come across like alloromantics are fine and peachy with amatonormativity, but from a personal level, a few of my friends are frustrated with the unevenness towards valuing friendship, too. It’s just that picking up on this doesn’t actually counteract amatonormativity or make any sort of relationship maintenance easier in the face of it. And as much as certain posts have gone around saying that the aro community digs in deeper and more in-depth into discussions about amatonormativity, relationship conventions, and whatnot, it’s not exactly easy trying to figure out how to talk about this with people outside of the aro community.

4) New aro or aro-coded content you have come across that you want to share or critique.

A poem titled “what does love feel like?” by @opaline-words [link to original tumblr post]. For those who don’t want to open a new tab or window, the poem is shared below (hyphens added to maintain line breaks because formatting won’t play nice with me right now).

what does love feel like?

is it the wit or the whimsy;

the pull or the repulsion;

the handle or the edge

of the knife?

you walk through the dog park

devoid of dogs,

or

you walk yourself to the car

in the rain,

and

you have no idea.

you can’t remember

or

you never knew.

One of the first things I told my friend, ~opaline-words, after this poem crossed my dash back in Oct 2019 was that it had aro vibes. From the first stanza: “what does love feel like?” (literally one of the first discussion points that questioning aro folks go through), “the pull or the repulsion” (romance repulsion or lack thereof), and “the handle or the edge | of the knife?” (the interplay of societal expectations around romantic love hurting aros versus feeling like you’re hurting and/or manipulating people).

From the second stanza: “the dog park | devoid of dogs”, which I think resonates with feeling the distinct lack of what’s expected, and for those struggling with feeling like a social failure, a feeling that gets into purposelessness. However, I would caution against a depressing interpretation of uselessness in “you walk through the dog park” because a dog park isn’t necessarily restricted from humans walking through it. I can see a certain kind of repurposing or twisting of conventions that reads more like the greyro or otherwise spectrum/umbrella portion of the aro community.

From the third stanza: “you can’t remember | or | you never knew”, which makes a certain part of inner-me go chef’s kiss. I personally resonate with feeling like I’ve ‘lost’ my ability to detect romantic attraction, and while I could write down memories of crushes in November’s CoA post (an extent of literal memory remains), I do feel like a certain part of me can’t remember how to decipher romantic attraction. I can’t say that it’s a universal aro experience, but I figure it may also resonate with others. I can more clearly see the aro feels for the ending thought “you never knew” and the last line of the second stanza “you have no idea”, particularly for the aromantics who haven’t experienced romantic attraction (handle/end-case).

I don’t want to say that this is the only reading of ~opaline-word’s poem that anyone can have, but I had to get the initial impressions out of my system, and I wanted to have some context for why I’m reblogging this poem in the latter half of February and including an aro tag on it.