Sometimes the smallest things cause you to doubt yourself so much.

I had a dream a few nights ago. It was the loveliest dream I’ve had in a long time – I’ve had a long sequence of disturbing and unpleasant dreams over the last few months, that are not fun when they flash into my head as I’m going about my day. This one could have been taken out of a young adult romance novel, with a couple of minor changes. Long sequences of angst culminating in confession of feelings and hugs (well, I guess the asexual thing was still in there somewhere) – and I felt like I was in the warmest, happiest, most loved space ever. I woke up and wanted to go back to dreaming. My alarm clock had other ideas.

I felt amazing that day – until the doubt kicked in. What the fuck was I doing, having these sorts of dreams? What did it mean? I’ve just gotten comfortable with my identity as asexual, and probably aromantic as well. I even spoke on my first panel at an ally training event and outed myself as asexual to two dozen staff members, including one whose courses I was taking. I’ve been through my trial by fire. My friends know. I think my dad knows, though he hasn’t said anything directly.

And then something tiny comes along as all I’ve got is doubt. Doubt doubt doubt.

It’s funny – I think most cis, heterosexual people never have to doubt their sexuality. Yeah, there’s probably anxiety and relationships and crushes and a couple of people might question their straightness once in a while. But there’s a whole system behind straight people. The whole mainstream worldview is geared towards them. Most straight people will never have to question, to ask “is this really me? Am I just trying to be special? Am I just pretending?” when it comes to their sexual identity.

And then there’s me, with a sexuality based on an absence. If you’re straight or gay or bi or pansexual, at least you have something to base your identity on. You feel something. You’re attracted to someone. Things which have never happened to me. Things which I think I’m not interested in until something makes me doubt.

Does dreaming something mean desire it subconsciously? By that token, my subconscious is also telling me I have murderous intent towards my family. Or that sometime int he future the world will be taken over by Daleks with rotor-blades who will shred me to pieces.

Is it telling me that this is what I could have, if I belonged to some sort of normal category?

Or does it simply mean that I’m surrounded by a society where my sexuality is invisible, seen as something abnormal and disturbed, where everyone is telling me that this is what I must want because otherwise I am not a human being? That even with all the visibility and speaking out and accepting and theorising I’ve done, I’m still internalising their erasure?

Because doubt is a means of control by a heterosexist society over other people’s lives. And I hate that I still feel it.

11 thoughts on “Doubt

  1. I believe dreams are this (depending on your beliefs): a summary of everything you are subjected to in everyday life, what you think, hear, see, feel, talk about etc. So obviously your asexuality has become a significant aspect of your life at this present time and I imagine you talk about it and other sexualities a lot. OR it is purely spiritual and whatever you dream is symbolic, not necessarily suggesting exactly what you dream but possibly a symbol e.g. how they always say dreaming about losing your teeth is a symbol for wisdom. I would look up a dream dictionary for fun, something to laugh at to ease the confusion. I wouldn’t ever doubt yourself. What you feel in your concious mind is for real. Sometimes we just play tricks on ourselves, to keep us on our toes. 😉

    1. Thanks Sarah. 🙂 I guess my personal theory is that dreams take everything you pick up during the day and jumbles it together into some crazy sequence that makes no sense and has no real meaning whatsoever. Still sucks though.

  2. Or without doubt we can never be certain of anything. Without dreams and experiences that show us the other side, that give us glimpses of alternative ways of being, we could never make a decision about which one we want to be. Without doubt, there is no choice to make. In a world based only on certainty, there is no colour.

  3. I guess I’m a bit confused: do you think dreams are relevant, or not?
    What about people who think they’re heterosexual and have dreams about romantic or even sexual relationships with others of the same sex?

    As for “just trying to be special”, I wouldn’t worry about that – I think everyone does it, but you can do it with anything – your appearance, your interests, your background. And in the realm of sexuality, there’s all kinds of other types of specialness like kinks and fetishes.

    You’re not going to randomly pick asexuality as a way to make yourself special unless it resonates with you on some level, which means it’s at least worth exploring the idea. And maybe you’re asexual now, but maybe it’ll change in the future, doesn’t mean you’re wrong about who you are now – including the doubting bits.

  4. I wouldn’t worry so much about labeling yourself. You like or don’t like what you like or don’t like. That’s allowed to change. I don’t fully understand the term but there’s ‘greysexual’ which I think refers to people who vary between asexuality and sexuality.

  5. Sometimes dreams are crap and sometimes they are important. Doubt is a part of life that makes us wonder about ourselves rather than living with perfect certainty and never changing. Just consider that the dream was telling you that you have options. Or perhaps you have a dream lover…. just visits you sometimes to give you that love, an angel maybe.

  6. I wouldn’t worry about dreams too much, especially if you only had that dream once. I’ve had dreams where I’m a guy, but I certainly don’t have any gender confusion when I wake up (I’m not cis or anything, just plain female). Like someone already said, some dreams are total nonsense (a lot of them, in my opinion). I’m aromantic asexual too, so I totally get the insidious doubts that can go with it. Honestly, I think that your dream was probably more your mind purging the scenario from your head. We get bombarded by so much couplemania idealized with puppies and rainbows that it’s hard not to internalize a tiny bit of it. Dreams are a way our subconscious deals with the massive amounts of stimuli we’re exposed to every day. You should pay attention to the doubts you have, but don’t let them eat at you. I hope this helps. 🙂

  7. Great post Jo, I connect with this so much! I’ve sometimes felt as though I’m living two lives, a split identity, where I’m sexual when I’m dreaming but asexual when I’m awake. That’s if I’m awake right now; I find it hard to tell which is the dream really! But the discrepancy is certainly discomforting. You embrace asexuality as an important part of your identity and then to have it unravel in your sleep is awful. It’s the ultimate wtf moment. I have asked many times how one should interpret such a dream- whether it reflects a subconscious desire or not- and it’s reassuring to hear I’m not alone in this. It’s also reassuring that the whole subconscious desire theory doesn’t always hold- if dreams are purely a reflection of subconscious desires, does that mean all the other screwed up things we dream, such as killing our family, reflect subconscious desires? I’m not quite convinced! I have only had sexual dreams since the issue has become more apparent and significant in my life. Before then I never had such dreams, so I attribute it to my curiosity and imagination more than anything. Some say that we cannot dream what we’ve never experienced in this life, but I disagree, as I’m a virgin yet from my dreams I believe I still have a sense of the transcendence & bliss that can come from sexual intimacy, as strange as this sounds coming from an asexual. There are other things I have imagined that I haven’t yet experienced either. We should never underestimate the power of imagination. Wasn’t it Einstein who said that while logic will get you from A to B, imagination embraces the entire world? I think he’s right- imagination can take us everywhere, including places we both want to visit and don’t want to visit.

  8. I get this; I’m aromantic asexual but very occasionally (7 or 8 times in my whole life, I count :P) in dreams I will have a relationship with someone, even to the point of it being slightly sexual (twice, though I was never an active participant either time!) I just figured that it was a natural way to work out issues with people, stuff I see, etc. etc. I’m comfortable enough in my sexuality that dreams like this don’t make me wonder any more!
    That being said, whether there’s something worth exploring there or not, don’t block it out because you think you need to resist societal norms or anything. Dreams are ways to explore new things, right? Blocking iit’s probably bad…
    Still, the things discussed are quite familiar to me, I enjoyed reading your post, thanks. (:

  9. Thank you for this wonderful touching article. Reading the comments make me even more thankful, since me too, I hate labeling myself (and why should I?) – But then it occurs to me that “labeling” means “becoming someone”, means identity. Also, I don’t give much on dreams, really, they are some more or less awesome cinema at night without much meaning (unless perhaps when they reoccur). But then… — Again: Thanks!

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