‘Round The Fire: One

Sexuality is confusing. The journey is lifelong and sometimes perilous. Sexual desire is a primal instinct, and the ability to bloom into who you are sexually is an integral part of good mental health. In that transformation, there is confusion and sometimes heartbreak. It’s important that we acknowledge this yet continue to grow into who we are intended to be. 

I did not have many boyfriends in high school but had some great relationships and crushes with some wonderful boys. I was passionate about my close friendships and found myself in love with the souls close to me, whether male or female.

My struggle was that I had several experiences with adults and other kids that confused me and left me questioning boundaries, what a woman really is, and my own desires. I don’t remember any openly gay people in my adolescence, but I do know that sexual play between adolescents of the same sex is common and normal. Boys and girls explore their bodies with both sexes. It is a human fact. 

When I went to college at WKU, I met people from all over and started to find my tribe. It was here that I found David and a crew from Louisville that became lifelong friends. We shared the freedom to grow outside the rules of our parents. We were finally free to do what we wanted — and we did wholeheartedly.

David and I hit it off right away. We could not help smiling at each other and locking eyes whenever we were together. We were expressive with wicked senses of humor that fit together in a way I had not experienced. We simply clicked, and soon found ourselves inseparable.

In my gut, I thought David was gay from day one. I asked my friends that knew him if he was, and they said that he loved women. He did not hesitate to touch me, showing his love for me daily, and we got to know one another and each other’s families. 

It was a beautiful college experience. We were in a state of love that felt almost symbiotic but something was off. 

David and I talked about a future together, what we wanted and how our lives would be together beyond college. It was my first serious and, I thought, mature relationship. It felt organic but there was no sex. Neither of us had enough experience to truly understand who we were sexually nor the earthquake his realization would cause for the both of us. 

I began to worry about the lack of sexual play between us and shared my feelings with David. He was on a different journey, and going through something primal and extremely confusing. We were both lost.

He confused me with the love he shared for me, and everything in me had fallen for him — and who we were together — but we were in limbo. 

The wick was lit and the powderkeg was ready to blow. Something had to change. 

One day the tension got the best of us and he finally shared that he loved me more than anything but that he had no sexual feelings towards me. 

I heard him, yet internalized that I was disgusting and was simply unlovable despite him never saying this. Every body image issue I had bubbled to the surface. We clumsily tried our best not to hurt one another with the limited understanding of who we were becoming. David was in pain and needed more from me than I was able to give. 

He spent a weekend in Nashville and understood his true identity as a gay man. Looking back, I feel that I failed him because I could not ignore my own needs to be the friend he needed. He called me, angry that I was not there for him at a crucial and desperate time. He wanted his friend and soulmate to be with him through this awakening. 

I was heartbroken, and yelled back that his life was not my responsibility. I was devastated and resorted to the only coping mechanism I had at the time, flight.

I transferred to UofL and did not look back. I felt lonely. I did not look for love anymore and resigned myself to a lifestyle of no commitments. 

David moved on with a life of travels and exploration. We both graduated college and kept up through friends, but left one another to heal. 

In the years that followed, I would run into him from time to time, and the sting was still there. We did not know how to act around each other but there was still love even in the distance. We were simply on different paths. 

If I were meant for David, or him for me, we would have been together. David could not be with me in the way that I desired a man. Even though it hurt, his need to be himself was a life or death situation. Still, our relationship changed us both forever. 

We are both married now and share the occasional, “Howdy,” on Facebook. He is happy and has the love he has always deserved, and so do I. My heart is full for him. That sting is gone for us both. 

For this Pride celebration, let’s all be gentle with one another as we are all here to give and receive love as the highest form of being human. We are in this life together even if our paths diverge sometimes. We are ONE.

About the Author

‘Round The Fire: One

Christina Estrada is a lifelong seeker of light in the darkness wearing a variety of hats including, but not limited to: student/teacher, survivor/healer, mother/child, therapist/client, introverted extrovert. At present, a disabled wife and mother with stories and thoughts from five decades of life and 30 years of social work, inpatient and outpatient.

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