I have a long list of things I’ve never done. Mostly they are things I don’t think about or I thought about and didn’t want. I genuinely care about all of my students (past, present, and future)—I want them all to find some measure of peace or happiness, but I know some of them never will. I accepted years and years ago that for some kids high school is a peak (which will always make me a little sad), for some high school is a stepping stone, and for some high school is a federally mandated sentence.

Most of my students. Most of my friends. Everyone I can think of in my family. They have all risked their hearts in love. The one or two chances I’ve had, I shut down before more than a fleeting thought could exist let alone love or companionship. It’s not because I’m aromantic (I don’t think I am); it’s more because the thought of physical intimacy scared the everliving everything out of me.

I suppose touch-starved would be an accurate assessment of me and any sort of physical affection. I long for it, sometimes dream about it, but I don’t know how to (or who to) initiate even deeply platonic physical affection. It makes me feel like I’m still a bit broken.

I know I’ve come a long, long way in the last 22 years. I’m much more emotionally stable (thanks to medication and writing). I’m a better teacher thanks to my myriad mistakes and failures and understanding that there is always room for improvement. I have friends who are so dear to me that I count them as a family of choice even if we go a few weeks or months without really getting together.

However, there are things about me that make entering a romantic or affectionately platonic relationship difficult. Part of that is the 22 years I’ve lived independently which have allowed certain bad habits (laziness and a true enjoyment of spending money that should be put in savings) to calcify. I’m not sure how good I’d be at balancing my needs and desires against another person—I’d like to think I’d compromise, but I don’t actually know that to be true.

I’m also not a terribly pretty, attractive, in shape sort of person. I tend to look in the mirror and think, this is as good as it gets or wow, this is a new low. I just know that my extra weight (aside from making me physically unhealthy and so, so hard to lose) makes me less attractive to other people. I may not feel like I have quite so much fear or quite so many defenses, but that’s years of ingrained behavior.

Part of the reason I spent so much time shutting down opportunities before they happen is this belief that I would choose the wrong person and end up making a spouse or child’s life more difficult than it had to be. Part of it is that I actually need to know someone and trust them before I can even think about sexual attraction or romantic possibilities (does that make me demiromantic and demisexual??).

I don’t miss the opportunity of being a parent. I do miss the opportunity to share my life with someone else. I would like to fall in love or find a true companion. I just don’t think I ever will and it makes me a little sad some days.

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