Is sexuality something you DO or something you ARE?
Once upon a time, I was a sexual being. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, sometimes like a million years ago but there was a point in my life before I was married and before I was a mother that I was just me, a person.
And that person was bisexual.
I dated mostly men, but there was the occasional woman thrown into the mix. I wasn’t in the middle of Kinsey’s infamous scale, but since I was attracted to both men and women, I identified as bisexual.
I liked dating. I liked making out with people. But my days of dating and being with anyone other than my husband are behind me. I’ve been with my husband for about 10 years and we’ve been married for seven. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve so much as flirted with a woman.
Does that mean my bisexuality has expired? And more so, is sexuality something you do or something you are?
I’ve always defined myself as a writer, even when I wasn’t publishing my work. How long could I go without writing before I felt silly calling myself a writer? I went to art school but haven’t made anything more creative than the letter "A" crafted out of peas in many years. Am I still an artist? Would my husband still be a lawyer if he quit his job? Our labels help us define who we are. But at what point do labels become obsolete?
I was always afraid that becoming a parent would make me feel like a different person and unfortunately, the fear came true. When you become a parent, you give up lots of things: your time, your sleep, your ability to go to the bathroom by yourself — but do you have to forfeit your sexuality? No, but it’s really easy to do and it happened to me before I even realized it.
My body has radically changed since I became a parent. There are the physical changes (like my shrunken boobs and muffin top) but also internal and mental changes. My body chemistry changed during my first pregnancy. Medicines that used to work no longer do and drinking alcohol makes me sick now. More significantly, my anxiety blossomed and I spent over a year dealing with a debilitating case of postpartum depression. And let me tell you: When you're depressed, you don’t feel like a normal human being, let alone one with a libido.
I’m (thankfully) no longer depressed, but being a stay-at-home mom to two young boys isn’t conducive to feeling sexy.
I don’t get enough sleep, exercise or showers. My priorities are elsewhere.
So have I given up on my sexuality entirely? No; I still sleep with my husband. I suppose that act, by definition, makes me a sexual being. And it makes me at least heterosexual, right? I still find both men and women attractive. Does that mere fact give me the right to still call myself bisexual?
I’m sure there are plenty of women who have been with more women than I have but consider themselves "sexually adventurous" or even straight. I have a friend who self-identifies as bisexual even though he hasn’t so much as kissed another man. Does his inaction negate his label? Or his desire?
It comes down to how you see yourself. And how do I see myself? It's much more about my interpretation of the label and if I feel like I still meet the bisexual parameters. While society is quick to label us in nearly every way, the way we label ourselves is much more telling. I’m doing my best to feel more like me again, person me, instead of just wife me and mom me — and maybe when I do, I’ll start feeling like me again, too.
Jen Simon's work has appeared on Babble, Scary Mommy, Elephant Journal, The Frisky, Women's Health Online, and more.