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How I Fell In Love…With Myself

I was happy as a child. My mom loves to tell me how much of a tomboy I was. How I used to run around playing with the boys, riding bicycles, building sheds where we kept our prisoners (when we played war). She talks about how she tried endlessly to get me in a dress, and how immune I was to her ruses. And she tells me how I used to love going to church, and listening to stories of the bible.
And then puberty hit. The boy friends I had stopped playing with me. I don’t know exactly how it happened. They must have suddenly realized that I was a girl. I don’t really know.

I remember that I was lonely for a long time. I started reading all day long. Comic books, novels, and the bible, anything I could get my hands on. I loved them. Books helped me run away.
My mom thought I was too lonely. She pushed me to make new friends. She wanted me to play with the girls in the neighborhood. And so I did.
I befriended the girl next door, and through her, I met other girls from the area. I remember that I thought they were very pretty girls, which made me feel inadequate, awkward, and ugly. That was when I started crying myself to sleep.

Through them, my family, school, and church, I learned how a young girl should be. And I felt deep down that I could never be that. This is when I got fixated on everything that was wrong with me. Suddenly, my eyes were too droopy, my nose was too big, my hair was too straight and oily, and my undeveloped eleven-year-old body was too fat and butch.

For the next few years, I experimented with femininity. Partly because I wanted to explore it, and partly because I was envious of my girlfriends, and how happy they seemed to be. So I copied them. It wasn’t all bad, I must admit. I learned what worked for me, and I kept the things that made me comfortable. It took me years, but I have developed a kind of “comfortable femininity” that works for me.
And then, came the boys. My girlfriends were gushing over them. They had crushes, they had boyfriends, and they had dramatic breakups. And I was the cheerleader and the shoulder to cry on.
Not that I haven’t had a couple of boys awkwardly declare their love for me. But none of them gave me butterflies in my stomach. And once again I felt that there was something wrong with me.

The summer of my fifteenth birthday came along. We spent that summer at a beach compound in Jbeil. It was there that I met her. She was interesting to talk to. She was beautiful. She gave me butterflies in my stomach every time I saw her! I thought about her all the time. And I was more confused that I had ever been in my life.
I never uttered a word all summer, and on the last week there before going back to Beirut, I kissed her — She never spoke to me again, and that was that.

It was the beginning of a new level of self-hatred.
She told the other kids what had happened. And they started calling me “lesbian” and “gay” when I walked by, and laughing. I had no idea what a lesbian was at the time. But I was sure I wasn’t one because, the way they said it, it sounded like something awful.

By the time I got to college, I had stopped going to church and praying. I was sure that God and I shared a mutual hatred for each other. He hated me for the unnatural feelings I was having. And I had spent the last two years, wrapped up in shame and guilt, praying for him to stop those feelings and thoughts in me, but he never responded. He was never there.

It wasn’t until my second year in college that I dared to like another girl. My first experience had left me scared and broken. And I had decided that I was going to be alone for the rest of my life. But, unexpected things happen. And this time, she kissed me.
We were together for three years. And through her I learned that being a “lesbian” is a part of who I am that I should embrace proudly.
I had other relationships with women after that. All of them beautiful in their own way. I learned a lot from each one, and I grew. I learned that I am beautiful, and that I deserve to be happy, loved and respected. I learned that I am smart and strong and that I can do anything I set my mind to. And I also learned that people who hate me are governed by fear and ignorance and need tolerance and education. Also, God and I are good friends again. I learned that he loves me the way I am, and that he doesn’t care who shares my bed.

Although it took me a while to undo all the negative feelings that I had about myself, I’m proud to say that I’m finally there. I have been in love quite a few times, and I’m going to write about them soon. But the first story I wanted to share was how I fell in love with myself, which is the most sacred kind of love.


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I knew I was attracted to women, and I knew I shouldn’t be. I’d been with men consistently before, but more often than not my fantasies were about women. When I say I’d been with men, what I mean to say is that I had had boyfriends, but I hadn’t gone all the way with any of them. We’d steal ourselves away for some private time, and things would get hot and heavy, but never hot and heavy enough to tell the truth.

My desire never carried me away. Don’t get me wrong, I felt attracted to the men I was dating, and I found plenty of things they did sexy. But I never felt comfortable enough or turned on enough to go all the way. It wasn’t very difficult to hide that though. I’m Lebanese, I’m a “good girl”, and I pleaded the “no sex before marriage” excuse. But it was just an excuse. In my own inner thoughts I wanted to want it, but it just wasn’t happening.

The fantasies about women persisted, but back then I had myself convinced that it was my mind playing tricks on me. That if I ever were to kiss a woman, it would be revolting; not sexually stimulating at all. I was just building the passion up in my head because I couldn’t feel it for men, because something was wrong with me.

And then I met a girl. She was cool. We shared similar interests, we had a similar sense of humor, and we laughed a lot! She was a lot more liberated than I was, and much more comfortable in her own skin. I don’t know how it happened, it just came naturally, but suddenly there was an ongoing joking flirtation between us. It wasn’t shy, it was out there in the open, but it was always humorous. And although I didn’t think anything would come of it, it tickled my senses.

Fast forward a couple of weeks to a road-trip one drunken night with her and another friend. We were parked somewhere on a mountain road, sitting on the hood of the car, with a view of the city and it’s sparkling lights and that view’s perfect companion; vodka. At some point I went back into the car, sitting in the passenger seat. The two of them followed me. She sat in my lap in the car, and for some reason that defied all of my logic at the time we were suddenly wondering “what if we kissed?”.
“Let’s find out”, she said, just like that, and she leaned in and kissed me. It was a soft short kiss, then she pulled away, just a little.
I took a second or two to process, I was taken by surprise. But those few seconds were all it took for me to close that gap between us and kiss her again.

It was the first time I’d ever kissed a girl, and well I’m not going to say it was fireworks and happy endings from the on. But what I will say is that it was a revelation. Kissing a girl was not, in fact, revolting. Quite the contrary, it was something I knew I wanted to do again.  And now, many years later, I am so glad I discovered that because stealing away for some private time with a woman…oh my!


Friends or More?

So one night at the gym, I see this girl with hot shorts on (a rare sight at our gym)  running around like a crazy girl. For some reason I felt drawn to her and couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. I never thought I’ll ever see her again, but one day as I went back to my room there she was! Right there IN my room! I couldn’t believe my eyes, and yes you’ve guessed right, she was my roommates’ friend. This surely doesn’t happen everyday, haha! So I knew I had to make conversation, find common interests, elaborate and make it interesting. I didn’t want to seem too interested, and freak her out but she seemed really open-minded and easy going so I took my chance.

Coming back from uni one day, I saw her not so far away from me, she said hi and we made small talk and then she invited me over to her room. I didn’t know what to do, because I didn’t wanna creep her out but at the same time I  really wanted to get to know her more. So I went as she kept insisting that I do so.

With girls it’s really confusing because sometimes what may seem to you like they’re into you might end up just being nice.

It may not sound so appealing, but I figured out that she was a smoker, and at the time I was one too. That was what brought us together most of the time, and really helped us bond. We shared secrets, helped each other out, and always stayed in touch.

But can something really happen between us? Should I try or will it cost me my friendship with her?



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Inhale, Exhale, Repeat

We were spending a lot of time together, and this night was no different. We were sitting side by side on my bed, our backs against the wall, facing the flat screen and watching a series. We got to talking, and she was upset over something. As she began talking about it her voice started to break up, and her bottom lip began to quiver, and then tears began rolling down her cheeks and she stopped talking altogether. It only took a second or two for me to wrap my arms around her and hold her to me, but those were maybe the longest two seconds of my life. She was not generally comfortable with being touched, and we had never really hugged before. I wasn’t sure how she would react, if it would be comforting to her or if it would be an overstep. But she was crying, and all I wanted to do was envelope her with all the love I felt for her, and hold her close to me until she wept all her tears away, and that’s what I did. The first instant was terrifying, she froze against me, stiff and motionless. But before my worries had time to solidify, she melted into me, wrapping her arms around my back and grabbing me close with an intensity that shook me.

I held her for what seemed like a very long time. I was afraid to breathe lest the rise and fall of my chest should break the moment. At some point she had stopped crying, and something had changed. Her scent, a mixture of the smell of her skin and hair, filled my nostrils with every breath I took and swept over me. Her body was warm against me and her skin soft. I couldn’t move; if I moved it would be to turn her face to me and kiss her. All of a sudden I became maddeningly aware of how easy it would be for my hands to drift across her body, for my fingers to tenderly trace her curves or make their way up to her face and push her hair away from her cheeks and… My breath caught. I could almost feel the charge in the air around us as the atmosphere became electrified. Was it my imagination, or was her breathing shallow and controlled as well? She was still holding on to me, but she wasn’t moving either. Was she feeling what I was feeling? It was no longer blood coursing through my veins but rather some weird mixture of acid and electricity; every cell in my body was alive and tingling. My heart was beating much faster than normal. She exhaled slowly, and every tiny fiber of hair on my neck stood to attention as her breath tickled across it.

And then sounds from inside, my mother had come home. The moment was broken, we moved away from each other and stepped off the bed. Look at the time! She picked up her things and got ready to leave, and I insisted I’d drop her off. We walked to my car making small talk; plans for the next day and joking about how we never really did watch that series did we?

Once in the car, we were both quiet. I just sat there, the key in ignition but I hadn’t turned it on yet. I was wondering if I should say something or just let it go. She broke my chain of thought with a simple question: “was it just me, or did you feel that too?” and entire worlds exploded in my mind.

She might have said something along the lines of how we should forget about it, how we should not act upon it, and I might have agreed. But if she had been feeling what I was feeling I knew that there was no longer a single reason, no matter how logical, that would withstand that desire even for a moment. I was excited, I was happy, and I was tired having had every nerve in my body on alert for the duration of that embrace. I drove her home, and I waited patiently for the following night; we still had to watch that series after all.