Now, I’m going to take a moment and talk about something personal here. You are welcome to completely ignore this if you’d like. I mentioned in my previous review of The Abyss That Surrounds Us during my fangirl theatrics that this was the very first queer book that I have read. I honestly feel ashamed to admit that. Being a queer person myself, you’d think I would naturally gravitate towards this sort of literature, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened.
The first assumption that pops into mind (I know it popped into mine) was that maybe my conservative & religious upbringing kept me from reaching out to something that resonated so close to me, out of fear of being judged, hated, etc. Yet when I sit down and ponder that I can immediately say that it’s bullshit. I’ve always read whatever the hell I’ve wanted, whether conservative and safe, or offensively graphic (which I prefer, of course).
The second possibility is that I didn’t know it existed and thus couldn’t really reach out to it. This is decidedly not bullshit. I didn’t even realize literature with same sex romances existed up until a about a year ago. I learned even more about them after I started chatting with diverse book bloggers. It made me proud and excited, but I still didn’t have the courage to read queer reads.
The third and final reason is that because it reminds me of someone who was once very close to me. This probably sounds like the most bullshit of all answers, but it’s genuinely the truth. After learning about same sex romances in books, I was so interested in picking one up to see how it feels. I’ve wanted to read F/F romances ever since. Hell, I even reached out to the Diverse Book Bloggers community to get some recommendations, bought a stack too. Yet my fear kept me at bay.
When I was much younger I fell in love with an extraordinary woman. She was the most beautiful person I had ever met–inside and out. Intellectual conversations, wild and crazy adventures, total geeking out over nerdy shit–we had a wonderful relationship. I had never felt that way about anyone in my life, still haven’t been able to feel that way about anyone else yet. Everything about her made me feel alive, made me feel passionate. With her I realized that I can do anything I want to do in life, I just need to be passionate and want it bad enough. I needed to get off of my lazy ass and pursue it. She made me a better person, a braver person. Circumstances got in the middle and we ended up parting ways for a while.
I saw her again at the beginning of last year at my brother’s annual memorial. It had been over ten years since I had seen her and everything about her was still the same. Sure, she had grown wiser and much more refined in her beauty, which just made me even more chicken shit to talk to her. But when we finally did sit down and talk, I knew almost instantly that I was still undeniably in love with her. I knew that she was really the only person I had ever truly loved in my life so selflessly and selfishly.
I seized the moment and told her how I felt. We talked through some concerns and differences we had, and in the end… We went for it. We had only a handful of months together before she died. Apparently is was an aneurysm, so at least she didn’t suffer.
I was devastated. Completely and totally fucking devastated.
I still struggle with it to this day. While I am in a devoted relationship now, and Sir Boyfriend knows everything and understands my feelings sincerely, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of her.
When I discovered queer literature, I had been so afraid to read any of it. Not because of conservative bullshit, and just a little bit because I didn’t know it was a thing (let alone where the hell to begin), but mainly because I was fucking terrified that it would remind me of her. I was emotionally anxious to read about two women falling in love and having what I missed the most. I guess you can say that I was too frightened to face my loss.
But I did it. I finally did it with The Abyss Surrounds Us. While the romance is soft and subtle, it still did exactly what I was apprehensive about: it reminded me of the woman that I still love with every ounce of my existence. Yet, another cool thing happened.
I didn’t fall apart.
I may have teared up a bit, but I didn’t fall apart.
The book reminded me of her in the most beautiful way. I felt nostalgic about the way we would bicker and banter, going back and forth teasing each other. It reminded me of how frustrating it can be to love someone who is stubborn and carefree. Best of all, it reminded me that I can still enjoy her presence, the memories that I have, and that I can keep her alive through reading about books with women who fall ridiculously in love. I had never felt more at home, never felt more safe and comfortable reading about two idiots getting sappy than I have whilst reading this novel.
It has opened a whole new door for me in the most personal way possible and I’m so fucking grateful.
I know I probably sound silly, stupid even, talking about such a lame reason for being hesitant on trying out a new thing. But still, I felt it was important to just admit it and share this story. Maybe there’s someone else out there who’s frightened or hesitant on trying out a new thing; a new thing that can be a life-changing awesome thing.