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First person

Late bloomer: Finding out you’re bisexual at 40

By July 4, 2020No Comments

Taryn de Vere writes about discovering new things about herself in her forties…

I’m a late bloomer. I only discovered this late in life.
Like I only found out that I was Bisexual when I was 40.


Someone had to tell me.

You’d have thought that various sexual encounters with women might have clued me in, but no, like so many things in my life – someone else had to join the dots for me. What annoys me most about this particular quirk of mine is that I always wanted to be with the Gays. I knew, undoubtedly, that that was where the craic was, the colour, the fun and the sexual liberation – hello, yes please, I’d like one of each thank you.

So how annoying to spend four decades looking in through the Big Gay Window and feeling like that space wasn’t for me. When it was all along. I really am a dope. I also feel annoyed because I wasted so many years in relationships with men. Straight men too, not the fun kind. All that time I could have been in relationships with women. All those years I threw at crappy men! The only thing that consoles me is that I am, as I said a late
bloomer – so they likely got the worst of me.

It’s small comfort.

I also discovered in my forties that I’m autistic.  Again, someone had to tell me. Because I’m autistic the way I respond to these kind of revelations is to say “Oh am I? Wow”. Then my mind is blown and I have to go away and research and then I have to re-frame my entire life. I am far too trusting. I’ve had to learn, late in life – not to trust as much. I had to cultivate suspicion for my fellow man. It’s very hard for me to understand people who lie to me. The lie comes but the only box I have to file things in is ‘truth’. Then when I discover someone has lied to me I am overwhelmed with confusion. I simply don’t understand the point of lying.

Finding out I have autism was like receiving a ‘get out of jail free’ card for all my total weirdo traits. Suddenly all my quirks made sense – there is a reason I rub fabrics together, a reason music makes me feel sick, a reason behind all my strange ritualistic traits and preferences.  I wish there was a gift card I could send my exes that says: “Guess what, I have autism and that means I only wanted to drink out of that cup for a reason; not because I’m a fussy bitch, and that Sir, makes you a colossal arsehole.”

I would also love to have little cards made up that explain my quirks that I could give to new people that I meet (not that I like meeting new people).
“This is Taryn. You will find that she does not engage in small talk, finds human interactions exhausting and if you provide too much silence she will attempt to fill it by telling you her life story in an effort to undo the discomfort she feels at being socially inept.”

I actually am a pretty good actor, I’ve learnt how to be “normal” in conversations, but the thought of having to do it fills me with dread. And I’m not sure I’ll ever master the first few minutes of conversation – small talk – that is where I stumble most. Conversation without a defined purpose confuses me. To counter this, I got myself an emotional support animal.

I chose a human man, his name is Andrew and he is Most Excellent at making small talk. I bring him with me to events where I know I’ll have to talk to non-transactional humans. I walk a bit behind him so some of the small talk is already done by the time I join, then all I have to do is listen, nod and try and remember to look interested for the first few minutes. I can be bad at judging when the time is right to cut in with what I want to talk about. But my emotional support human is great at smoothing these moments over.

I have a lot of empathy, but when a solution is plain to see and the person doesn’t take it I get confused and then impatient. This really only becomes a problem in my parenting.

Child: Mum this friend is being really mean to me, she tells lies about me to our other friends.
Me: That sucks, how awful. Stop being friends with her then.
Kid: What? No, I’m not going to do that.
Me: Can’t help you then.

Despite what you may have heard about people with autism, I am not good at maths. In fact I was so bad at maths that I didn’t even do it as a Leaving Cert subject. It turns out that autism manifests differently in different people – and very differently in women. I do feel a bit sad that I missed out on the genius level autism traits but apparently this only applies to a few people. Instead of automatic entry into Mensa, I got the desire to throw up when I hear dance music.

When I was reading through the checklist of autistic traits in women I felt like someone had read my diary and then put it up on the internet for all to see. I felt revealed, but also seen. Due to coming late to these things, I’m a baby Bi and a learner autistic. I’m trying to find my way, learning how to talk about these things without being insensitive or pissing people off.

I’m new to these communities and so I skirt the edges waiting for a (functional) conversation I can contribute to. It amazes me that I can still be learning such momentous things about myself at my big age. When I look back at many of the issues I’ve had in my life, with this new understanding of who I am, things begin to make a lot more sense. My difficulty in making friends, my sensory issues, how wrong I felt in this world. Life is so much easier now that I know why I’m doing the things I’m doing.

I fully expect this trend of late self-discovery to continue. I await someone coming to tell me how to make my fortune.

Hopefully she’ll be very attractive, and uninterested in small talk.

Photo by Cyrus Crossan on Unsplash