Joanne Fleisher | Lavender Visions

My Journey Through Two Lives

I had to write Living Two Lives: Married to a Man & in Love with a Woman. I didn’t want other women to face what I did without help from someone who could speak from her own experience. In 1979, when I realized I was in a marriage that wasn’t fulfilling my needs and desires, I was terrified. I thought I was straight. I’d only been with men and had never felt attracted to women before. Living in the suburbs, I was married to a good husband and raising two children. Despite the fact that I had fallen in love with a woman, I felt like nothing had changed inside me. I didn’t suddenly believe I was a lesbian.

Fortunately, I was resourceful and found ways to help myself through the painful process of exploring my sexuality and priorities with guidance from various teachers. My teachers included some who were professionally trained and others, who were mere acquaintances who crossed my path. I pursued the latter because they were either bisexual or lesbian-identified and were open to answering my desperately curious inquiries. Access to information is different today, but creating a new life will always be upending and require many of the same supports I needed.

When I completed my writing, I was filled with doubts about how the book would be received. I worried that I had written a self-help book that didn’t provide specific answers. Yet, I knew what questions to ask and some part of me knew that this is what good guidance is. True wisdom has to come from each individual, from inside herself. Our guides are those who can point us in a direction, ask the important questions, and help us to reach inside ourselves where our own answers

lie. Individual circumstances may be similar, but our answers are unique to each person.

Writing Living Two Lives helped me to clarify the process that most women follow, of course with many variations. Even the amount of time it takes to define the best path forward can take anywhere from 6 months to 6 years. My writing began about 25 years after my initial questioning. By then, I had developed my therapy profession and had the value of hindsight along with professional expertise.

I started writing from the beginning of my own journey. After revealing the affair to my husband, I began working with a therapist. I couldn’t put my finger on why I had felt so restless and bored in my marriage or why I had gotten myself involved in an affair. I told my therapist that the only things missing from my marriage were good sex and a feeling of intimacy. My therapist smiled and let me know that these may be the two most important aspects of a happy relationship. I couldn’t handle the roller coaster of emotions that I was feeling, but knew that it was better than the numbness I had experienced prior to the affair. I had been blocking my loneliness and feelings of disconnection. I needed to face my hidden feelings. It was the key to feeling alive.

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