I left my husband Dave, before finding answers to the crushing questions I wrote about in my last blog. After months of vacillating between staying or leaving my marriage, I knew what to do. Almost immediately my suffering lifted. Learning about my complex emotions played a crucial role in reaching that decision.
Janine, the woman who awakened my passion, had helped me to appreciate my mind and body in a different way. Her obvious comfort with herself and her beautiful, imperfect body assured me that she loved me just the way I was, and that’s how I loved her. The open acceptance between us surpassed my previous experiences.
The first time we made love I told her I didn’t know what to do; I’d never been intimate with a woman. She said, “Yes you do, just pay attention to what you feel when I make love to you.” Even though we had our differences, she was right. I learned to pay close attention to her responses and to my own. Our physical love blossomed so naturally, it felt like coming home.
Although I stopped lying and eventually told Dave about my affair, I was overwhelmed by extreme and vacillating feelings. When I was with Janine, I felt excitement, passionate love, and flashes of guilt, when I returned home I felt sadness, anger, and flashes of guilt, when alone in my thoughts— fear, sadness and guilt. I tried to sort out which were reactions to the way Dave, Janine or others felt, and which were purely mine. In stolen moments of alone time I questioned who I was. I learned that I needed to know and accept my emotions before taking action. I had often acted impulsively as a way to escape discomfort. Instead, I learned to pause and reflect on what I was thinking and feeling in order to get to my truth.
I wasn’t prepared for the deep depression I felt when Janine left me for a more promising unmarried woman. Loss is a predictable part of life, but I surely wasn’t taught how to handle it. The solid ground under me had fallen away. Over months, I learned to look directly at my sadness rather than escaping through busyness, food, hanging out online, or other distractions. I wrote about it instead of ruminating constantly.
I couldn’t rely on Janine to teach me about lesbian life or promise me a new life in the future. I had no vision of what lay ahead. Talking to a therapist once a week wasn’t enough. I began to reach out for support from friends. Although it felt like an eternity, I realized I wasn’t going to reach a decision quickly. I had to find a way to forgive myself for hurting Dave and creating turmoil in our family. I knew I couldn’t change the past, but I could learn from it.
My relationship with Janine ended, but the memories of our romance continued to haunt me. It was time to see if I could let go of the past and work on the marriage. My steadfast feelings of longing told me that I couldn’t. I realized Dave couldn’t give me the kind of intimacy and nurturance I wanted, and wondered if any man could. I needed to find out if I might find this special kind of love with another woman.