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When I turned 27, I married my best friend. We had met just a year earlier in art school. He was the artist, and I was the model for his drawing class.  After class, we often talked for hours about anything and everything, and from the day we met, not a single one passed by without each other’s company. We shared a special bond that deepened over the months, until his September proposal swept me up and away from small town college life and into a wedding dress in New York City. I was a happy, if somewhat overwhelmed bride. He was a doting groom. Together, we really did make a perfect pair. We lived a charmed life filled with traveling, and spent several of our married years in Paris. It was in that city that we lost each other.  In Paris, I met Juliette.

Questioning Yourself For the First Time

I have never been the type of girl to question myself. I was brought up to do what was expected - marry, have a family, buy a house. It was already unusual to my family that by 30, I was childless, and we hadn’t settled down anywhere. At 32, he was focused intensely on his career, and in Paris, I found myself often alone. Wandering the city streets on lonely afternoons, I was startled by my own reflection in shop windows. I felt like a part of me was missing, but what part, exactly, I couldn’t name. The feeling grew, and tugged at me like a ghost pulling a string in some remote corner of my brain. I longed for something I could not identify. They say that idle hands are the devil’s tools, but I think it takes time, especially time spent alone, to ask yourself what it is you truly want. When I met Juliette on a cold Spring morning after we passed by each other in Parc Monceau,  I knew that I wanted her right away. I was in my fourth year of marriage.

She wore a red coat, which offset her long, dark hair, and carried a pail of white roses, which I later found out were a prop for a play she was acting in. We had seen each other many times before in the same park, but on this day, something compelled me to speak to her. We had a coffee in a nearby cafe, which turned into a drink, which turned into a dinner, which turned into a kiss that marked the beginning of a three month long affair. A part of me that had been sleeping was awakened. A question had been asked, and answered. 

Image Courtesy of http://www.freedomroadproject.org/Image Courtesy of DreamDesign.com

Having spent the better part of my married years mostly avoiding sex with my husband, I was surprised by my desire for her. I didn’t know that side of me existed, and furthermore, I didn’t even know that it was possible. I came from a family who would not be accepting of homosexuality, and therefore I hadn’t ever considered it as an option, until now. Even though I had briefly dated girls as a teenager, that was when I was a girl. I thought I had grown out of all that. Besides, I never understood why love had to equal sexual expression. For me, they were separate things that may or may not overlap. I still loved my husband, but I had changed, and couldn’t turn back. I also had to be fair to him, and I saw a long and complicated struggle ahead. I spent many nights literally locked inside my closet, crying over what to do. I didn’t want to lose the person who meant the world to me, and who was my world. And I definitely didn’t want to be gay. I felt as though if only I could get rid of the part of me that desired Juliette, or any woman, really, that everything could go back to normal. It was like having a diseased arm, and to save the rest of my body I would have to chop it off. The problem was, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I carried on this way for three more years, but inside I was completely lost. I soon discovered that there were a lot of other women in my exact same situation. 

Latent Identity

Women who discover their sexual orientation later than their college days are confronted with a lot of confusing questions, especially if they are already married, or married with children. Does this mean I have to call myself a lesbian? Am I really gay or could this be a phase? Why am I feeling this now and does this have to end my marriage?  All of these are legitimate questions, and there aren’t ready answers. Everyone is unique, and everyone’s situation is unique. Humans are complex creatures. Even scientists and research psychologists don’t understand the inner workings of the human brain or how sexuality functions. There are dozens of schools of thought about sexual identity, but the truth is that your identity is your own, and it’s for you to decide. You don’t have to label yourself as anything, unless you want to. Yes, it is possible that it is a phase, and a perfectly natural one. Or, the feeling could be permanent and you may only be with women from now on. If so, you will be okay. You were strong enough to make it this far.

Image Courtesy of http://www.freedomroadproject.org/Image Courtesy of The Freedom Project.org

Overcoming Fear on the Road Less Traveled

I know it can be very scary to be confronted with not only going through a divorce, but also having to adopt a whole new life once it’s over. There are fears about living life as a lesbian that are unique to women who have previously only been with men. For me, my fear was fear itself. Women made me feel a lot of things, but safe wasn’t one of them. I felt safe with my husband. I also had to confront the fact that in this world, a household with two female breadwinners isn’t usually a financially prosperous one. Despite these challenges, I knew that this was not a part of me that I could ignore. It would be worse to live with the longing. And so, I  have since separated from my husband. I am finally comfortable enough to have relationships with women, though I admit the journey to reach this place was long, and often painful. If you find yourself in this position, you have to ask yourself some questions you may not like the answers to, and there will be uncertain times ahead. But one thing will remain certain, and that is that you are still the same wonderful person. Your life will go on, and you will laugh again, and love again, and brave new challenges down the road. I know, because I have been down that road.  It isn’t an easy one to travel, but it is worth it, because it’s your own.

 

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18 comments

  • Comment Link TheSadRealTruth Monday, 19 December 2016 20:49 posted by TheSadRealTruth

    This is why many of us good straight men are still single these days because of this unfortunately since i finally figured it out why a woman that i was very much attracted too Cursed at me for saying Hello to her to start a Conversation since this happened to me last month. And a friend that i know had the same thing happened to him about six months ago. I don't get it.

  • Comment Link Mommy4 Sunday, 21 August 2016 07:07 posted by Mommy4

    Ayyee lol

  • Comment Link Joselyn Wednesday, 01 June 2016 21:28 posted by Joselyn

    I feel like this is just like I'm going through. I told my husband that I was bi but have now come to the full conclusion I'm actually gay. I've been honest with him and haven't found a girlfriend yet or cheated on him behind his back. We are living in the same house with our 5 children but separated physically and emotionally. I understand the hurt some people are going through being the straight spouse but most if not all gay people myself included lied to ourselves of who we were throughout our married lives. There is no malice just ignorance. For the poster saying gays are ruining things shut the hell up. If people like me 40 years old and older were raised that being gay isn't a crime or some sickness and it's perfectly ok to have a girlfriend/boyfriend of the same sex we most likely would not have chosen an opposite sex spouse. Now that society is becoming more accepting I'm sure people in my position and that of Joelle will be less and less because we will be able to be honest about ourselves to ourselves and others.

  • Comment Link James Saturday, 19 March 2016 20:09 posted by James

    It is sad that more women are coming out, I think it is just selfishness. I say that because most of the women who leaves there husbands eventually turn straight again. They find out the it doesn't matter what side that they are o all relationships may end up the same. But now in todays society it is the norm for a women to be lesbian. This is changing the world because think eventually the numbers will be come so large that it will cause straight me to become gay or start dating little girls. Gays and lesbians will change the world for the worst over years. Not only that gays and lesbians are teaching their children that being gay or a lesbian is they way it should be so they are change there children's sexuality and do not even realize it. I thin it is a choice to be gay or a lesbian, everything we do is a choice. By saying that they were born that way is just a cover up to let straight people learn to deal with it. Most lesbians has been raped as a child and they resent men for the rape. Left untreated can change how a women feel about a man. This is like saying why all people who has PTSD have not committed suicide yet. It is a choice if they take their life or not. It is a choice why I have not cheat on my wife yet and the temptation is there everyday. I am not even attracted to my wife but I love her, I still will not cheat. Love should over power any sexuality, because how can a woman say i love you but I am not attracted to you. They will say i am attracted to a woman but do not love them.

  • Comment Link Damaged Wednesday, 16 March 2016 22:12 posted by Damaged

    While I sympathize with the plight of people being forced into straight marriages due to societal influence, I am also a man affected by this. My ex found someone who she loved (even though that woman was with someone else at the time) and she left. Parents, friends and everyone else be damned. On top of that, I am treated like a pariah by both conservative people for not doing enough to save the marriage and by liberal people for being angry at my ex for coming out.

    But I suppose that doesn't come into consideration, does it? Collateral damage?

  • Comment Link TheSadTruth Sunday, 22 November 2015 14:51 posted by TheSadTruth

    It is very sad that so many women are Gay today which many of them will marry straight guys just to have children, and then leave their husbands to go with another woman.

  • Comment Link Guest Friday, 09 October 2015 18:20 posted by Guest

    I am a straight man that had my wife leave me for another woman which i really loved her so very much and i was very faithful to her thinking that i was going to spend the rest of my life with her to have a family. And i had a friend that had the same thing happened to him too, and both of us were very hurt by this since this is a new trend lately which many of us good innocent men have been ruined by this.

  • Comment Link Truth Friday, 12 December 2014 23:49 posted by Truth

    Well nowadays more and more women are marrying other women. I just don't get it

  • Comment Link J Friday, 07 November 2014 22:48 posted by J

    The other side of this story are the effects sexual evolution has on the partner who was left behind. I'm a man who had four daughters with a woman over a nine year time span. She asked me to move out three months ago and is now dating a woman she works with. I have no moral objection to her relationship but I question if their will be ethical side effects on our daughters development. Our oldest child is eight, and our youngest turns two in a months time. My daughters and I are very, very close to one another; with me having spent the last three years as the stay at home parent. Even before that time I was heavily involved in their daily lives. I love them more than I love myself and now that this change has happened we only get to see one another for six hours a week. It devastates me to have to explain to them that daddy is no longer going to be part of their lives on a daily basis. Their mother may have found her inner harmony, but doing so created a wake of turmoil in my and my daughters lives. I'm happy to say that I don't resent or hate their mother for becoming who she most likely has always been; but I think her decision to act on her sexual desires regardless of the consequences to those who are closest to her is extremely selfish. My children and I are innocents in this; I can only try my best to mitigate the disruption in their lives by reinforcing my commitment to their and their mothers happiness and well being, regardless of how much sadness I must silently bear doing so.

  • Comment Link g Thursday, 06 November 2014 19:09 posted by g

    I am in a difficult situation. I am married with 2 kids. I have just met a woman that makes me feel things I didn't know I could anymore. The problem is not only does she have a girlfriend, I have no idea if she has any interest in me. How will I ever find out when we are both with other people. I experimented with other girls as a young person. I don't think I could accept that that life may be a reality for me at that age. But in all the years I have been with my husband, 15+, I haven't had these feelings stirred by another woman (or man). How do I find out what this is without tearing apart my family? What if I only have these feelings for this one woman? If I can't explore this with her, I don't know if I want to try. I don't want to leave my marriage for nothing.

  • Comment Link anja Tuesday, 28 October 2014 06:31 posted by anja

    I am so lost, in the sense that I feel like i am looking for something but don't know what it is. I have been married 11 years and have 3 beautiful kids, but I find that i am attracted physically and emotionally to women. I don't even know how to approach my husband about this, but I feel i should because it is slowly killing me inside to not fill the burning hole that it has left in me. Thank you for sharing your story, it brings me a sense of comfort and understanding. Where do i go from here...... I have yet to figure that out, but at least I have said my true feelings for once. Even if no one reads this.

  • Comment Link Tammy Thursday, 04 September 2014 02:01 posted by Tammy

    This is so inspirational. I have wondered and read and researched and cried and denied and troubled over this same predicament for nearly 20 years, 3 marriages--that should have been a clue!-- and 4 amazing children. Every day I feel more and more lost and worry about hurting those I love. What if they don't understand or accept me? I believe I can live with my husband and family...I would think they eventually would just 'get over it' because they want me in their lives. but what about my children? That's my biggest fear.

    **I am also in the military. Don't ask, don't tell may have been repealed, but the negativity is alive and well.**

  • Comment Link Quinn Friday, 16 May 2014 15:30 posted by Quinn

    Thanks for sharing your story, Joelle. I'm dealing with my 10 years relationship divorce now. Cheer. Quinn

  • Comment Link Leigh Sunday, 26 January 2014 02:24 posted by Leigh

    Joelle, thank you for sharing your story. Your words so closely describe what I've been going through and how I feel. My life has been unraveling since I confronted my husband about the truth of my sexuality. We separated a few weeks after I told him and I just moved into my own place. I miss him so incredibly much, but know that if I'd I stayed with him that I would be lying to him and myself. I don't know what to do next, but know I need to find more support. So, thank you for helping me not feel so alone.

  • Comment Link Joelle Monday, 24 June 2013 15:18 posted by Joelle

    @Brinn
    I am sorry if you misinterpreted the message of this article, as I never intended to encourage infidelity nor was it the spirit behind why I shared this story. Infidelity is not something that I would condone, and it was only one part of a larger story. The intent of the article is to help people who may be in this situation to feel less alone, not to promote adultery, or any other action for that matter.

    Joelle

  • Comment Link Brinn Sunday, 23 June 2013 12:55 posted by Brinn

    Then you leave the marriage to pursue a different path in life. Ultimately, it is about honesty. I sympathize with those that have been herded into heterosexual unions because of societal constraints. But what about the spouses of those people? What was their crime? How do they deserve to be lied to just because they happened to be married to someone who doesn't want to be married to them? I stand by my opinion- Infidelity is never ever justified.

  • Comment Link Guest Sunday, 23 June 2013 05:08 posted by Guest

    To the previous commenter: I was a victim of infidelity in my own marriage, so I agree that infidelity can be unimaginably hurtful. But in a society that did not accept homosexuality for so long, I believe that people were forced into heterosexual marriages which were doomed from the beginning. I once had a friend confide to me that he had a very deep relationship with another man who happened to be married and had kids, and who did not choose to leave his wife out of concern for the kids. But my friend considered this man to be the love of his life. I cannot think of this situation and not feel profound sadness and compassion for their difficult situation. Yes, you are right, in an ideal world we would expect perfect honesty from our partners--as indeed I expected from my heterosexual husband.

  • Comment Link Brinn Saturday, 22 June 2013 12:46 posted by Brinn

    What I got from this article is Infidelity. Is it important that we each know our true selves? Yes. Is it paramount that we each travel our genuine paths to happiness? Yes. Is it ever justified, no matter what our sexual orientation, to commit infidelity in the search of those two things? No. We each have struggles. We each face challenges. The price of infidelity is pain and that pain (lying, cheating, betrayal) is never ok.