(If you didn't read my last post, it's probably best to start with that one.)
...Where was I? So, anything sexual between me and the DXH* was getting less and less frequent. I was becoming extremely frustrated with myself. Why wasn't I interested? It wasn't because of the DXH--he was as great (and handsome!) as ever, plus ridiculously patient. He didn't want to push it--he just wanted me to feel better.
The following year, we moved to a new town, and I started a grad school program, which I had thought I'd enjoy, but hated--and hated myself for hating, which (of course) is a totally healthy outlook. This made me even more anxious, and I was convinced I'd made an irreversible, horrible mistake by starting this new (expensive) program. Things were dark. I'd stay up for hours, hating my work and plagued by guilt that I was a crappy wife. I stopped reading fiction (one of my great joys in life), and also stopped doing any kind of art (another great joy).
And then I met this woman.**
She was a barista at a coffee shop I frequented, and also taught community college math (how's that for an interesting combo?). She was seven years older than me, and for reasons I couldn't figure out, I was interested in everything about her. I told myself it was just a straight girl-crush, and that these things happened all the time; even the New York Times said so. Still, there was the fact that when she walked into a room, I stopped breathing. There was the fact that for reasons that eluded me, I couldn't stop thinking about her hands.
Well, I thought... I might be just a teensy, tiny, miniscule bit bisexual-ish. So what? Lots of people were partly bisexual, right? No big deal. I didn't act on it. She was married; I was married. We hung out a lot. Nothing happened. I don't think either of us really wanted it to.
But once I let that door in my mind crack open the slightest amount, my true sexual orientation elbowed its way in, little by little. My inability to control my thoughts drove me crazy. It was like a one-way ratchet: I could become more interested in women, but not less interested. I decided the solution was to stop it in its tracks, to not let it get worse. I hadn't breathed a word of my struggle to anyone at this point. Sexual thoughts about women? HELL no--I didn't let my mind go there. I buckled down. I studied more. I got a new occupation. I found a terrific therapist. (I made sure she was trained in LGBT stuff just in case that was contributing to my depression, which I highly doubted.)
And then I met this other woman.
I'd actually known her before. She was a photographer from Brooklyn who had done some work I'd written about for an online magazine. Our paths crossed again when she had an opening at a gallery in the city where I live, and from that reconnection, we started spending time together occasionally, a couple hours in a used bookstore or chatting away at a coffee shop. Eventually I found myself thinking about her more frequently. Not this again, I thought--I can't handle another one! I tried to stop myself from thinking about her romantically, but it was tough. She lived with her girlfriend, which was another layer of insulation against the possibility of anything untoward happening between us. Ah, but life is not so simple, is it?
One evening, this woman and I went out to a bar with some friends. My DXH was home with a cold and her girlfriend was out of town for the weekend. We all had a few pints of beer, and the others left early. This woman and I weren't 100% sober enough to drive yet, so we decided to walk off my Fat Tires and her Pilsner Urquells. I don't remember what we talked about, only that as we passed people on the street, I hoped they would think we were together. I felt guilty--not because I thought homosexuality was wrong, but because I was married. Eventually, we came upon a park, where we sat and talked. The sprinklers came on. We didn't move. We talked some more. There was a moment of silence when I wanted more than anything in the world to kiss this woman. In that moment, I realized: Oh, so that's what that's for. By "that," I mean some piece inside me--some indescribable component that had always been sitting there, unused, in my head and heart. It clicked into place and was suddenly a fully activated part of me. Uh-oh, I thought. Uh-oh. I don't know if this woman wanted to kiss me, too. I think she did. I guess I'll never know. I've replayed that night many times in my head, wondering what would have happened if I'd done it.
But the moment passed and was gone. I walked her to her car and left, full of wonder at this new realization, and full of regret for my inaction (plus, full of guilt for the regret--I was becoming a veritable expert on guilt by now). Later, I wanted to tell this woman how I felt, but I couldn't. Soon, she began to treat me coldly, and ground our burgeoning friendship to a halt. Much later, I realized that maybe she had been interested in me and decided to cut me off before anything happened. But at the time, I decided she hated me, which caused me a ton of pain. And I was also disturbed that this THING inside me had been unlocked. So... was I a lesbian?
To be continued... Next up: Craigslist! Suicide! More!
* Someone asked me if my DXH knows I'm posting all this, and is okay with it. Yes, and yes!
** BTW, I reserve the right to make up immaterial details.