I am a 48-year-old married mother of three who has long harboured a deep attraction to women I feel I can no longer repress. It goes without saying that this would destroy my husband and quite possibly my family. We have been married for over 20 years and conservatively at that. I think I can safely say that he has never cheated nor is he, like so many men apparently, excited by the idea of me cavorting with other women.
As I've implied, I would be lying if I said I didn't suspect this about myself for years. I often have intense dreams about having sex with women and I'll apologize in advance for the cliché, but when I was in college I had a brief, meaningful affair with a female professor, something I've never told anyone until now. I can't stop thinking about the fact that I am probably around a decade older than she was when we were involved, but I digress.
I know it seems ridiculous in this day and age to repress one's innermost desires and you must wonder how I found myself in such a situation given the liberal climate in which we live. All I can say is that it happened and now, 20 years later, here I am. Sasha, I am a lesbian and I am married to a man and it is killing me.—Silent Sappho
Joanne Fleisher runs the web site Lavender Visions and knows your pain all too well. In 1979, she left a heterosexual marriage to pursue a lesbian relationship and is the author of a book on the subject, Living Two Lives. "It takes enormous courage to confront your sexuality as an adult when so much is at stake: your marriage, your children, your entire way of life," Fleisher said when I contacted her by email. "Usually the discovery or acknowledgment of gay feelings throws people into severe emotional crisis. You likely feel you don't know who you are anymore. You can't explain your changes to others, let alone yourself. Most people weren't taught that sexual identity often is fluid and may shift at different points throughout life."
Still, Sappho, you are far from alone. How many letters do you see here penned by people concealing a secret passion from a long-term partner, be it fetish, gender or orientation? Fleisher elaborates: "Like many others who are just as hidden as you, you are feeling both confused and isolated. No one can tell you what to do, but your new awareness suggests that you take some time to examine yourself, ideally with professional help, as you work toward decision-making. Be patient; give yourself the time this deserves. No matter what decisions you make, they will be life altering and will affect the people you love most in your life. With time, you will find the path that leads you to a fulfilling life and to feel proud of who you are."
You'll find many resources on the Lavender Visions website, including books and message boards: