(*anagnorisis: a new development in a story.)
A guest gero-punk essay
by an author who asks to remain anonymous
I married young. Before I really had a sense of myself, I fell in love and married a wonderfully loving man. Having been raised in a chaotic home, perhaps I felt being married was the most “normal” thing I could do. It was a passionate whirlwind of a romance. Those were my early twenties. And despite my naïveté and typical impulsivity, that I wanted a life with him was one of the few things I knew for certain.
Dating in college was fun, but I never felt content. Maybe it was my own judgmental particularities or the rush to scrutinize, but I would always find a reason to break up. I believed I was going through the motions of discerning what sort of man I wanted and the only optimal life I had ever pictured. I never gave my heterosexuality a second thought. It was that attractive path of least resistance that quelled my insecurities and placated my need for acceptance. It felt right to me as I wandered towards its bright, beckoning light.
My best friend and I would spend most of our free time together. I often preferred her company over the pressures of boyfriends. With them I had to be “on.” It was draining. Often times, she would show up at my dorm at midnight for a round of cards. We would drive to the top of the hills over-looking the city to drink wine coolers and listen to music. We talked for hours, often until sunrise. She and I were connected by a sense of not fitting in with the mainstream culture of our conservative college town. I hold that time dearly because she left my life after I was married. I was deeply hurt and so I did my best not to allow that vulnerability again anytime soon.
As newly weds, my husband and I traveled and explored. It was an adventure. We got our first place and furnished it with as many used things as we could find. Then a baby came. Parenthood took us by surprise, but we felt all the more committed to making our young marriage work. And we did. If anything defined us, now it was parenting. As much as we tried to reinforce our relationship, life had grown beyond our capacity. Like a wave, it swept us under.
I didn’t understand the attractions and fascinations. Sometimes she would turn up in the form of an acquaintance. Other times, she was the person in line next to me. I compulsively intellectualized my way out of anything deeper than a shrug. My husband would ask me why I never initiated love-making. I only knew that I was exhausted from a day of work and the needs of the household. But when we were intimate, my mind often made its way to female shapes and forms.
Life moved on: five years, then ten years, and another child. Days were filled with play dates, homework, bath time and endless routine. I was intertwined in our children’s lives. I loved being a mother. They began where I ended and back again. Our kids grew quickly and soon they begin to leave for college. The whirlwind was slowing down, as if our short time alone had been interrupted by twenty-plus years.
Mid-life began a momentum. With curiosity, I listened to those gentle places I had kept silent and had feared for so long. Vulnerability no longer existed as my lifelong enemy – the mote of emotional safety I had created. Gradually my armor faded away as I unearthed an awareness and let it permeate my consciousness. My senses were finely tuned, as if I were seeing the blue sky for the first time or feeling summer’s warmth. Sensuality manifested itself in dreams of women. Intellectually, I believed they represented my own feminine awakening. On a more visceral, truthful level, I knew an uncharted intimacy with life still awaited me.
Beneath the responsibilities and devotions to our family life, a dormant loneliness had taken root. Emerging, however, was an inkling of possibility within myself that begged for truth and authenticity. My thoughts would sometimes melt into daydreams. I imagined the breathless intensity of touching a woman, absorbing the scent of her skin. I awakened to my sexuality. I wasn’t the “sort of bisexual” I had once safely labeled myself. In time, I came to accept what had always been a part of me. Early school-girl crushes and electrifying attractions did have meaning. It was a place of being that felt like home.
Outside of motherhood, I embody a wholeness I have never imagined.
My husband understands that the essence of our years together cannot be defined by rejection or resentment. We have settled into a new clarity; dots have been connected. Now we face the unavoidable grieving of a fundamental change in our two-decade’s long relationship.
Love motivates the desire for each of us to find happiness down new paths.
In partnership, we’ll walk through the heartache.