Modern Couples Lucinda Cowell (c) 1981

Are You Open To What It Takes To Find True Love?

by Tawny Heather Swain

I felt certain the love bug struck me when I came to know my now ex-husband. He seemed to have those qualities we all look for in a man, so I married him. I never knew love quite the way I knew it with him, nor had I ever allowed myself to get so close to another human being. I didn't know much about relationships, except for the bad things I saw with my parents' defunct marriage, so I convinced myself that this was it. It seemed filled with more promise than mom and dad's anyway. Our marriage wasn't quite all that, as he worked midnight shift as a policeman, and we rarely saw one another.

 After 4 years of marriage, another person entered my life. I was completing my master's degree in clinical psychology, and this other person was my supervisor and 20 years my senior. Through working closely with her, and an occasional game of golf or racquetball, I came to know her heart. I was completely in love with her. 

Yes, I did say "her", I did say she was 20 years older than I, and I did say she was my supervisor. And did I mention she was a she? (Oh my god!) I have plenty of gay/lesbian friends, but felt pretty sure that I was straight as an arrow, as anything other than that would blow my "perfect" image. I was also pretty sure I was happily married, as I waited for that "things will be better with us when." 

At this point, I knew several things for sure. I had a major problem. I knew the lesbian lifestyle was very hard, especially in my town. I knew that I was married and could not have an affair. 

So, I was married, (not taking the pill in attempts to conceive) totally in love with another person, (and oh my god, a woman), and certain that no other human being could possibly be able to understand the torture this was for me. I stood to lose a lot if I chose to follow my heart. Some examples include my husband, who despite his faults, loved me; his family, who were more like family than my own; my own family's acceptance; my job; my friends ' acceptance; and not to mention my entire perception of who I am and what I believe about myself and my life.

I was ready to flee the country or something to get out of this mess. The thought of not being with her or hurting her wonderful heart was killing me. The thought of hurting his heart was killing me. I would never intentionally hurt anyone, and here I was with the power to hurt so many people who were important to me.

 After several attempts to end the affair, with no success, as I missed her so much, I tried once more. This time my husband and I went to marriage counseling together. I needed to give it one more shot before making a decision that would totally change so many people's lives. It didn't work. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I couldn't make the thoughts of her go away. All I wanted more than anything in the world was to hold her, touch her, be with her. 

To shorten what was the longest year of my life so far, I eventually divorced my husband and moved in with her. The losses I mentioned before came to pass and most were quite hard to swallow. Many of my friends surprised me, as did my dad, but the most difficult to swallow was not being allowed by my in-laws to see my niece. She and I adored one another and I still miss her. 

Following my heart has certainly changed my life in so many different ways. I no longer see things the same way since facing this decision. I have never in my life felt so fulfilled, so loved, so totally accepted, so happy, so content, so confident, so much like an individual. Here I was in this mess, and I made my decision to follow my heart to a place of uncertainty and of social disdain. While at the same time, I have grown so much as a person. I have never been more in love, and feel it more each and every day. I know others don't necessarily understand, but it is not necessary. My heart has never been more secure, more contented, more at peace. I still struggle with rumors and trash talk as a professional in a small town, but those things seem so insignificant given what I have in my relationship. I thought I knew what it was like to be in love, but it was nothing like this. I am only so thankful that I was able to work through the misery in order to be open to it when she came into my life.

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