ALEX CHEWgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Digital Portfolio : One Thread
Alex Chew - Professional Portfolio
-- Anonymous, April 28, 2001
I have been given your name by a friend. This is such a new experience for me. I am writing to you because I don't know who you are, and you cannot see me and don't know who I am. I am using an alias in order to keep the anonymity. The reason for this is that I am telling you something that highly embarrasses me, and I don't think I could possibly tell anyone face to face. I am a married woman of 41 with three children 4, 6 and 9. I am considered by everyone as normal and respectable in just about all ways.
Some time back now we had a woman staying with us for about three weeks as a favour to a friend. This lady came over from Canada and is integrating into this country. I found her strangely fascinating and liked her and found myself staying up to all hours talking with her which is not like me at all. I couldn't make out what was happening and told my husband (I am in the habit of telling him everything), that it was almost like being in love. It was some time until I realised, from the things she was saying, that she is a Lesbian. It slowly began to dawn on me that I was attracted to another woman, and what was much worse, I had mentioned it to my husband.
I found I was very physically attracted to her and liked to be touching her in some way, which she did not reciprocate. When other people were in the room, I found I could not pay them much attention if she was in the room or even in the house.
The awful thing about this is that my husband is strongly homophobic and is really disgusted by poufs. He also doesn't mind talking about this strongly held view to others and always embarrasses me with his strongly worded disgust of gays. I now know from what he said, that he considers what I told him about my attraction to this woman comes under the heading of gay. That was three years ago. He has not touched me since. Never wants sex, and if I lean up against him he pulls away, and he has also suggested for reasons of a skin condition he has that he needed to sleep in a different bed, so we now have separate bed rooms. I did try and talk to him about this, but he pushed it aside and said he couldn't help the way he thought and felt. Outwardly our family is normal and behaves normally. But I miss having sex very much, and actually would like to have a fourth child, although I suppose I am getting a bit too old for another, so that doesn't bother me too much. Well, now I have got it out. I don't actually see a resolution to this, but at least I am writing it out and someone is going to read it. I feel quite nervous of your reply, as now my secret concern is no long secret.
yours sincerely and in some trepidation.
May I first apologise for not responding to you any earlier as I have been away the last few days and have only return this morning.
Harriet, I can only imagine what you're feeling at this moment from what you have shared in giving voice to your inner self through the veneer of perceived normality that have encapsulated you. Your current relationship with your husband seems to have left you feeling void of any warmth and physical intimacy. It seems to you that any efforts on your part to engage him any meaningful dialogue about it has been dismissed. Am I correct in saying from what I gathered you have said, you have attributed his motivation for his withdrawal to your decision to share your feelings about your attraction to a woman three years ago and his homophobic reactions to your disclosure? This may have probably cause you to doubt yourself and your sexuality and to blame yourself for the current difficulties in your relationship with your husband. I suppose we would like to think that emotions and relationships are as simple and straight forward as that, unfortunately the complexity requires us to be able to explore and clarify ourselves, our emotions and our relationships in our pursuit for self-understanding and fulfilment. I really would like to work with you Harriet, with that possible goal in mind. The most difficult part is probably over in your decision to allow me to bear witness to your 'secrets'.
Harriet, this is where you may decide to contract yourself for a series of online counselling sessions should you wish to pursue and gain some insights into yourself and your relationships and its presenting difficulties. Please refer to the homepage at Skyways (http://........) for the relevant practical details of session and fees structure, method of payment as well as our Professional Code of Ethics and Conduct, which I abide by in my practice as an online counsellor. I do hope to hear from you again. Please be aware that I will be away from 25th July until the 2nd September 2001 during which time I will not be available to respond to any emails. My turn around time for responses is between 5 - 7 days on receipt of your email, unless it is indicated an earlier response is required.
I do hope we could work together and I look forward to your reply.
Thank you for your full reply. I am not concerned about myself having a lesbian experience, as I have now fallen for three women in my life. Once at school when I had a crush on an older girl, which when I look back on it was like a very bad fatal attraction, only of course nothing awful happened, but it was at that kind of strength. She was embarrassed by it, and so it never got physical at all, and I would have been horrified it had, it was more of a romantic thing. But it was very strong. When this women also came on the scene the feelings grew to just such an infatuation, which exhausted and horrified me, and took me many months to come to terms with and get over. I couldn't at that time talk with anyone about it, so it was entirely my secret, even the lady concerned never talked about it, although I am sure she was aware of the strength of my feelings. A couple of years after that a woman fell in love with me and after a few weeks I reciprocated with yet another infatuation. I never allowed it to enter a physical relationship, as I considered that would be like having an affair just as if it was another man, and I wouldn't allow that. We did touch and hold hands, but never more than that. I knew if we went any further than that I would lose control entirely and did not wish to risk that. In some ways I regret it, as I think it would have been the most amazing sexual experience, but it wasn't to be, and I think if we had allowed it, I would have lived to regret it, and suffered for a very long time. Again I think my husband was aware of it. I think he found some love letters that we exchanged. I am sure my husband will never change in the physical sense, not now, and he is very bigoted about gays, so I know he won't change. I somehow have to make it alright for myself, so that I can live with it easily, and not have it knawing away at me. Thank you for being there and listening to all this. I do appreciate it.
It seems to you that you are clear about your own strong emotional attraction towards other women and ‘having a lesbian experience’ is not something new that you have been confronted with. From your account of the three critical moments that you have had experienced, some of the common elements present were the strong overwhelming emotions aroused, the opportunity for the relationships to develop into the physical expression of your feelings never arose, either you had to stop yourself or the other person did not reciprocate, the regrets that you felt you were left with because the you did not allow yourself to take what seems to be a big risk in following your desires and having to keep such strong feelings suppressed or contained and not sharing it within the relationships.
Harriet, maybe you could help me understand by clarifying some of the issues that puzzled me. I am being made aware of the strength of your affection you feel towards these women and how you aware of your own desires, imagining the possibility of an ‘amazing sexual experience’ if only you had allowed it. The conflict in possible regret allowing it happen and the regret you regret by not allowing to happen is equally strong and is causing the dilemma I suppose you must be currently finding yourself struggling with. In the midst of it all, although you have to keep it a ‘secret’ you choose to disclose it to your husband who is you know to be homophobic when you said he is ‘disgust of gays’. It left me wondering, what if there is one, the unconscious intentions behind your action. I was also intrigued by how your letters were ‘found’?
Harriet, if you’re to ask yourself the fantasy question ‘if your situation is to be ideally perfect’ how would you like it to be with regards your husband response and behaviour, your relationship with other women and your relationship with him. Imagine there is no constraint, moral, physical, emotional, economical etc. – a fantasy do not have constraints.
I am hoping that the above may offer a starting means of clarifying for your own self, the issues and dilemmas that you are currently experiencing.
Look forward to your next reply.
-- Anonymous, June 08, 2001
I appreciate your long reply, although I found some of it a bit highbrow for me. The reason I told my husband in the first place about the strong attraction to this woman, was that I had not recognised this strong attraction to another human being, in this case a woman, was 'gay'. It wasn't until he acted so strongly at that time that I realised that was how he saw it. With the advent of the physical attraction, which I had not experienced before when forming strong female friends, I began to see it in a different light and that it came under the general heading of what people meant by Gay, or homosexual. I then realised that I had locked into my husband's homophobia. But it was then too late to retract or try and hide it. My fantasy of an ideal situation with my husband! Here goes.. I would like him to think through and realise that he is bigoted, ungenerous and thoroughly homophobic and that it is not good for him to think that way, nor is it good for me, the children, and the community. And accept and admit that it is wrong. Wrong from his own point of view, because he is always on about the oneness of humankind and he studies religions etc. So his theory and high principles seem to be good and just, but not when it comes to his own strong feelings. He sometimes takes very strongly against someone he has known for years and years, usually someone he works with, and he takes a very strong dislike to them, with a very flimsy excuse. He then turns against them, and has sacked people suddenly with very flimsy excuses. When I have confronted him with this, he admits it is unfair and irrational but that the he 'can't help it'. So he does have irrational ideas and acts on them, and I suppose I have to accept that that is how it is, and that he responds in a way he has very little control over. I know that he has taken the same kind of exception to me after he entertained the idea of my gay behaviour, and that he is unable to like me , even. My fantasy therefore is that he suddenly sees the light, and acknowledges what his religious ideas are telling him, so that he responds in that way rather than the emotional and bigoted way. He would understand the whole flavour of gay behaviours and find it understandable, and acceptable that human beings behave in the way they do, and that we don't always know why, and that just because we may think it is wrong, in the bigger picture of things it may not be. I think this would make him a much happier man. And I would so like to see him a happier and more settled man. My fantasy is also that he appreciates me as a human being - another human being like himself, and one he really likes even if he doesn't love in the marriage kind of way. I would like him to see me as beautiful, at least sometimes and tell me so, or even to say how nice it is to be married to me or what a good mother I am. Other people, including the children do say these things, but he hasn't done for a long time now. I think that is all for now.
I think my problem is rather boring for you. YOu are probably very busy, and as it is so long since you have responded to me, I think it is too much for you in what is probably a very busy life you lead. My problem is probably right at the bottom of your list. I am really sorry to have bothered you. I have now contacted a local counsellor and I am going to see him this week. This is probably what I should have done right at the beginning. It is probably not the sort of thing that can be dealt with over e-mail. But thank you for trying.
I was about to sent you my prepared reply after having reflected deeply on your last email when I receive your email today. I am really sorry you feel that my email responses wasn't timely enough to make you feel that I had cared enough for you or your problems and that your distress was interesting enough for it to be given the priority and the attention that it deserves. I thought that I had indicated in our initial contract that my turn around time for responses is between 5 - 7 days on receipt of your email, unless it is indicated by you that an earlier response is required. It seems that such intervals do not meet your needs at this moment in time. I am delighted that as a result it has highlighted the priority your needs has become for you and thus initiated the positive action you have taken in seeking face to face counselling. Maybe after having taken the hardest first step of sharing your inner thoughts and feelings with a stranger through the safety of a pseudonym through our email exchanges has made it that little easier for you to gather the courage to engage in face to face counselling. I am pleased that you have managed to arrive at this point in affirming your experience rather than be a prisoner of its embarrassment.
Let me wish you well with your endeavours in your continuing journey to find your 'self'.
-- Anonymous, June 25, 2001