She gathered me into her arms and I felt her lips touch mine.

The Kiss. How can I explain it?  Soft. Gentle. Different. And right. I did not want to open my eyes. I couldn’t. She kissed me with my eyes closed and she opened my eyes to my truth; awakening something deep inside I hadn’t known existed. The depth of that kiss devastated me. I finally understood how I was supposed to feel. And that moment was profound.

 

So, what did I do? I ran of course. I pulled away hard. I couldn’t breathe. My heart hammered at my ears and I shook badly. I felt the sting of tears as I bolted. This was so wrong. So, so WRONG. I was a horrible person.

But a small voice whispered inside my head, ‘If this is so wrong, why does it feel so right?’

Well, for one thing, I was still married to my husband. So clearly it was wrong. Even though we had both come to the conclusion, months ago, our marriage was finished, it still felt wrong to my morally-conscious head and heart. I had never willingly done anything wrong in my life. I’d always been a pleaser – as a child and an adult. I wanted people to like me. I wanted to like myself but, feeling as I did, I was finding it impossible to look myself in the mirror. I had taught my children to be good and kind, to be accountable for their actions. To be morally responsible.

And now, I was going against the very heart of what I held good and right.

It made me look very closely at the life I had been living. My retreat within myself had left a vast expanse of emptiness between my husband and I that I didn’t know how to fix. All that was left was the sad task of dividing. Now I wondered if I had suppressed my true self all along. I felt perhaps I had never really known me; as though I’d never really had my own identity. Who was Maisie Duncan? A wife – a failed wife. A mother – the most important role of my life. But what else?

Other than Jess, who knew exactly who she was, I had no one to talk to, no one to ask these questions. Jess urged me to speak to a therapist and, afraid I was losing my mind, I agreed.

I sat in the small, windowless room and tried to breathe, the armpits of my blouse growing damp as the therapist gathered her pen and pad and joined me at the table.

Haltingly, I began my story and watched as she jotted down my life on her 4 x 6 notepad. Then suddenly I was pouring out everything, my childhood, my mom, my dad, my school years, my friends, my marriage, my children and Jess. I revealed my forbidden feelings for Jess, the realization I had finally figured out who I was supposed to be then haltingly I confessed my certainty I was gay.

 

Occasionally, she peered over her glasses at me and I slowed a little, reading judgment in her eyes. Or at least I thought I did. When my words trickled away and I no longer heard my heart banging at my ears, I sat back and waited, the sweet of her Chantilly Lace perfume, catching in my throat.

She reviewed her notes in silence then removed her glasses and peered at me with flat eyes. She glanced at her watch then laid down the verdict. Jess was a predator and had been waiting to pounce. I, troubled and insecure because of my failed marriage, had been in a weakened state – perfect prey for Jess…the predator. And I had been sadly mistaken. I was obviously not gay. On the contrary. I was a married woman, with responsibilities, who was suffering a midlife crisis. What I needed to do was never see Jess again, fix my marriage – stand by man. Do the right thing.

She looked pointedly at her watch again and slowly closed her notebook. Then she picked up the little calendar on her desk and found a date, two weeks away, that worked with my schedule.

I slid my $80.00 across the table. Her pen scratched at the silence as she wrote me out a receipt before escorting me to the door.

I felt hollow, my body filled with the heat of my shame as I crumpled the receipt, tossing it into an overflowing bin as I carefully walked to my car.

So, this was it. I was as horrible and immoral as I thought. I just needed to fix my marriage, admit my mistakes and climb back on my pedestal of morality and goodness.

My cell phone trilled and I searched through my purse, my vision blurred by tears.

I held the phone up to the watery sunlight and read the name on the screen.

Jess.

I stared at her name for a long time then with cold fingers I hit the end button and jammed my phone to the bottom of my purse.

Tilting my rearview mirror, I stared into desolate eyes. ‘Don’t you dare cry,’ I whispered fiercely. Then I rubbed my eyes hard, started the car and headed for home, the distant trill of my cell phone reminding me of my fall from grace.

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