She was devastated when her husband announced that he was leaving her. Not for another woman, but for a man. She found it hard to look at him. ÒIs this the man I married?Ó she thought. She told him to take his things and get out as quickly as he could, that she never wanted to have to look at him again. She was glad there were no children to complicate things. She began divorce proceedings immediately.
She had heard people say that she should be understanding, not feel hurt as she would have a right to be if he had left her for another woman. ÒPoppycock – betrayal is betrayal,Ó she had said to her best friend. This seemed to be worse; the man she had loved had turned into a stranger.
She got tired of the looks people gave her; some incredulous and some pseudo-sympathetic. She decided to take some time off from work and from the world and just spend some time alone.
She read and listened to her favorite music. She shopped for whatever supplies she needed in stores where no one knew her. She even treated herself to a manicure and pedicure, but in a salon far from her home where the manicurists spoke very little English.
After a while, the anger subsided and she started to think about her marriage, her failed marriage as she now thought of it.
There was still no denying his good looks which had first attracted her to him. Tall and slender with a full head of thick black hair. His eyes were a soulful brown and his mouth was sensuous. There was a gentleness about him which had never seemed effeminate. In fact, thatÕs what had set him apart from other men. There was nothing crude about him; he was not like the beer guzzling jocks and jock wannabees that she had known in college.
They had dated for quite a while before he even kissed her. He didnÕt even try to make love to her until they were engaged. Although he had never said anything, she had the feeling that he came to her as a virgin. His lovemaking was tentative and in retrospect rather lackluster, but at the time she had put it down to his lack of experience. And truth to tell, she hadnÕt been that experienced herself.
After their marriage, their lovemaking seemed to decrease in frequency. When she thought about it, she realized that she seemed to initiate sex much more often than he did. But often, when she tried to get him to make love, he would make some excuse. Either he had work to do and couldnÕt go to bed yet, or if they were already in bed heÕd say that heÕd had a hard day at work and was much too tired to do anything but go directly to sleep.
She had begun to believe that there was something wrong with her; otherwise, why didnÕt he seem to want her? Even when she tried wearing sexy clothes it did no good; she regretted all the money she had wasted on sexy nightgowns and underwear.
She had come to the conclusion that she just wasnÕt sexy, wasnÕt woman enough to keep a man interested in her. Even their non-sexual activities were no longer that much fun. They had continued to go to movies and concerts together, but there was very little contact between them, mental or physical. It was just as if she had gone with a girl friend. No hand holding, no whispered comments to share. Their home life had always been pleasant. Their conversation was always cordial and there were no major conflicts. But thatÕs all it was; no spontaneous hugs, just a perfunctory kiss when he came home.
And she remembered that he had told her that he loved her; though not as recently and not as often as she would have liked. Did he mean it or had he just said it because it was expected of him? Or had love for a woman meant something different for him than what she wanted?
Now, she came to realize that there had been nothing wrong with her. The problem was with him. She could have been the most attractive, sexiest woman on Earth and it would have done no good. It wasnÕt her that he was rejecting; it was life with a woman.
But she still felt betrayed. Now it wasnÕt so much that he had preferred to live with a man; presumably he had no control over his sexual orientation, just as she had no control over hers. No, now she felt hurt that he had cared so little for her that he had married her in the first place.
Why did he marry her? They were in their mid-twenties when they had met and married. Surely by then he would have known about his attraction to men, whether or not he had ever done anything about it. Had he believed that marriage to her would ÒcureÓ him of his homosexual leanings? If so, he had just been deceiving himself and using her. Perhaps he had hoped for children. But again, the thought made her feel used. She wanted to be more than just a brood mare. And these days, in many states, gay men were allowed to adopt children.
Or maybe he had just wanted to be like everyone else, to have a wife and family. She had once read about sociopaths who did not understand human emotion but were able to conceal it by imitating what their compatriots did. They dated when others did so and married when it seemed the right time. But they only did it to fit in, to be like normal people. Is that what he had done?
Perhaps he had not had the nerve then to live the life of a gay man. It was becoming much easier to lead such a life. But men much older than him had been gay and had lived good, productive lives.
He had not seemed unhappy at the beginning of their marriage, but he had never shown any real joy either. But she had thought that that was just the way he was. Perhaps he had thought that their life together would be enough for him, that joy wasnÕt required.
But what she knew that he had never thought of was the unhappiness that his deception would cause her. And that was what she could not forgive him for. There was no question of forgiveness for his homosexuality. It was not something that had to be forgiven, it was just a fact. It was as if she were required to forgive him for having black hair.
No, she could understand him for what he was, but could not forgive him for the unhappiness he had caused her by his dishonesty. Even if he had never meant to hurt her, a little thought would have told him that it was inevitable.
Maybe someday, when the hurt had subsided and they both had their own lives, they would talk and he could explain himself to her. But not now, not for a long time.
What she did know, was that she was ready to return to life; ready to start a new life for herself. She could now face the world knowing that she was not to blame. She would make an appointment in her usual hair salon and call her boss to end her leave of absence.
Then she would work on meeting a man – a real man who would love her in the way she knew she deserved to be loved and whom she could love with the same intensity.