Dear Sugar Radio is a weekly podcast from member station WBUR. Hosts Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer "radical empathy" and advice on everything from relationships and parenthood to dealing with drug problems or anxiety.
Today the Sugars hear from a woman who thinks she is a lesbian but is married to a man. She had a drunken affair with a female friend. Now her friend says she thinks it was a mistake. The writer says she's "hurt" that her friend's "mere 'curiosity' was fulfilled at the expense of my great risk." Now she's confused and doesn't know what to do.
I've always made the "right" decisions: I went to college, rarely drank or acted irresponsibly. I graduated, got married, got a good job and then had a child. Despite these "right" decisions, I've always been melancholy — so much so that it often wore thin on my husband.
Recently, I've confirmed my long-time feelings that I am bisexual — and more than likely, a lesbian. This revelation came through my first lesbian experience with my best friend since childhood. She is straight and a single mom who wants to find the right man, but somehow always chooses the wrong one.
Here is what happened: After a night of drinking (out of character for me), my best friend told me that she knows I'm a lesbian, and then she kissed me. What followed was a night of intense, drunken sex that started in a public bathroom and ended in my guest room at home. It was the first lesbian experience for both of us. My husband was our designated driver, but he has no idea what we did.
He is aware of my bisexuality, and even once asked if I have feelings for my friend. Early on, he said I could have a girlfriend if it would make me happy. I was aghast and said no. I was wrong to have an affair, but I feel like I finally accepted who I am. I no longer feel like a mistake in this life. I no longer feel worthless and unworthy of love. But at what expense? The betrayal of my family?
While my friend and I were having sex, she told me that she thinks she's in love with me and that she wanted to be the only one in my life. Since that night, we've tried to go back to normal. At my prompting, we finally spoke about what happened, though she was reluctant to do so. She said she tries not to think about what we did, and that it only confirmed that she is heterosexual. I feel crushed, embarrassed and stupid. I put my family on the line for her.
Truthfully, I would have given it all up for her. I have no desire to leave my husband to find any woman to be with. To me, she was the only one. I've never felt more natural and in love, even drunk. But I don't know how to feel about my friend anymore. In some ways, her rejection makes it easier; I don't have to ever revisit what occurred. I will not have another affair, and I can continue life with my traditional family. But I am also hurt that her mere "curiosity" was fulfilled at the expense of my great risk.
I am not an experienced drinker, so I don't know what is natural to occur. How common is gay sex when you are straight? Does a drunk mind truly speak a sober heart? Could she be in love with me? I'm inclined to take her at sober face value, but how can I ever look her in the face again? Sugars, I implore you: please help me make sense of all of this.
Drunk in Love
Steve Almond: The great irony here is that Drunk in Love is married to a man who knew more about her own desires than she was willing to admit. He said, you can have a girlfriend if that will make you happy. But this woman is saying, I can either have this woman who I love and become a lesbian and lose my family, or I'll run back to my family and lose this very important friendship. And that seems so depressing, that you would have to choose one over the other.
Maria Bello: We often feel that we need to make a choice in our lives between two things that seem completely antithetical. But the truth lies in holding both things in your hand. It's not just in making a choice, it's in the gray area.
My suggestion would be for Drunk in Love to spend time on her own to, first of all, get to her truth. And then eventually, when she feels more secure in that, the next step is to go to a therapist with her husband, or with her best friend.
Cheryl Strayed: Drunk in Love, I really encourage you to not think about what your husband wants or needs, or what your friend wants or what her motivations are, and really think about who you are and how you can build a life that makes you feel happy and centered. We get all kinds of letters from people who have been sexually fulfilled outside of their marriages. A marriage doesn't have to look only one way.
Steve: Drunk in Love, I know it feels like everything is coming apart at the seams. You're feeling a collision between two stories: the one about who you want the world to think you are — the good girl who makes the right decisions — and the person who you know yourself to be, which is someone with very confusing and maybe contradictory desires. But that's your invitation to not say anything more to your friend or your husband than, "I feel really confused right now. And I need help, and I need you to not announce what we are or what our relationship is going to be, but just help me sort it out."
Maria: And most importantly, Drunk in Love, have compassion for yourself. We're all complicated human beings, and the more that we face ourselves and our truths, the better we can love ourselves and others.
You can get more advice from the Sugars each week on Dear Sugar Radio from WBUR. Listen to the full episode to hear from more people questioning their sexual feelings.
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