This is not a tale of a woman’s struggling sexual orientation.
This is an account of a natural progression in the order of my Universe that was a straightaway (no pun intended) on my path of life.
This was not a turbulent time—not at all. In my peacefulness, I set my feet upon new ground and followed my heart, moving forward into unknown territory with a comforting feeling of déjà vu.
There was no grand fireworks display marking the moment of my decision to have a relationship with a woman. I felt more grounded than ever—even more comfortable in my own skin. There are times when you become more yourself and you settle a bit further into your own being. This was one of those times.
When I was 25 I lived in an apartment in Boston with a male roommate. I remember him telling me he was seeing a woman who had previously been in relationships with women. He explained that she was seeing him because to her, attraction was about the person. The gender didn’t matter as much as who that person was on the inside. She and I became friends.
We went out to dinner one night and she told me (I remember as if it was yesterday, and it was 16 years ago) that she was attracted to the person, not the gender (as my roommate had mentioned). Although she admitted the sexual experience was very different depending on gender, it wasn’t what mattered most to her.
It made perfect sense to me, but at that point in my life it was a closed door that I didn’t even realize had a handle. I couldn’t access that concept for myself. I wanted to have children and my Christian upbringing would never allow for such thoughts, let alone actions. I didn’t think more of it.
Fast forward to my 40s.
In the past six years, I’ve grown more through therapy and self-development than in the prior 35 years of my life. I feel extremely fortunate for my understanding of self and life and I consider every living, breathing moment a magical gift. I know how to live well and I’m flourishing as a woman and single-mother.
I’ve been divorced for seven years and have not had many relationships since. I tend to move on quickly when it’s apparent that the person is not the right fit for me. I know what I want in a person and I’ve been waiting for extraordinary love from an equal partner—someone who gets me and wants the same things out of a relationship and life.
I want to be in it for the long haul with someone—to hold hands and grow alongside each other.
In the past several months I was in a sexual funk. I went on a trip to Mexico in the midst of this feeling like “there must be something more to the whole sexual experience,” where I met an amazing person who I connected with quickly and that sexual energy I felt was missing suddenly flowed with ease and beauty—for a weekend. When I came back to the U.S., I knew I could no longer have physical intimacy without the same level of connection that I had experienced there.
A few months later I attended a personal development weekend retreat where every fiber of my being felt on fire in a deep, soul nurturing way because of the level of emotional intimacy that occurred in a group of 30 people. It sounds cliché, but we entered as strangers and left as friends. Everyone participated with daring vulnerability. I felt at home in this group of like-minded people who were all interested in growth and becoming the best possible versions of themselves.
This emotionally intimate environment turned me on in a way I hadn’t felt in an extremely long time.
That’s when it happened, and I realized that I was like the friend I had when I was 25. The door knob appeared and I grasped the handle and turned it to open a whole new world of understanding.
Simply stated, I realized that (for me) love really is about the person. It has nothing to do with anything other than that person being the right person for me. Love is love.
It suddenly made sense to me why I was never like the many women I know who go on and on about so and so being hot or not. I’ve never been attracted to purely the physical body. I want to look a person in their eyes and learn about their soul, because that is where I find attraction.
I don’t identify with being called heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual.
I do identify with being sexual.
Attraction is a matter of the heart, mind, soul, spirit, and body, regardless of gender. I know my life is forever changed by opening this door—this portal to a more rewarding and fulfilling world of relationship—and I am deeply grateful for the courage it’s taken to step over the threshold.
Though my world is expanding and new, it feels natural. My lover, who has been a friend for many years, said to me, “It must have always been there. It’s not like we’re different people now.” She’s right.
This is simply another tale of discovering more of one’s self in the midst of this short and amazing journey of life.
Author: Celeste Shea
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Leah Pearlman/Dharma Comics