‘She was just so beautiful!’ my client declares, more to herself than to me. ‘Beautiful in a whole person way. Such a lovely, warm, open face … big eyes … I think they were brown? And a natural, broad, welcoming smile. We connected. We were total strangers and we absolutely connected, right there in the queue in Pret Kings Cross. It’s mad isn’t it, how something like that can happen out of the blue?’
She doesn’t wait for me to respond, before continuing.
‘I was finding it hard to choose a snack. I wanted a granola bar but they don’t do them in Pret, so I was considering the chocolate coated rice cakes instead. You know how hard it is to choose something else when a store doesn’t have what you fancy? Well, I must’ve looked like I was having real trouble with this decision because she commented – “Just get the brownie – you know you want to”. I hadn’t seen her before that, locked as I was in the major decision of whether or not to buy rice cakes! I looked up and there she was – this beautiful young woman’.
My client breaks her reverie to look up at me briefly, then stares mid distance whilst she continues with her story. She speaks slowly, with consideration and some consternation.
‘I laughed at her comment and said, “Who knew it was so hard to choose a snack?”. We were immediately at ease with another, so much so that I didn’t even notice how comfortable I was speaking to her. It felt like I knew her. She picked up a chocolate bar – she clearly knew what she wanted. She said ‘life’s too short not to eat chocolate. Are you sure you don’t want that brownie?” I smiled and said I’d settle for those rice cakes after all. We were looking directly into one another’s faces, fully face to face. There was a connection, not a spark as such, but a definite connection. It wasn’t flirtatious or salacious – she felt like my best friend, my sister and a potential lover all at once. She was younger than me, shorter, with a cropped haircut. She is exactly the type of woman I’m attracted to. We joined the queue together and paid for our snacks without saying anything else. As she walked away she turned and said, “Enjoy those rice cakes, won’t you?” with a raised eyebrow, in a gently mocking way. She gave me another one of her confident, easy smiles and headed off for her train. I stood stock still and watched her walk all the way to her platform. All – the – way. I had a flash thought to run after her to ask for her number! Can you believe that? Me? The world’s most monogamous, happily married – TO A MAN – woman!’
Having finished her story, my client holds my gaze for a while, then turns to look out of the window. She sighs. She looks sad, nostalgic almost. I don’t feel the need to say anything. I sit in comfortable silence as my client sits with her experience. For her, this is an awe inspiring and consequently disturbing moment of human connection, rarely felt in day to day life. The fact that this happened with another woman makes it all the more affecting for her. My client would never have allowed that kind of connection to happen with a man. She would have shut that potential down at the very first word. She is deliberately and determinedly monogamous and very much in love with her husband of 15 years. At the same time, she has always known that she is sexually attracted to women. The only same sex sexual experience she’s had was a one off, sensuous night in bed with a fellow student at University, a memory that initially shamed her and which now she treasures. She has always safely contained her attraction to women in the realm of fantasy and, without much effort or sense of deprivation, chosen men for all of her sexual and love relationships. She has no plans to change this either but over recent years she has been feeling a sense of loss for the female sexual relationships she will never have. She has married for life and is grateful every day for the love she feels for her husband, but she feels the weight of what will never be. She talks in therapy about how many of her female friends have admitted to finding women sexually attractive and she understands that this a perfectly normal and typical experience for many women. ‘Everyone knows someone who has left their husband for a woman right?’ She’s passed caring about finding a label for her sexuality. She really couldn’t care less about Kinsey and his Scale. She wouldn’t change a thing about her life and the choices she has made so far. And yet ….. she feels the pain of having a valid and fundamental part of herself that will never be expressed. She knows she is working through a grieving process and she expects it to pass. In the meantime, she sits with the impact of that precious meeting in Pret.
She turns away from the window and looks back at me. With a steady assurance, she says ‘She really was beautiful …. And I think she might have thought the same about me.’
The client is this story is a product of my imagination. If you need a space to work through your sexual identity, sexual or relationship difficulties or, indeed, any other emotional or psychological challenges, please contact Local Counselling Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org Our expert team of therapists is waiting to support you. If you are a counsellor and are interested in specialising in sex and relationship therapy, take a look at the Diploma in Clinical Sexology offered by The Cambridge Institute of Clinical Sexology.