Tuesday, December 05, 2017

It is time I shared my heart...my mind and a little bit of my soul

**update**This was written in the middle of the entire experience.  We are now settling into the changes but I wanted to share my emotions, my hurts and my thoughts so that people could have a better understanding of who I am.

Nobody has ever told me that life is easy.  We all face our own set of challenges.  Some big, some small.  This year (and longer) I have been facing a big one.  While it is a big one, it is odd that until it happened, it never once took up even a millisecond of my time.. but here I am living it - my husband is transgender.

Those are such confusing words for a wife to hear about her partner, her lover, her best friend and the father of her children.  What I will try to share with you may not necessarily apply to all trans people, nor to any other relationship but my own.  No one is inside anyones marriage no matter the level of nosey they might be.  You simply do not have context for the reasons I might say, do or act in a certain way.  So I wish to clear a few things up, explain many others and really let you see inside the mind and heart as I have navigated through the new, sometimes extremely choppy waters.

Remember, these are my own experiences only as a wife of a MTF (male to female) trans husband.

What I have come to understand through this process is that any transition is a huge challenge.   What I have already learnt is the realization that while my husband is going through a huge transition of her own, the spouses of trans people are most certainly equally in a challenging position.  I wish not though to exclude the children, parents, relatives, friends and in some cases even co-workers.
We must all go through a transition of our own, in our own way, and at our own pace.
I didn't sign up for my husband to become a woman.   I signed up to love my male husband and was so excited to have a "normal" life.  I had waited a long time to get married in the culture I grew up in being 29 was old to get married.  I had dreams.. we had dreams for our future... my marriage came with expectations.. as all marriages do. When this all started coming to light it wasn't an easy process for either of us.  We spent months navigating through what certain thoughts meant... certain desires... spending a lot of time talking, processing, and most always, and importantly trying to do this without judgment and anger.

First thing for me that happened, and happened hard was that I grieved a loss.  In many ways I am still grieving that loss.  Sure I am told the things I am gaining including a much better person because she will be more true to who she is (and while I may agree with her being a happier version of herself) I suffered a loss.   I lost my husband.  I should expect to, and did grieve that loss.  I didn't handle that loss well.. I hurt my husband by saying that I am grieving his death.  The words I used were wrong...the emotions were not, but how I understood it was.  But I did indeed suffer a loss.  Truthfully I even went through all the stages of grieving.
Denial - I didn't live in this place very long it wasn't necessary or productive for me.
Anger - the place where a lot of people get hung up.  YES of course I had/have moments of anger.  There are still days where it makes a small appearances.  I didn't have a lot of anger directed at my husband specifically, but more at the situation as a whole.
Bargaining -  I knew this was pointless as well but I did bargain with myself that maybe if I hadn't of done this.. or that... then we wouldn't be where we are...but that was foolish!
Depression - I do not want to believe I was ever here but...Truth be told I had many many many nights of tears and heart break and still had nights even a year later where I lay in bed and just let myself have a good cry.
Acceptance - letting go.. I had to let go that I couldn't control this situation and I learned to find a little bit more peace a day at a time... and that no matter how much I wished it away, this was my new reality. This I think is the hardest portion of this transition for me.

As with any loss, there are days when out of the blue one or more of these emotions creeps up on me and the doubt that I've fully figured out the grieving process... but I know the end result is that I have grieved the loss of my husband.   I sadly have grieved the death of a love in my life before... when I was in my early 20's so I know the grieving process and how hard it is for it to be final.  It is (and was) hard enough to grieve the loss when someone dies, but imagine for a minute a loss when the person you are grieving is still there to remind you every single day of what you have lost.  Looking at the ghost of the person for whom you are trying to have closure on the grief.  That is REALLY hard..

Let me present for you another challenge I faced..  It lays there within the grieving and it is trust... I imagine this is a huge stumbling block for many relationships...some experience the complete loss of trust... what happened when my husband came out to me is that the most basic detail of marriage (man and woman) turned out to just not be true.  It is a hard thing to continue a marriage, let alone any relationship without trust... While my husband didn't have any understanding and acknowledgment of being transgender when we were first married and through most of our marriage, it doesn't change the outcome of emotions. Logically I know that my husband wasn't trying to hide being a woman from me... unfortunately for me, emotions are not always logical.. I also do not only mean the lack of trust from her now, but also trusting myself with any other type of relationship.  Trusting my choices.  Of course my brain will churn through all of those "why didn't I see it" questions.

Up next... the decision... Do I stay or do I run screaming for the hills... Do I shut out my husband, or do I stay and try to cope with the changes.  First also let me explain that for my husband she had to make an awful decision... she had to make the decision to have the world think they are somebody other than who they truly are, or crush the world that they were already living a mostly good life in.  That isn't an easy decision for anyone to make... so when she threw off her yoke of hiding, it was done with equal parts of joy, pain and fear.  Of course my husband worried terribly about how this will affect the people around her...For me the decision of trying to figure out if I could be happy if I stay is done so unwillingly and with great regret and with a lot of pain.  My husband could and did face her fears and hurt willingly because she had a goal which was eventually going to bring her peace and joy.  Me if I choose to be the supporter.. My only goal was survival of my marriage and in all honesty, myself.  

The only way I can explain my mountain of every changing emotions is that life continues forward except right now it feels like I'm being not so  gently forced forward by a bulldozer.  I wish I could write this with a smile on my face that my husband and I have survived this journey... We haven't, because my husband hasn't survived the transition.  We ended our marriage as a man and wife and when I say trust me that I tried to love my husband as woman and wife I did.  I was willing to have the fears of having no idea how I was going to make it through the transition and what that transition even looked like.  The fears of watching my husband fade away slowly.  Hormones... Breasts.. soft skin... a new name.. pronouns...laser hair removal.. feminine underwear... new clothes... maybe wigs.. makeup.. surgery.. that husband fading away slowly, fading daily... I was willing to do those things because I was willing to fight for the person I loved.  

You do not need all the details of everything that entails, but when I say I put all my efforts into loving and treating her as a woman I did.  However much effort I put in, they were futile.  I was not able to give her everything she needed.  I am not attracted to women anymore than my MTF husband is to men.  (It confuses a lot of people that my husband doesn't want to be with men, but that is another post) So then here we are left as two people who have a deep love and respect for each other.  Two people who have created a life together with amazing children and depth of friendship most people could only ever hope to have even once in their lives.  Two people who are terribly incompatible.  It doesn't lessen the hurt of a loss of marriage.  We both had to mourn the loss of our marriage, our companion, our person.

One of the things I still struggle with a lot of days is watching the future I thought I once had planned for myself become a distant memory.  Confusion, frustration, anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness and acceptance. All emotions which flow through me. Some days it is only one of them.  Other days it is all of them at once and I find myself in a mess of ugly tears and curl up into a ball of hurt.  It is normal I have to tell myself... Some days I am mad at myself... why couldn't I be better at loving her as a women.  Why can't I just tap into another part of me and just love her as a person.  I wanted so badly to just wake up one morning and just have it all figured out but instead I feel broken, lost, confused and terrified.  I'm almost 40 and I am starting over again.  I want to throw a fit about how unfair it all is.. The WHY ME phrase.. Haven't I been through enough heart ache in my life?  Why me...why the kids?  They didn't ask for any of this.. none of us did.  If I am honest with myself, and there is no logic in this, but I felt a deep sense of personal inadequacy and failure as a woman at my husbands transgenderism. Clearly in this situation I have no responsibility for what happened, but I still feel through socialization and sadly cultural conditioning that the success of a marital relationship somehow rests on the shoulders of me as a wife.  The "if she had been a real woman he never would have done this".  It is terribly unfair and a burden I have thankfully let go of.   

Some people feel I should be living in a world of anger... or they question everything because they do not see my anger.  I had my anger... oh I was angry.  My husband might have only gotten little pieces of the anger when I couldn't cope but I was angry.  At her, but more at the situation.  What you end up with is two people who are both in desperately self-defensive positions.  Sometimes people (myself included) see the transition as being totally selfish - but the trans person has to be in a way selfish.  Transitioning is too big of a journey to be able to do it in an unselfish manner.  It might not make sense but I will never truly understand my husband and what she is going through.  The same as she will never know what it feels like for me.  It is sort of like us having twins.. you can say you understand but unless you are a twin mom  you really do not.  Can others be expected to understand?  No, but you can accept.  The concept is so alien to anyone who isn't trans, that it really just isn't possible to wrap your head around it.  Trans people shouldn't have to worry about people who do not understand.  My husband shouldn't have to worry about the people in our lives who do not understand.  I worry about those who refuse to accept and who pass judgment. I will sadly lose some friends and maybe even family in this process, but what saddens me more is that they give up the chance to get to know my husband as the female she always was, but just a freer happier version of herself.  Even though I have a high level of understanding and have been supportive as anyone can be through this.. I still have moments where I feel anger or a deep deep sadness.  When I look at our wedding photos... when I watch a romantic movie ... I feel duped sometimes.. stupid.. an idiot.. how did I NOT see it,  or figure it out earlier or any of the usual feelings one might have. Every couple I see holding hands I'm saddened and somehow jealous.   Sometimes I get so frustrated I just want to scream.  How could he do this to me.. to us..  Logically I know she didn't choose to hurt us, but still I am here hurt...Left holding the bag with the pieces of our life.  

I wouldn't be honest though if I didn't share that our marriage wasn't perfect.  Perhaps to the outside world we had a great marriage and in most ways we really did.  There is something that happens though when you are trying to love a man when she is actually a woman.  You fail - you fail miserably and you blame yourself.  I certainly have my own shortcomings as does my husband.  Those together were not a recipe for success.  The extremely short and simplified version is that I was left feeling inadequate most of my marriage and my husband was left feeling unloved.  Though neither of those things are true, to the other person they were.   Our energies do not jive together as companions and we fought against that without understanding of what that meant for years. It wears a couple down... a marriage down...it wears the individuals down.  It all makes sense now but the lack of understanding and knowledge broke us both in ways that allows us to truly look at the other person and even though there is hurt, there is a depth of understanding that exists between us now.  We are not meant to be together.. Those words hurt because they sound like failure.  To me they sound like there is something so deeply wrong with me that I will fail in the next relationship... My husband quickly reminds me that next time I won't be trying to fill the needs of a woman.  I'm scared... All my dreams and images of my future are dashed and I'm scared of what my life looks like going forward, but that is what it is now.. Moving forward.  One day at a time and even in some of those days one hour at a time.

Now what right??

The decision that Ada and I have made to continue to live together is a decision we did not make lightly, but rather a decision that was easily made.  We all regardless of what type of relationship we are in envision our lives as a straight path (no pun intended), but in reality, the path has many twists and turns.  This is one of those sharp turns and Ada and I could crash and burn into that turn or choose to figure out a way that works for everyone.  Will us living together work forever... most certainly not, but we are doing what we feel is best for all of us right now, especially the children.  I know that this journey for Ada and I is not over.. The journey for Ada is really just beginning but we are in each others corner...  I am no longer afraid to face the future.  Transgenderism hasn't destroyed my life, but it has changed my life.  The bulldozer is slowing down and I know the sun will rise tomorrow and I will be OK.

Update - Ada and I am the kids are doing OK.  The children know the entire situation and we are making it work.  The kids are rolling with the changes and seem to be doing well.
Life is moving forward for all of us.  I am slowly finding my footing in life again. 


Nicole Goguen said...

Sending you positive energy to help you navigate through this challenging period. You have this,Jenny!

Amy Marc-Charles said...

What a challenging time for you all. Sending love and prayers for strength and peace as you and Ada and the kids walk through this together.

Michelle Boutin Scentsy Independent Consultant said...

You just take a deep breath everyday and take one step ahead. There will be days when you have to take two steps back too. The good news is there are more days to come and with them...more steps. Breathe Jenny May. Love your guts!!

Heather Llanes said...

Jenny, prayers for you and your family as you go through this. You are an amazing mom and woman.

Roth Family said...

Jenny--I have so much respect for you! You are truly amazing.

Wendy R said...

Shawn and I read this together. Sharing is cathartic. It’s authentic and makes you vulnerable but it also gives you more support and lifts you up. We are all going through things that no one else knows about. We are sending you, Ada and your girls our love and positive vibes