Confessions, Part 27

I have a confession.
 
Today, my soon-to-be ex-wife got the news that she was approved for an apartment. This is great news; I was worried because we are splitting up after 34 years, and I have a great deal of shame and guilt for my part in our falling apart.
 
I sorta expected to be a bit jealous of her, since she appears to be successfully moving on, and I still have doubts whether I’ll have success, or do a lot of stumbling, in my own future.
 
I’m not jealous, though. I’m sad, and I’m finding it difficult to nod along as she shows me the purchases she’s made of stuff for her new place. I am honestly thrilled that she’s excited about moving on, and at the same time, I’m hurt.
 
I don’t know what to do with these emotions. I feel lost.
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Is this a dead blog?

I haven’t had much to post in this blog, publicly, for some time.  I’ve got some things posted that are kept private, to keep to myself, but honestly, there’s not much to say that I’d be OK with others reading.

Let’s catch up on status:

My wife has decided that we can’t stay together any longer.  We’ve been married 34 years, but honestly the relationship, the real part of our marriage, ended a long time ago; possibly, it ended the day I came out to her originally as a cross-dresser, which would be almost twenty years ago now.  We’ll be separating in less than two months.

Realistically, I’ve been in a care-taking mode for the last oh, at least ten years.  I come home, sit and watch TV or surf the ‘net on my laptop, waiting to help Hazel with this or that.  I don’t really do much for myself, other than the odd times when I take a trip out west or up north.

I’m seeing more and more that I’ve kept the real me hidden away so long that I don’t even know myself very well.  After Hazel left, I spent some time going out to “Game Night”, to be around other people, and it was really good for me.  I learned a few things:

  • I can be around others without crippling social anxiety.
  • There will be people for which I develop an almost immediate affinity; sometimes, that will be a source of trouble, angst, and deep introspection.
  • I can live with a certain amount of trouble, angst, and deep introspection .. but no further than that amount.
  • I have lacked affectionate relationships for so long that when one happens, I really go over-board.  A lot.
  • I’m not a good fit at these particular game nights.  The process:  a) fifteen to twenty people show up; b) there are many board games from which to choose, most of which are fairly complex; c) you play the chosen game with a sub-group of people, often between four and six players.  The reason I don’t feel like a good fit?  I am not good at understanding complex games, and I don’t particularly enjoy playing something I don’t understand very well; I would much prefer a small gathering of friends (three, maybe four), sitting down at a table to play cards and to bullshit about this or that.

 

I’ve continued to go to these game night events despite some definite indications that I shouldn’t, but I may stop soon.  It seems in my best interest to take a rest period.

I’ve also done other things.  To keep from sounding too melodramatic, I’ve:  fallen in love (a crush), learned from that, gone to other events, helped carry a really big trans pride flag in the Minneapolis pride parade, begun the process of moving on with my life – mentally at least, oh, and:

I took a vacation, for the first time in years.

I  decided a few months ago that going out to the pacific northwest, more specifically Mt. Rainier in Washington, made sense.  I hadn’t been back there in 33 years, and it seemed like the right time.

So I did just that.  I drove out to stay in a hotel in Sumner, Washington for several days, all alone.  Many experiences were had, much growing occurred.  I could probably talk about that for quite a while but I am still internalizing some of it … so, more later, maybe.

The sparrow

Imagine a sparrow.

A tiny, brown, very plain-looking sparrow, flying on a very important journey.

A giant Hand suddenly reaches out and throws her to the ground.  The sparrow bounces once, then lies still.  Her brain, still alive, barely registers what has happened as the blackness comes.

“What’s that, though,” ..  she squeezes a compressed thought out .. “that’s not exactly pitch black.”

She fades.

The next thing the sparrow knows, she’s woken up to a dark, almost-black sky.  It’s very still, and she can hear other birds singing in the distance.  As the sky lightens ever so slowly, she realizes that she’s lying in a meadow, a tiny meadow, walled in on all sides, the stones dark and foreboding.

After what seems like ages, she remembers that she is a living thing and flexes her wing — rather, she imagines flexing it.  In reality, the wing imperceptibly moves, feebly stretching its feathers.

A sudden, searing pain tears through her.  Just as the pain reaches a crescendo, it stops.  Darkness again surrounds her.

After a time, she wakes in a fevered sweat.  As she comes to and begins to examine her surroundings, she sees that it’s a new day; the sky is blue with just the right number of clouds, and the sun is in its 10am spot, right there in the sky.

The fever fades.  The sparrow, suddenly tired of waiting, commands her wings to flutter, but none of the familiar, fan-like breeze strikes her body.  She looks to the right, then to the left.

The right wing is there, but barely movable.  There is no left wing; it seems to have fallen off, leaving in its place only a dull ache, seemingly a reminder of what was once there.

Her legs still work, though; she can feel her feet moving.

Time passes as she works to regain movement in her right wing.  She lapses into the darkness once or twice before she’s finally able to stand up.

The sparrow knows that she will never again fly.  She is depressed for a time.

As she begins to accept this new reality, she sees that it’s not so bad down here on the ground.

She sees her friends fly past.  A few look down on her with disdain; some are even angrily shouting at her that this was all her fault.  Soon, they fly away, on to bigger and brighter things.

The sparrow ambles along in the meadow (now mysteriously un-walled).  She meets a … well, she doesn’t quite have a word for the small animal she meets, but it seems friendly enough.  They strike up a conversation, and soon she is being introduced to some of the animal’s friends — small animals, large animals, even one or two birds who also seem to have been consigned to the ground, some with obvious injuries but some with no apparent troubles.

The sparrow begins to be happy, to deal with her new circumstances.

Then, the Hand returns, this time extended, offering a lift back into the familiar sky.

The sparrow seethes with resentment.  After all, is this not the same hand that struck her down?

Dear Dad,

Dear Dad,

I’ve written a few letters to Mom; unfortunately, after her death.  I don’t know what I’ve written to you in the past, but it’s high time I tell you these things.  Some of this may be painful; please know I don’t intend it to be.

When I was a child, I never felt connected to anything.  I suspect this began about the time I found out that I was a boy, and that others were girls.  At the time, I didn’t realize what it meant to feel the way I did, but I felt it nonetheless.

Earlier this evening, I was listening to a song by Dream Theater, one of my favorite bands.  I’m going to quote some of the lyrics here:

I remember days of yesterday
And how it flew so fast
The two score and a year we had
I thought would always last

The summer days and west coast dreams
I wished would never end
A young boy and his father,
Idol and best friend

I’ll always remember
Those were the best of times
A lifetime together
I’ll never forget

The feelings and memories portrayed in the song are talking about the relationship between a boy and his father.

I admit that sometimes when I listened to this song, I rolled my eyes, not believing such a relationship could actually happen; other times, I felt intense jealousy of boys who had that kind of a relationship with their dads — I thought to myself, “I certainly never had that kind of relationship with Dad.”

It’s the tendency of the child to blame their parents for relationships that didn’t happen between them, and I headed down that path a little bit, but always choked it off.  I’ve found lately that there’s a really good reason for me to keep that to myself — it wasn’t your fault, not one little bit.  It’s not my fault, either, really .. at least, not in a conscious way.

I have always been a girl inside, even when I didn’t realize it.  Since I had a boy’s body, and was a boy for all outward appearances, you and I should have been able to have a normal boy/father relationship .. but my inner self, the self I kept in hiding, made it impossible, because I was a girl.  I always felt more affinity to Mom, and that is through no failing of yours!  That’s the way it is, for a daughter.

I know you don’t like to hear this stuff, nor do you want to accept it.  I too am on a journey to self-acceptance; my work didn’t stop when I realized that I had to transition and set out on that path.  I still have a long way to go, and part of that is learning what all the stuff inside means now.

I have known, clear as day, that I was a girl inside for many years.  I looked back at the blog I have kept over the past fifteen years or so, and some of the first entries talked of being a transsexual.  These entries were my first tentative steps towards admitting to myself that I had a problem that must be dealt with; I can read between the lines now and remember my doubtful, confused self, just beginning to put into words what I’d had inside ever since I could remember.

All this to say:

You and I could not have a normal son/father relationship because of the confusion stirring inside me.  I had no connection, no integration with my own self.  My body made no sense to me, although I had no idea why.  As I’ve slowly come to realize, my inner self needed a daughter/mother relationship, one that could be recognized as such.  I felt a connection with Mom that I was simply not capable of understanding; Mom was, of course, a loving and kind mother who enjoyed watching me giggle with delight as I read stories in “All Creatures Great and Small”; who allowed me to grow my hair longer than reasonable; who actually gave me a permanent to straighten my hair when I asked.

She did these things not because she realized I was a girl inside, but because she loved me.  Whether or not she objected to the idea of a boy getting a home permanent, whether or not she took any flak from family for letting me grow my hair long .. she never voiced objections.  She had no idea of the confusion inside me, but it feels now as if she did somehow.  Wishful thinking, to be sure.

She had no idea, and I had very little idea what was actually going on inside me.  It was a pretty one-sided relationship — she dished out all the love, and I was there to soak it up.

Some time ago, you and I talked about my memory of going to sleep in one of Mom’s bras, and being discovered the next morning while I slept.  I said that I remembered you leaving a note, “How could you?” .. and you remembered it differently — that Mom had written the note.

I have thought about this over and over, turning it over in my mind repeatedly.  You allowed me to continue believing that it was the way I remembered it, but I am not at all certain any more.  If it was Mom who wrote the note, it sheds new light; it tells me that she was really hurt by the discovery, so hurt that she couldn’t bear to talk about it.

I can’t blame her.  It must have hurt so badly; she would have had no better knowledge or understanding of what it meant than I did.  I couldn’t have explained it at the time, at least I don’t think so .. so talking about it would only have resulted in much more pain.

Here’s another snippet of the song:

But then came the call; our lives changed forever more
You can pray for a change, but prepare for the end

The fleeting winds of time, flying through each day
All the things I should have done … but time just slipped away
Remember “seize the day”
Life goes by in the blink of an eye, with so much left to say

There’s a lot to say, Dad.

I am sorry we didn’t have a better father/son relationship.  I wanted to be your son, but never really connected with the concept of ‘son’.  I wish, so badly, that I could have been a good son, a normal boy.

Your reflex will be to say, “but you were a good son .. are a good son.”

I may have seemed like a good son, but I was only a good child.  Neither you nor I knew it at the time, but I was a daughter, so disconnected from everything that I was incapable of forming a real, whole-life-based, relationship with anyone, let alone my own father or mother.

For a very long time, I have reflected on what I believe .. that I was not the good son that you wanted (please don’t object, this was how I felt, but not because of anything you did or did not do or say).  I had standards that I imputed to you, and I couldn’t meet any of them, and now I am beginning to realize that this disconnect was due to the confusion I carried with me.

It is too late for me to have a daughter/mother relationship with Mom, and I don’t feel right asking you to try to have a daughter/father relationship with me … so, how about this:  how about we try to build a new relationship?  It doesn’t have to be a gendered relationship.

I treasure you.  I would treasure even more the opportunity to have an actual honest and open relationship with my father.

I love you.

Ennui, Part I

When you lose the past, and the future makes no sense, you’re living in the present tense

Crawling out, secure and confident, imbued with innocence, ready for a whirl
Suddenly the view was more intense .. living in a different kind of world

Something you said – it made me step outside the moment
Eyes pan right and left around my world
Open yourself up to the possibility
Aware of some reality outside your world

In a silent universe, the moment can be so real you almost can’t stand it
In a distant universe, distracted from ourselves, you can’t help but wonder
In a crowded universe, when the talking turns to noise, you almost start laughing

I’ve avoided saying much about my very recent separation from my wife of 34 years.  I wanted to hold off on the bitterness, that sweet release of anger which would be likely to poison me every time I re-read it.

I feel abandoned, in my time of greatest need.  Transitioning can be a lonely experience, especially when many family members are not behind you.  Surely, Hazel also feels abandoned; I spent a good deal of my time with her trying to take care of her, and she grew accustomed to that .. and now she probably feels that’s all gone.  She said once that I killed Dave; she was trying to get across her perspective, but I still have trouble understanding it.  Dave’s not really gone; he lives on thru me, although sometimes subjugated to a lower spot on the totem pole .. I am still the same basic person, caring for others, loving life, wanting once again to see the world through the lens of a camera.

There are additions to my personality, of course:  I feel a stronger connection between myself and the rest of the LGBT community, more specifically a connection to the ‘T’ in that community.  I can more clearly see the attitudes and behaviors trans folk encounter, being out in the world, and it greatly affects me — surprises me, even, because in my own naiveté, I didn’t expect it from such a variety of people.  The surprise causes me to over-react, to lean heavily towards defending those who I count as brothers and sisters.

Other things have changed, too:  I am less willing to let others take advantage of me, to walk all over me, to expect me to be at their beck and call whenever they feel a need.  I’m learning, ever so gradually, to take care of myself, to treat my self as a priority instead of constantly shunting my needs to the background in order to attend to someone else’s needs.  I may even be maturing into a sort-of adult.  Yes, when one makes changes like the ones I’ve made, one can appear to be quite selfish and self-centered; that is the perspective of people who have come to depend upon your 100% availability, day in and day out .. and it’s got to change.

Oh, and there’s the change in appearance, I guess.  Whatever.

Coming home to a silent house, a big house, is very different; the stillness is different than when your partner is away at an appointment, because you know she’ll be back.  The quiet house now means something entirely different — you are alone; the freedom to do what you want, to play the music as loud as you want, echoes hollowly in this now-empty house.  I’ve felt lonely before, especially on camping trips deep into the wilderness where I am the only person around for several miles, yet this is also different from that, because there’s no promise of togetherness at the end of the trip.

This is what Hazel needs, too.  She said it when she told me she was leaving:  too much of her identity was tied up in me; she’s never felt truly independent.  She’s never lived alone, and since we’d been together 34+ years, it was only natural that both of our identities became tangled up in each other.  She needs to be able to figure out for herself who she is, without having to filter herself through me.  She isn’t a lesbian, that is very clear, and that spelled the end of any possibility of a romantic relationship with me when I came out as trans.

Dual-gender

This evening, I was talking to a friend (over instant messaging).  I’ve been a member of Tri Ess for some years, from back in the days I wasn’t able to admit to myself let alone others that I am actually transsexual.

I was expressing some concerns over whether I should continue to attend meetings.  Tri Ess is an organization for heterosexual crossdressers and their partners; one of the stated reasons for not having a broader policy is to help support the wives of crossdressers, and … well, frankly, that’s how a lot of transsexuals end up first revealing themselves, even just a little bit.

I crossdressed for a long time; I told my wife about it around sixteen years ago, and at the time, I promised her that I wasn’t going to need to transition.  So much for that!

The fear for the wives of crossdressers is a real thing.  It can, and does, happen … although frankly it’s a bit of a gateway drug kind of concept .. crossdressing is a “gateway drug” for those of us who need to feel comfortable before stepping out into our real selves.

Anyway, my friend (who is trying to convince me that I should stay) told me that she thought of me as dual-gendered.  When she said that, it really hurt — badly.  I guess that I’m more binary than I realized, because I certainly don’t feel like I occupy a gray area between the two gender binaries.

It’s going to take me a bit of time to get over this hurt feeling.  I know she didn’t mean to cause pain .. it’s just how she thinks .. but damn it really did hurt!  It takes a huge amount of energy to transition, and along the way I really want all of my friends & family to truly see me as a woman (because I am).  If I’m going to go to this effort, I’d really rather be thought of as entirely Debb .. no part Dave.  I am not some stereotype, some label.  I am Debb Brant, a 55-year-old female .. perhaps with a different body than many women, but no less a woman despite that fact.

Little things

It’s the little things, isn’t it?

Like when someone talks to me, voluntarily, just to converse, at work .. someone who has maybe known me pre-transition, maybe was even friendly back then .. and now, they’re friendly (still or again).  This is something that happens to people every day at work, but in my position, it’s an opportunity to feel blessed once again.

Not everyone at work is like that, but when it happens, it feels like acceptance and support .. and lately, I can sure use that.

Burning

Oh, the burning.  The pain.

Not really ;-) — I’m just planning for getting some hairs burnt off my face.

I really really should have gotten this done much earlier; now that I am full-time, I seriously hate the idea of letting facial hair grow out for four days, because that means I feel like hiding from social contacts, etc.

I wish I’d done this two years ago.

Adaptation

Not many entries lately, huh?

I’ve been busy adjusting to my new role, perceived or otherwise.  I’ve always been pretty inattentive of others (as in, the general public), and my lack of knowledge and understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in this world has left me searching.  I’m growing more comfortable in my new/old skin, and realizing for the first time that I am now missing one or two of the many privileges I was born with as a white male (externally, at least).

Mansplaining is a thing, and it’s fairly widespread.  It makes me grin fiercely sometimes, seeing just how annoying it can be; I especially love it when it happens to me.  I didn’t have to put up with this when everyone thought I was just another guy … but three times now (at work and in public), I’ve been given explanations for patently foolish things that any person would know.

It’s also really tough for me to give up swearing.  Yeah, some women swear a lot, but I’d like to move away from that a little bit; the stereotype is that women who swear like sailors also drink and smoke like sailors, and that’s not me at all.

I’ve got a lot of learning to do, that’s for sure.

All the things …

I realized just now that I have yet to address the things I’ve left behind.  The person I’ve left behind — “Dave”.

Perhaps this is best left to those who feel a loss, like my wife, Hazel.  She’s said more than once that I killed Dave, and that she hates me for that.  I guess honestly I just don’t know what good things I’ve left behind .. so, through her eyes, I imagine the following are losses:

  • She’s heterosexual.  Loss of her expectation of living man & woman must be a big deal; add on to that the fact that now, staying with me means she has to view herself (at least a little bit) as not-hetero.  In mitigation, we’ve not had sex in more than fifteen years as I write this, so it’s not like the sex itself would be a loss — more the simple “possibility” of sex at some point.  More important is her seeing a “man” across the dining room table, I think.

 

I thought this would be a longer list, which is why the bullet list with one item.  Does anyone else want to suggest possibilities?  Most readers don’t really know me in person (a few do), and that would make it more difficult .. and I suspect all but one or two of my readers will know anything at all about Hazel other than what I’ve said here in this blog.

Anyone?  What’s missing in translation?