Thursday, December 16, 2010

Changing of the Guards

Virginia felt much better knowing that I would not be leaving any time soon, or at all. Unfortunately, that was also a problem that kept her depressed and having "gender dysphoric" moments every few days. She will read this and say that my indecision was not the cause of these moments. She will say that it's normal to start to hate your penis (if you're MTF) and not want to even see the thing. However, my proof is that the frequency of these moments diminished when I made a certain decision that I will get back to later.

In early September, after several months of wishing she could get up the courage to tell B about everything, B came out to visit. Her husband was not able to come, which disappointed us greatly, but I saw this as an opportunity to get it all out. So, I set her up so that B would know that something was going on and Virginia had to tell her. As I suspected, B was wonderful! She is my best sister-friend in the whole world, after all. Then, not long after, Virginia told my parents, who were really only concerned about me and the kids. Again, they were great! It's a joke in our family that J is their favorite child (I have a brother and J even beat HIM!). The news did not change their minds.

Finally, I had people to talk to. I couldn't really talk to my folks about it much, though, because I never discussed the "sexual" aspect of my life with them. They asked a lot of questions and I answered them the best I could, as did B. She and I talked nearly every day and at this point, much of the conversation was about Virginia. As relieved as I was to have people to talk to, there were new issues coming up. The big one, the one that was echoed by other friends/family when they were told in November, was that J might not be transsexual. Our little group of true friends knew about J's past, his drug use, his father, his mother and brothers... we all knew that he had tried to kill himself, his depression, and most importantly, a recurring comment of his that he never liked himself and wished he could be someone else. That was the big bell-ringer for everyone, including me. But my instincts told me that as horrible as it was, he/she was transsexual and that would never change. Once I began to voice my support of his condition, the matter was dropped (but not after she heard about it and got depressed, believing that no one trusted her and would never accept her).

On the plus side, B and I talked about how, if Virginia and I were not married and if she were our friend, we would be 100% supportive of her transitioning. I knew that if this news had come out earlier in our relationship, definitely before the kids, we probably would have divorced and I would have remained her best friend forever. That not being the case, B and I were often stumped. She wanted me to be happy. She loved Virginia, but I was her soul mate sister. If I was going to be a lesbian, it would have been with her (had she also been a lesbian). Seriously. When I told my parents that I was getting married, my father said, "Good. I was wondering if you were going to say it was to B or to J." I've known B since 1993. We're more than best friends, you know? So, she wanted me to be happy, but she also wanted Virginia to be happy and at some point, she said, I might have to make that hard decision to put my happiness before Virginia's. And every time she said this, my only response was, "I don't want to live without my Bubbow." (That's not really what we call each other. It's a secret.)

I started to embrace my own determination that I would be with her through this transition. Yes, I had already helped her to buy clothes and learn to put on makeup, but that was nothing. What I mean by "embrace" is that I resolved to help her be the best woman she could be. Virginia... J... Natasha... is my best, best friend in the universe. I love her more than B, and that's saying a lot. She is my perfect soul mate: the one I asked for. True, I never specified in my list that my perfect husband should not really be a woman in denial, but that's my fault. The universe always plays these tricks on me. It looks for loopholes. :-) Anyway, I wanted my husband to be happy, and for her to be the absolute happiest, she first had to become a woman and then she had to be with me. While I still could not guarantee the latter, I could be her friend and help her transition. I even fessed up and told her that Virginia was an AWFUL name for her. She doesn't look or act like a Virginia... I've known two. She's stocky and tall and Slavic. Virginia is none of these things. Together, we searched and finally found Natasha. Now THAT was a name for her. As many of you know, it stuck quickly and forever.

And that's when it happened. Over the course of a couple of months, it finally hit me that after all is done, I probably would not ever leave. Here's why.

I asked myself again: What is it about Natasha that has made me stay even this long? The answer: She's my Bubbow. Bubbow is a personality, you see. Bubbow is the essence of that person I married. It is not a gender. Had Bubbow changed? Maybe a little. Bubbow was less prone to rage. Bubbow waggled her hands a teeny bit more than she did before HRT and Bubbow CRIES A LOT MORE now. But overall, Bubbow has always been emotional. Also, Daddy did not change. Daddy still tossed the kids onto our bed so that they could pretend that they were flying. Daddy still read to them before bedtime. Every evening after dinner, Daddy still plopped onto the couch in HER spot with the computer.

One of the questions partners ask ourselves is if we really need to have a man or woman, whichever we initially married or dated. At first, that is what I thought I needed. A husband is a man, right? Why? Is being a husband defined by gender or by role? I think it is by role. Putting that aside, in terms of sexuality, we ask ourselves how important intercourse is. For us, sex was never a priority. I was certainly not bad, but we loved just being together. Sex happened sometimes because of a need or because it was fun, but honestly, I've never had the "need" for sex. I had a lot of it at times, but I'm a pleaser. I did it because my partner wanted it. Or I wanted it because my partner stopped paying attention to me, preferring to read a book instead of even holding hands. Also, I was exposed to a LOT of crazy stuff in college (off college grounds). The people I spent time with in college were re-enacters, pagans, potheads, sexually unconventional. While I did not partake in much of the really zany stuff, I videotaped a lot of it for them. :-) In other words, I never really cared what people did as long as they weren't hurting anyone. Nothing ever shocked me, just like I wasn't really shocked when Natasha first told me. So, I thought about the sexual part of our relationship and decided that, while the idea of being with another woman was not appealing, the idea of experimenting with my husband might be fun.

Why do heterosexual women need men? Mainly it's biological. We are hard wired by our brains (as you all know) to "need" a certain gender or variety of genders. For heterosexual women, we have the drive to be with men mainly to procreate. Who cares if we don't really want kids. The drive remains and so we look for men. Well, I already have my kids, so why do I still need a man?

Maybe I don't.

For the heterosexual partners out there, you really need to think about WHO you want to be with for the rest of your lives. Is the gender of your partner ESSENTIAL to your happiness? If you answer yes, then you need to be HONEST with your answer. Are you afraid of what others will think? What if you do go out with your transitioned partner; will people think you're gay? Are you homophobic? Do you see where I'm going here? Ultimately, I believe that if partners really... REALLY criticize their feelings, many will find that it's not the gender that matters but the PERSON.

Now, I'm not going to judge anyone for their decisions. We all have various other circumstances that will determine who stays and who goes. The bottom line is: how much do you love your partner and does that love outweigh all of the circumstances involved in your decision-making process? If the answer is no, then I suspect that you and your partner had other issues that should have been addressed much earlier. If the answer is no and it's because you really, truly NEED a partner of the correct gender for you, then be kind and let your love for your transitioning partner keep you two close, if only as friends.

Leaving a person in transition can be a deadly move. As much as Natasha reassured me that she would never try to take her own life, I had read enough to understand how often it happens in this particular community. Having tried before, to leave her in the midst of metamorphosis would probably kill her. Am I staying because of guilt? Absolutely not! Why would I WANT to leave someone I love who is going through something so difficult and scary? Have you ever been in a hospital by yourself with no one to even visit you? Well, I have not, but I have been in hospitals many times. Even WITH visitors, the times when you are alone, hurting, uncomfortable, hooked up to machines and hoses are horribly depressing. What about before that, when the person is in the process of getting used to new emotions and trying to fit in but terrified that people "will know" and possibly beat you up or kill you for it? Or to a lesser extent, those people simply shun you? I could never imagine abandoning my loved one to go through that alone!

Okay, so here I am. It's early December. Probably a day or two before my first blog entry. It hits me that I don't want to spend a moment of life without my Bubbow. It, suddenly, became that simple.

I told Natasha and she cried, of course. :-)

We started talking about the rest of the transition process and the time it might take to do that.

Natasha stopped having those really bad dysphoric days.

Between she and I, it felt just like it always did, before that day in June of 2009.

I can hear some of you readers saying, "You don't know how you'll feel when she has the surgery and is living full time as a woman." Well, you're sort of right. I might have one of those moments when I realize that it's just not enough anymore.

But then, if you consider that our son, now nearly 5 1/2, said just the other day, "Daddy, I can't wait until your body matches your brain because then you'll be very happy," you've got to wonder what's going on in his non-judgmental, unconditionally loving mind and ask yourself why you can't think that way, too.


- said...

(so I promised I would stay out of it, but...) One minor thing, I wish I could say my bad dysphoric days days are over and done. I've just had a good spell recently where it hasn't been overpowering. I do hope this continues for a good long time, but it's always there...

I love you!!!

Marni said...

Oh, I know. But that doesn't negate my belief that they were worse when our future together was more uncertain. So there. :-P

I love you too!

Anonymous said...

I found that I had a lot of "gender dysphoria" moments when I was in that period between start of transition and going full time. It was rough to go back and forth. I ended up going full time before I had thought I would, but I'm not sorry I did.

I continued to have some but fewer GD moments between full time and sex reassignment surgery. After surgery, once I got by the discomfort, I realized I didn't have any GD moments at all. Hey, it really worked!

It's so cool that you have a friend as good as B. That's one thing I feel an acute lack of. It's a lot harder to make true friends when you're my age, but I haven't given up.

Funny, my partner torpedoed my first attempt at a name too. I needed a name to use, and we weren't yet at the point of being able to discuss such things. Months later, she tells me that she'll get used to it, but she'll never like it. Like Natasha, I didn't love the name so much that I couldn't come up with something we both would like, and we did.

On that evolutionary thing...curiously, we don't have a drive to procreate. Oh, human beings can think about it, with our big brains and all, but really procreation is a side effect of a successful behaviour -- having sex. Humans crave intimacy with each other. It's social bonding. Happily for the species, this often results in offspring.

As for sexual orientation, I think a lot of it has to do with which pheromones get us excited. Our noses have a lot to do with sexual attraction. As I wrote previously, if my partner and I were in our sexual prime, we would probably both need a man. Men also provide a sense of security, at least for some women.

Some people are less sexual, or past that, so all that attraction stuff is either muted or gone. And of course love is about a lot more than sexual attraction.

Anne said...

"bad dysphoric days"???

- said...

Anne - Those times when the loathing and disgust are more than I can bear...

Anne said...

sowat you are saying is that when the anxiety or fear of being "left" or abandoned, the negative feeings lessened.

If I were to coldly analyze this, I would consider that this could be interpreted as a form of subliminal manipulation. I am not suggesting that this is the case, but it certainly makes one wonder.

Anne said...

Another thing that has to be VERY difficult and disorientating is switching, back and forth. I know there is a lot of talk about "genderlessness" or gender fluidity, but I am wondering just how much of that is just wishful thinking, or self justification.

I try to put myself in Casey's shoes. I have been in a very rewarding and loving and sexual relationship with my husband for just under ten years now. If he were to drop a situation like the one you are in, in my lap I do not think that I could handle it.

But that is just me. I do not think that I could have handled all the negative acting out that you described prior to he final bomb being dropped either.

I have left three husbands after 8+ year marriages. These were GOOD men. In the end, what caused our demise was that it stopped working for one or both of us One huge difference in our situations is that in my case, there were never any children involved.

I transitioned relatively young just out of college. The only life at stake was my own.

My sincere hope is that you and Gin will work out a solution that works well for everybody involved.


- said...

sowat you are saying is that when the anxiety or fear of being "left" or abandoned, the negative feeings lessened.

Not at all, actually. In some respects, they got worse. Since Casey has had her realizations, I've probably had some of my worst days and worst feelings. I let go of all my psychic walls and I was left with no defense against it ...defenses which I had spent years constructing...since that point when I was the age you were at when you transitioned and made the choice to build those walls rather than do the brave thing you did. I was almost brave. I stood on the edge when I was 20 and saw the chasm below and cowardly backed away.

But as a result, I've brought two beautiful children into the world with an amazing woman whom I adore. I have no regrets.

I honestly did not expect Casey to allow this as part of her life at this juncture and it caught me off guard because I was rebuilding some of those defenses and I realized I didn't need them anymore and all that pain that I felt a couple of decades ago hit me unfiltered and if I didn't have Casey next to me when it did, I would have been in a much worse place, I promise you.

The fact is that I did a good amount of "wishful thinking" that I could live in between, but you and I both know that all the wishful thinking in the world gets you very little. I only have one choice in this and fortunately I have someone who will stick with me and it has been incredibly hard for the both of us because the last thing I could ever think of doing was to hurt this amazing woman. But I did. That she is still with me is a miracle to me and I appreciate it every hour of every day.

I do appreciate your interest and questions. It allows me to think through these things differently. Thank you.



Anne said...

So now you are again confronting the "chasm". The difference now, 20 years years later is that you have your children and your wife to consider. The stakes are much, much higher. I KNOW that you realize this. I can only hope and pray that you will proceed with the utmost due diligence and caution.

@Casey. You and your family are involved and confronted by a real live struggle for your own personal, individual and COLLECTIVE survival. In order for this to 'work', this has to work for EVERYBODY.

I pray for you all.


marilynsturn said...

Thank you so much for your post. Soul mates do exist I know. When I married my spouse she told me intercourse was over rated. and I now agree. I am her wife. Gender is not a reality.The human thing is all hearsay anyway.I am 75 and she is 48 . Our love life is outrageous and fulfilling for both. She has read your post and identified with your feelings as I do.It is all within for sure. I will follow your blog. Keep on I Am with you