Friday, December 31, 2010

More Than a Feeling

I have been thinking of a topic to write about for this last day of 2010 and nothing of profound note came to mind. But something has been going on that I thought I should share anyway, so here goes...

We all have those days when those things that seem okay most of the time do not feel so okay. I am one of those people who tries to remain conscious of the causes of my feelings, so when these days happen, I search for reasons. Today is one of them.

We live in the Phoenix area (AZ) and yesterday it snowed. We had nothing more than a dusting, but the fact that snow fell from the sky over the Surface of the Sun is not normal by any means. I take these changes in weather three ways: first, I love snow so it was awesome; second, even awesome snow is proof that negative climatic changes are happening and that's bad; third, my life is about to undergo a major shift... again. I forget how much weather changes frighten me until they happen. I fear for my children's futures most of all. I could delve deeper into this subject, but I have no interest in starting an eco-political conversation here. My point is that the snow clearly altered my mood and I started to think negatively about a lot of things having nothing to do with the weather.

One of the main thoughts scuttling around my mind today was how much Natasha is in her forums and on her boards. She converses with her transfolk community at least as much as she interacts with her kids. Sometimes, it seems as if she is more interactive with the community than she is with me. I'm not exactly complaining. Yes, I obviously am feeling this way, but I also understand how important she has become to many people who need her. I understand that she needs these people, too. I can only so understanding and then I can go no further, having no personal experience with what she is going through. Rationally, I don't blame her for her commitment. Emotionally, when I'm having one of these days, I'd rather she be more present.

This brings me to the main point of this entry. I know that there are lots of transfolk who become very involved in their new lives and their partners start to feel like the third wheel. Natasha's "thing" isn't nearly as obtrusive as behaviors reported by others, but the issue is similar enough that I think I can address it.

To the transfolk: we (most of us partners, I hope) totally understand that you have entered a "new" world and that you are excited about exploring it. Perhaps you have begun going to meetings or developed friendships or you are really just going all gang-busters with your transition and being as much woman (or man) as you can be. Perhaps we, your partners, have given you the go-ahead and have chosen to stay and be supportive, but sometimes, you might stop to consider how quickly or how blatantly you are going ahead. How are we acting around you? Have we become withdrawn? Do we not hold your hand as much as we used to? Do we look you in the eyes as much? When we opened that door for you to go through, did you barge right in or did you step through with caution?

Partners, we will have days when what we have signed up for seems too much to handle, but it's just a day among many that are just fine. When your trans partner is going overboard... at least, to you... do you say something or do you keep it to yourself? Are you not saying anything because you are afraid that your trans partner's feelings will be hurt? Aren't YOUR feelings being hurt? They key to making it through the transition together is communication. Tell him or her that the behavior is making you feel excluded or is simply freaking you out. Ask him or her to take a step back and listen as you calmly explain how you feel. If you both talk about what both of you need, you can start to make these bad days less bad and less frequent.

So today, I mentioned to Natasha that her frequent blogging/forumming was bugging me a little. I also told her that I recognize that today, in particular, I am feeling totally off about a lot of things and I am working hard to feel better. I don't want to ring in 2011 with a bad mood.

The weather says that things are changing. I like snow, so perhaps this change will be good for all of us. 2010 was, over all, a very good year. We had some seriously bad downs, but we made it through them. Maybe a little snow is the gentle cleansing of the air that we all need.

I don't know if this post made any real sense. I hope someone gets something out of it. Basically, I hope everyone has a wonderful 2011. I hope that we all take each day as it comes and that we continue to work together... all of us... so that everything works out for the best.

Happy New Year!


Caroline said...

The net is a life saver, no books can replace it as no net can replace a real life support team, team being the operative word when we go through this with our soul-mates.

Caroline xxx

Kay & Sarah said...

You are right, communication is VERY important in an relationship; both ways.

I watched my wife recoil sometimes in the beginning as she thought I was going too fast, I thought I was taking a comfortable pace; we talked. But once she saw how much happier I was as Sarah she knew that I was being conscious of her feelings as well as mine.

Melissa said...

Imagine knowing since you were three or four years old, that you didn't identify with your birth sex. Now, imagine twenty five years later, that you had not only come to terms with your gender incongruence, but had discovered the key to gender congruency. Would you not be obsessed with becoming the girl you always hoped and prayed that you could be, and would you not want to spend as much time as possible with like minded sisters, who offered you their sincerest support?

Natasha's time spent here is perfectly understandable, but your concern that she might be neglecting her relationship with you is also perfectly understandable. This has to have had a tremendous impact on you and your original vision of marriage and family.

From what Natasha has written, I really do get a sencse that she has nothing, if not the deepest love and respect for you. I can't even imagine her not being open to any concerns you may have, and making a sincere effort to alleviate those concerns, if she is gently made aware of them. Please keep up your open ans honest communications. She needs then as well as you.

You are one of those rare and beautiful spouses that I have heard of in this situation, that remains so very supportive of her transgender partner. This despite how painful it certainly must be for you. Do you have any idea how much respect that has earned you in our little community? You truly are a dear, Casey!

Here's wishing Happy New Year to you and your family!

Melissa XX

Anonymous said...

I love every time you post a new blog entry, Casey, because I know it will move me. And you have done so here again. Believe me, you made plenty of sense.

One thing you will need to do is to make your own needs known to your partner. She is understandably caught up in her new world. Don't wait for her to notice that you are acting differently. Tell her in as loving but direct a way possible. Let her know that she isn't the only one with needs.

This was something my partner learned over time. She wasn't used to stating her needs. When I started to move too quickly, or do things that really made her uncomfortable, at first she held back for too long, then we had a fight and some crying, and things were better. I told her that she had to let me know when something was wrong, and over time she began to. I made adjustments to my transition, and she made huge adjustments to her expectations, especially when she saw how well this worked for me. But it was always important for me to hear what she needed.

I'm better at knowing now without her having to say, but that's because I've learned to. Having been a man, for a while I wasn't very good at picking up on nonverbal cues.

Communication is the key--both ways.

I hope 2011 is a wonderful year for you, and all of your family!

Amy K. said...

I've only lived in Tucson for seven months now, but I've heard it does snow here every few years. It melts in the morning, of course, but the mountains sure are beautiful, aren't they?

I try not to get too carried away with myself, but then my girl is so giving that it seems she reminds me that I should get carried away anyway. Then again, our experience is different from many trans couples, in that I was already "headed her way" by transitioning. The girlish I get, the more attracted she is to me. There's no way for me to express how lucky I am. I wish you and Natasha all the happiness possible in 2011!

Marni said...


I know that my situation is far from unique in terms of the stress and challenges of having a transitioning partner. I truly appreciate you all for adding to what I hope is a valuable archive for spouses.

All I want is for people... especially partners... to have a voice in their ear that makes them stop and think about what they are feeling and doing. Obviously, I hope that I am shedding some light for trans folk on what their own partners might be thinking but are too afraid or stubborn to share.

So many of you wonderful women have said that I am somewhat unique in my ability to remain with Natasha and especially to share my mind with readers. But I honestly believe that more partners are more like me... it's just that they don't think they are or they don't know how to tap into that part of them. We need to learn how to let go of what we believe is "right" and "real" and allow our minds to be challenged with new perspectives. Otherwise, we are stagnant.

Lori D said...

Transition is all about the needs of both spouses being met. I learned the hard way that I just couldn't "barge right through that door" when I should have paused a bit more to do everything in my power to tell my wife how much her feelings are just as legit as my own. Reading your posts bring back a lot of the pain that we experienced. It doesn't stop me from reading, it just reminds me how important it is to cling to each other when possible, and to give each other the space when needed. I remember a friend once told me, "you can't be both the shelter and the storm."