Saturday, December 31, 2011

Alternate Scenario #1

Welcome to the first of a potentially infinite number of entries in my new, Alternate Scenarios series. Not all of my future posts will contribute to this series, but I have a feeling that many will.

This series of posts are and will be inspired by Natasha's verbal commentary to me about other blog and forum posts she has read elsewhere. No names are ever shared with me, so I will have no names to share with you. These posts she comments to me about concern situations that involve partners or spouses, which is why I thought it would be appropriate to comment about these situations here.

So, on with the show! Today's scenario, "#1," is subtitled, "Post Facto (After the Fact)."

Let's say that Natasha, as Jonathan, had determined that he was a TS and, fearing my reaction, began HRT without telling me. After a few weeks, the fact that she was hiding not just one big secret but TWO, she wondered when and how she should tell me. After all, who knew when the HRT would begin to show, if it hadn't already?

Here's my first thought on this, from my spousal point of view: How selfish! Really?

I know perfectly well how difficult just coming to terms with being TS can be, but when a person is married or in any kind of committed relationship and the partner is not consulted IMMEDIATELY upon discovery of the situation, the TS is inherently being selfish. Who are you thinking about when you keep a secret that involves someone other than yourself? You are thinking only of you and that you might lose out, be left or kicked out, be yelled at or cursed. You are not thinking of the promise of honesty you made with your partner. You are not thinking about her/his feelings or what's best for that person when you keep a secret: especially one so life-altering for both of you. I'm not knocking those fears. Nobody wants to lose. Nobody wants to be yelled at or kicked out. However, if you truly love someone (besides yourself), you owe it to that person so know the truth as soon as the truth is realized.

But according to this scenario, the damage is already done. Jonathan knows and he's begun HRT without telling me. I'm referring to Natasha as Jonathan because this is how I would still recognize her to be if this were the case. So, Jonathan has been on HRT for a few weeks and if I know him at all, I'll notice some emotional changes that I just can't put my finger on. I'll ask him if something's wrong and he'll either say that nothing's wrong or that his job or something is really starting to get to him. In that case, I'll probably focus on those issues and try... ultimately in vain... to help him. So the hole he digs for the both of us gets deeper. I become frustrated because I can't help him and he continues to get more emotional and his secret gnaws at her, which puts her further on edge.

Finally, Jonathan decides to tell me. He sits me down, the kids are out of the house, and he tells me that he's TS. How long has he known? What, a few months? And he hasn't told me until now? How do you think I'd react? Do you think I'd trust him? And then the pieces would suddenly fit together and I'd conclude that his emotional outbursts were his fear of telling me. And I'd say as much, but since this would be the come-clean day, he'd tell me that he's been on HRT for weeks.


When do you tell your partner after you've already begun treatment? ASAP! And you understand that you have broken your vow of honesty. You understand that you made your situation that much worse by keeping these secrets from your partner. Especially with the HRT, you chose, without consulting with your partner, to take drugs to alter your body and body chemistry to make you physically into someone your partner did not choose to be with. Ultimately, you have broken her/his trust and if you expect acceptance and open arms after that, you are dreaming.

This is not to say that it won't ever happen. You might convince your partner, after a time, that your fear of losing him or her drove you to secrecy. But here's the thing: the drugs were your selfish decision to continue on a path of no return ALONE. It's one thing to know for a time that you are TS. I can understand that. It's entirely different, however, when you voluntarily take medications... potentially dangerous medications... without including your loved ones. That says to me that you care more about your own path than that of your partner and family (especially if you have kids).

The bottom line is this: if you do love your partner at least as much as you love yourself, you should never have popped one pill without your partner's knowledge. He or she may not consent, and if that is the case, then you have to decide which road to take. What is more important to you: following the draw of your true self or resisting and respecting the wishes of your partner? You must assess the nature of that relationship. Are there already other problems in the relationship? Would it be better for everyone if you did not stay together? Do you trust in the bond of your relationship that your partner would eventually understand and support you? Do you put yourself through that, continuing to fight to keep the relationship in light of your changes? Whether you are just discovering that you are TS or whether you have already begun the irreversible journey in secret, you owe it to those who love you to be truthful and then face those consequences, because all of these what-if questions will happen at any point on the journey. Natasha told me at the beginning, mainly because she can't and doesn't want to keep secrets from me (unless it's about presents!), but also knowing that I could have made the spot decision to leave with the kids or kick her out. She trusted that I loved her enough to work past the changes and she was right. Perhaps a person keeps a secret or two like this because he or she is NOT confident in the strength of his/her relationship.

Natasha could have been wrong. There was a time when I didn't want to stay. It was a rather long time, I must admit. But I also could not deny that I loved the person I married and if she was, indeed, my best friend, who was I to stand in her way of finding inner happiness? Would I stop being a friend to someone I wasn't married to? Of course not! So, if I actually went ahead and MARRIED a best friend, wouldn't it be even more ridiculous to just give up the relationship because of something she could not help? Fortunately for the both of us, I gave myself time to work though my feelings before deciding whether to give up or not. But trust me: if she had begun HRT without me knowing, I'm very certain that we would not have a future together. Lying is lying. Withholding information like that is a slap in the face. She would have demonstrated that she did not trust me and that she was probably lying about all manner of things. Trust would be lost. And would I ever get over that? I don't know. Our friends and my family would probably have convinced me that I could never trust her again. It would have been like cheating. Knowing me, though, I might have consented to couples therapy. Either way, our futures, and those of our children, would not be as certain as they are today.

When do you tell your partner? NOW!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Status Quo

October 3rd, eh? That means for the past two months, things have been "status quo" for us. This means two things: first, the issues we've been having are still on-going and second, the happiness we share is still on-going. Good and could-be-better. But really, we've settled into something of a good place.

Natasha still has those moments of dysphoria that make me crazy. They don't make me angry or anything: just frustrated. I can't do anything to stop them and I can do anything to prevent them. Just last night, for example, I put my foot on her lap. It came to rest at the wrong place, between her right thigh and her left, and she got quietly upset for a moment. It wasn't anybody's fault, but it happens. Even more so, she still has these moments when nobody's touching her or saying anything either. Something triggers a thought and then POOF, there's the bad moment.

More importantly, for me at least, is that in my status quo I was able to return to an issue I had even before Natahs became Natasha, and that was her relationship with her family. It's a really crappy relationship, to put it mildly, and with the predicted tragedy of her father and step-mother's last visit (Natasha asked for their financial help with the surgery and, despite their immense wealth, they said no) she finally came to the conclusion that she needed to distance herself from them. Instead of this realization being a relief, which naturally it wouldn't be, her dead over seeing them again worsened. I didn't think that was possible! The problem at that point was that I was becoming less and less able to handle her depressive moments. I think I've become a little raw over the last two years, not just because of the transition but also because I've overburdened myself with responsibilities. Before the transition, her anxiety over seeing her family was beginning to bother me. I sort of put that on hold for a couple of years, and with the new status quo and then with the transition-fueled exacerbation of the issues Natasha has had with her father since childhood, I was finally forced to voice to her that she needed to see somebody about these issues or I would go nuts in a very bad way.

Sometimes I find myself looking at something in our house and it occurs to me that nothing's really fundamentally changed between Natasha and myself. I know I've said that before, but lately it's seemed even more apparent. That's why I say I'm happy in my status quo. Something interesting happened the other day. I have a picture of Natasha on the day she... as a he... asked me to marry her. It was, even to her admission, the best picture of her in existence. It's on my laptop as a desktop picture. It's been there through two laptops over about ten years. The other day, maybe two or three days ago, I was looking at it and it felt like she looked too different for me to have that picture as my desktop anymore. Maybe it's that her hair is longer or that, if I took that same picture of her today, wearing the same clothes (which she could: the sweat shirt is still in her possession), there'd be boobs pushing at the front of that shirt. But the fact would also be that we would have the same great time now that we had on that day... except maybe for the sex part.

Is it that her gender doesn't matter to me in that I've become something of a lesbian? Nope. Never will be because of that. It's that she is somewhat different in personality, considering that she's a girl and not a boy, but her inherent personality... those things about her that make her my best friend... are still there. In fact, I believe that after her transition is complete and after she can get through dealing with her relationship with her father and step-mother, we might even be better off than when we started. Many of the parenting choices she makes and I don't exactly agree with are right from her childhood. She is by no means a bad parent. It's quite the opposite. However, she projects her own fears and anxieties onto our son especially. He is very similar to her in many ways, but we are not her father and mother and, although she knows this, I can see apprehension in some of her decisions.

Some time ago, I said that I can see a future where she will develop an urge to move on and explore her feminine body as a heterosexual. I can still see that. But I can also see a future where we just kinda grow old together. As I said in the last post, though, I don't look into the future if I can help it. Those futures may very well be out there and some version of myself may experience one of them or both, but I choose to have a happy life with Natasha and the only way I can do that is to be as happy as today will let me. Today, I'm a bit tired and dreading going back to work tomorrow after our super-successful day selling our cookies at the farmers' market yesterday, and I really want to go out to dinner but we can't afford it. Our house needs a good cleaning, too. Other than that, I have no plans to rethink the course of my life in relation to Natasha. I think I'll maintain this status quo for a while. :-)

Happy Holidays!!