No news tends to be good news, which you dear readers should assume in my lack of posts over the past few months. As this blog is specifically about my journey through my spouse's transition, I can assure you that in the time since my last post, life had pretty much been status quo.
And so, a couple of weeks ago, the status quo changed a little.
It was common knowledge between Natasha and me that not only am I not a lesbian or even bi, but that because she is now a woman, I have not felt the same way about her on a physiological level. This alone has been heartbreaking to me, especially when I have so much as entertained a single thought of "what if" involving another man, I have felt immensely guilty.
Several people have suggested that we get divorced so I don't feel guilty. It would be easier to move on and be open to finding someone else. For several reasons, that doesn't work for me. The most important reason is that I'm not unhappy in my home life. I still love Natasha as much as I did before, even though the kind of love I have for her is different. No, we have no intimacy. What we do have is a friendship that is probably stronger than most people will ever get the privilege to experience.
I don't have someone waiting for me in the wings. I don't know, nor do I expect, to have that again. I'm in my mid-40s. I'm no model. I have kids. How appealing is that? So what do I do? Get a divorce, move into a one bedroom apartment (as would Natasha probably) because I can't afford anything bigger with my salary, and have my kids experience their parents being more miserable on a daily basis just because of a "maybe"? Living on my own would give me less freedom than I have now.
So, a couple of weeks ago, we had to say good-bye to our second dog, Moose. He was the first dog we had, and he was sweet, and lumpy and a pain in the butt. He went quietly and pain-free, thanks to our amazing veterinarian, and he was not alone. That triggered a deep sadness in me that didn't hit until a few days later. At that time, Natasha and I also talked about us.
She let me go.
It was the most selfless act she's ever done. Her feelings for me have not changed, but she told me that she understood that she took my ideal away and she wanted me to be able to find that again.
I took off my wedding ring and we decided to call each other "partner," although technically that's not much different than "spouse." It's a start, I guess.
Although there is a part of me that is relieved: that some day, should someone come along, I won't feel the guilt, I'm still going through a period of loss, and this is horrible. It reminds me of when I went through our closet to take out Jonathan's clothes. I was in mourning, and there was this person walking around that looked and acted a lot like Jonathan but was not him. Now, there's a person walking around that looks and acts a lot like my spouse, but we are now pretty much married by legalities only. It's yet another step toward what I feared would happen seven years ago. Seven years. Half of my marriage.
We decided not to divorce yet because realistically, should someone come along, I might decide that it's just not worth it. So many couples who are together for a long time end up being more friends than lovers. How many people can spend the last years of their lives with their best friend? Essentially, we're taking it slowly. Natasha wants me to be happy. I am happy, but not in foundational ways. I gave up my marriage so that she could find personal happiness. It was and still is better this way for everyone involved. Except for me, I'm not as happy, and she wants me to be that way again. But not before I get to be miserable about the official ending of my "married" relationship with my spouse... er... partner.
I'm still not okay with any of this. I'm not bouncing back as quickly as I have from other stuff. I still feel guilty. I remind myself that it's not just about sex. There's so much more to it than that. But as much as I want the opportunity to feel it again, I don't believe I will. I keep thinking that it's not worth the heartbreak anyway. Sure, that's coming from my self-image, but you can't just turn that stuff off. Whether it's true or not, the thought exists for me. And yet, even if I saw myself as a super model, I would continue to feel the sadness of moving on. I know that we will always be best friends. I know that we'll still hang out and do things together as a family (we have kids together, after all!). We will always be there for each other. But...
The fact is that any guy I meet will have to be understanding of things most people don't have to consider. For one, my "ex" would be a woman who is the father of my children, and that's kinda weird. He will have to be okay with the fact that I would still be good friends with my "ex." He would get that our marriage wouldn't have ended because of someone's fault, but because it sorta had to end, and that's sad. How many guys would get all that and want to be involved with that? I'm not holding my breath.
So, my wonderful readers, imagine you are a lone floaty ring in the middle of a swimming pool on an overcast, warm, windless day. Sort of comforting and relaxing, right? But you're not exactly going anywhere, either. That's me.