Until one of you leaves the abode you share, there are the awkward and stilted conversations, the jabs in the heart if you’re being left and the revulsion of the other if you’re doing the leaving, and the out of synch grieving cycles for both of you that cement the inevitable, irrevocable dissolution in the bitter, painful solitude of ruptured companionship.
This is my second time through this process and it’s much harder this time.
My first marriage was childless and foundered on jagged rocks of fundamental incompatibility. I was tidy, she was messy. I was punctual, she was always at least 30 minutes late, (often much more.) She had a temper that ramped up when she drank, which was often and it took me years and therapy to realize I couldn’t talk to her about anything when she’d been drinking, because she wasn’t in her right mind.
She knew about my trans-ness, what I thought then was just crossdressing, and she was even encouraging and supportive in her fashion, but it also hung like a heavy weight between us, dragging us both down into its confusion and uncertainty. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to stay with me if I started hormones, so I turned them down. So I dressed at home when I worked at home, and she’d come home from the business or a client’s to find me as Jennifer, (the name I used then,) and pause to look at me, inscrutable.
I left her, mostly because I was unable to reach her emotionally. The moment I knew it was time to go was not long after we had moved into a rental house near Greenlake in early summer. It was one of those magical summer evenings that Seattle can generate, with pleasant temperatures and a deepening sunset that looked as if a painter had poured their reds and oranges and purples and blues and pinks into the sky and blended them upon the high cirrus.
She sat hunched over her computer, working on some database project for a client of ours. I attempted to coax her out for a break, to walk the Greenlake path and swim in the sky with me. She waved me off. Twice. The second time angrily, telling me how important it was for her to finish what she was working on.
It was more important than me, more important than the amazing show of light, and I knew right then and there that I could not spend the rest of my life with someone who couldn’t step away for a sunset. So I left her.
When I left, I had visions of dressing every day, and even transitioning. But I was afraid. I retreated to a rented house that I couldn’t afford and hung up all my clothes and there they hung. I was running, training for my first marathon and the thirty pounds of extra weight I had been carrying around was melting away. I felt good about myself and it showed. Women were checking me out and I basked in the attention. I convinced myself that being a guy was much easier than trying to be a woman, and it worked well in attracting women to date.
I went through a series of short relationships; one I fucked up and bailed on that I shouldn’t have, one that just petered out, one that I was way too clueless to figure out, and then one where I got dumped, hard. I was nursing my broken heart when I met my current wife. I was drawn to her carefree, funny, and passionate nature and we hit it off immediately.
As things became more serious, I felt I needed to disclose my gender dysphoria to her, so I cooked dinner one night and talked about how close I had come to starting down the path to transition and then shied away. I told her I had decided it wasn’t for me, that it was all a mirage and that I had put it behind me. (I did believe this.) I also remember telling her that while it was behind me, everything I had ever read said that it would likely come back at some point and I tried to reassure her that it was something I could manage.
I was wrong. That conversation is one that we have both revisited over and over the past couple of years — we remember it differently. She does not recall me saying that it might come back. I remember it clearly.
As what I had worked so hard on to shove back down over the years de-compartmentalized with almost explosive force, her mother’s cancer returned, killing her a year or so later. Just as I was struggling with my sense of self and needed my partner to lean on or at least point me in the right way, she was retreating further down the bottle and the bong in her grief, and then she rejected me, often angrily.
Over and over I have heard, “I married a man; I’m not attracted to women.”
Her anger at me grew and grew as did her hurt. This angurt grew like mold. It would spend weeks or months a hidden nuisance, then erupt to cover us both after I would inadvertently water it with talking about my angsts and torments. My own pain and fear and anger at being rejected grew as I started taking hormones and accelerated my beard removal.
Almost a year ago, she abandoned the martial bed, rendering us married roommates until May, when I realized that nothing was going to change and it was hopeless. I have to transition. She doesn’t want to be in a relationship with a woman. Therefore we need to divorce.
It’s for the best.
I will finally have my chance to find someone who accepts me and wants me for who and what I am, not the shadow I’ve projected on the screen all these decades. To be able to be myself is terrifying. My creeping fear is the daunting and maybe impossible task of finding that person.
While she’s technically leaving me, we’re really leaving each other. She will be glad to see me gone, the androwraith wasband who killed her dreams. I will be glad to see her gone, the chronically stoned alcoholic whose blackouts and other shenanigans have made life a chaotic hell for me and our kids at times.
Even after all the angurt we’ve caused each other, there is still love, and it is this that tears me apart now. It is the chasm of yawning loneliness that only a lover can cast you into with their rejection. It is the desire to hold her when she’s scared and knowing that if you did, it would only make her go stiffly rigid from your touch. It is each, ‘I love you,’ she tells me, chiseling tortuously at the heart I work to keep as stone.
Unlike my first divorce, I can’t just move on and not see her. We have kids to raise together as best we can apart.
This is the price I pay for being trans. A family shattered. Rejection. Hurt. Anger. Fear. Not only for myself, but also the person I used to love so much.
All for the hope of respite and gaining a measure of personal peace and happiness from something that has tormented me for decades.
I would have it be that I did not entangle with my wife and have children with her, but here we are. I tried, I really tried to be the man she needed me to be and I failed at that. I will forever be sorry that it was so.
I will outlast this dark time. This is only temporary. A new life is around the corner.
It may be harder in some ways and I’m certain it will bring me even deeper sorrows, but it will be _my_ life for the first time and it offers high, clear views of happiness without being obscured by the foul vapor that has heretofore clung to me.
I can’t wait to see how the sunsets look in this new air.