From my girlfriend’s journal…with permission of course – Alli xoxo
January 23rd was the day my life changed. I thought I was done that day, my heart forever broken. He had broken up with me; the man I loved with all my heart and I truly believed that I would one day marry (despite my aversion to such things).
January 30th I received an email and little did I know that was not the end. Is it presumptuous to call it a beginning this early on? Is it too soon to proclaim this was the day I finally was broken out of my shell?…quite by force I might add, and forced to face all of the things in my life I had spent a lifetime suppressing.
My walls literally crumbled that day. The best I can describe how I feel each day since is raw. It’s impossible to hide and every feeling is so intense. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t truly felt in so long. It’s a terrifying feeling. It’s also exhilarating. I’ve had two people in the past few weeks say I seem to have a little extra swing in my hips when I walk. Maybe I do. I go from feeling fierce to broken in seconds but growth isn’t only a positive uphill trajectory I remind myself. It’s hard after a life of feeling disconnected to actually experience moments of connection.
This is my story. My most private story. A story that as I write it, feel so unsure about every word. It is so far from over I’m sure. It’s like crossing over a creek hopping from stone to stone, trying so hard to make it to the shore on the other side. Unsure which stone is actually solid or if it is in fact slippery or unsteady and will dump you into the cold current.
See I used to be an avid reader and writer. As a child and young woman I read and wrote to escape from reality. Penning myself into my favorite books and television shows. The common theme of my storytelling; I was never me. No, I was fierce, in control, confident and powerful in my stories. Everything I didn’t feel in my life.
My joy for writing in general and journaling were taken from me by my education. I have a diploma in the dental field and a bachelors degree of science in Registered Nursing. I also have a certification in Emergency Critical Care Nursing Specialty. The common theme in all that – education. Journaling…but, God forbid, you ever truly expressed yourself. Any word of doubt or fear bought you a one-way ticket to fearing you would be the target for being weak and that semester’s choice to fail by the instructors. What I did learn was to hide further. Hide my true feelings of doubt and fear, appear strong and confident and APA reference all the fluffy fake positive bullshit to make it appear real. God I enjoyed burning that APA manual after I finally got my degree.
My motivation for writing about my story is simple. First it helps my busy mind organize my thoughts but secondly, I can’t find anything similar. Nothing where the bombshell of a loved one telling you that they aren’t who you thought they were is talked about with honesty and candor.
Like this weekend when Alli and I were laying together watching a show and her cat (who is old and demented) starts grooming her. The only way to appease her is to let it happen so the cats licking her feet, nibbling and biting. I watched in horror. My stomach literally queasy watching this cat nibble her toes. Then I started giggling and it got steadily worse until…. ‘What?’ Alli asked me. Through giggles turning into uncontrollable laughter I said, ‘THIS…. after the past 3 weeks…THIS is what makes me uncomfortable.’. We both dissolved into hysterical laughter. The honesty in that moment as beautiful as the humor of this strange path we’ve started on. I need real. I crave it. This has all felt so surreal at times that real moments I find myself clinging to.
I can’t find anyone who has written anything, a journal or blog or book where the true emotional roller coaster occurs from the perspective of a struggling loved one. Where incorrect pronouns are used despite best intentions. Where being selfish and grief stricken one moment but being totally in love the next is okay. Where using words like grief and anger and fuck this are okay because we’re not infallible and I sure as hell am not. Where humor, love and heartbreak merge into the mess that is the human existence. I need to know that being not okay is okay and that this is part of the journey for me as I start to question so much about myself.
I know there are people out there like me. Struggling like me. See he has lived with a life stagnating secret that when he looked in the mirror, he saw the man he looked like physically and it didn’t match his internal self. He in fact is a She. And she has found support through organizations, Twitter, and a few in real life people I have yet to meet. I’ve called these organizations and group meetings are there for me to attend with her. And I’ve briefly chatted with one lovely woman whose partner has transitioned but overall, I don’t see support for me.
I have had the thought it would be easiest to run away. If I ran away now I can continue on in my shell; safe and unscathed. It’s the easiest option. I’m sure it’s one of the common ones based on what Allison has told me. Maybe that’s why I can’t find too much written or shared. But running away doesn’t feel right. Quite the opposite. It feels easy but very wrong.
Also let’s be clear there are some great blogs and books out there. But they are focused on how I need to support my transgender loved one. How I need to ask all the right questions, how I need to be okay or I’m a jerk, I need to be an ally, supportive, body aware, gender aware…the list is endless. And to not dare express my doubts and fears to her as I could hurt her feelings. Well that’s great and all and hell yes, I need to read them because there is a whole world out there I know nothing about and I do need to learn but selfishly…what about me? What about the journey of the people like me whose whole life direction has been changed in one conversation or in my case, an e-mail?
I have felt guilty and sick for feeling scared and grief stricken. In one book I read I was told I shouldn’t use the word grief because it’s associated with loss. Well I respectfully disagree.
I have lost things and I am allowed to grieve these things and suggesting otherwise minimizes the experience of the loved ones traveling this road with their transgender loved ones. Feeling grief doesn’t mean I cant also celebrate what I’m gaining.
Quite the opposite. I truly believe that the best way to support Alli is to be allowed to feel whatever I feel. Finding support for my process and my personal journey in which I am now questioning my sexuality and my beliefs. I believe her support will help me grow, accept, and understand. Together we will be stronger.
As Alli always is (I swear she can read my mind) she has been so amazing. She picked me up at the airport on Thursday afternoon. She had had two awful days at work but even with all this stress I noticed: She was wearing her boxers, her hair meticulously cut like his. Fierce new eyebrows though subtle and not overdone. Trying so hard to not overwhelm me. When we got home I pulled out her satin panties for her and laid them on the bed. A safe stepping stone.
Honest conversations continue and she has let me know it’s okay to be sad that I’ll never nuzzle into his chest hair again. It’s not a stupid thing to me, she respects that. His skin, the smell of his chest and nuzzling into his chest hair, it felt like home.
This weekend we took little steps forward together. I helped Alli laser, for the first time, her chest hair. And in two weeks I’ll do a second pass which should make it about 90% permanently gone. I am so thankful she understands that letting me be a part of this journey is helping me too. Helping me say goodbye to the man we are leaving behind together while celebrating and embracing the woman she is slowly physically becoming. It has allowed me to appreciate what I have gained. The soft curves of her developing breasts and the way her thighs feel hair free. It has helped me grow and move forward. It has helped me not be angry. I measured her breasts for her. A lady needs to know how to fit a bra properly. It’s allowed me to feel more comfortable which I can see makes her feel more comfortable.
I could see the peace on her face as we took these little steps together. I caught a glimpse of the pain gender dysphoria causes her. It helped me see the importance and helped me to understand just the tiniest little bit. Her eyes lighting up when I saw her staring at my eyes so I pulled her into the bathroom and introduced her to mascara. Her joy made my heart ache.
I’m sitting here a middle aged, heterosexual (I think), cisgender, white, middle class (what other words did I miss to describe boring) woman whose had her share of ups-and-downs, don’t get me wrong, but this was not my world. Now it’s a world I’m a part of. Because of love. Because I lost her for 8 days and the pain of that loss is not something I can imagine again. When I looked into her eyes this weekend, I no longer saw him. All I could see was her. She radiated out; I couldn’t stop staring. And for the first time in my life I felt like I was truly seen too.