Is it possible to love someone when you are sealing yourself off from being vulnerable to them?


It is wonderful to be with close family—my SO, my children.  The feelings of the holiday are upon me, upon us, and getting lost in the warmth of giving is something I look forward to all year long.  I get so wrapped up in it sometimes I hardly see or listen—for giving, we have discovered, for me, is a way of hiding.

My SO and I had a nice deep, tearful conversation over dinner the other day.  A few people in life know how I cry—well, my SO does too…maybe that’s why we married.  I don’t wish to belittle our tears, by saying that we cry easily, but we do cry together quite a lot, and each do, as well, independently of one another.  I’d like to say that we are just emotional people…but we are not…at least not strictly.  Instead, what is raw is very close to the surface…and it is easy to pull back the protective layers, especially when we are with people we feel safe with, and then the waterworks come.  I guess this is a benchmark of safety, as my SO and I cry together all the time.  I can recommend it.

But this time there was something different.  There was some heat in the conversation about other things…and then finally we got down to the crux of things.  She knows that I would always be there for her.  I have showed it to her time and again.  But, she lamented, she also knows that I would not rely on her to be there for me.

You see, I’ve been telling her about seeing therapists, all these things I have been doing, and also a glimpse into my feelings, what has been ailing me.  She was disturbed that I went to therapists instead of coming to her.  I don’t think this is the moment to discuss whether therapists have a place or not—clearly I am a believer, and in truth, my SO is not.  But what she said was true.  I have never really ever been open with her.  I can remember already in the early days of our relationship that I wouldn’t let go, that I had both a need, but also a smug satisfaction in hiding…that sounds terrible…and I don’t think it is as terrible as it sounds…

When all this was going down, we were also opening up to each other in many ways, and I was discovering that I was being judged…and so, already then, there are parts of me that I began to hide.  Important parts of me.

And I don’t want to reduce everything to trans issues.  And no, I also won’t throw everything away because I have to express myself in a dress.  But I guess I do have a reasonable expectation for shame to not come from people outside of me—especially when I am on the way to discarding it myself.  And yes, whether I like it or not, being trans is fundamental.  I can’t say if it is the most fundamental part of me.  But I can say that I imagine for most people that when you wake up in the morning, you don’t start by thinking about your body and your life and how much different and better it would feel (not be better, just feel better) if your body were different…and I mean every day.  I mean that something so fundamental as your sex just feels “not right”.  Surely most people never think that way.  [I wrote about what that feels like here].

So, as my wife was telling me that I don’t rely on her, that I don’t confide in her, and therefore I don’t love her, I had nothing to say, and thankfully I didn’t say anything foolish.  I do love her.  Just not in the way she loves me.  And no, I don’t trust that she would be there for me without judgement in at least that one really important way, because I already know how she feels about it.  

I am dying to tell her I am trans—but in reality I already have—and she doesn’t say anything…and since she tells me often enough that my sexuality is “not my thing” or is “gross” or is “perverted” or is “disgusting”…I am not sure I want to put myself through that.  And I feel terrible being “smug” in the sense that yes, I know exactly what is going on, and I am not going to confide in you, I am not going to need you in that way, because I know what the cost will be…and that is a cost that I am not willing to accept.

But sweetheart, don’t you wonder why I can buy you clothes that always fit, that always look good on you, and that I know your sizes, your styles?  Don’t you wonder why I can talk to you about nail colours and hose, and actually know what you are talking about?  Is that so horrible to know why?  When you know you love that?  I don’t understand it.  But until I do, this door stays closed.

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