I don’t know what I am supposed to feel, but relief is as unexpected as it is welcome. I was feeling green shoots with my wife, feeling as if she could come to terms with things, that we might be able to reconcile, or stay together. The words separation had not yet sunk in.
She has been friendly, or at least cordial, and at least on the surface, of late. Communication when we are not in each other’s company is still curt, to the point, but now with all of us together under one roof, it doesn’t seem weird.
So, I asked her, “are you sure that separation is what you want?”
“Yes, we will need to separate, to untangle, and will need to get divorced.”
“I told you last time,” she said of our conversation in the park a month or so ago. We had not spoken since.
“You never used the word ‘divorce’ before.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Have you taken advice?”
“Yes, I have, and you should too.”
“In the ___,” she said.
“Why?” knowing full well the answer, that the place is famous for being pro-wife to the extent that people go there just to get a divorce.”
“Because I’m resident there.” It is amazing that just saying, “I am resident” is enough…she doesn’t live there. I have a house there. Either alone or apart, we have spent perhaps 4 weeks there over the past 4 years.
“How did you find your lawyer?”
“My ___ used her,” but he didn’t live there either, had an even less tenable attachment to the country. Hmm. Better get some advice.
“You don’t want to do therapy?” I asked.
“What, so we can talk about you?”
“No, but it might help.”
“I don’t need help. And if I do, I will seek it out. That’s what my friends are for. They’ve helped me through this.”
“Who have you told?”
“That’s none of your business.” I gave a couple of names, she confirmed yes.
“How did they react?”
“That’s none of your business either. They’re my friends.”
“What about X and Y, we met them together?” This was the couple that gave me a teapot as a gift a few years ago, and when I took the teapot with me to another house that I have been living in to give space, she said, ‘I didn’t know we were taking our things out [of the family home].”
“She’s more my friend than yours. You don’t really need friends like I do.”
“How did she react?”
“She was supportive, that’s all. It’s really none of your business.”
“I will be seeing her. I think it is fair that I know.” She didn’t want me to know of any other mutual friends that she had told. Since the only other time we had talked about things she had said she would ‘keep my secret’ and that any discussion of it ‘would kill her father’ I figured it would remain so. But once you start telling people, you lose control of the narrative.
We were talking about it because I wanted to tell the children. She doesn’t want me to. Wants me to wait a few more months. At least that is better than waiting until they are legally adult.
“Have you thought about how to tell them?”
“Yes, I’ve spoken to my therapist about it.”
“All of them.”
“I want you to wait.”
“I don’t like lying to them.”
“You should read up on how to tell them.”
“Sure, but I think the most important thing is to be truthful to them.”
“I’d like us to do it together.”
“I’m not comfortable with that. Especially since you are not happy with it, have said some very hurtful things.”
“I told you I was going to lash out at you.”
“I don’t think that its healthy for the children to equate me being trans with us getting divorced. It may be your reason, but that puts it in a negative light.”
“Promise me you won’t tell them now.”
“No, I won’t do that. I’ll tell them when it feels right.” I just worry that she will tell them first, or that she will find out, now that she has told people that are the parents of friends of theirs. And what is she talking about that I don’t need friends? Now, more than ever.
We talked about being transgender.
“I think you’re gay, you should look into that.”
“It would be convenient for you. Convenient for everyone. Funny how being gay is so much easier.”
“I don’t like guys. I don’t like men. I don’t like male energy. I’m not attracted to men, not physically, not mentally, not emotionally.” I realised recently that in order for me to accept my own masculinity, that I needed to embrace my femininity. This is the path towards feeling whole.
“You’re going to go through puberty again. You’re going to be moody. An emotional wreck. You will discover that being a woman isn’t that great.” She’s a member of a secret facebook group that offers the opportunity for spouses to vent and express in a safe place. It seems that there is a lot of trans hate in that group.
“It’s the mental changes that I look most forward to.”
“Do you have a doctor?”
“Not yet, it’s expensive. I tried to sign up on the NHS, but there is a 4.5 year waiting list just to get a first appointment. There are more than 160,000 people waiting. But yes, I will have to go private. There are doctors.”
“Are you going to do it all the way?”
“I don’t know what I am going to do. I am non-binary. In England, the NHS won’t take you unless you say that you are committed to a full transition. But with a lifetime of testosterone coursing through my body, what does ‘full transition’ even mean? I will only ever be somewhere in-between.”
“You are such a gorgeous man.”
“I think I will only look better.”
“I could like it when it was being like David Bowie, but this is too far.”
“I don’t want to see you in a dress.”
“I choose clothes because I think they look good on me. I am still getting used to which ones do, but I don’t choose things that look wrong.”
“To you. But to me, it will all look wrong.” In the end, we had to stop talking as she found it too much and ended up crying.
I asked her what her brother thought.
“He’s just worried about your safety.” This echoed something she had already said to me.
“So is one of my therapists. She is worried about a particular kind of “conservative white man” who is prone to violence against marginal people.”
“I just worry that someone will spike your drink.” I thought how this was just a reflection of her own fears. She, like so many people, think that we are trans because we are sexual deviants, that we do this to get some kind of kinky thrill out of it. It is this kind of thinking that leads to the debates around bathroom use, to the debates around trans people in sports. This kind of thinking is a form of bigotry.
“Why would someone spike my drink?”
“Because they want to take advantage of you.”
“But I’d have to be in a bar with strangers for that to happen. I don’t go to bars now. I never have. What makes you think I am going to go to bars now, or adopt risky sexual behaviours?” What kind of weird shit is going through her mind? Its funny. I receive a lot of beautiful energy from the women I interact with. The only thing I have noticed is that which women are sending it has changed since I have been out.
I have no fear about dating and finding people. Up until now I have been politely declining. But I know that not all women are rigid in their desire to be with an alpha male, that not all women define their femininity in opposition to a man, that not all women are hung up on what “it looks like” or have so much shame. I also know that I meet way more women since I have been out than I did before—and that is because they are both curious but also a non-binary man is much less threatening—they can see my gentleness all over me, not just wonder whether it is there.
I asked her if she wanted the house I bought with money from my inheritance on my mother’s death.
“I can’t afford it; it needs work.”
“You could afford it if you get a job.” Well, wouldn’t that be something.
“You will have to get a lawyer and your lawyer can talk to my lawyer. I can’t talk to you about this stuff.”
“That’s going to be expensive.”
“I know,” and she is thinking that I have to pay for her legal fees too. But even in a world of a 50:50 split of assets, anything I spend on her lawyers is coming from money that she would get. I would like to think that we could be reasonable, fair. But I sense that when she says, “don’t worry, I will be fair,” she doesn’t mean that at all.
“You will find somebody,” I said, “you’re still a gorgeous woman.”
“I can’t do dating apps.”
“Me neither. I hear about the most horrific dates from S and T, it sounds horrible.”
“That’s not me.”
And yet, I don’t feel in the slightest that I will not find a partner. Even in a dress I am finding women putting out positive energy to me. Sure, I understand that most will look at me as a threat. My wife was originally attracted to me in part because I am not traditionally male. I have spent a lifetime killing male toxicity in me, and I wear it on my shirtsleeves. Now, quite literally. And though perhaps small in number, there are some who will respond to that.
“It isn’t fair of you to say to me that this was pre-meditated. That I was wearing a mask. I told you when we first started dating.”
“You also told me when we first started dating that if I wasn’t going to marry you, then to not waste your time.”
“I was looking for a partner, not something casual.”
“I think you used me to have children.” She has said this before, and it makes me sad that she feels this way. The most beautiful thing in my life ever has been the existence of my children. And now, to see what fine people they have become.
“Of course not.”
“Well, maybe you didn’t know it consciously,” she said, “but I still think it was deliberate.”
“How could I be deliberate about something I didn’t know about?”
“I just feel used.”
Despite the heavy nature of this conversation, it is easier to be in the family home now. It doesn’t feel so bad. She has indicated to me which ‘friends’ of our mutual friendships can be mine. What an odd thought. I don’t think of it that way. If they want to be my friends, they will.
“I’d like to tell my friends in person. I’d rather they hear it from me, than from someone else.”
“Have you told your family yet?”
“No, but I have decided to go with the difficult ones first.”
“D. will be thrilled.”
“Probably. But other than inform, I don’t want to get into it with him.”
“Well, you don’t interact with him much anyway.”
Let the untangling process begin.
In the meantime, I have reached a new level of conversation with my two main therapists. With the hypno-therapist, bless her, we are working so much on the future, and on inhabiting a state of Grace…what that means, what it takes, what the obstacles are. And with my main talk therapist, it is about navigating the obstacles and challenges that lie before me. I am ready a poignant book written by the mother of a transgender child. It is amazing how much it speaks to me. I will review it when I am done.
Somehow, the turbulent waters which lie ahead are a source of calm to me.