Some time ago when I was starting the process, but before I started transitioning, our daughter was living with us. She and I, who used to get along rather well got along rather poorly. She told her mother that I was basically not the same person and when I heard that I was so damaged as to think it a good thing.
I was in terribly rough shape in those days. The first six months after coming out I was barely functional, just getting on antidepressants and just taking that first few steps of finding what I needed to do. Imagine that I thought after a year I was ok. It seems hilarious now. Like a farce.
All the time she was growing up and that time she was home we always ate dinner at the table properly. A friend was staying with us as well. We would often be entertained by our daughter lecturing us on what ought to be done, truly a luxury reserved for the young when everything is known and only one answer is correct. Idiot that I was I would attempt to engage.
What was bad was that on occasion I’d be talking to her, and she’d say stop yelling at me and I’d be entirely confused and not understand because I hadn’t raised my voice. She’d go off and I’d be unhappy and there you go, two unhappy people for the price of one misunderstanding.
Just the other day I had the misfortune to be getting a talking too by someone with some authority over me (not something that happens all that often) but I was in bad shape afterward because of what was said. As I considered it I realized that he hadn’t actually raised his voice (although it felt that way) but the words themselves were like a bludgeon, a blunt object, and there was so much promise of consequence both stated and left unstated that it was quite overwhelming.
And then I thought, “Could that be what it felt like for her?”
And then I realized, it happened many times, not just once.
I was her parent, and she needed support, but that’s not what she got.
So I wrote her, and told her that I feel horrible but know I can’t fix it. Going through that made it clear that apologies can’t really fix things like that. Empathy can make it better and everyone needs to be understood.
I haven’t heard back yet. Here’s hoping that it helps her, for that one issue, to not be anchored in the past.