I just returned from a short vacation. The first vacation I’ve taken since I went on medical leave last fall to have SRS on November 9th and from which I return to part time work at the beginning of 2016 and full time work only at the start of March. I truly struggled with what to do with vacation. It was difficult while I was part of a couple, but much harder single.
I fell into sort of default mode and invited my too be ex to come along and we had a surprisingly nice time in Newport, RI. We had intended for years to return. The last time was around thirty years ago. This visit included one of the mansions (Chateau sur mer) and the topiary garden and last the Truro Synagogue. We had some good and not so good meals together, chatted and walked around a good deal including part of the cliff walk.
This is all by way of a lengthy introduction to the topic. There is an external view of trans people (and I suspect but can’t comment on a similar view of gay men and lesbians) and we just knew exactly who we were and somehow intentionally perpetrated a falsehood on our families, relatives, friends and spouses. There surely was intent to eventually spring it on all these unsuspecting souls at some point as a colossal gotcha, or as one of my favorite TV characters would say Bazinga!
These days there is thankfully much less conformance pressure on LGBT youth, but there is far from none, go back 40 years to when I was a young adult and being a homosexual was extremely difficult and being a transsexual was just about impossible. On the stick side that was a very big stick indeed. The very real threats of losing your job, friends, family – oh, right those are still there and regularly happen.
They were much worse then, so imagine that if they are much much better how much worse they were. If you stayed on a job you’d be constantly harassed. While there are states with substantial legal protections those just didn’t exist.
There is then the desire we all tend to have to want to be normal, and that dear friends is the carrot. It pulls us into activities we feel will make us normal. For one person it’s taking on a hyper masculine profession like being in the military, truck driver, or just being into tough hobbies like body building and hot rodding, being the most obnoxious possible boy with the comments to women. All this to shove that girl inside down and keep her from showing.
Yet for some people like me it’s just trying to be a chameleon, taking on the foreign coloring of who we were supposed to be and playing the part. We played that part well, learning the lines and after a while the distinction blurred and who we were and who we pretended to be became one person the world saw and we saw him too.
I had my moments over the years, I had things I did where the cracks showed, but I plastered them over and carried on.
When my wife asked whether our marriage was genuine it wasn’t a lie to say it was, anymore than it was a lie that I had tried to be the best possible father to my daughter. I had entered into that contract fully expecting to be able to do my part. I had expected what I saw as an obsession to then “go away” because it was impossible. I saw that obsession as illogical and unnecessary and did not see why I couldn’t just live my life as I was. I was wrong, but that’s what I thought.
Now that it has been a bit more than four years since I came out, she and I are in a good place. Friends but not married even if the papers haven’t been drawn up and signed. We have both grown. We have both changed enormously.
I saw over the weekend why I can’t spend lots of time with her or vice versus, even though it pains me. I fall back on old habits. I feel awkward speaking as I really need to in the pitch I need to in the cadence I need to. I fall into roles that no longer belong to me. She also inhabits what is no longer hers. It is for love we can visit, but we cannot stay.