The re-introduction of shame into my life
“Are we ever going to talk?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said, as easy as pie. And sure enough, that evening, the last evening we would be together for who knows how long, we went for a walk together, having carved out an hour between other engagements. Funnily enough, as absurd as it sounds when talking about something as serious as separation, an hour proved more than enough.
“You asked to talk,” she said as we set off from home up the street towards the park.
“Well, it seems kind of important. It’s kind of hard to be together in the same house, in front of the kids, and to not engage with one another at all. To know what you want, where you think things are going, where they are.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
“All this anger because I’m trans?”
“It’s shaken my world.”
“You told me you that you had done your part as a man once I had gotten pregnant.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did. You wrote it to me.”
“What I wrote was that there was no longer any reason for me to remain a biological male. That’s very different.” She didn’t say anything, we walked on.
“You know, a long time ago, way back when I told you about me being trans when we first dating, you said to me, ‘I’m not going to party to a secret. If you want to wear women’s clothes, then wear women’s clothes, but don’t be sneaky about it. That’s my condition. If you want to be out, then be out, but don’t draw me into some thing that you want to hide from others’.” I continued, “well, I’m ready now. I don’t feel the need to hide anymore. It was scary back then, but now I’m not bothered by it. I would be happy to tell anyone. Some people I might like to talk about it much with, because it’s none of their business, but I don’t care anymore.”
A block later she stopped, turned, and told me, “I don’t care about the gender stuff.” What?! This is what this whole thing is about. Never mind all the things she has said to me and written to me about it up to this point. I was thinking how she had said to me once that she wasn’t a transphobe, that she didn’t want me to hate for that too. At the time I had said, “I don’t hate you. What makes you think I hate you?” But her feeling stuck with me. Was she now rationalizing her way to separation for other reasons?
She went back over what she felt were my lies. My desire to live apart for the past year not motivated by work but by a desire to cultivate a transgender life. My desire to invest in a way that was outside of our life together. My refusal to come home. My not wanting her to come visit me. These were her words.
“You might not have known it, but you are premeditated,” she said. Is this a way of accusing without accusing? “You meant to keep me out. You manipulated me. You are a narcissist.” There we go.
“I asked my therapist about that. Actually I asked all four of them.”
“What did they say?”
“Well, none of them think I’m a narcissist.”
“No wonder you like them.”
“One of them said I was the opposite. For her, my problem is boundaries. My boundaries. That I am unable to assert my autonomy. That I take in too much of other people’s issues, strife, expectations.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Why are you only telling me this now after 25 years together?” I asked. We walked a bit further.
“I’m going to need to bone up on all of this new-fangled self-help terminology.”
“I think you’re a homosexual,” she said. “I think you should look into that.”
“Well it would be a lot easier,” I said. “Even the LGBQ community doesn’t like trans people. They want the ‘T’ out.”
“You used to have a butt plug. You like that sort of thing.”
“I really don’t think I’m gay.”
“Straight men don’t have a butt-plug. Do you still have one?”
“Yes,” I said, my mind immediately drawn to the wry smile on Mistress’s face the one time she fisted me.
“But I’m not attracted to men. I think men are ugly. And I don’t like men.”
“Well, if you were a lesbian, you should have been all over me. I was hot.”
“You’re still beautiful.”
“Any lesbian would have worshiped my body. You barely touched me.” I thought back to the small number of women I had dated where body worship was very much a part of our sex life.
“Not at the beginning. We had fun then. I only withdrew when I knew that my sexuality disgusted you.”
“I never said that.”
“You did. You said it again in so many words this summer.”
“I wouldn’t use those words.”
“How could I be with someone, touch someone, when knowing that you were negating me…that to be with you in a sensual way was to be someone who wasn’t me. I stopped enjoying it.”
“It’s like you telling me you want to wear diapers. That wearing diapers is who you are,” she said quite loudly as some people walked by. Then she said it again just as they were abreast. I think this was a shot across the bow as she looked at them as she said it to me.
“I still enjoy it. What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s a fetish.”
“I’m vanilla. You knew that. Why did you marry me?”
“Because I loved you.”
“And have denied me sex for all these years. I don’t know if I’m ever going to recover.”
“What do you think it feels like for me? To know that the person you love and have committed to doesn’t accept some of the most fundamental parts of who you are?”
“You shouldn’t have married me.”
“I told you all about me and these things before we got married. I wasn’t going to deceive you. And I didn’t know then that you weren’t going to accept any of this. Heck, we tried kinky things.”
“We tried for 5 years to get pregnant, but I didn’t because you wouldn’t have enough sex with me.”
“It’s hard to have sex with someone when you know that what they want to be with is not who you are—even more so when it’s out in the open.”
I think back about those times. Particularly at the beginning of the relationship, when jumping into bed together was fun and playful and exploratory. The things we do for love. But over time, in order to be together in a conjugal way, I had to stop being present. To not be me. And I think about how much I struggle with presence, and how trying to be present is buried under so much social and emotional conditioning, and why working with a therapist and a dominatrix has been so healthy for me. Letting go of shame is what it takes to be present. At least in part.
I also thought about this idea of boundaries and how my therapist told me that I was not good at asserting my boundaries. As it happens, my first therapist—the one that I had to let go—said this to me the first time we talked, on my intake interview. That she could see that my aura was torn in places, and that I needed to heal it and create a protective bubble around me. She was quite special—she had incredible perception, and she was also a specialist in sexual trauma. I really appreciated her insights, but she was a little too unreliable on many levels to be there for me.
I can remember back to those early days of our marriage and talking about being transgender and being kinky. And I remember feeling that I was wrong to feel and want these things—wrong in the eyes of society. I knew and felt I could not do anything about it, that I was born this way, that I had already devoted years of therapy to it and had learned that it was an inextricable part of me. Almost as if in apology, I have cultivated a gentleness in my approach to sexuality and human contact…to not ask for things. And when I think of how I approached a dominatrix for the first time, how this thread was so tightly woven into the approach—to this person, the dominatrix, who could absolve me of this “sin” of kink, who could be with me and not judge me. Perhaps any dominatrix could have done that, but the one I saw was so utterly cleansing to my soul in this regard—for the first time in my life I did not feel disgusted by myself. I found myself before someone who I admired, was deeply attracted to on so many levels, interested in, found respect for, and here she was not flinching, blinking, but just accepting, even encouraging, letting me come out of my own shell at the pace that I could handle—a bit like a turtle sticking its neck out.
And I think back about that time when my wife and I were first talking about this and I remember thinking, if we ever argue, if we ever split up, nobody would ever see my side. Nobody would ever think I could possibly be in the right, because to be like me, to be kinky, to be transgender, well, nobody could accept that. And this guilt that I felt, and yes, it was and is guilt, that I did not, would not, could not, lie with her, just got bigger and bigger and bigger.
And when my therapist was saying to me that I am unable to hold my own space, this is what she meant. That I have taken on the judgement of my wife, of society, and decided that I am at fault, that my sexuality is indeed disgusting.
We continued to talk as we walked. She described how she felt I had stolen from her by taking money from a property we had sold and buying another one without involving her. I did tell her I was going to do it, but it is true that I knew she would say ‘no’, and I told her that I was going to do it anyway. Why? Because I felt that all of the major investment decisions we have made, including where we live, have been to satisfy her long-term desires, and that I was tired of it. I said, “how can it be stealing when all of the money that we live on, that we spend, that supports us, all of it, comes from me? How can I be stealing if I continue to support you? To support our kids? What about the debts? The loans I took out to cover our living costs during Covid when I had no job? Was that stealing too?”
“And it was really awful of you to tell me to exercise more. It’s my own body.”
“I just think that exercise is a great way to reduce stress.”
“All my back pain is coming from you.”
“My runny nose comes from crying inside.”
“Really? Where did you learn that?”
As we walked home I said, “I feel like you are reviewing all these things that we’ve done, or that I’ve done, and looking at them in a new and unpleasant way. People always see what they want to see. You don’t want to say that me being trans is hateful to you, so you’re looking at all these other ways to turn me into a villain.”
“We each have our truth.”
And so there you have it. Yes we do.
And today, both she and my children have gone—back to school, leaving me alone in the house. My back and body are killing me. The energy in the home needs to be cleansed. I am lost inside these problems, set back years. Shame has moved back in. I’m ready for a really big cry.
When I was young, I wouldn’t have been able to handle this. Today, I can. It’s time to move on and to do so with people who don’t judge.
Don’t give up on your wife yet. I think that with some time she may be able to accept this part of you and I do understand that she knew of it before, but that she did not see you that way only as a husband, a father, a provider. I can understand her being scared of this truth as I can understand my wife being scared if I told her of my dreams and desires, my true feelings of my gender and sexuality. I know that she would not understand or accept and would be angry at me as your wife is at the moment. But I also hope that the love we have shared for many years would calm her and that I could show her that I still love her and don’t want to lose her, lose us. I just need to also be different from who I have been.
I love the fact that you have known that you were transgender for so long and I wish you all the best in your journey and your marriage. I understand deeply the desire to have people just accept you for you, no matter your lifestyle. Take care and I look forward to your next post.
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Thanks for engaging. I won’t give up on her. She is always going to be the mother of our children. She is still an attractive woman, she is still someone I love and have loved. I pray that she can let go of how hurt she feels and recognise that I am still me. The same me. Just not wanting to hide anymore.
I have known since I was conscious that I was like this…it used to mean that I wanted to be a girl. Now I realise I can’t and have settled into non-binary…but in a way, this is a truer path for me…as I have engaged with people without artifice the acceptance and joy that have come back have been overpowering. It is like having a lightning rod of good fortune. The things we manifest, the things we believe, are the things that materialise. I know this, and I believe it. I can’t dictate anyone else, just myself.
Be good. When I first met my wife I told her because I didn’t want her to waste her time with me if she wasn’t going to want to marry me knowing that I was kinky and trans…and I did it clean–I didn’t try to manipulate her into it. And she set the bar very high, but I felt okay with that. She said, “I don’t want to be party to a secret. If you want to dress this way, then dress this way, and don’t hide.” Now that I do, the goal posts have moved. I guess for her it is shameful now. She would be “humiliated” to be married to a husband who is trans. I don’t see that going away…so perhaps this is a chance for both of us to find what we need.
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i wish You peace and harmony and i know you will find both
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I’m working on it…but I’ve got a very good support crew…so I will get there. Just a little tense in the meantime.
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