Some weeks ago [not posted then as I have been completely offline] my wife and I converged on the family home (more by accident than design). It is amazing that things can become “weird” or estranged or strained between two people who have lived and loved together for more than two decades. Especially with no bad acts.
There’s the rub. I can’t help but feel quite disappointed in my wife that she has abandoned me as a friend. But as she said, “I’m not going to be your coach,” in reference to my transition. She doesn’t want to know anything about it. “Out of sight, out of mind,” just it has been throughout our marriage. It does amaze me that the human mind can play such a trick—to just keep something swept under the carpet as sufficient to no longer accept its existence.
“Oh, you’re still kinky?” she asked at one point.
Whilst she had uttered and repeated the word “separation”, I was cherishing the idea that she might change her mind. I was hoping that my wife would soften her position, would come around. That separation might be transformed into something else, perhaps an open marriage. I wanted to see if we couldn’t figure out a way to keep things together—divorce is expensive and inconvenient, and it will be disruptive to our lives, to the children’s lives. And after all, she was my best friend.
I asked her if she had changed her mind.
“No,” she said, “I want a divorce.”
“A divorce? I thought you just wanted to get separated.”
“I told you before I wanted a divorce,” she said. She had not.
“I didn’t know that.”
“You’d better get a lawyer.”
“Do I really need one?”
“Can’t we just talk things through like adults? I mean the law is pretty clear on what happens. Can’t we just work it out that way?”
“No. You get a lawyer. Your lawyer can talk to my lawyer. It will be much simpler that way.”
“And more expensive.”
“I can’t talk to you about this,” she said. And with that she disappeared.
The gaslighting continues
I don’t know why she feels compelled to tell me now that we are not getting divorced because I am trans. She hasn’t offered a different reason. She has said to me that I am no longer the same person. But I am. The same person she fell in love with and who she had fun with. I don’t get this.
Did her lawyer tell her to change her line? As far as I understand it, she is asking for a no-fault divorce. But to go from one day to the next and say that me being trans has ruined her sense of self to saying “I don’t care about the trans thing at all,” just seems weird, dishonest, and only explainable because maybe her lawyer has told her to cut it out.
I have been served divorce papers [I will post on that shortly, as it was quite the experience—the only time in my life where I felt like a Russian oligarch]…and since they can only be approved by her, I am sure their nastiness comes from one place…and how can she write those things and then smile at me in the house as if nothing is going on, and ask me sweet and innocent questions about what I am going through…
“And why did you tell the kids you are trans? I thought we were going to tell them together.” She was worried that me being trans would upset them—seeing the world through her own lenses. The truth was that I didn’t want to sit there and listen to her either be untruthful or hurtful or feel compelled to defend myself. The kids were great and continue to be. It seems to have brough us closer.
90% of the time my wife won’t speak to me at all. We pass each other like strangers in our house. When we are not together, no messages pass between us…there is no longer any communication. For the remaining 10%, there are just barbs. Not sure if she even knows it. But hey, I didn’t do anything to deserve it. A sample, coming home after being away for a few weeks:
“You’re not wearing a dress. I was all prepared to see you in a dress.”
“I thought you always travelled in women’s clothes.”
“I do.” I had changed before getting home as I didn’t want to be judged. Why should “getting prepared for” actually even be a thing?
“I went to my first Pride Event [NY],” I say.
“No, you’ve been to one before, in X,” she says, referring to a street party we went to over 20 years ago.
“Oh, I thought that was something else.”
“I don’t look bad you know. Dressed.” Met with a blank stare. “I get lot’s of positive feedback.”
“Why are you so insecure? You never used to be that way.”
“I’m not insecure, I’m just telling you that even if you don’t like what you imagine I would look like, other people don’t feel that way.”
“Why do you need people to validate you?”
“I never knew you to be so needy that way.”
“Well, I guess I am then.” But I was thinking, I’m taking hormones, my mind is all over the place. I am finding my style. I am wearing clothes that put me in the crosshairs of social judgement. So, yes, it is incredibly validating and appreciated when someone makes the effort to say something nice to me.
There is a similar rundown on some of the food and drink that is now in the fridge. I am going vegan. Little by little, there is a natural process taking place, which is bringing on big changes in my diet. Putting collagen in my coffee. Never mind that she has more products in her bathroom, including a small refrigerator for special creams.
“Collagen?” she asks.
“Yes. It’s good for you.”
“Very good for your skin.” It is as if she doesn’t know, but she does, she is very knowledgeable on this.
“I never knew you were so vain.” And I am thinking, are you serious? Look at your bathroom! Look at all the various potions and lotions in the kitchen, in the cabinets, that you take collagen every day, that you have a basket full of supplements on the sideboard next to the breakfast table. Such judgement, such offense at things which she clearly has staked out for her own sense of self. Is vanity only for you?
Now I just feel sorry for her and don’t really want to talk to her at all. But her judgemental nature is only hurting her. And with every passing day I feel a weight lifting from me, and the more beleagured I get, the more I am judged or people tell me I can’t express myself this way, the more radically I want to come out. And so, little by little, I am telling everyone…and each person I tell, the better and more natural it feels.
I love your writing style. I love how you described the pain at your wife’s aloof and rude treatment, it touched a chord in my heart. A couple of friends and I run a magazine called ‘PlusAndMinus’, we write about various social issues and such. I’m the editor. If you’re interested in writing a piece for us, write to email@example.com.
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That’s sweet, thank you, I appreciate that. I would be honoured to write something for you. I will drop a note on the email.
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This all sounds very hard, my friend. I am very sorry that your best friend has abandoned you on this journey. Shame on her for not being able to come to terms with this. But you are so strong! And… you will be fine without her. You are an amazing person, your kids love and respect you, and you have a strong sense of self. I believe in you, beautiful! XOXO
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Thank you so much. Your voice is always such a treat. Yes, it is disappointing, and her behaviour is just so petty and mean…and she is litigating our marriage with mutual friends, with our kids…it is getting ugly unfortunately…raiding bank accounts…in the end, I believe in karma…
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I imagine it will take a very long time, if ever, for her to see how badly she acted in all of this. She feels so wounded, she can’t see past anything but her own pain (and her perceived embarrassment). I am sorry that you had to lose your best friend (and probably some of your mutual friends) in order to be yourself. But I am happy that you get to be YOU now. I feel very proud of you, beautiful ❤
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Thank you Nora…you are so perceptive. And I hope you are well and that Daddy is well…I have been too disconnected. I don’t expect my wife to ever come around. I feel sorry for her, because to behave in the way she is is to be consumed by ugliness and that is not healthy. It is much worse than I have written about, and over time I may share this. I don’t really understand it, that so much hate and nastiness can come not from anything I did, but for who I am, especially since this is not news. I have set a goal with one of my therapists to role model for my children how to behave with grace in such a situation…and what I can say is that friends, family, my children, have all been so wonderful.
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