I’m a bit angry tonight. Over at another forum where I am a moderator, people tell me that I don’t understand their pain, that I had it “easy”, that their situation is “different”. Bullshit. Let me explain a little bit of what I went through in reaching the point where I had to transition and what happened afterwards.
My wife never respected me for years and years, until 2009 when I outmaneuvered the stock market the prior two years and avoided the big crash because I had been paying attention. That was 32 years of marriage where my opinions were always treated dismissively. She wouldn’t have cared about that either, except when her father discovered what I’d done and in his eyes suddenly I went from that annoying son-in-law to some financial intellectual heavyweight whose opinion now mattered, because where he had lost large sums of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, I had increased my 401K pool by 25% by placing my bets smartly right before the big Lehman crash. Suddenly my opinion finally mattered to him and therefore finally mattered to my spouse.
Of course, a few years later I came out as trans and that was the end of that brief period of respect.
Through all the other years of marriage, I convinced myself that my spouse loved me, etc. Once I came out though, the gloves came off. I was nothing more than “a penis and a paycheck”. I already knew she’d had affairs because we had intimacy issues (because of me – I fully take the blame for that) and I caught her in at least one affair (and suspect others), but she only stayed with me to keep up appearances to her parents. If it weren’t for them, I’m sure that she’d have left years ago. And I found myself almost wishing she had. Because the first affair that I discovered was the year I went from 29 to 30, a long time ago in my life. And if she had left, I would have transitioned then, I think, or shortly thereafter.
A great deal of my first year of therapy was with dealing with my sense of rejection, of my sense of worthlessness, and coming to understand myself, to love myself unconditionally, to realize that I do deserve to be happy, not miserable, and that I should not stay in a relationship that was ultimately abusive and destructive of me as a human being.
I would be divorcing her right now anyway even if I had not chosen to transition. I’ve learned too much. There’s too much water under the bridge. Her real feelings for me have been revealed though she later tried to walk her original statements back. But you can’t take back what you say. The best you can do is apologize and try to prove you’ve changed. But she hasn’t changed. We’ve had discussions that prove that. I’m still an embarrassment. She still wants nothing really to do with me.
None of us who transition had necessarily easy roads. When people say to me “Oh you just decided and did it!” that’s not at all true! I agonized over this for years and years. I fought it for decades. And do you know what? My own fighting this was stupid. My own fighting this was dumb. It was one of the worst things I ever did to myself. And I definitely did it to myself. Nobody else did. I convinced myself to be miserable for everyone else’s sake and when I couldn’t take it anymore, after 35 years of marriage and came out to my spouse and my adult children, I suddenly discovered that all the sacrifices I had made were stupid and nobody cared. Nobody. My eldest son flatly told me that I should have gone ahead and killed myself because “that would have been easier on the rest of us.”
Look at that statement. My son told me to go die because it would be convenient for him. His wife, upon hearing me coming out, was reported to have said “My god, what will the neighbors think?” That’s all she cared about. Not one bit about me as a human being. Nothing about the years I had worked, that I had put my son through college, that I had spent hours and hours playing with him as a child, coaching him youth sports, that I had helped him get his first job after college, that I had helped keep him and his family financially afloat for a year when he was laid off from another position… none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was an “embarrassment” who should have killed myself because “that would have been easier on the rest of us.”
I get upset when I see people saying it was “easy” for me. They haven’t walked in my shoes. There’s a certain transwoman who seems to love to wallow in her misery and thinks I had it easy. They (and she specifically) haven’t experienced my losses… because I don’t whine about them on that forum the way some of them do. I work through them with my friends, my therapist, and those who’ve come to be close to me.
So when I tell people they can do this, through all the pain, through all the loss, and that they can come out the other side happier, healthier and more in control of their own lives, I have a real basis from which to speak. It’s not frivolous. I’ve been through it. I’ve cried myself to sleep for two solid months over a marriage ending that intellectually I knew was a worthless dead marriage but that my heart was still broken over seeing it die.
The greatest regret of old people as they approach death is almost universally regretting what they failed to do, rather than what they actually did. I do not regret my decision to transition. I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’ve gained real friends who love me no matter what. Friends who’ve been there every step of the way and who’ve picked me up and carried me when I needed it. And those friends are who I consider to be my “real” family now – not blood, but love defines my real family, my soul sisters (and my daughter – my only adult child who has accepted me and supported me).
So to those who say I don’t understand their years of intellectual agonizing over the decision to face ourselves, I do. To those who think that I had it easy, I did not. To those who are agonizing over this for months or years now, I agonized over it for years and decades. And when I tell you to stop chasing your intellectual tail, it’s because I had to stop chasing my own intellectual tail too! When I tell you that there is life, and love, and hope after a marriage dies, it’s because I had to face that too and I found those things also.
So don’t tell me I had it easy and just dismiss my opinion. You don’t know me. And maybe if you did, you’d realize the advice I gave you was not “easy” advice at all, but given because I care and don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I made for as long as I made them.