It wasn’t easy

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.

–Cara Elizabeth.

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4 thoughts on “It wasn’t easy

  1. Liz, compared to what you must be going through, my transition had none of what you are facing. Yet, I do hear you, period. That does not mean I empathize with your feelings nor do I sympathize with them. I have enough of which to to deal about my own feelings to become involved with anyone else’s. In fact it is none of my business what others think or feel because not only do I have no control about what they think or feel, it has nothing at all to do with me and everything to do with them. Admittedly, this is an enlightened state of being and yet as much as anyone may say about that statement, it was not easy for me either to reach this state of being. That also means that if anyone wants to say I had it easy, more power to them. As I said, it has nothing to do with me! Namaste!

    • Thanks, Deanna. I always love hearing from you. 🙂

      I’m mostly through the hard parts in my own life but what bugs me is people who don’t know me choosing to dismiss me because I had it “easy”. My point is simply that they don’t know me, haven’t walked in my shoes, so shouldn’t presume to tell me I had it easy or not.

      One of those who complains has actually admitted she prefers not transitioning and being angry about it all. Another seems to enjoy wallowing in her situation, refuses to take any advice, and then gets upset when no one can help her.

      The key that lots of us have tried to relay to these particular women is exactly what you already know (and have proved!!) – go out and do it! Be yourself. You (and now me) are becoming proof that listening to our heart and then acting on it is a thousand times better than intellectual tail chasing about how “real” we are.

  2. Liz, thanks for your appreciation for what I have to say or how I may say it. As I always remark of my own tragic history, it’s over, thank Goddess. I have stopped following many of the blogs, yours not being one of them, that either dwell on the negative or speak to how unfair everything is. That is fast becoming true for me on FB, not the least being my own housemate, especially with what she posts there about how the world sucks. I just don’t have time for any of that.

  3. *
    My being inter-sexed was a far easier path than your vanilla-type sex change. It was as if I was partly at my destination before I started my journey. My crazy hormones and receptor sites meant that I experienced minimal male puberty that began late. I started estrogen HRT not long after my delayed puberty began which facilitated my feminisation. According to my latest endocrinology report this week, my endogenous testosterone levels are less than for normal female while my estrogen levels are average for normal female. If not already, Cara, these numbers will also be your numbers soon enough.

    I never needed facial surgery (I started with ambiguous facial features), thyroid shaving (I had no Adam’s apple), body electrolysis (my male body hair pattern feminised – I have not shaved anywhere the past 30 years), Bosley plugs (I never experienced male-pattern hair loss), voice lessons (people on the telephone called me ‘Miss’ until I told my male name to them).

    People can not believe I am the same person when I show pictures of my ‘before’ versus now. Of course, I have been on ERT since 1979 and have feminised quite well all these years. My first endocrinologist was so amazed with my changes during the first year that he remarked that my body transformed to the female body I was meant to have had I been born fully female.

    This is where I empathise when you wrote losing all your years since age 29. I can’t imagine myself if I had lost a decade beginning my transition – let alone any additional years as you did. My first sex change medical appointment was 1978 (age 21); my first estrogen (Norinyl) began the next year when I was still age 22.

    Until my operations (1982 and 1983), the only prior hospitalisation I experienced was a tonsillectomy when I was 10 years old. That was actually a pleasant experience because I had it before school Christmas vacation (I was off school for a month – aw, I won’t sugar-coat it – I still had to do school-work at home), I enjoyed all the ice cream, I did not have to talk, and I spent a lot of my time drawing (I am artistic).with a color pencil set I got as a get well gift.

    Reading from what you wrote it appears as you were that M-F model who tries to be the super male to shake off your femalehood. You learned that it does not work that way. Getting married, having children, man-of-the-house bread-winner, sports dad; that did not make you a failure, it made you educated. You fought against your female self rather than embracing your female self because you held some idea that you were obligated to do that. I care that you made the effort to build your family. I care that you are here and posting your story for others to read and find positive inspiration. I am glad for you that you persevered above your family who rejects you; I am enthused to read that you have a daughter who loves you and remains with you. You are a valued human. I know you only through your blog yet I feel well to honour you with my unconditional respect.

    I feel sad for you that you had to experience an awfull marriage and in-laws. I never married, but your narrative reminded me of work and how I went from being a respected male to a disregarded female following my transition. It was that old adage of losing 100 points off the IQ scale for changing from male to female. Where I worked as a male, I was the only male who gave respect and deference to higher-grade and more-experienced female managers; the other males treated them like dirt and the women hardly perceived it or said nothing because they reallised it was pointless. As a female at a later job, I held a very respectable, singular fiscal position in state government responsible for budgeting and balancing billions of Dollars yet my male co-workers stole my work as theirs for our meetings, I was rarely provided the opportunity to speak at meetings, and I was the one who was obligated to take time from my tasks to prepare and bring refreshments to all the meetings and clean up their mess when our meetings concluded.

    I won’t compare family life. Different but similar. Yours was bad; mine was bad. Allow me to write that I am sorry to read how your son is abusive toward you. Never married, I can only write that I have read so many cases of others whose spouse misbehaved as yours. No family should be that way. My family wanted me dead. I had an uncle who had been in transition during the 1950s / 1960s. (S)he came to visit from out of town; my dad had her (him) arrested. A few years later (s)he and her (his) wife were murdered in a manner to appear as double suicide. Death was the threat over my head growing up if I ‘protested’ too much. Both parents are now deceased; my sister stole my portion of the inheritance from both parents and she acts as if I owe her.

    I have been trying to re-connect with a cousin; we grew up as pen-pals. I visited with her (1983) mere weeks before my final operation. I last saw her when she invited me to her wedding (1984). A couple years later she began sending anti-LGBT brochures to me – that I was sinning by changing from male to female. I took no personal offence – I doubt she had any idea about my intimate sex anatomy to realise that I was born inter-sexed female and already had my corrective operations. My appearance at her wedding was bizarre to me because I had been transitioned to Sharon in all but my work life; but I certainly could not suddenly appear as Sharon. I think of when she looked in my eyes she saw my male persona while my eyes of Sharon were peering back at her.

    I found this cousin a month ago via an Internet search. It is her. A bio page at her workplace identifies all the same dates and places and history as my cousin; her web-site picture is a near-match of her mom. Someone posted to me that I am mistaken. If so, then it is a wild one-in-seven-billion co-incidence that someone with the exact same full name and exact same biography is actually someone else. I fear in her ignorance she wants nothing to do with me. I will live with that and pray she sees enlightenment.

    I see your picture here at your web-site and want to repeat that you do look very feminine. Unless it is my own perspective, I can’t imagine anyone mistaking you for male; you ARE female. Say good-bye to the ‘before’ you.

    I will continue reading through your blog, Cara, and empathise for you. I can’t imagine all the complications you have been, and will be, experiencing.

    So to you, Cara, and to all the others who walk your difficult road, I am humbled.
    *

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