I can still recall the image in the mirror of my thirteen year old self. I despised that reflection. I had buck teeth, caveman eyebrows and I was totally flat chested, which I got teased for ruthlessly. My mother didn’t think I was old enough to shave, so I had to hide my gruesome legs by wearing knee socks, all the time, even through the summer. I thought that the universe was out to get me and that I was going crazy. One minute I was giggling on the phone with my girl-friend, the next losing my temper and screaming at my siblings. Some nights I would cry myself to sleep wondering when the nightmare would be over. Puberty was a rough time in my life and I would never want to go back there and do it again.
“It’s a constant tug of war between the life they have to live because they love the people around them and the life they want to live because for the first time in their lives, they feel what happiness is.”
When a transgender person starts hormone therapy, they in essence have a second puberty. They get to have a do over as the person they were meant to be. With all of the highs and lows that come with it. The biggest difference is that they are not thirteen, they are in there twenties, thirties, forties and in some cases their fifties or more. This second puberty is not a carefree one. They have families, jobs, bills to pay and responsibilities they didn’t have at thirteen. It’s a constant tug of war between the life they have to live because they love the people around them and the life they want to live because for the first time in their lives, they feel what happiness is. So while they are trying to burn the candle at both ends by working all day then going out dancing till two in the morning, where does that leave us? The partners who loved them unconditionally and decided to stay.
Sometimes feeling lonely, sometimes feeling left out of our partner’s new life. While they are off trying to figure out who they are, we are left feeling abandoned. Speaking from my own personal experience, I do not think that our transgender partners do this intentionally. I just think that they are dealing with so many other emotions. From euphoria, to unprovoked anger, to total despair that brings them to tears, it’s puberty in adulthood. However as this is happening you need to have clear open lines of communication with one another. Just as you are empathetic to what your partner is going through, they too need to be empathetic to how you are feeling during this process. This prompted me to sit and contemplate my own loneliness through transition.
“It is said that loneliness depresses our immune system and puts us at risk for cardiovascular disease, literally shortening our lives.”
We typically don’t think about loneliness as something that requires urgent attention, but perhaps we should. Not only does it cause emotional anguish, loneliness can also create devastating effects on our mental and physical health. It is said that loneliness depresses our immune system and puts us at risk for cardiovascular disease, literally shortening our lives. On the mental health front, loneliness can cause depression and anxiety. It also has a tendency to distort our perceptions such as the way we view ourselves. The way we view our lives and our relationships, which in turn can influence our behavior in damaging ways. It makes us see others as less caring, less interested and less committed than they really are.
So what can we do during these times of feeling isolated and lonely? I suggest first sharing these feelings with your partner. Open lines of communication one hundred percent of the time is essential in any romantic relationship. Add going through transition together and it becomes more important than ever. Keep yourself busy. If you partner goes to his/her transgender support group on Thursday night, make plans with a friend. Don’t sit at home alone and isolate yourself. Discuss spending time together, make plans for a date, or take up a new hobby together. Sharing new experiences will bring you closer together and make new memories. Finally, be good to yourself. Treat yourself to a massage, curl up with a good book, or perhaps take a drive down to the beach or a local park and watch the sunrise. Doing things that make your heart and soul happy will keep the loneliness monster away.