In the early months of my wife’s transition she was seeing a gender therapist weekly. Once she was comfortable with this woman, she asked me to join her for a few sessions. I did willingly and with an open mind. I knew there was a lot to learn about gender transition and I had many questions. The therapist was convinced that my wife was transgender, even though at the time my wife was struggling with self-acceptance. The more I learned about what it meant to be transgender, the more I too was convinced that this was what my wife was dealing with. We also arranged to have a few family sessions with our girls. I wanted everyone to feel free to speak their mind and ask lots of questions with a professional in the room.
“I learned early on, that when a partner transitions, the whole family does as well.”
I learned early on, that when a partner transitions, the whole family does as well. The spouse, the children, and even the extended family all go through a mourning and subsequent rebirth. So while I was busy worrying about the girls going through this transition and how they were coping on a daily basis as well as worrying about my wife coming to terms with herself and years of suppressing all of these feelings, the therapist was secretly worrying about me. She managed to get me into her office alone. She told my wife that she just wanted to check in with me. Unbeknownst to me it would be the start of my journey home. At the conclusion of what I thought was a one time session she said to me “so, I’ll see you same time next week.”
I have always pushed through life full speed ahead. I was married the first time at age twenty and had my first child at twenty-one. I was caring for a child, a husband, a home and working part-time. There was never any time to stop and deal with the things that had happened to me in my childhood or figure out how I wound up in an abusive marriage. I divorced my first husband then a week later buried him. We have moved from state to state, been devastated by a hurricane, and at one time had taken in a child who was left an orphan by the death of his mother. Always ready for the next hurtle in my life. This time it would be helping my wife through transition. I once again put myself last on my to do list. However, my wife’s therapist figured out a way to get me off this train before I derailed.
“Why did it take me most of my life to get to this place?”
I began weekly sessions with her. We went back in time before the experiences in my life did their damage. I figured out that I was left back in the second grade because the sexual abuse I had suffered from had started that summer before. How was a six going on seven-year-old child supposed to deal with that and have a clear head to learn anything? I was able to connect the dots between the cold treatment I received from my mother to the abusive man I married at twenty. I learned what dissociative disorder is and that I have it pretty bad. I came home after one session proclaiming to my girls that I had a problem with anger, to which they replied, “We know.” This was not the first therapist that I have ever seen in my life, but no one ever made sense of it all the way she did. Why did it take me most of my life to get to this place?
Watching my wife have the courage to live her life authentically lit a fire under my ass. She looked society and both our extended families in the face and said “like it or not, this is me and I am going to live my life to the fullest.” Why should any of us live any other way? Or for that matter the way that other people expect us to? Life does not come with a “how to” manual. The right and wrong of the world is not what some humans think proper etiquette to be. The right is that everything you do in life should be backed with love and kindness, and the wrong in our world is bigotry, discrimination, evilness, and corruption. I am very much a work in progress. I have graduated to once a month sessions with my therapist, but I am in group therapy on a weekly basis. All of the women in my group are molestation survivors. I am finished with simply surviving my life when what I really want is to be thriving.