Nothing comes free. So while i am daily happier, more relaxed and yes, positive about who i am, it has ramifications for those around me. Its not easy for the boy, who has to face some ribbing at school. Not easy for my daughter and – as was brought home very sharply yesterday by another blog marking the two-year anniversary of change, still – always? – a source of difficulty and grief for andrea.
I was upset, reading how unhappy my own “good fortune” made her: makes her, still. Sad, too.
Sympathy. And a long conversation to have. Does that sound brusque? Peremptory? Its not meant as such: merely acknowledgment that while this blog exposes much, there are some bits of intimacy that will stay off-line.
The comfortable lie
The difficulty begins with a comfortable lie that many of us buy in to at the start of the journey. Whatever happens, however we change outwardly, we will still be “the same” (whatever that means) underneath. Sure: the peripherals will change. Apart from the fairly obvious physical amendments, there is the new wardrobe, the wider emotional lability that comes with hormones, the changes in public status.
But those are consistent with the idea of no real change. They are about “doing” – and let’s face it: every relationship under the sun must deal with the way one partner’s tics and habits drive the other up the wall.
Less comfortable reality
Only there is more. I think i started to realise this a year ago, first as question…then increasingly as certainty. The confidence, the joy, the extrovert stuff. Those, too, are about “doing”: performance. Behind them is a terrible, fundamental change.
And it is this: i like myself. For the first time in my life, maybe, i can sit here and write such a thing and not feel like i am mouthing a lie when i say that. More, there is a consequence to liking myself, which is that i actually want things. For me.
The old me, the pre-transition me, could possibly have made it from cradle to grave without ever really having any personal ambition. Content to be provider for others, i’d generally let my personal needs take a back seat. After all, i’d self-rationalise: i didn’t deserve anything better. Now i feel entitled, sometimes, to be me.
I don’t think the i that has made it thru this journey even much likes the me that was. Though one can make too much of that: a friend recently opined how she didn’t like who she was ten years ago – and she has merely shifted her politics a little. Nor do i actively dislike who i was. Just that i wouldn’t see eye to eye any more. Maybe we all feel like that to some extent.
I’ve shifted politically – and not just in terms of how i vote on certain issues, but some fundamental values too (my general attitude to collectivist arguments, for instance). I’ve shifted, still am shifting,
sexually. Far, far less bothered by the mechanics, the gymnastics: more oriented towards simple friendship and closeness.
I no longer feel like the permanent interloper: an outsider to every social gathering i joined. I’ve said it before: i’ve “come home”.
Hell: this is difficult. Incredibly. If it were just about toning down the way i live, the things i do, that would be manageable. But i fear it isn’t: that for now – possibly for some time to come – this is a zero sum game in which every gain i make is matched by equal and opposite loss on the other side.
I think that that is about as much as its worth saying “out here” – because the rest is very close and personal.
The lesson that has to be lived?
Only, it leaves me wondering how universally true this is, and whether we do ourselves and the world a disservice by insisting on “no change”. Looking back two years, both myself and andrea were very insistent that things would be the same. They aren’t.
Were we fooling ourselves? Making up optimistic fictions as a way to cope with an uncertain future? Perhaps. Would it have been kinder, then, to accept change was coming? Who knows. I doubt, even reading this, courtesy of some Whovian temporal anomaly, that we’d have done much different.
Just as everyone else who ever faces such situations. I’d like – i’d hope – that this blog will prove helpful, insightful to others still on the other side of transition.
I’d like it: but maybe such hope is forlorn. That the only way people get to find out the truth of change is by living through it. For good or ill.