And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin
We said “I do” on a rainy Saturday morning in September and together we stepped into the future. Two young kids holding hands with no idea what that future looked like. It started off as a fairy tale, as most young marriages do. Good jobs, a new house, soon two beautiful sons. The fairy tale deepened into a romance novel as life got bigger. A cross-country move, a new start-up company and a career in emergency services. Mortgage payments, college tuitions and watching parents get sick and die turned pages into chapters and turned days into years.
The plot twisted and thickened a bit as most middle-aged marriages do. Ups and downs, hurts and disappointments, laughter and tears. Our family ebbed and flowed as sons grew up to be young men, leaving the state and starting their own lives, their own loves, a beautiful grandson. But something was missing, something was wrong, the script had to be rewritten….so we changed the storyline. We went with the truth.
Six years ago my husband started the process of transitioning to a woman. He no longer could survive in this world living a lie and today is a beautiful, caring, fun-loving, compassionate woman. Fear, angst, doubt weaved through the weeks and months as we together transformed our marriage. No guidebook, no direction and at times no support left us on our own to figure it out. And every night we laid in bed and held hands knowing that no matter what we loved each other as much as we did the day we said “I do” on that rainy September day when we were two young kids holding hands with no idea what that future looked like. Love won out.
Today this is us. Not a fairy tale, or a romance novel but a love story. A love story that will only stop when “til death do us part” but will continue to be held and cherished forever.
I’ve learned many lessons over the last six years or so. Lessons that I’m still learning today. One of the trickiest things to navigate is the language. At first, it was what pronouns to use when. And of course I would slip up and feel like shit when I did, but I learned early on that with words the only way to determine what was appropriate was sometimes to be incorrect, take the foot out of my mouth, and move on. In doing so, I was able to be forgiving and lenient towards others when they would misuse a word. The language was new to them. We were all learning.
A big stumbling block for me and still is still today.. what to call Dana. Just using her name was a significant change and took some getting used to. I use the word ‘partner’ quite a bit, even though that has been misconstrued at times to be understood that she is my work partner like we run a law firm together. Intellectually I know that the proper language is to say ‘wife’ but inherently I have not been able to bring myself to do that. It is too odd for me. It feels the same way I would like at my dog and call him my cat. I have referred to Dana (Scott) as my husband for over 25 years and its impossible for me to say that simple four letter word, wife. And that’s okay. I also learned that during this journey, I must permit myself to accept what I can’t do. This is one of those free passes. What has worked well for me is to use the word ‘dear.’ That’s actually my favorite word to use because I used it before the change and it is nice to have still that endearment to use. It feels comfortable.
Words are so tricky, and I’m still learning the new language. A great example occurred just earlier this week. I published my first blog post in over a year earlier this week. The very next day was a moment that reminded me that I’m still learning to navigate and maneuver my way around the transgender world. In my blog post, I referenced my partners “sexual reassignment surgery.” In reading over some of the lovely comments from readers the term “gender confirmation surgery” was used to describe my partner’s medical procedure. Gender confirmation surgery? What? Being the queen of Google that I am, I typed in the above words into the search engine and immediately found a wonderful article on Huffington Post written by a plastic surgeon. In this article, he writes “Merriam-Webster’s defines “confirmation” as follows: “confirming proof; corroboration; the process of supporting a statement by evidence.” That said if such surgery helps confirm the way a person feels he or she was meant to be, shouldn’t the name reflect that truth?” Wow, I felt like an idiot. Of course “gender confirmation surgery” is such a better term to use than “sexual reassignment surgery.”
It bothered me for a bit that I would actually publish a blog post and create such a blunder. After reflecting on it some more though I let it go. And I purposely didn’t go back to edit it either. No matter how long I’ve been in this new world, it will take time to learn the lingo. If you are new to this as well, no matter how long you’ve traveled this path, making mistakes are okay, it’s how we learn.
Today marks the 6th anniversary of my partner’s sexual reassignment surgery. It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years already since my husband and I walked into the hospital at 5:30 am for the day-long surgery, and I took her home the next day to begin (or continue depending on how you look at it) our life. Each year since I’ve watched any evidence of my husband’s old life drift away as she becomes more comfortable and confident as a woman. She no longer has to wake up and start another day pretending to be someone she’s not.
As a couple, it has taken a while to find and adapt to our new normal. Any significant change in marriage requires a shift in relearning and redefining roles and structure. Small everyday questions such as who drives now and who fixes the broken toilet. Which one of us will do the grocery shopping and who will confront the car mechanic that just screwed us over. There are the big life moments we had to process and define. Events such as shopping for Mother-of-the-Groom dresses and who will give the toast at the wedding rehearsal dinner. Will our new grandbaby call both of us Grandma? These dilemmas whether big or small may not seem such a big deal to most people, but to us, especially me, it was and continues to be compelling because of the significance behind each decision. The ordinary everyday life isn’t quite ordinary and yet, day by day, it’s becoming a little bit more natural. Slowly.
As I reflect over the last six years, I am realizing more and more what a big deal my husband’s transition from male to female has been, and what a big deal it is that we are still happily married and about to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. It’s also a big deal that we laugh more, we don’t sweat the small stuff, and we have way more good days than not. The days of sadness and frustration are few and far between.
On this anniversary day, I’ve decided to end my writing hiatus and pick up my blog again. I had put it away a couple of years ago because I thought as a wife of a male to female partner that I had nothing left to say or share with others. Today I feel the need to stay connected with those in our community and to continue to share my experiences and hope for not only my partner and me, but also for all of the other couples sharing the same journey. I would love it if you joined me …every day is indeed an adventure!
I know the real truth about what it’s like to be married to a man for twenty-five years and then makes the decision to transition into a woman. I know the feeling of having my world shift off its axis and wondering if it would ever be upright again. The final truth is that I am still married but to a woman instead of a man. Today’s reality is is that I’m still working on uprighting my world.
I know the real truth when it comes to holding a secret so big you start to fall apart at the seams. I know the feeling of wondering if I was losing my mind, having a breakdown or if my hands would ever stop trembling. The final truth is that life was so overwhelming I needed professional help to cope with the transition and my life changes. Today’s reality is that I work hard on taking time to care for myself…physically, mentally and spiritually.
I know the real truth of sitting down with our two sons, young men in their early twenties and tell them that their dad is now their mom. I know the feeling of wondering if this was going to destroy them, ruin our family, or have them turn on us. Or will they be open-minded and nonjudgmental as we raised them to be The final truth is they told us that all they want for us is happiness? Today’s reality is that they call her Dad.
I know the real truth of what it’s like to lose friends and family because of the transition. I know the feeling of wondering if we did something wrong or hurt them or did they walk away because we don’t fin in their world. The final truth is there is no shame or fault in being who you are meant to be, regardless if we fit in your world or not. Today’s reality is that our lives are filled with friends and family who love us openly.
I know the real truth about unconditional love. The feeling of knowing that my love for the person I married and vowed to spend the rest of my life with runs intense, very strong and is unbreakable. The final truth is that it’s the person within that matters. Today’s truth is that I am very much in love.