I have a lot on my mind today. After sitting here messaging my girlfriend a few thoughts prior to her therapy session, I realized that I am still in rough shape from yesterday. I do enjoy my life for the most part. With the exception of not being employed, the gym taking my money without asking, and the occasional overwhelmed feeling I get when I think about the previous items, life is pretty good. Izzie is healthy. Addie is enjoying summer. Liz is home and figuring out what she wants to do for the summer. Melissa is working in Boston. Life is good.
For the most part.
What is troublesome is some of the little stuff that interferes in my sunshine-filled afternoons. I don’t mean my girls- they are truly bright spots in my week. I mean little stuff that turns into bigger stuff. Transition stuff. Other people’s family stuff. Things that are completely outside of my control but have the power to drain the life out of me in a heart beat.
Yesterday we went to Market Basket after visiting Betty at the hospital. She was preparing for yet another test and wasn’t feeling well so we left to pick up items for supper. Melissa was dressed more like herself, in her hot pink t shirt, jeans and favorite bra. She looked great to me and I didn’t think twice about heading to the grocery store. After a few minutes, she became anxious and started talking about people staring at her. My heart sank. We had to hurry.
As we went through the aisles I looked to see if what she was telling me was happening. I began to look around us and saw people reading labels, putting stuff into their carts, and heading to the registers. I looked at her and said “I am not seeing what you are telling me” which I guess are the worst words you can say to someone whose anxiety level is growing by the second. My goal was to de-escalate the situation, because in true Mel fashion, she became louder as her panic attack grew.
She insisted people were staring at us. I looked again, this time rather frantically as I realized that I wasn’t seeing what she was seeing. It got worse. I rushed us through the line and my heart raced as we headed to the car. All I kept thinking was “I don’t know what is happening! I didn’t see anything so am I supposed to lie?” She became upset, I became upset, and we headed back to the house to make dinner.
We get home. I try to talk to her some more which was another mistake. She got out of the car and went inside the house. Sometimes when we disagree we sit in the car and work it out. Nope. Not happening. I turned my thoughts to the grill and getting the coals lit so we could at least have some food. I couldn’t find what I needed to light the grill so I began walking to the house.
After a little more arguing, it hit me that she is categorizing me as one of her family, who tells her she is imagining things that are not really happening. I felt helpless and completely lost as to how I could make this better. I apologized, and the tears came, born from my frustration over the entire situation. She didn’t feel heard, and I didn’t feel heard either. I felt completely powerless and frightened and I hate feeling that way. It makes me want to run away. At one point, I contemplated leaving when she walked into the house but I knew that wasn’t going to solve anything even though my entire body was yelling at me to leave.
I love Melissa. I really do. However, transitioning is not a matter of adjusting physically, it is a huge adjustment emotionally. She is basically entering adolescence again, with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old at times. It also is a matter of how to handle the staring. The looks that say “I know what you really are and I don’t like it.” There have been times where Melissa can brush this off but she definitely has moments where she is affected by the looks and finger pointing. It will happen, we need to expect this because this is the way the world is. We can’t change how others feel about us, but we can change how we react to it because that is in our control.
I was on Facebook briefly today and saw another offensive post that this time, I stayed out of. I know there are people who think certain jokes are funny, but I want to explain where I am coming from when I ask why you feel my life is a joke. Your jokes are giving another person the justification they need to hurt one of us. What seems light-hearted to you, is fueling someone else’s fire. Sometimes, it even gives them reason to go into a safe haven for LGBT people, and open fire on them. Words are powerful things. They can instill many emotions in a person, and connect us to the word around us. They also have the power to kill, ruin, and destroy lives. Kind of like guns, but I digress….
Melissa came home and changed her clothes. It was not the reaction I felt she should have done, but it was what she has done for 43 years. She had to go back into being him to be able to feel safe for a few minutes. I hate this. For those of you who feel that this is still a choice, please know that no one in their right mind would choose living this way- in hiding, shame, and struggling to be themselves.
Today I feel emotionally beaten. I did my best and I failed. She gets to chat about all of this with her therapist, and I feel a little miffed about it. I want to be able to say “What am I supposed to do when she sees people staring and I don’t? How am I supposed to handle her anxiety and help her walk through this as her partner? Why does so much of her transition fall on my shoulders?”
I don’t know the answers to these questions other than I stay here because she is the person I love. I am willing to do what I have to do to recharge and be available for her and my family. I have never loved someone to the core like I do with her and when she hurts, I hurt too. I’m sorry if this isn’t making a lot of sense. It’s been an emotional 24 hours, and I hope as the sun moves across the sky, the hope for a better day is on the horizon.