Wednesday, November 19, 2014

11-19-2014 Entry: Love Languages and Self-Doubt


There are many things to write about today. The first regards my marriage and the state of our relationship. Over the weekend my wife and I had a pretty colossal breakdown and almost got to the point of just calling the whole thing off. I don’t really want to go into too many details but the good news is that we seem to have recovered from the argument and are making headway in the right direction (once you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go besides up, right?). Last week my therapist gave me a book to read called “The 5 Love Languages” which I found to be a very enlightening read. For anyone out there who is married or in a long term relationship, I strongly advise both you and your spouse/partner read this book (I advise taking the test at the end of the book prior to reading it). You will likely save countless days/years of struggle by learning each other’s “love language.”

Both my wife and I read the entire book over the last week and it has already had a pretty profound effect not only on our relationship as a whole, but how each of us looks at one another. Because of the book I now understand why the years of my efforts to show love to my wife had little effect and why years of her efforts had little effect on me. You see, each of us was speaking our own “love language” at the other and neither of us were really understanding that communication, which was resulting in both of us feeling relatively dissatisfied with our relationship (me especially). It’s hard to explain without having read the book but my wife feels most loved when I do two primary things, 1. Give her gifts and 2. Do acts of service (chores/favors). I feel most loved when she does two primary things, 1. Verbally expresses her love and admiration/appreciation for me and 2. Touches me physically (get your mind out of the gutter, I don’t mean just sex; things like holding hands, cuddling, loving caresses).

The problem that’s arisen over the last 6 years is that I was only verbally expressing my love/admiration/appreciation to her and trying to give her physical affection, while she was only doing acts of service (chores/cooking) for me and giving me presents. Under that scenario neither one of us was having our needs for love met. Sure we were both trying to express love to one another, but because I was speaking Chinese (figuratively) and she was speaking French, neither of us understood that, and as a result both of our “love tanks” (like a gas tank) were on empty; hence the constant fighting and frustration.

Fast forward to the last week (overlooking the colossal breakdown on Saturday) and both of us have been making efforts to speak the other’s love language. I have been giving her presents and doing chores/favors for her, and she has been much more affectionate and verbally kind/supportive. It’s only a start and it will likely take some time before each of us is proficient in the other’s language, but I believe we have made some really good progress and I already feel more love for her than I have in a long time.

Moving on to the second order of business, I’d like to talk about a happy hour I went to last night with one of my very close friends (who I work with) and her partner. This very close friend was the very first person I really confided in about being transgender (which, I believe prompted the dream that set all of this into motion) so both her and her partner are very aware of my situation and have been absolutely amazing with how kind and accepting they’ve been of me. Part of their kindness and acceptance manifests in the form of them using my new name (Emma) and using the gender appropriate she/her pronouns. Last night was no exception. We went to a bar nearby our work and had a girl’s happy hour that was quite fun, but something unexpected happened to me. Instead of my typical reaction to being called Emma or her/she, which is usually very positive, I almost felt… uncomfortable with it.

If I’m honest, I found it difficult to remember at times (I’m sure the vodka is partly to blame) that Emma meant me, or that when they were talking about me that it was okay or right for them to say her/she. I found myself mentally wanting to correct them when they said her/she because it felt so odd to be referred to like that. It was almost like an other-worldly experience.

I feel it is important to note here that I was not upset or angry about these events or their actions, I just felt really strangely about the whole thing. I think that because everyone I interact with on a regular basis still sees me as Robert the man, and not Emma the transwoman, that it was like being transported to a different world; a new world that was both unfamiliar and a bit intimidating. They were so kind and accepting of this new born identity that it  made me self-conscious and really shined a spotlight on the fact that I probably haven’t completely come to terms with my decision to transition. Despite wanting to be open about who I am and having burned down the majority of the closet I lived in for decades, I’m still pretty hidden from the world. I do not look like a female at all, and I do not wear my makeup/nail polish out in public except for on the weekends. For all intents and purposes I’m still in hiding merely by the fact that unless I’ve told someone directly, no one sees me for what I am. I’m still a guy in their eyes and understanding because I’m showing no visual evidence that I might be something else.

The worst part about all of this was the bus ride home after the happy hour. Thirty minutes of quiet self-reflection can sometimes be a very bad thing because during that bus ride everything had to be called into question. If I was feeling uneasy or uncomfortable being so openly Emma in front of my friends, then did that mean I wasn’t really trans? I think that every transgender person has that question constantly in their mind, and I’m finding myself to be no exception. Even though there is so much evidence that supports my decision to transition, I still can’t help but question the validity of my feelings and last night’s events only worsened the doubt.

Right now these are the questions going through my mind: Why did I feel so peculiar being openly referred to as Emma and her/she? Why wouldn’t that just be exciting like it has been in the past? When exactly do I stop being Robert and start being Emma? Am I only feeling this way because I still look so male and haven’t started hormones yet? Am I really ready to become Emma? Who is Emma, really? What will she/I be like?

I find myself disturbed by the fact that I felt awkward about the interactions I had with my friends. They were being so kind and loving and I really don’t want them to stop what they are doing, but when will it become comfortable for me? Will I ever be comfortable being Emma? If so, when will that time arrive?

I think it is fortunate that I have a therapy session today because I really want to talk about these things with my counselor. I need to know if this is something most TG experience or if it means something more significant.

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

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