Tuesday, December 22, 2015

12-22-2015 Entry: My Mother's First Visit Since Transition

There is an entry I need to write for the sake of those who have also struggled with the same thing and for my own recovery, but today I must postpone that entry for another, more pressing entry.

My mother will be arriving at my house in a couple hours and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand I am eager to see her and eager for her to see me. She has not seen me in over a year, and has definitely not seen me since I started living my life as Emma the transfeminine extraordinaire. Sure, she has seen pictures, sure she knows viscerally that I am living this life, but today is going to be the first time she actually experiences her child in her new life. I am eager for her to see how happy I am, despite the continued heartache I feel about my failed marriage and how much I miss having my best friend in my life.

On the other hand, I am terrified that this is going to be an awful experience. I am terrified that her continued struggles to accept me as her daughter instead of as her son will be brought to the forefront of our relationship and it will drive a permanent wedge between us. I do not know how she will react to seeing me in makeup and with my hair up. I don’t know how she will react to going out in public with me presenting as I always do. I do not know how often she will call me Robert and he/him, rather than Emma and she/her. I am slightly hopeful because when we spoke on the phone a few days ago she did correct herself after calling me Robert by saying, “Sorry… I mean Emma.”

That is the only thing that is keeping me afloat in this moment as I anticipate her arrival. It is the only thing that is keeping me from entirely dreading the next 5 days. My relationship with my mother was the only one that lasted the test of time, but as I’ve grown older and as I’ve come more into alignment with my true self, I have started to see the many flaws of our relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother did the best she probably could given the circumstances. She always made sure I was taken care of in basic ways that every child needs and deserves, but our relationship was a toxic one in many ways. I’m not sure that’s really her fault. I suspect that she just learned that from her own parents, but as I’ve gone through therapy and as I’ve unpacked the mental baggage that’s been swirling around in my mind my whole life, I have started to see how dysfunctional our relationship always was. She is coming here and likely believes that she can assume our relationship right where we left it off the last time she was here, but so much has changed.

I am not the child she left behind a year ago. I am not the child she raised from a little boy. I am not Robert, her son, at least not really. Sure, Robert is still in here, copiloting this experience we are calling our life, but I am Emma, and I will not allow the situation to fall into old habits. She is in for a rude awakening if she thinks she can push us around the way she used to. She is in for a rude awakening if she thinks she can steamroll us into doing what she thinks is best, even when it isn’t good for us at all. This time, we will be meeting on our terms, not hers, and it is because of that that I am concerned.

Anger in the guesthouse has taught us that we must no longer tolerate being taken advantage of or being mistreated. Our mother is by far the greatest challenge of our resolve yet. The hardest part of this visit is the fact that my best friend, the person I thought would always be there by my side isn’t here to support me. My wife is gone and with her, she has taken a solid foundation to stand on. If I had her at my side, it would be easier to stand up to my mother, it would be easier to force her to understand that things have to be different, but I do not have that luxury. I must face this trial alone.

I am reminded of the father-figure plights that are present in Star Wars (only because I’ve very recently watched them, the new one included) and I’m beginning to see why Luke’s greatest challenge was Vader and why… I suppose I shouldn’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen the new one… let’s just say there is another father-son dynamic in the new movie that is framed as it being the greatest challenge to the son to face his father.

I am at that point where Luke has chosen to fly off and confront Vader prematurely and against the advice of his teachers. I could have postponed this visit. I could have chosen to see her at a later time when I was perhaps more prepared for the trial ahead, but I know it has to be done now. Like Obi-won telling Luke that he cannot interfere this time and that Luke must go this one alone, so must I go on without the protecting buffer I was so accustomed to: my wife and her love. I do not have her love and acceptance and support the way I did last time I confronted my mother. I do not have her to help me and guide me as I struggle for acceptance.

Obviously this is the opposite as Star Wars in that it is a daughter who must stand up to her mother, but the framing feels applicable. This is my greatest challenge. This is the largest hurdle to my gender transition and honestly to my work in therapy. This is a struggle that has gone on since my birth and my mother holds most of the cards in the deck. My only chance of surviving the next 5 days is to stand my ground, to set my boundaries and to enforce them. Too often I permit her leniency, too often I don’t stand up for myself the way I should, but I MUST do that now. I MUST pass this test.

I know that she is coming with a (not so secret) desire that I will change my mind; that I will stop this gender craziness and go back to being her son. She probably even envisions me and my wife getting back together as a result and thinks that my transition was the true cause of our divorce. While it definitely contributed to the collapse of my marriage, it was only a part of it and not the only thing to blame.

I am unsure how to best approach this situation. I have somewhat conflicting desires about this visit. I want my mother to accept me and I want her to respect me, and those two things do not always go hand-in-hand. If I am forced to choose between them, I’m not certain which I’d rather have. Her respect, or her acceptance?

If she respects me and my requests that she call me Emma, that she use female pronouns, and that she cease to use my birth name, then our interactions will be easier, but she may not truly accept who I am. Even if she is kind she could always harbor a lingering regret that I wasn’t just “normal” anymore and I would always know that my mother doesn’t truly accept me for who I’ve become.

 If she accepts me and understands that there is no going back from this life I’ve begun, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she will respect my wishes. She may accept that I am Emma to the world, but may not respect my requests that she also see and treat me as Emma. This is honestly the most likely result of this visit. She will likely see that I have taken on this new life and that I am never going back, but she will never respect who I’ve become. I will always be some failure of a son who turned out so broken he thought he was a girl. She will think that she did something wrong to make me the way I am instead of accepting that this is actually who I always was.

I fear that she will be too unwilling to look back on our relationship to see all the times she stifled my feminine attributes in order to move forward with our relationship. If she is unwilling to make peace with the past, let go of it, and begin to embrace the future with open arms, then our relationship might be doomed.

I do not want to lose my mother, but I refuse to compromise who I’ve become to placate her insecurities and fears about my life. It is my life and I will live it the way I want to, without her respect or her acceptance if I must. I will not give up who I’ve become. I will not stop this work I’ve begun. This path I’m on is far too important for that.

She will be here in about 90 minutes, so I must bring this entry to a close. I hope I have good things to report the next time I write. I need something good in my life to happen. I’ve dealt with so much sorrow over the past few months that I’m not sure I can handle much more. Wish me luck my darling readers.


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