Tuesday, January 5, 2016

1-5-2016 Entry: Vacationing, Self-reflection, and Becoming a Girlfriend for the First Time

I want to stay awake all night in order to tell you, my darling readers, about my trip to North Carolina to visit my father and family, but sadly I must cut this entry rather short. For the moment I just want to share some of the highlights, which I will flesh out a bit more tomorrow when I get some time to write.

First and foremost, my visit with my father and seeing my family was actually very good. There is so much to tell and so many small victories that I want to revel in. I am very glad that I went to see them and I am very glad that I have such loving and amazing relatives who love me enough to put in an effort to understand, accept, and affirm me.

Second, I was permitted some desperately needed alone time to really truly stop and think. I have basically just been go, go, go since the divorce, never really stopping to take a minute or to fully process. I pretty much just set the control on autopilot without really deciding where I actually wanted this life to go. The time I was allotted in the quiet, serene, and remote location of my father’s house and the cabin we spent a few days at, gave me the opportunity to really get away from it all. Leaving Minnesota, taking time off from work, and finding some seclusion was possibly the best thing I could have done for myself. Again, so much to tell.

Third, my relationship with the polyamorous woman I spoke of previously (the one that I wasn’t sure I’d see again) has escalated quite a bit. In short, after another date, some physical connection, and lots of affectionate phone calls/text messages, she asked me if I wanted to be her girlfriend and I said yes. This blossoming relationship has been going very well and my decision to set a firm boundary on what I needed from her and what I expected in a relationship has really panned out quite well. It is amazing to have your needs listened to, understood, and met without a struggle. Instead of becoming defensive of my demands for better treatment and instead of having those demands ignored, this person has done the exact opposite. She was accepting and even appreciative that I spoke up. She thanked me for letting her know that I needed something better and actually put her words into concrete and observable action… I cannot express enough how unbelievably refreshing that is.

I’d gotten so used to beating my head against a wall in my marriage in order to get my very basic needs met that it felt almost surreal to not only have those needs understood but also actively attended to. It’s such a relief to be with someone who gets my needs and shares them. I read a book early in marriage counseling that talked about the love languages that people speak (google it, it’s worth it) and upon reading that book my ex and I discovered that we had very different ways of expressing and feeling love while in a relationship. While it permitted us to make adjustments which did improve our resting state of marital satisfaction, it came a little too late to truly be effective or to overcome the hurdle of my gender transition.

This new person, however, speaks the same love languages as me and it is AMAZING! The book talks about a person’s “love tank” and when that tank is empty the person becomes very unhappy. My love tank was almost always on empty or at the very least often had the low-fuel dummy light on. My ex basically provided just enough to keep me from being totally miserable, but never enough to actually make me feel fulfilled/happy. My love tank now, however, is overflowing. I feel amazing. I feel happy. I feel carefree. I forgot what it was like to feel this way. I forgot what it was like to be with someone who complimented/affirmed me, who liked to touch/kiss me, and truly engaged in quality time with me (not just sitting in front of the TV not talking or connecting), and who expects/wants all of those same things in return.

It’s so easy with her… hmm… maybe we should give her a name since she’s now officially my girlfriend… Let’s call her Rose. Rose and I speak the same love languages and it’s just unbelievable. Add to that connection the fact that, for the first time in my life, I am someone’s girlfriend! I feel like a teenage girl who’s just been asked out by the person she likes. I’m a girlfriend. Not a boyfriend. Not a husband. I’m her girlfriend.

I cannot put into words the joy I feel at the thought of entering into a relationship as my true self. I’m me… 100% unbridled me. I’m not acting anymore. I’m not forcing myself into something that doesn’t fit or make sense. I’m me, the non-binary transfeminine extraordinaire, and she likes it. She likes me, for me. She isn’t just putting up with me out of some misplaced sense of devotion, she actually, genuinely wants to be with ME! The REAL me! She thinks I’m beautiful. She thinks I’m sexy. She thinks of me as a woman and wants me because of it, not in spite of it.

Oh there is so much to tell, but I must close with the final highlight. I think I’ve finally made my peace with my ex. I cannot say “I’m over it” because that wouldn’t be true, but anger is no longer in the guesthouse. True, anger cleaned the place out which was painful, but anger has left town.

Going back to the place where my marriage began did something to me. I proposed to my ex the last time I was in North Carolina, so going back was almost like the ghost of Christmas past came to visit me. Everything about being there reminded me of her. When I saw the exit for the Biltmore house (where I proposed) I broke down into tears. Over and over again I had these memories flash before my eyes and with them came the feeling of loss. That feeling, however, eventually subsided.

I cannot say I am over my divorce or that I don’t still have a great deal of baggage to unpack as a result of my relationship with my ex, but I can say that I have made peace with it. I think I’ve finally accepted what happened. I can’t really explain it and it doesn’t necessarily make sense, but I’ve made my peace with the divorce.  I think that going back to NC and reliving those moments where everything really began between my ex and I gave me the opportunity to fully mourn the loss of our love. It gave me the ability to look back at the years we spent together and see that we weren’t right for one another. It doesn’t mean I don’t love her or that I’m happy per se that our marriage ended, but it does mean that I finally see that we needed to part ways.

As much as I wanted my ex to be all the things I needed, she just wasn’t. As much as I hoped we could live a happy and fulfilling life, we just couldn’t. As much as I desperately wanted to make it work, it just couldn’t. As much as I was desperate for her to start putting in the effort I wanted, she just wasn’t willing to do that.

In many ways, I was suffocating inside that marriage and maybe she was too. My therapist pointed out that my suicidal ideation has dramatically decreased since the divorce, which indicates that a big part of the reason I wanted to die was because I felt so trapped by our relationship. Spending time alone with nothing but my thoughts and the ghostly reminders of our past helped me to see just how unhappy I was with my ex. I kept dreaming and wishing that we’d be happy, but we never really were. We were great friends, but we were lousy lovers. We had a lot of fun and felt a lot of love, but we also had a lot of misery and felt a lot of resentment.

She isn’t what I need anymore. Now I know that. Now I see that. Now I have made my peace with that. She didn’t fulfill me, even at our happiest moments. She didn’t give me what I needed to be happy and in many ways, wasn’t even really interested in trying to give me what I needed. It was childish of me to hold so tightly to something that wasn’t working anymore. I thought that because I’d promised to stay with her forever that it meant we had to live on in varying degrees of misery and un-fulfillment. I was so afraid that if I let go of our relationship for my own happiness that I wasn’t any better than my parents who’ve had nothing but catastrophic relationships. I see now that I was foolish to think that, because what I was actually doing was exactly what my parents did: hold on to something that wasn’t working rather than just accepting the truth of the situation.

The truth of this situation is that my ex and I were no longer any good for one another. We were holding each other back from the lives we wanted to live. She wanted to have the hetero-normative dream life of a handsome husband, a couple of kids, a big house, and lots of money for family vacations. I wanted a lesbian life filled with girl-on-girl sex. I wanted to jump into the LGBT world and explore it from top to bottom. I wanted the freedom to be social and charming, and to have fun with friends. What I wanted and what she wanted were no longer compatible. I couldn’t be her handsome husband who took care of her and provided her with children. She couldn’t be the lesbian lover and socialite that I needed. I see all of this now and I have made my peace with it.

I no longer feel angry towards her the way I did before. Not because I’ve found something to bury the anger under but simply because I no longer need the anger. The anger cleared out my guesthouse to show me how much better off I am without that stuffy old furniture lying around. The anger showed me that what I truly needed was a new beginning, and now I have that. I don’t condone her actions and the way she ended things will always be completely fucked up and cruel, but I don’t need my anger over it anymore. It served its purpose and now it is being replaced with something else… something better: romance. ;)

There will be more soon, I promise. I’m back at home and have plenty to write about.


-Emma

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