Yesterday I posted what amounted to a positive post concerning my pursuit of therapy and progress forward. Quite literally an hour after I posted that, things went to shit. Again.
I was in my office preparing for a class when
my wife ex-wife best friend SHE texted me at work to let me know that she was going to meet with another man for coffee.
We had agreed that she would tell me if this happened. It was a show of honesty and openness, an attempt at trying to be friends and co-parents and not enemies as we divorce. But the timing was both unexpected and unwelcome. I was already ill-prepared for class that day, as my depression has been affecting my work, but now I had to slog my way through it while every ounce of bitter, jealous man-rage boiled up inside of me. All the Him stuff that still wants her and wants her back.
She was out with him for more than three hours. Her best friend dutifully watched our three kids while she did this. I am learning who my friends are (and aren’t) in all of this.
[Irony: She is a Christian, and she met this man, who is also a Christian, on ChristianMingle.com. Clearly, neither one was bothered by this. The Decalogue, after all, is just a list of suggestions.]
After work, knowing where she was and what she was doing, I had no desire to go home. Instead, I remembered that Tuesdays happen to be the days that a local transgender support group meets. This is not some sort of therapist-controlled thing, just a social support group hosted in a local LGBT community center. I have not gone before and have not yet had any desire to, and frankly I didn’t want to go now. But it was a two-hour meeting, which would give me somewhere to be, and it offered the possibility of connecting with some trans folks who might be able to relate to my situation.
I shut my phone off when I arrived. Not that it mattered; she hadn’t yet tried to contact me to ask where I was or anything.
Warning: The following is mean, bitter, and depressing. It is almost certainly transphobic. But it needs to be sincerely reported for it to make sense. It is an accurate representation of where my mind was in this particular moment.
I walked in, didn’t say anything, and took what I hoped would be an invisible seat in the corner. And I watched them file in. And I thought about my situation. And I began to despair.
Of the two dozen or so folks attending the meeting, most of them were MtF, with a few FtMs scattered between them. And all told? Maybe three of them could have passed for a woman in public. Regardless of how they thought of themselves, outsiders wouldn’t see women; they would see middle-aged men in dresses, bodies pumped full of hormones and stuffed into clothes ill-suited to their mannish frames. The ones who could pass, could pass well — one of them was quite attractive — but these were the ones who’d begun transitioning in their teens or early twenties, when the hormones could still do a lot of work. Even then, when they opened their mouths the pitch and timbre gave them away.
Of mannerisms and voice and poise, there was so much that was clearly still male. These are things that hormones cannot change. And there were a few that just seemed not to care, or maybe who had gotten tired of trying to hide the mannish things. For example, there was one person who I was fairly confident was merely a crossdresser, literally a man in a dress. So when, in the course of a story, he referenced his vaginoplasty, I nearly dropped my jaw.
Another one said, at one point, “I always wonder what I’ve done wrong when I’m read by someone; it’s like, what mistake did I make?” And I’m thinking, Maybe it’s the fact that you’re built like a male athlete and mincing around like a gay man? Don’t you see it when you look in the mirror?
What I saw in that room was a freakshow. I know it’s not fair, and I know it’s not right, but that’s exactly how I felt, sitting in that room. This was not a place for normal people. This was a freakshow. And I was one of them.
And the most tragic part is that they all seemed like sincerely nice people. And they all seemed like sincerely happy people, at least when they weren’t talking about the ways being transgender had made their lives harder. And here I was, judging them as freaks. But I couldn’t help it. Every moment I was there, my misery grew.
This was my future. These were my people now. These poor, deluded transfolk who pretended they could pass, who put on their happy faces but, geez, it was so easy to see the frayed edges of their smiles. Who got together to share their victories and their frustrations, but who had trained themselves to ignore the elephant in the room. Where was Gandalf when he was needed most?
My wife ex-wife best friend SHE says that I have this obsession with being normal. She says that I don’t want to be viewed as anything but normal, and that I have panic and anxiety whenever I’m in a situation where I might be called out or criticized for not being normal. And she’s right. I get anxiety when someone comes over unexpectedly and I haven’t had a chance to clean the house; I usually spend the first ten minutes of the visit apologizing for the mess and rushing around to straighten everything. And now I was in a room full of not-normal, headed down a path of being not-normal myself. And a woman I still loved was out with another person, a man to fill the void that a freak in a dress could not.
I left the meeting without saying a word to anyone. There was nothing to say.
After that meeting, I turned my phone back on, but there were no messages, no texts. I sat in my car for half an hour with my phone in hand, letting the minutes tick by, willing it to be noticeably later. I wanted her to call me; I wanted her to text me; I wanted her to care where I was. If she still cared about me, then maybe I hadn’t lost her completely. Maybe there was a chance I could get my old self back. Maybe I wouldn’t be destined to be a freak in a dress.
But she didn’t call. She didn’t text. Whether she was still out with her other man or visiting with her best friend or home with the kids, she was apparently unconcerned with my whereabouts. Or maybe she assumed I was just working late, or at the gym, or something. Whatever the reason, she didn’t call. And because she didn’t call, she didn’t care.
I spiraled. Badly.
She had her new man now, and so why care about me? I was the husband who’d hurt her; I was the man she was leaving; I was headed towards a future as a freak in a dress. No wonder she didn’t care! No one cared! Not about a freak in a dress!
And in that moment, in the car, in the dark. I thought about ending it. The highway overpasses in this area were particularly high, and the highway beneath notorious for motorists driving like madmen. It wouldn’t have been that hard. Step off, fall to the concrete, and if that didn’t do it, the cars barreling down the road in the dark would be sure to finish the job. It would hurt, but not for long.
And she would be rid of me. And I’d be rid of this depression. And I wouldn’t have to end up a freak in a dress.
I couldn’t face it anymore. I didn’t have the strength. I didn’t have a choice.
That I’m typing this right now tells you that I didn’t do it. My therapist told me to find small victories, and so I found one: I didn’t kill myself last night. Rah rah.
There’s more to the story, but just typing this much has been exhausting. I’ll write it later.