I have been trying on the idea of living full time as a woman, asking myself if that is how I truly feel, if that is what is most in tune with my modified mind, body and my original soul. I know that if the answer is yes, it just won’t be possible at “home” -the place I live with the love of my life and the children I cherish more than life itself.
That bond, that connection is what holds me back, because there is no option to be me and be with them. It’s not fair — but as I’ve drilled into my children, life often is not fair.
I’ve lived apart from them before because of work and I have a crash pad here in New York City where I go when I’m working too much to be commuting to and from the ‘burbs. I can be me full time but I cannot live there full time. And it’s just not home.
So I have been exploring, and settled upon the Upper East Side as my choice for my possible next home. It’s close enough to work without being too close, far enough from my home to give me space to grow as a person, and unfamiliar enough to make it a challenge and an opportunity to put a new foot forward. I’m scared and excited, and mindful that moving out on my own is not my choice but hers. From our long, painful conversations, this looks to be more of a destiny than a decision. I think to myself, I’m just keeping my options open.
How far I will extend that philosophy — allowing myself options rather than limiting choices — has been on my mind of late. I’ve always been attracted to women, one in particular; will that change? I will confess to having a better understanding of what attracts women to men, and what qualities in men I like and which ones I cannot stand. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say.
But I’m not exactly ready for more than contemplation. And I’m certainly not looking to be labeled. For now, I’m keeping “married to a beautiful woman who is no longer attracted to me” as my relationship status. She says in no uncertain terms she supports me and understands I need to be true to me; what she asks in return is my understanding that she cannot share a home with me if I’m not male in appearance. There is no negotiating this. The question I repeatedly ask: how much longer does she think I can keep pretending and dressing up as a guy? Secretly, I pray she will “acclimate,” so, I give her space, and time, and understanding instead of applying the pressure I feel all around and inside of me.
We both realize the future may ultimately mean separation, and as I have always done, I’m making a backup plan. How positively male of me, I thought; then I realized how I am actually just responding to my natural desire to nest, knowing present arrangements may be short-lived. Few things could make me sadder than separating. And so, I am being true to my newly found self by living in the moment rather than getting too far ahead and planning an “escape.”
Besides, legally, I have been counseled that the last thing I would want, is to be seen as abandoning my family. So I’m only exploring options.
It’s a peculiar mix of exhilaration and dread that I feel. Would getting my own place — moving out — be a terrible mistake? How can I put myself before this woman and our children? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do, choose their happiness over mine? Will they be better off without me as I am, than with someone forced to deny reality? Or will the idea of going out on my own, as myself, be much harder and more painful than I anticipate?
I think it’s like finding a really great pair of new shoes that look fabulous on you, but they hurt your feet. The question is: how long do you try to break them in before you realize, they’re not for you?
Or: do you just accept that this pain is the price of doing what you need to do?