The Talk

The sun was setting as we sat in the dining room following dinner. Dishes away, kids watching TV, my love looking tired but so adorable as she outlined possibilities for a late summer family vacation.


Just hours earlier, she shared with me the journal she had started, detailing her feelings about her slowly dissolving marriage to me and my burgeoning transition. She wrote eloquently about trying to contend with the woman within me and the life she wished for but could not have. I cried over nearly every line as she poured out her pain, sentence by sentence, and I could read between the lines the life sentence that was about to be pronounced: exile from my home, isolation from my children, separation from the love of my life.

So I asked her, point blank: “Vacation? Together? Great! After reading your journal I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised.”

And that was the last time I’ve used or thought of anything “pleasant.” We talked for so many hours about our long-term future that the room grew dark, neither of us getting up to turn on the light, sort of a metaphor for our marriage. Somehow we segued into how I was “covering,” the way an Alzheimer’s patient pretends to connect the dots but is truly lost in dementia. “Covering” my femininity.

She accused me of having already transitioned in my mind. A smile unbidden crossed my face, because I sense it, too. Totally? Nah. But it’s close.

We argued. I tried to negotiate. Fruitless. We both cried. Both of us are heartbroken. I begged her not to make this official until we spoke with our counselor tomorrow. That I wanted us to be together forever.

“As ‘Dawn'” she said, finishing my unspoken thought. “Not happening.”

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Before I showered for work, I undressed and she insulted me one last time about how my body appeared to have already transitioned, calling me “disgusting.” Should have seen that one coming.

At least the streaks of my tears were washed away by the hot water.

This morning, we spoke once more by phone, and she apologized for being so mean, which she also did last night, but this time was different in tone. She said she understood that she was asking me to do something she would not, that she is asking me to make a sacrifice she won’t make. And that this was unfair.

I cried as I told her, I just cannot bear the thought of being apart from her, from our children, from our home. “I can’t go into exile,” I said, from behind a voice cracking with emotion. “I have to go,” and hung up.

And I feel like “going” is exactly what is happening. Against my will. But like so many others before me, what choice do I really have?

I’ve never figured myself to be an “Occupy” squatter.