My wife and I don’t talk. Not that we’re silent around one another, but we don’t talk about important things – things which when left unsaid only serve to widen the gap between us. We don’t talk about sex – who’s satisfied, who’s not. We don’t talk about my transness – at least not seriously. I consciously withold on this for fear of upsetting her – for fear of losing her. Every day, in the back of my mind, is the thought that today might be the day when she tells me she’s had enough of this and that it’s over.
I live with this all the time. It’s a fucked up way to live.
She doesn’t realize just how f’ing hard it is sometimes to make all this work – to keep all the balls moving without letting them drop. Some days it’s effortless, while other days it takes all I can muster to make it happen. I can’t tell her this though, because if I do, then I’m having a ‘crisis’ – and the world is somehow falling apart and I’m running off to ‘be a woman’. She get’s that it’s difficult, but really doesn’t understand just how difficult.
And I’ve had little interest in sex. Sure, I like it – but feeling that I need it? It’s not that I’m ‘turned off’ by her or anything like that – I’m just not interested. Maybe I’m just used to not having sex… My therapist says it’s not all that uncommon.
And so on these points and others, I say nothing. I keep it all inside, save for sharing with my therapist and my GF on the train. But the one who needs to know this… I cannot tell – for fear of upsetting the delicate balance I think I’m maintaining.
It’s not working. Balls are dropping and I don’t even realize it.
And so I sit and think and long for something I cannot have. I torture myself over it and keep doing it because that’s what I do instead of talking with my wife – because it’s easier to hurt myself than it is to hurt her.
And she says to me, “Why don’t you talk to me? You don’t tell me anything.” Of course, to explain the reason for not talking is to have the very conversations I don’t want to have with her. Finally, I give in – a little.
We talk about sex – for like the first time in 20 years. We talk about about my fears of making her upset – of her leaving. We talk about how this is a difficult thing and I need to be able to say to her, “This is hard for me today.” and for her to not assume the worst. We talk about how she is always ‘waiting for the other bomb to drop’ with me – how she too lives with fears regarding this.
We start talking about a bunch of things – things about which we should have been talking all along. And for the first time in a long time, the gap between us seems that much smaller.
And I start to push my forbidden longings back into their hiding places.
My ‘gendered feelings’ are what they are. I can dismantle them and explain the parts in a non-gendered way, but when all pieces are combined, ‘gender-free’ just doesn’t work on them. But at the core of these feelings is a sense of intimacy I don’t think I’ve felt for a very long time: so long that I’m not even sure what it is any more. Maybe I never knew what it was at all? I don’t know…
But what I do know is that my wife and I love each other and want to be with each other. And perhaps instead of wanting what I cannot have, I ought to focus on wanting what I do have. Maybe the two are not that all that far apart from one another after all…
Of course, this means I have to keep talking – as does she. We’re not good at that yet, but we are talking – and that’s a start.