Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Weight of My Transgressions

Today, I should be happy. Hormones are working. Laser is working. I'm feeling better about myself than I ever have.  My work day was productive. The weather is pretty. Everything is for once clicking away like clockwork.

And yet, today my thoughts are heavy. Weighted  by guilt, and concern for a dear friend.

I was doing desk work this afternoon, when she logged in to google chat. I asked her how she was and she said she was feeling a little down. She's been having a hard time. Life for a single mother is always stressful. And now her car has been out of commission despite lots of parts being replaced over the past few weeks. But most importantly, she  had to leave a boyfriend  a few days ago; someone she had become really close to.

I found myself wishing so much I could see her and know she's okay. I wanted to hug her. But we are literally half a world apart. For I am here. And she is in South Africa. When she said that she was having a hard day, all I could do was struggle for some encouraging words.  She bravely sent back a little smiley in response.  And then I sat at my desk crying in frustration.

Partly I was just hurt that she was going through this again. Such a loving person, again by herself, struggling to detangle herself from emotions and memories that now cause pain. It was only a short time ago that she had to endure this same process.

But the main reason I cry is guilt. Because the boyfriend before this one, was me.  More than a boyfriend, I was her fiance.  If I had stayed with her until death due us part as I told her I would, she would not be alone.

We met online at a parrot forum.  I was in middle of the most thorough emotional "purge" of my life. What started as innocent flirting quickly turned into a strong emotional connection, growing steadily at both ends. For her, I was the sensitive man who always knew just what to say. Someone more like her than any man she had known; easy to relate to, and so in sync with her thoughts.  For me, she was the first person I had managed to truly bond with romantically in over ten years.  Also she was the most charming and engaging person I had ever met.  She was so caring and open minded in her perspective.  Besides all that she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.  

Her love for me was a healthy and wonderful thing.  And part of what I felt for her was just as healthy. But there were some dark under currents.  She met me at a point where I was trying to prove to myself once and for all that I could be a man. She became the justification for my continuing to exist as male.  She was the center of my life. 

She always said I knew just what to say and just what she needed. But the truth is, I knew how to act because I knew what I would want, were I her.  I bolstered her weak self esteam, and tried my best to make her feel loved, and beautiful.  I was living out my storybook romance, only, from the wrong end.

As our relationship progressed, we managed to spend time toegether in person. I flew to visit her in Cape Town once for three weeks. She came to me here twice. We toured Washington D.C., and Atlanta together.  For three years she was my world. She was the one thing that made my life make sense. And during that time we were both faithful to each other as we waited for a chance to live on the same continent.  My life revolved around our vacations together, and I was forever tethered through instant messaging, online games and phone calls; anything to keep us connected across the span.

But there was always turbulence.  After our first visit in person, my gender dysphoria, which I was denying more thoroughly than I ever had in my life, came raging back. It was 6 months into our relationship and I told her everything of my past.  I managed to keep it mostly at bay, but on higher and higher levels of my conscience I was aware that I was defying my true nature to make this work. 

I was always envious. When we were together in person, it was always so hard for me. She was delicate, smooth, so infinitely feminine.    Lying behind her at night, wrapped protectively around her small delicate form probably would have made a man feel strong, happy, and lucky to have such an amazing mate. But feeling her soft, curvy, feminine body against me mostly made me feel hopelessly disfigured and sad.  Sometimes I was unable to sleep. I would just lay behind her, half wishing I could have what she had and half clinging desperately to the strong, protective role that gave my pitiful male existence purpose.


This was written several months back.  At the time I just didn't have strength to finish.  I was cleaning up all my unused old drafts today and decided to try finishing the story.   The visits were amazing in ways.  I lived for them actually, even though one a year is all we could afford.  I have all these memories of us playing in the snow,  shopping two continents, hanging out at restaurants in Cape Town and exploring the city together.   Of course when you have that much emotion for someone all the affection is wonderful too.

In the end we were just not right for each other.  It was never an even relationship.  For her, it was love.  For me it was that and more.  Too much more.  It was a justification for living male. It was the one thing that made some sense of it all.  I was doing it because I loved her, so I was being what she needed.  This made the perfect excuse to keep taking the path of least resistance in my life.

By the end she had started picking up on that.  She started to realize that the relationship was the crutch propping up my male existence.  My life making sense depended on her, and that led to my desperately clinging to her.  With all my insecurities, and this need to defend the relationship combined, I was the most pitifully co-dependant, jealous, controlling creature imaginable.  For her, it was too much responsibility. And, me, I had become something less than human.  I was just her envious little satellite, able to exist only because of her.

I think it lasted as long as it did because beneath all of that, we really did have a lot of love for each other, and the distance was a bit of a buffer from the truth of our incompatibilities.  In the end though, the pull to be myself was too strong, and I came to resent what I had allowed myself to become.  I didn't want to be a satellite anymore, with who I am dictated by gravitation to someone else.  I wanted to be free to be myself.

The split was so difficult.  The memory that stands out the most is sitting in the floor with my back against a wall, with a cell phone in my hand.  I was crying.  She asked the question for the second time.  "So this is it? You're leaving me?" I could hear the pain in her voice. The first time she asked, I wasn't able to find the words.  This time, I managed a weak yes. And we both cried together.

It wasn't an even relationship.  For me, it's losing my orbit, my path, my reason for existence. Because I had become but a moon.  For her, you would think it easier to let go of her pesky little satellite, with its insecurities and its constant calls.  But satellites have their own tiny gravitational force, that effects the tides and a thousand other little things.  Losing one comes with its own pains.

When I answered her question with "yes", it was an agonizing moment for both of us, but something magical happened.  Satellites are supposed to slowly get closer as they orbit, until there's eventually a crash.  But in that moment, a moon lifted painfully and floated into space to find her own path.  All my life up tot hat moment, I took the path of least resistance, content to orbit someone or something else. But though it was hard at first, in that moment planet Shannon started defying gravity.


Anonymous said...

Wow Shandy. The emotion tied up in this blog is heartrending...yet, so familiar. Rest assured that you are not the only one who has had to endure this kind of painful separation. This helps cement the true value of the relationships we develop here on line. Empathy is rampant, needed, and worthwhile. Thanks so much for sharing such an intimate look into the beautifully feminine heart you have. :)Suzi

NickyB (aka the CFG) said...

You have a huge capacity to love.
As you say "But the truth is, I knew how to act because I knew what I would want, were I her", and yes, that's not healthy.
I could relate to what you wrote.
Cleaning up your old drafts, closure, processing and cherishing those memories is such a great thing, you're showing amazing strength there, which you should be proud of!
Also, and this is the hard bit, you can't easily be there for you, when she leaves such a boyfriend for instance? When she has trouble with her car? As you say, these are not easy things to help with remotely, although I can see that you make a fantastic friend !
However, don't let the guilt eat away at you...seems to me like you gave it your best shot, no-one could be expected to do any more than you did? are going to continue to need all the energy you can muster, for your own personal goals? That doesn't mean you need to turn selfish, but perhaps don't give out more energy than you receive at this point?
Thank you for your wonderful post :-)

Melissa said...

This was a very touching post, Shandy. You write beautifully. Please don't weigh yourself down with feelings of guilt over the past. You tried your best, but you couldn't help being who you are. Life goes on. Remember your post yesterday, about keeping your eyes between the mules ears?

Melissa XX

Leslie Ann said...

I've heard versions of this story several times from you, and it never fails to break my heart. You know it had to happen that way, and truly it would've been the ruin of you both to stay together. You can't keep beating yourself up for making the right decision. What a big heart you have, Shannon.

Kelli said...

That was a beautiful although heart-wrenching story. I was amazed throughout at how similar your relationship was compared to the relationship I had with my last girlfriend. In fact, if I were to show this post to her, she would probably think I had written it about us.

Our relationship ended the same as yours, and although I have always tried to keep an open door for some sort of friendly reconciliation, have discovered closure to be a singular, personal journey.

Jerica Truax said...

Your post made me cry. Hit too close to home I guess. My ex-wife appreciated my femininity as well while most other women did not.

*hugs* girl....days like this are hard. Cry because you can, cry because you know you did what you had to do.

<3 Jerica

Anonymous said...

A very touching post.

You can do no more than you have done to try to help. You shouldnt feel guilty, but I can understsnd your feelings well.
Big Hug.

ms.shandy said...

Its amazing how much difference a few encouraging words can make sometimes. On some things its nice to know that I'm not alone; that there are people who understand, and people who have been there. I do feel for everyone who is been in a relationship like that though. On either side of it.

I wish i could just hug everyone here. If only it didn't involve so much travel. :P

Calie said...

This is one of the most emotional and beautifully written posts I have ever read.

I so relate to so much of it, even though we have managed to keep it together. My emotions, when I read this line, rose to the surface:

Lying behind her at night, wrapped protectively around her small delicate form probably would have made a man feel strong, happy, and lucky to have such an amazing mate. But feeling her soft, curvy, feminine body against me mostly made me feel hopelessly disfigured and sad.

I do know the feeling...

Thanks for sharing this, Shandy.

Calie xxx

Loved said...

Dear Shandy,

Thanks for sharing with us your deepest feelings. I cried. My situation was identical to yours. Please don't be harsh on yourself. She was lucky to have you, she was loved.

I cried days and nights after my ex left me, i miss her so much. But i understand that she has to find her true identity in order to be truthfully happy. "Life is short, live it. I will miss you." That's what i told her.

Just like what you wrote: "I was doing it because I loved her, so I was being what she needed." -- i understand his love for me, and all i can do for her at the end, was to let her go. That was the least that i can do for her. It was really painful, but it's different from the pain of a oridinary breakup, there's no hate, no revenge, nothing negative. I know she deserves to be happy, and i thank her for being in my life. She brought love and laughter into my life. I never regret having her in my life, and i will always remember the soul i saw in his eyes, and the warmth of her cheeks. And most importantly, her heart.

Thanks for listening to my story too. *hugz*

ms.shandy said...


I really appreciate your comment. Situations like this are very painful for both parties. Its hard to let go when you love someone that much, even when both people realize its for the best.

I think your understanding nature is very admirable. My ex has become one of my strongest supporters and one of the first people to really understand and accept me. When I was afraid to tell anyone else my deepest feelings, she understood and its hard to explain how much that means. I still cherish her friendship, even though we are separated by so much distance.

I'm willing to bet you mean a lot to your ex too. :)