This week has been a week. I have a cold that has completely decreased my appetite and energy. Dayquil, 8-10 hours of sleep, saltine crackers, and lots of tea are ventilating my existence. I’ve lost six pounds which I’d normally be thrilled about, but I don’t think this is a recommended weight loss plan. This cold came just after I got back from visiting my mom which means instead of spending four days in Seattle imaging what my life would be like without a job – enjoying sunshine, training to be a support group mentor, doing yoga, and shopping at outlets – I laid on our couch, a helpless sloth with a 102 degree temperature, begging for all the blinds to be shut so I the external world doesn’t have to witness my demise.
In addition to this cold, or maybe even in part because of it, my life has felt incredibly out of my control. Really, this entire last year has felt like a lesson in how to learn how to let go of control, or at least get more and more comfortable with having none. I’m a planner. I may not know every moment how everything in my life will go, but to a certain degree, until Katie admitted to being transgender, I knew what my life would look like. The parts I didn’t know, I was comfortable with, the unknowns still held a shape I recognized. Then I learned I’m married to a woman, an outcome I could never have predicted or seen coming.
Since the beginning, I’ve told Katie that this transition, the steps that need to happen in it, and the journey that she needs to walk to become the woman she knows she is, has to be driven and delivered by her. I cannot be the person that pushes her towards taking each step, that holds her accountable to her own timeline. I’ve played that role for us in our relationship, the role of the planner. In this transition, I knew I could no longer do that. I knew, and still know, that if I give into my impulse to plan, to do the research on the best doctors, clinics, therapists, and everything else, I would grow to resent her for it. I also had a fear that if she doesn’t own this transformation herself, she would regret it. The journey will be so much more worth it if she does the work herself. She deserves the satisfaction of completing the journey, of being fully confident in who she is. That kind of reward only comes from the work and I want that for her.
I knew after Katie came out, that my defense mechanism to unknown circumstances was to make clearer the darkness. I have always slept in a room with a nightlight, something to outline the shadows and make me feel less alone. I overcompensate for my anxiety by meticulously planning every aspect of everything I do. I did this, to my own detriment, when we were planning our wedding. I fretted about every detail so much, trying to make known the unknowns, that the week of our wedding I slept less than 20 hours over the course of 7 days. This caused my stress levels to magnify more, made it impossible to feel a buzz the day of the wedding, and inspired a state of exhaustion that makes the entire day a bit blurry for my memory. It was on our honeymoon in Spain that I realized how abnormal it was to stress myself to the point of not enjoying my own wedding day. It’s not to say that our wedding wasn’t wonderful and that I didn’t love every moment of it. In hindsight, I just wish I wasn’t so tired, so I could soak in all the hard work Katie, I, and our families put into it more coherently. I wish I could have let go of the unknowns.
We have crossed off so many of the unknowns of this transitions, so many of the what-ifs. I’m so incredibly proud of both of us, of me for getting through it. That said, our biggest unknown is yet to be: can I be married and love the physical form of a woman? I love Katie so much and I believe that I can do this. I want to be where I am. That said, this question is still an unknown. I know life is full of them. I mean, I can’t predict whether I will be in a car accident tomorrow and I have to remind myself that the unknowns aren’t something I can really control (knocks on wood – yes, I’m suspicious). What will be, will be. Still, my overly anxious, needs-a-plan self has found herself feeling more subject to the need for a plan. We have a lot of steps left to take, and I want to plan a life for us in the meantime, sprinkle joy to look forward to as we wade a sea of potentially sharp edges. I want to go to Paris and see Germany at Christmastime. I want to have kids and a life that isn’t tied to the “What’s next on the Transition?” playlist. Despite the future of my life having a different gender in the picture, I still have this really beautiful idea of what mine and Katie’s life will look like. To fully realize that image, we also have at least one expensive and complicated medical procedure, one name-change, one gender marker change, one workplace to notify, dozens and dozens of electrolysis appointments. Not one of those things is small. They all require extensive research, time, and money. I don’t expect Katie to execute all the planning for these things alone. I’m ready to help her, but she hasn’t asked me to yet.
On Tuesday night, I let her know I was feeling stuck, that I needed a plan, that I wanted a plan for us. I know to some this can seem incredibly selfish. “Let Katie transition when she wants to transition.” I’m all for that! Except she is telling me she wants the whole package as soon as possible. Surgery within a year. Name changes by the end of the year. Work knowing by January. I fully support all of those things, but there isn’t a magic wand making them happen. I haven’t found a money-tree to help pay for it. To do all of these things, to make Katie’s dreams and then my dreams happen, we have to plan. It’s needed. I told Katie I needed her to ask me for help, that I wasn’t going to offer again. I told her that it was really important to me that she do the leg-work, that she come to me if she needed help. I need to know she can meet me in the middle, that she won’t rely on me to make these decisions for her or hold her accountable to doing it. I need to know that I can be independent from her. I need to know that she can carry us, as much as I do. I know if we are going to do this, if we are going to make it through this next phase, through Year 2, Katie needs to do this for herself. She agreed with me. She admitted she’s been procrastinating planning for no legitimate reason, she’s just a procrastinator by nature. She asked me to give her a timeline. Katie is going to show me the research she has done on surgeons on Sunday after we look at flights to Paris for December. A plan is born, and I am suddenly less anxious than I was before. Now, if only I could breathe through my nose again. This mouth-breathing thing really doesn’t work for me.