I can say in full sincerity 2019 is the hardest year I’ve ever had. I thought the year Katie came out was difficult. I thought I knew struggle. As I turned toward learning about Katie’s depression, wading knee-deep in the murky headwinds of uncertainty, I’ve discovered more about myself and what I’m capable of. I challenged myself beyond a capacity I previously understood possible. I started graduate school to become a marriage and family therapist. I started a new job. I’m proud of what I’ve done, but I look at it now and see immense pain. I see two people in incredible, unbearable, and isolated pain.
On December 10th when I got home for our regularly scheduled therapy session, Katie was low, lost in the spiral trap her mind sets for her. I asked if she wanted to join the session. I wasn’t sure of the protocol here – if we both don’t join, do we have to pay a cancellation fee? Am I allowed to do our couples session alone? If we had discussed this before in session, I didn’t remember. I didn’t want to do a session with Katie in this mood. It’s not productive and double the work for me. I have to have the conversation essentially alone. Katie from some depth of her self insisted on doing the session. Some part of me thinks she didn’t want to shirk on her responsibilities, although I would have been fine to do it alone. Not angry, not upset. Anything I talked about with our therapist would have been shared with her. I have nothing to hide.
In session, I described Katie’s mood. We talked about what to do if one of us can’t join. Then I began to describe what I had noticed in Katie from Thanksgiving weekend. There is a cycle to her depression: She wakes up sad, she becomes anxious about her inability to do things as she wants to, she becomes more anxious in consideration of the impact on me, she has an anxiety attack, and finally, at some point, she recovers. As I’ve come to understand this pattern, to me it seemed clear we needed to identify a way for Katie to focus on herself, and not on me, during her down days. How do we help her build habits to prevent the anxiety attack?
As I talked in session, Katie chimed in here and there, but was minimally able to participate. I asked her what was needed to help her heal. How can I help? How can I convey to her that I’m going to be okay and I will do what it takes to help her? Does she need a leave of absence from work? What? Katie told me she didn’t think she ever was going to want to have kids. This was something we had talked about, but the comment came out of left field. I reassured her I would be okay if this was the case. Then, I asked the question I’ve been afraid to ask, but knew I needed to: do you need our relationship to be over so you can get better? Katie immediately started crying and everything began to move in slow motion. Underneath a rainfall of tears Katie told me she didn’t think she could get better while in this relationship. She also didn’t think it was fair to me to stay in our relationship.
It was almost the end of session. I looked from Katie to our therapist and noticed our therapist wipe tears from her eyes. I asked Katie if we could wait to make any decisions. Can we continue to talk about this? I told our therapist we’d see her in a couple weeks. After the session ended, I don’t really remember anything aside from crying. We both sobbed, big large audible cries you think can only happen to other people. I left the room to go to bed, dinner seemed like a ridiculous idea and I wasn’t hungry. I lay down in our guest room and sobbed. Katie came in and held me. We didn’t sleep much. We didn’t talk. We cried.
Unsure of what happened or how to process our conversation, I moved through the next 48 hours in a daze. Due to prior commitments, it was a couple days before we could speak again. I went to my own therapy session with my therapist and found myself instilled with hope that maybe our relationship wasn’t ending, maybe we needed to separate, to work on our individual selves. On Thursday, we left for Texas, to my sister’s baby shower. Before leaving I reconfirmed Katie even wanted to go. I would understand if she didn’t and knew I could explain it if she wasn’t there. I wasn’t ready to tell my family what was happening. I didn’t want to overshadow my sister’s event and the shower was already incredibly stressful for me without whatever was happening with me and Katie. This shower was the primary subject of my own therapy for months. My entire family would be there. My mother and father, grandmother, people who hadn’t been in the same room since our wedding. My whole family was meeting Katie since she came out. None of them had visited since it happened, and Katie hadn’t traveled with me since. I honestly needed Katie there, needed an advocate who listened to the high-pitched notes of my anxiety. She came and I’m still so grateful. I don’t know if I could have done the weekend without her reassurance of my thinking. Family is hard for me.
On our last day in Texas (Monday), we got to accompany my sister to a sonogram and see the cheeks which now adorn my beautiful niece. Unfortunately, my sister was admitted to the hospital with low fluid levels in the placenta and we left my mom and sister at the hospital to go home. We weren’t sure when we left if they would need to induce my sister at 35 weeks. The last three weeks of 2019 were spent in and out of the hospital playing the “Is today the day for the baby or not” game none of us knew existed. It finally became necessary to induce my sister early and my niece finally came on December 27th, 2019. Isabella Rose Wood. She’s perfect.
After Texas, on Tuesday, I met Katie after her therapy session so I could get a ride home. On our way, I ran through my list to-do that night which included grocery shopping for the Christmas Dinner served at Lambert House the following day. As we drove, Katie barely participated in the conversation, which at some point turned toward our relationship and the future. I noticed she wasn’t participating in the conversation on this subject at all while we were in Texas. She stayed silent, not acknowledging the hope I saw in our future, at the path I could see in our lives together. In the parking lot of Fred Meyer, I asked her: Do you see any hope here? Do you see any future, any chance of this working? No, she told me, I don’t. In two short words my whole life changed. In a similar fashion to our conversation on the couch two years earlier, I felt Katie pull the rug from under me, felt my world completely melt into the seconds comprising the minutes of a moment. Her mind was made up and the two years of work we had done on our marriage, our memories, our lives together all abrasively switched to the past tense, to a thing that was.
I used to wonder how I would end this blog. How do you end a story not yet written? I used to think this blog was about the hope you can have through transition, about the possibility of love existing as gender changes. I still see that story, but it’s different now. To explain the absolute devastation I feel would be to use every word already used by anyone writing about heartbreak. Learning that love isn’t enough will be the hardest thing I ever learn. There’s no going back now and I’m not sure how to make sense of the journey. How do you repair when love wasn’t enough?
All of this to say, this will be the last post on this blog for a while. I’m not willing to say it will be the last post forever. I am not a fortune teller. For the time being I don’t have a story to write for you. The path to my personal repair outside my relationship with Katie isn’t the story of TisforTrans. TisforTrans is the story about a love that guided a cisgender wife down a precarious, isolated journey when her wife came out. This was the story of a person who learned to advocate for her wife, for trans people, but most importantly, for herself. I deserve better than someone who cannot see the future with me. Knowing this is something I couldn’t have learned without Katie or the last two years. I somehow still find myself humbled, grateful, and full of hope for my future. If I can love like this, what else is possible within me? I can’t wait to find out.
I plan to keep the email live if anyone should want to reach out. I can’t promise to respond because I need to take care of myself for a while, but I cannot say how much comfort I’ve found in corresponding with those who read this blog and I hope to at some point continue to provide comfort to all of you who need it. Just remember, especially if you’re new here: you are loved and you are enough.