It has been 177 days since my last blog post. It’s odd looking at this blog now, at the person I was 6 months ago as compared to the person I understand myself to be now. You want an update on my life? Actually, maybe you don’t. Regardless, here are the highlights:
- I stayed with my mom for two weeks over the holidays. I got sicker than I’ve ever been with something that was a fever and a cold and a time-warp all in one. We didn’t know about COVID-19 then in the way we do now. I do wonder if that’s what I had.
- I burned my wedding dress on the full moon in February and it was the most eloquent, cathartic experience of my entire life. We played Cher “Believe” as it burned. Manifest destiny.
- I cried. A lot. Like more than I remember crying ever in my life.
- Katie moved out in late February,
- A global pandemic took siege of my city first here in the US and just after Katie moved out. I’ve been in some form of “quarantine” here in Seattle since 106 days ago. This is a fact I know only because I decided to maintain my sanity by closing all 3 rings on my Apple Watch every day just after Quarantine started. I somehow have managed to do so. On my lowest of days, at least I had that going for me.
- I counted today: I’ve seen 8 people I know in person 15 times in 106 days. I feel guilty about this sometimes and then I remember I would have minimally seen my coworkers 5 days a week during this time and realize I’ve really cut down my contact with others.
- I’ve contemplated the meaning of living no less than twice, to the point of scaring myself and scheduling emergency therapy.
- I’ve attempted to numb depression with drinking one time. The result was me ugly crying on my floor alone which then led to one of the aforementioned contemplations of the meaning of my life that scared me so much I scheduled therapy. It was not a good feeling and I’ve learned I’m not a person who can forget sorrow with substance use.
- That point made, I’ve had more alcohol and smoked more weed in the past 106 days than I ever have in my entire life. Why? Because I live alone with my plants and Carla (a cat – see 9.a) and there is no amount of reading, re-watching reality tv shows, discovering new reality tv shows, homework, work, virtual happy hours, virtual coffee dates, or walking every inch of my neighborhood that fills an entire day, week or 106 days. White Claw really should be a sponsor of COVID-19.
- 9.a: Katie took both cats initially because, well, they liked her more. They slept on her. They followed her around. They wanted to sit near her when we lived together. Then, 2-3 weeks into the Pandemic, Katie called asking me to take Carla because Carla was fighting with Charles a lot and generally not happy. Ya’ll! Carla follows me to bed and from room to room and, while I don’t have children or a dog, I imagine this is the kind of pride parents feel when their kid sits up without needing to be balanced or a dog sits on command. Does Carla like me? Probably not, but we’ve been through a pandemic together, ya know?
- I’ve stayed in school, although I’m not quite sure how or even why. Sometimes I think the reason I stayed in class was more about maintaining some semblance of normalcy in the constant assault of abnormal shifts in my life. I’m sure I’ll see it more clearly in 10 years. Maybe even in 1.
- I searched for a roommate during a pandemic. This is not an advisable action as 1) no one wants to move in with a stranger when that stranger might get them sick and 2) roommate searches are generally not fun when you thought you would be living with the person you were/are married to for the rest of your life. I did manage to make a new friend out of it: I call him Male Me. He also went through a breakup in December and we are quite alike. Unfortunately he had to move home (another state) and I had to conduct a new roommate search. I found one – although I’m scarred from the first go-around and won’t believe she’s real until she moves in with her stuff.
- Katie and I made our way to King County Court to file for divorce. We filed together. Enter this shit together, leave this shit together. As we sat with masks on in a windowless, marbled hallway listening to a kind gentleman attempt to give us the rundown through fogged glasses, my heart nearly stopped as he told us when we would need to return back to court to attest we still want to be divorced: 9/15/20. 3 days after what will be our 5th wedding anniversary. The irony? Poetry? Divine? What the fuck is that?
Now, those are broad highlights. I would need several novels to detail my life since December. What I really wanted to write about today was something that happened this week:
At work, I participated in a Panel about Pride month. This was the first time our company hosted something like this and I was super nervous. I’ve written about my life for all of you. I’ve included intimate, scary, vulnerable details about my own insecurities as the partner of someone transitioning. I look back at the person I was when Katie came out and don’t recognize myself (a real theme, no?). But those posts were always written with the freedom to edit. Katie read them all to ensure the accuracy of the stories I wrote about us felt authentic to her too. Speaking on a panel means I can’t take back what I say if the wrong thing comes out. Additionally, I was the person on the panel with direct experience as an Ally supporting a trans person. I wanted to get it right. Too much is at stake to not get it right.
Since our relationship ended, I’ve wondered what my identity is now. When Katie came out, I wondered if that made me a lesbian. Then, just as I was getting used to the idea of a queer identity, we broke up. So now what? Am I Former LGBT+? Can I still advocate in this space as someone without direct ties to it? These questions might seem silly to some. They are questions of the anxious mind, my anxious mind. But I’ve wondered them all the same. Who am I now? Divorce for everyone is this experience of a death and a rebirth. There is the death of who you are before divorce: the person in a partnership or marriage who was sharing the identity of the relationship with another person. There’s all the hopes and dreams of that partnership: the house you buy, the kids you have, the travel you do, the stability you thought you knew. And then it’s all gone. For me, my relationship ending after all the work we put into it, after all the hope I spread to others of the possibility for life after transition, broke me. In trauma, many report the out-of-body experience of watching themselves go through the assault. I feel as though I’ve had a front seat to the disintegration of who I thought I was. I’ve been working to understand who I want to be outside of this marriage. You combine this developmental time period with the literal isolation caused by a global pandemic and you get what I can only describe as a shit-show trying to hold herself together with tape, glue, cat hair, White Claw, and Real Housewives.
Well, 240 people dialed into the Panel discussion. We hoped we’d get 50. Senior executives at my company dialed in and listened. Me and 3 other peers talked about a myriad of topics: coming out at work, hiding ourselves in the workplace, not knowing if people would accept us, creating fake personas to hide our identity at work, physical assault for being gay, why LGBTQ+ matters should have space at work, what it’s like to have your partner come out as trans. It was an hour long conversation with 240 people about a population my work had previously never explicitly made a lot of space for. It was heartbreaking, invigorating, and beautiful. As I said on the call: You can’t correct oppression if you don’t name oppression. This call felt like such a huge step in the right direction.
My singular goal when Katie came out was to contribute whenever and however possible to the creation of a world that did not enable experiences of isolation like what Katie and I went through when she came out. No one should have to go through not knowing how to tell family members, friends, and coworkers who they are. No one should have to fear being assaulted or discriminated against for being who they are. I started this blog to make a space for a story I didn’t see written elsewhere. I said “yes” to revamping the LGBT+ group at work because no one should have to come out at work without knowing they will be fully accepted. (Actually, ideally no one has to even “come out” because we can just all be who we are, but I’m starting with smaller goals first). I was terrified of telling my coworkers about Katie in the beginning. Do you know what a difference it would have made to see my company had an LGBT+ group when Katie came out? It would have been EVERYTHING to me. VISIBILITY MATTERS.
When the Panel ended, I immediately started crying. So much of my life in the past 6 months (arguably 3 years) has been the heavy weight of Unknown. I know I don’t have it as bad as others. I know I have a myriad of things to be grateful for. I’m not trying to say my life is harder than anyone else’s. That said, for the first time in a long time, I felt at peace with the contribution I’d made to something. For one hour, I knew who I was. I had a space.
Anyways, I’m clearly rusty on these posts. I’ve rambled and am not quite clear on the message I wanted to send. What I do know is this: there is life after divorce when your transitioning partner ends the marriage. Better yet, hopeful if you find yourself in this position, that life might happen when it’s not a global pandemic and you’re able to actually spend time with the friends and family who can support you. Yesterday, I spoke on a Pride panel for my work about my partner coming out, about the experience of isolation after, about the resources I was able to find to help me through it. PEOPLE LISTENED AND WANTED TO LEARN MORE. The world is changing, one queer advocate/ally, one rambling blog post at a time.
I hope you are all doing as well as you can be provided the specific round of Jumanji 2020 is playing with humanity. Remember: be kind to yourselves, you are loved, and you are most certainly enough. Happy Pride!
To everyone who reached out to me after the last post, it meant more to me than I could ever expressly explain to you. I’m sorry I wasn’t the person who could respond and I appreciate your patience with me and my journey.
11 thoughts on “177 Days Later”
Thank you so very much for your sharing, for choosing courage and vulnerability and love (yes, you, all those things)! I’m grateful for your share, for your strength and bravery in leading the panel at your work, for leading the safe space here. Thank you for making the world a better place. I wish you love, healing, and self-kindness. Big hugs to you.
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Thank you so much for posting an update. I found your blog when my (now ex) spouse was transitioning and it helped me a great deal. I often wondered how you were doing. I still have bouts of sadness about the end of my marriage but I know it was for the better for both of us.
I started reading your blog a few years ago when I had started dating a trans person. #Gregsentme.
It was new and scary, (I was scared for them and how the world viewed and treated them.) reading your blog often made me worry more, but it was not a bad thing or in a bad way. It gave me a wider perspective on how my partner at the time could be treated, and how I might prepare for that.
Sadly. And ironically? We split up early in January, pretty close to when you and Katie split up.
I don’t know it is because I love them more than I have ever loved anyone, or because of the isolation of Covid19 or both, or even some of the other challenges I have faced since the breakup, but it has been stupidly rough.
My ex kept the cat too. They actually offered to let me take him as he likes me better, but the cat is really my ex-partner’s dog’s cat, and I can’t bring myself to split the two of them up as much as I miss the kitty. At least I still get to visit him now and again, though lately, I can’t bring myself to visit the cat when the Ex is there. There is just too much unsetteled emotion and pain.
Anyway, this has been a long-winded attempt at thanking you for sharing your journey. Reading it and especially this latest entry has helped me realize, though my situation is unique as is yours, it also is not. I suppose i find comfort not in the idea that others are slogging through really tough times in their lives, but in that they, you, are getting through it. Surely not as quickly, easily or gracefully as one would hope they could get through it, but through it and onward still.
Wishing you the best
My Ex too
And all the kitties as well
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Justin, you have a lovely writing-style. You sound like a really nice person. Stay well.
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I am very glad that you have written. In the 177 days that you have been going through your grief journey, I have just started on mine. My husband, who has myriad mental health and behavioral issues, has stated he wants a divorce. Despite the fact that this marriage has never been a partnership on his end, that I have had to put in all the effort, that he has destroyed any trust I have ever felt with his non-stop lies and tossing me to the wolves… I grieve too. I grieve for the death of a life that I had dreamed of. I grieve for the effort I put into something that was never going to be. I grieve for lost time.
I too miss having someone to connect with. To that end, I invite you to send me an email if you wish. I am always happy to lend support or just a friendly ear.
Be well and happy, be kind to yourself.
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Where did you end up on the who are you question, if I may ask? i. e. Lesbian, queer, ex-LGBT?
I hope you find clarity and peace 🙂 all the best to you and yours
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Before we broke up? Queer Lesbian. Now? Unclear.
Thank you for writing this update. It was as if you wrote your blog post about most of my current life. I am near enough to where you are now and have recently that your words broke my heart and healed it (both) a little more; I made it halfway through your post before I started sobbing. It took me at least 30 minutes to read the rest through my grief. Thank you for putting into words so many of the things I cannot explain to people right now when I am at my lowest. Thank you. ❤️ Knowing you are out there, somehow making it through each day, makes me so very hopeful and happy for both of us. I am making it through one day at a time, too, in my new apt with my two cats. I grieve a lot. I wonder who I am. I wonder about my sexuality. I wonder if my trans friends will still want to be my friends even though our split was mutual and we are working very hard to maintain love and friendship for each other in a way that doesn’t emotionally destroy us both. I wonder if anyone will take me seriously as an Ally or if that even matters. I guess it doesn’t as long as you do the work and act as one. I wonder how to trust and love again. I wonder where I’ll be and live a year from now. I miss that certainty and grieve it, too. The unknown is so very…unknown. I think, however, it might also hold many new, amazing experiences if I let myself be open to them. And I’m trying. I’m working on it. And you are an amazing woman as a single entity. I am glad to know you.
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I am happy you decided to blog an update on your life now. I have followed you for just over a year now. Had many tears over your words. The beginning of your journey mirrored my own. The questions, the understand, acceptance and love for your partner. I felt all those too.
We have been together 19 yrs, over 5 I have known her as herself. Over 1 yr ago she came out of the house and start transitioning and being open to the public. To go from Andrew to Madison. No surgeries, only hormones, hairdye, make up and clothing. She takes selfies documenting her jouney. Madi shows me her side by sides. Not only can you see her facial changes becoming softer. You can see the change in her eyes. She is happier. She loves life and is no longer hidden in her basement office. She bought a laptop and uses her phone to do many things so she can join the family.
This last month she has been called by female pronouns by complete strangers. Even walking into a car dealership in a city we havent been in. Makes us both happier.
Even her older sister, who she butt heads with when she first started transitioning, asked what pronouns to use.
I will admit when she first told me I grieved a passing of what I knew. When I look back at Memories on Facebook. I find it strange to read Hubby or Andrew. They seem strange to read.
I am happy that I stayed in my relationship. To grow and love someone as their authentic self.
I am happy you came back to be honest with us with your new path in life. I hope you find your own spark.
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I read your entire blog in 2 weeks. Your blog made me realize I was transgender I had come out to my wife about the time you and Katie broke up. I didn’t know what would happen I planned for the worst and she ended up being my biggest ally. Beginning my transition has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have been the happiest in my life along with the saddest. I have no regrets being authentic. Your blog made me figure out that dysphoria is why I got to my lowest I’m now trying to come out of that hole. Since my coming out I have had to cut ties with my parents and my sister. While I can say I’m not bothered by it but in all honesty I have cried myself to sleep almost every night. My wife has stuck up for me since the beginning even though she didn’t sign up for this You are such an amazing person for supporting her through everything even though it didn’t work. I really hope things turn around for you someday. You are a wonderful and caring woman to do what you did. Thank you!
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Hi and Thank you for writing your posts and sharing your life. It’s September 11th 2021, well over a year since this last post. I still read it and still cry whenever I do.
I hope you are doing better and that life has finally shown you some compassion and happiness. I don’t even know if you’ll ever read this, I shouldn’t think so, but if you do, over year later, I just want you to know that your beautiful writings, eloquently stated, yet raw emotion, still brings tears to my eyes. As I read through your entries, hope and heartbreak resonate deeply with me, even after all this time.
I find myself hoping that you have found peace and happiness, although I know it’s not the same as before … it’ll never be the same as before. From past experience with death of a loved one and divorce, things are just different now, and I no longer take those ‘happy times’ for granted.
Sorry for rambling, and best wishes!
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