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.