Kathryn Finding Balance

finding balance and a life with my transgender husband.

I need a new space

This blog has been eerily quiet. I keep asking myself why, and I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion. I feel too exposed here. So much in my life has changed, that I never realized how much privacy I need. Now that I have a child, I feel that any discussion about my deepest feelings, fears, and my relationships need to be in a place that will be very unlikely to ever reach my child or my family. I don’t want to stop writing. In fact, I want to be more real than ever. But I don’t feel comfortable in this space anymore. I never understood why people changed blogs. I just thought, so what, your subject matter has changed, why change your blog space? Now I get it. Now I’m going to become one of those people. I didn’t start writing my blog for any reason except to be completely real. The purpose was never to get advice, or even feedback. The purpose was for my own outlet. I keep toying with the idea of just doing a private journal instead of a blog. I almost feel sometimes like the things I want to write about most, would be like airing dirty laundry. That’s not fair to my family. And, at the same time, I feel inclined to continue writing in a place that others could read. I feel like we connect and feel less alone and isolated when other people express the realness of human existence. Though situations may be different, we share common emotions. So, I’ll be moving spaces. Not sure where to yet, but if you’d like to follow, send me an e-mail to: followmetomynewblog at mail dot com and if I “recognize” you I’ll link you to the new space when it’s up. 

Bouncing Marshmellows

I posted this on my “motherhood” blog, though it could have gone in this space too. Instead, I’ll just link it.

When they just don’t get it

 

Precious

I don’t have a lot of time (who does with a new baby?) but I’ll try to spit this out. The other night, my mother in law took the baby, so we had some time to ourselves. It’s hard to talk about anything serious, when you’re distracted with a newborn. We cuddled on the bed, and I expressed my fears of going back to work and how the heck we’re going to make everything work with T’s crazy schedule (or lack thereof), daycare, and all the driving and it’s just going to be nuts. It feels impossible. I cried a lot. Deep down in the back of my throat, I wanted to discuss the transgender issues. Well, as I mentioned before I DIDN’T want to discuss them, but it’s been eating away at me every night. Every night I lie down and I think about them. I can’t get them off of my mind. So you know when you’re sitting with someone, and you want to say something so badly but you don’t know if you have the courage to do it, and it seems to take hours. And you rehearse in your head a million ways how you’re going to say it, but it’s so hard. Every time you think you’re going to say it, but you hold back… more silence. And you know, if you don’t say something, if you miss the chance, you’ll regret it. The anxiety will stick around. Ugh. It’s awful. I didn’t want to bring it up, because it IS a can of worms, and I think it brings thoughts to the front of T’s mind that are not so easy to handle either.

But we had this opportunity, of alone time. I knew I’d have an hour to cry. I knew I’d be able to compose myself before the baby came back. So, I said, essentially… what about you, what about sperm banking and seeing an endocrinologist. My breath was shallow. My heart racing. T said he wasn’t ready for that at this point, but he did want to start pursuing electrolysis. I said, well wouldn’t the electrolysis work better with hormones. He paused… there were a lot of pauses, it seemed like hours. So much tension. He said right now he wasn’t ready for that. That, he was going to try to live life more gender queer… gender blurred…  like “Daisy” (a man we had met through a local support group for cross dressers who is still married and cross dresses, a lot, but is very dual gendered).

I cried, and I said I kept thinking about our baby, and I kept feeling guilty, bringing her into this world, into our mess. That I wanted to be a stable mom for her, not a mom full of grief and fear all the time. That I can’t imagine trying to raise her and trying to find time to grieve. T said he understood, that he wanted us to make it too, for the sake of our child. That he has thought a lot about her, and me, and our relationship.

I don’t know how to tell you how I felt. Part of it was relief that I don’t have to anticipate a transition, at least not now, not soon, and part of it was another kind of fear. One is, living with someone who is unhappy (and maybe he won’t be, but it’s just a fear). And, that’s sort of our paradox. If he becomes physically a woman, I live unhappily. If he stays physically a man, he is unhappy. Unhappy seems like such a stupid quaint little word, I mean … it’s the most complicated string of emotions, but “unhappy” is all I can really put down. It’s a tug of war and will we find a medium… content enough with that flag somewhere hanging over that box drawn on the ground below? Part of me says, okay, let’s take it like it is for now, see where this goes, try to do this gender ambiguous kind of life (electrolysis, long hair, etc). Part of me wonders if that will ever be enough. I know a lot of men who, when they hit their 40’s and 50’s the urge becomes so much stronger than ever before, and I kind of anticipate that happening, if not sooner. But of course I won’t push that… I want to be married, I want to be “happy” with the person I married. I want us to make it. It’s still such a screwy situation…  me feeling guilt about T holding out on pursuing what could make him completely fulfilled…. T feeling guilt of leaving me in a marriage where I am not fulfilled. Love, it’s such a fucked up beautiful thing. And motherhood… parenthood… has taken it to a whole new level.

She’s so precious” I said, as the words brought me to sobs. “I love her so much.” with the meaning of, I never want to hurt her. I never want us to hurt her.

So we had a baby

Life is chaotic. Motherhood is in a way so far not bad.. we have a really good baby yet the emotional aspect of the transition from not being a mom to being a mom is really hard… really. I am looking into some support groups. With a baby I dont have much time to write but have a lot of time to think which is hard, especially feeling isolated much of the time. We have not really.gotten into our grooves of being parents… its hard with Tyler’s schedule or lack thereof. I think a lot about the transgender stufg but dont speak of it bc I already feel so fragile but then this other part of me wonders what is going on. I think I fear speaking of it bc right now we are both trying to maintain… to pretend we are doing just fine. But it brings a superficial aspect to our relationship especially now that we rarely have time to even cuddle. I take care of the baby and Tyler takes care of everything else. I keep telling myself we will have us time again. I keep wondering when he will want his time… but I dont want to ask.

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Our baby

The Sand Bar

“Post More” was a comment I received lately. A kick in my rear =P

What to post about right now? I’m a psycho self obsessed pregnant lady: http://kathrynfindingfertility.wordpress.com/
Things are going well, still on the path of “nothing is really happening.” I mean, very good things are happening, we’re having a baby in 7 weeks. Tyler’s job is going very well. We’re actually going to be buying a newer car soon. Major life changes and such. Things are generally very good in our household. But there’s obviously a part missing, Tyler’s identity. It all came out so fast, so quick, like a tidal wave. And now the tide has receded in the wake of having to deal with all of the above. Working, baby, paying bills. I’m not faced with transgender issues much at the moment, and in some ways it’s nice to be floating in this sea of la la land. I won’t call it denial because it’s not. But it’s like standing on a sand bar and kind of wishing you never had to swim back to shore, knowing that one day you will.
Part of me feels like a horrible wife, not encouraging my spouse to dress more, do more, be herself more. But it’s hard to encourage something that mostly still makes me sad when I think about it. And a lot of me doesn’t want to open up that can of emotional worms on either of our sides, because it’s my believe that Tyler is just putting a bandaid on the sore for now and doing the best that he can to get our life in a better place.
It’s not that it’s never on my mind. It’s frequently on my mind, on my heart.
Occasionally things happen that hit a nerve for me. I’m still a part of many online support groups. I don’t always read all the e-mails because I’m not participating much in them at the moment. I did read one about a really traumatic experience for a transwoman and her spouse. The transwoman had been “tucking” and one day experienced horrific pain as her testicle had gotten horribly twisted. They had to go to the E.R. The E.R. did not seem to handle the situation with much sensitivity or privacy. Imagine being a woman, having to go into the E.R. and telling them that your testicle is twisted from the tucking you have been doing. Intensely embarrassing, horrible pain, and de-feminizing you. The spouse wrote that her partner just sobbed and sobbed at the E.R. And sobbed and sobbed when they got home from the experience, and even became suicidal. Her e-mail brought me to tears, both for their own pain and for fear of what kinds of experiences might lay ahead for me on this path. The kinds of things that most people don’t ever deal with. It just rocked me to the core. Made me sick to my stomach. I don’t want to go through that (who would?). My God the challenges that could be lying ahead.
The only way I can deal with these things is to live in the moment, right now. Live in whatever THIS very moment is because every ounce of thought I waste on future fear, robs me of this very special time in my life.
I had a nightmare last night. I know it was powerful because I woke up aching everywhere, my muscles tensed up like a concrete statue. It was in a sense, a ridiculous dream. Really quite laughable. I have heard that in the third trimester dreams can become more intense due to hormones. I dreamed that I walked into the garage late at night, to find my spouse en femme in a convertible, with another guy, also en femme, almost draq queen like. I asked if they were having an affair, to which my spouse replied that yes they were. I then started to receive pictures of all the dates they were going on, and how excited my spouse was about it.  It was a horrible dream. I remember crying, sobbing, calling people, feeling my heart bursting like my life was over. Feeling so horribly angry that I was about to have this baby, and now for sure I was losing my spouse in every way possible. That this was the last straw and I had played a fool for so long. It was a terrifying dream, to which I woke up in intense physical pain. I know it was a dream about “losing control” because in this dream I also had to borrow my ex boyfriend’s car, to which I could barely drive because I couldn’t control the speed (he had added some weird power booster to it) and the car was essentially out of control. So, yeah, we’re going through a time right now in our lives where things are about to be out of our control with a new life in our hands. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt this morning, when my spouse came upstairs (had been working most of the night downstairs) and hugged me while I was getting ready for work. I wanted to climb into bed with him and fall back asleep. The love felt so immense.
So that’s where I am, on the sand bar.

Getting my butt kicked

Now the a.c. on our upstairs 3rd floor is not working. Why in the heck would we need a.c. in January? Oh  yeah, in Texas it got up to 79 degrees today. It’s 77 outside right now and 78 on the third floor, where our bedrooms are. Where I sleep. UGH. What will this cost?

Goodbye False Sense of Control

It was just on Monday that I felt like I finally had a false sense of control over my life. I mean, I knew it was false but it was a fun feeling. Like, everything could fall into place. I had found two potential day-cares that could work and settled on those. I had gotten so much done around the house and had a plan for the next few months. It’s amazing how quickly that sense of control can be jerked out from under you. It’s not like something horrible happened, I mean, when I put things into perspective, there is some shit that could truly rock my world right now and I am so thankful that has not happened.

But here I am, trying to be smart with my money, trying to save for this child, etc. And then yesterday I go tour one last daycare, that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t even like but I decided to go. So, I go, and I didn’t like it. it was just the kind of place where you walk in, and all 4 infants are crying and it seems chaotic and it was just a big NO in my book. Okay, cool no big deal. 

So I go outside to my car, and it won’t start. I figure, it’s probably the battery. So I call my friend S who lives half a mile away. I had plans to hang out with her that night anyway. Could you come get me? Or help me jump my car? I’m only half a mile away. But, no, unfortunately her boyfriend had taken her car to work that day, and she was left with his stick-shift car which she couldn’t drive (and I can’t either). So, I call Tyler. Tyler is in a meeting across town. So, I decided I’ll just walk to S’s house and deal with it later. 

Later comes, and I call the closest person who could come, my dad. My dad arrives. He can’t get the car to jump. He thinks he’s just not making a good connection. So 30 minutes later we call AAA. We leave to go get some dinner and of course AAA shows up just as our food arrives at the table, so we rush back to the car. AAA can’t get it to jump. It’s not the battery. (damn it).

So AAA calls us a tow truck. Tow truck finally arrives at 8:45pm. Tows my car a few miles to a shop that we trust and has worked on our Honda cars before.

I finally get home just a little before 10pm, exhausted. My routine bedtime is 9pm. I’m tired of dealing with car trouble all night. 

Oh, and let me just put a little TMI in there. Ya’ll, I had to go to the bathroom. You know, go-go. I had to go since 4pm that day. 8:30 was rolling around and I was like, I HAVE TO GO. And can I just put out a little thank you to Trader Joes? My dad and I decided to kill some time in there so I headed for the bathroom and thank you universe, thank you for letting it be a clean, nice smelling, SINGLE stall only  bathroom. Complete privacy. Trader Joe’s, you were the angel of my night.

Back to the story.

So, in the morning, I get up, take Tyler’s car (which is from 1997 by the way) to the shop, so that I can give the mechanic my keys (they didn’t have a drop box). So I’m late to work, which is fun too. Before I leave work, Tyler tells me they called him and it’s “the starter” which is going to cost $600. Sucks right? I don’t just have $600 to spend on whatever the Hell I want right now. I have a freaking child on the way.

So I rush home to get him, walk in and he says “your car isn’t ready today.” What? Why not? You said it was? “Yeah, well they called back. And that weird noise that we had been hearing in your car, well it’s a flaw with the engine, some issue with that particular civic. It’s going to cost us another $450 to repair, and we don’t really have a choice on that matter.” Seriously? Seriously? I’ll be dropping a thousand dollars on my car tomorrow?  I want to melt into the floor. I want to look in the mirror and check for bruises because surely I have just been punched in the gut. 

Tyler is moping. He is visibly distressed and not tolerating this news well either. His head is hanging low. His voice is weak. His feet shuffle across the floor. 

I can only respond “Well, this certainly calls for some ice cream!” as I pull out the Mint Chocolate Chip from the freezer. 

“I’m going to go take a nap” he says.

I eat. He retreats. 

False sense of control gone. We could have used the $1k to help pay for the new car we actually NEED. Driving Tyler’s 1997 Honda around just really is not fun. Thank god it DRIVES but I’m terrified because the tires are old. Everything is old. This car is ghetto. Ghetto as in, the inside driver’s side door handle came off so you have to pull this little metal bar to get the door open. 

I know we’ll get through this. We always do. I just HATE it. Will we ever get ahead?

Fog

Our doula came to our house today for our second meeting. It was the first time that Tyler got to meet her. Tyler expressed his hatred of hospitals, the hospital smell, fear/horror over umbilical cords, and his dislike of newborns. It was obvious that this was generally an uncomfortable conversation for him. Thinking about “the birth” is not something that comes across his radar. Sometimes I feel so disappointed that Tyler isn’t as “in to this baby” as I imagined my spouse being. It often brings on feelings of guilt and fear, and sometimes envy of those who have spouses that share deeply in the excitement. When you combine that with my already out of whack hormones and irritability, it’s a less than desirable combination.

It’s so difficult to know sometimes how all of the feelings are connected. With my spouse being transgender, and yet still stuck living the role of the sex he was born, it complicates everything. If he had no identity issues, would he harbor so much fear over having a child? If he had no identity issues, would he feel more secure about everything? I don’t believe there is anything or any emotion that the gender identity issues fail to touch. It’s like a creature with an infinite amount of tentacles, growing, looping, invading every space, even those you thought were hidden. It’s the fog in the road that just can’t seem to clear. At the same time, I have to be careful not to blame gender identity for traits that may just be inherently “Tyler traits.” Though I have to trust my intuition.
I asked him today if he had thought anymore about what name he wanted our child to call him. He, of course, said no. Why would anything so seemingly important (to me?) be something that he has spent time thinking about? That’s just my annoyance bubbling up. But my intuition tells me it’s not a lack of caring on his part, but a lack of feeling complete that makes it difficult, if not overly depressing, to think about. I said “she could just call you cutie, since you’re my cutie.” His response? “maybe that will help raise my self-esteem.” Bring on the fog, that’s how I felt. A heavy and cloudy sadness. He said he’d think about it when the kid starts talking. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that this name isn’t just about the child, but what I will call him. What others will refer to him as in front of the child. That unless we specify  others are going to default to “dad.” and I don’t think I can allow myself to hear those words only to have to give them up again. The pain would be too much.
In these moments I find myself feeling guilt. Guilt that I’m getting what I need before he gets to get what he needs. Guilt for not having any answers as to how and when we’ll make his dreams come true. Do they seem forgotten  Out of sight, out of mind? Stuffed deep into the basement by our financial strain? We need a new car, to start a college savings fund, to start an emergency savings fund, to buy diapers, but we also need hair transplants and electrolysis, hormones and the like. What do you choose? Where do you go with it all? Is it any wonder the fog can be so dense? 
I want to spend the last 4 months of my pregnancy in the clear warm sunlight. Sometimes it’s so refreshing to soak up the feeling of being “normal” (whatever that is). Is this temporary “normal” his gift to me? Though you can hardly call it normal on the cold nights when my spouse is walking around in his Victoria Secret PINK sweat pants, with “PINK” inscribed across the derriere. But those are just pants, and this, whatever this is that I’m going through and Tyler’s going through, is so much bigger than pink pants. 

Some promising news?

So yesterday I met with the Good Witch, and discussed the possibility of our clinic closing and me losing my job in May. As if having a child is not terrifying enough, having one and then having to find a new job is even more terrifying. And not just any old job, but an licensed professional counselor intern position! BAGH! It just made me start thinking about what my options were, if I had any options, and what the Hell I wanted to do with my life in the future. And I came up with no answers. I kept imagining myself at a new job where I didn’t have an office, trying to pump breast milk in a storage closet on the 2 breaks a day that I would get. OMG.

I was overwhelmed, but I’ve sort of had to say, whatever will be will be, right? We were told that some of the faculty would be making decisions about whether to go to the new institution with our director, or if they would stay here at the clinic. They’ve been offered some pretty bad ass deals, and basically, in our eyes, if the last 2 faculty of our clinic left, we’d be left with nothing.

Well today, out of the blue, we receive this official e-mail from the Clinical Director of the Mood Disorders Clinic which is housed above us. Essentially, this e-mail said that UT was making our clinic a priority, and that he was going to take over the clinic. All our mouths sort of dropped because our own supervisors/doctors had not communicated any of this to us yet. Come to think of it, it was actually poorly done because it created some confusion and excitement  We called our director boss, Dr. S who said “well nothing has been decided” which was really confusing, but it sounds like what she meant was nothing has been decided as far as whether she will stay on our not. However, what we have essentially come to learn is that in one way or another, the clinic WILL stay open.

JUMP FOR JOY I WILL HAVE MATERNITY LEAVE AND A JOB WHEN I RETURN.

It’s also kind of exciting, since so many people have jumped ship, there will be huge changes in the clinic. Such as, my LPC-supervisor taking over as clinic manager (and she would be awesome at this), and the crappy nurse practitioner wants to find a new job (um yay thank God), and our evil head director will be gone to UVA replaced with the super nice personable director of the mood disorders clinic. In addition, it might mean we get to do more studies with mood disorders, not just substance disorders, so this could make my job more interesting. (Sad to say, after working with cocaine/crack users for 2.5 years, it’s kind of old news).

So, I am feeling tentatively relieved and tentatively excited. Getting to use all my sick leave, keeping my insurance….  I would never be so thankful.

And, most of you could probably care less but here is what the letter said, and then my other boss’s response that she sent after we left work today (the one that was flustered by the e-mail).

After 20 years of distinguished services to our school, Dr. R has decided to leave (clinic) to pursue new opportunities at another institution.   His expected start date at (new institution)  is April 1, 2013.  Dr. R has been a great colleague and a very strong leader for the (clinic) and our research efforts.   We will surely miss him and wishes him well on his new endeavors.

Effective February 1, 2013, I will become the new Director of the (clinic).  Dr. G will be appointed Medical Director.   We are beginning discussions with the team at the (clinic) to identify challenges and opportunities so that it will continue to grow and thrive.   We anticipate some overlap with Dr. R over the next two months and some gradual transition of responsibilities.   As you know, there are many commonalities in approach and extensive overlap between substance use disorders and mood disorders, so I feel strongly that my background as a researcher in mood disorders, alongside with expertise on neuroimaging and neurocognitive studies and clinical trials will be an asset to the team at the (clinic).   Similarly, with Dr. G’s wealth of expertise on clinical trials and clinical research, as well as extensive clinical experience and Board Certification in Addiction Psychiatry, we feel strongly about our future directions and very enthusiastic as we embrace this new challenge.   UT has identified the (clinic) as a priority area for our institution and our leadership is fully behind the transition efforts.

 

And her response:

I’m so sorry that I missed talking to you in person today after this announcement was sent out.  Dr. B is sending this to reassure everyone of the stability of the (clinic).  Our center/clinic is not going to go away, regardless of whether additional faculty leave.  This is great news.  As you know, (new institution) has been trying to recruit all of us, so I have been going through the long process of exploring options to stay or go.  Soon I will decide, and if my decision is to stay at UT, I will be Co-Director of (clinic).  In that case, I would be very excited about broadening our center to include mood disorder comorbidities.

I hope this helps clarify the situation. I will be here tomorrow and we can discuss further.

Pretty cool right??

Cat house

Yes there are 4 cats on our bed.

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