Two years ago, my spouse told me that I should come out to my parents and go full time. She didn't really know everything that would be involved in transition and she also told me that if/when I did it that she would leave me. She had first seen me as Tammy a couple of months before and had just started being able to tolerate being around me being myself, here at home. She had figured out in this short time that this was really who I was and that I owed it to myself (and to them) to tell them. This was about 7 months after I finally worked up the courage to come out to her and tell her that I wanted to see a therapist; and after at least a year and a half of trying to get up the nerve to talk to her. Before that I did not want her to find out about me because I didn't think she would understand. At this point 2 years ago when she told me this, I didn't want my parents to find out about me because I didn't think they would understand. I only did both of these things (come out to my spouse then parents) because I had to. I needed to progress and there was no other way to do it without these people knowing. In the past, I just fantasized about running away and starting a new life, but I wasn't fantasizing any more. I had to live my life and I needed to transition in order to keep living, so I had to take these steps and do these things I never thought I could do and never wanted to do.
So I owe a lot to my spouse for being the person that really got my attention with regards to coming out to my parents. Well she wasn't the first person to suggest it, other friends had, but when she told me that I Needed to come out to them it really hit home. She made me believe that I could do it and that it would not necessarily be the disaster I had imagined. I don't know how I could have transitioned without coming out to them, unless I ran away like the childish fantasy I used to have. But I am grown up now (sort of), and one of my main responsibilities is to take care of them as they get older so I couldnt' just run away from that.
She also came through on her end of the bargain; to leave me when I found the courage to tell my parents and begin to live my life as me, full time. I will have to admit that she has some marvelous insight (for someone that I was never fully honest with until recently) and seems to know me pretty well. The only person I have Ever been fully honest with, about everything from Day 1, is my boyfriend Mitch. I think that by the time I met him I had learned what worked and didn't work in my life, and dishonesty and deception had not worked out well for me. I have to thank him for showing me how liberating and productive complete honesty is, and perhaps he should also get some of the credit for me finding the strength to come out.
Followers of this blog know what a struggle it was for me to conquer my "Mt. Everest" (coming out) and know of my inner struggle in adjusting to life without my best friend and spouse living here with me. My parents accepted me right away, and in the last 4 plus months I think my spouse has finally started to fully accept me as well. When she lived at home I feel she was more tolerant than accepting. I think she understood me but she didn't accept me and perhaps she was hoping that I would never change. Part of the reason it was so hard on her was that she had to maintain a secret, as I had for so long. I brought her into my secret and I am sure that it created a lot of stress within her. I know a thing or two about that stress. She couldn't tell certain people (like my parents) about me and I know that made it more difficult for her, especially when we would be around my parents together. She must have felt as uncomfortable as I did and I hate that I put through all that.
Last weekend things finally came full circle for my family. My spouse has been talking to my parents, especially my mom, and they all decided to go to church together last Sunday. Mom wanted to go to a different church than the one she is a member of, still a Baptist Church but not a Southern Baptist church. She has not been going to church lately but she wants to get back into going. It is encouraging to me that she wants to go to try a different church and it is better for her that this church is in the neighborhood, only a block from her house. I didn't go to church with them but I did go out and get chicken and barbecue takeout for lunch and had it waiting for them when they got home.
Thia was the first time I had been around my spouse, Joan, and my parents at the same time since coming out. I have mentioned that she recently began calling me Tam (at least most of the time) as she dislikes the name Tammy right now. We all got along great at lunch, probably better than we ever have. At least I did not feel as tense and uncomfortable inside and I believe the feeling rubbed off on Joan and my parents as well. For awhile I was very uncomfortable around my parents because I was hiding my transition (and I think Joan shared some of that as well) but to a lesser degree there has Always been a level of discomfort and angst around them and everyone else. Now that I am happy with who I am and comfortable within myself, it makes it easier being around other people.
I can't tell you how good it felt to be at that table and in that house as myself with my three closest family members and have us all get along so well. Everyone calls me Tammy (or Tam in Joan's case) and her, me and my mom talk about female things like ear rings, shoes, what other ladies in the church were wearing etc. After lunch we sat in the den and talked for a bit. The ironic thing is that Mitchell was down at my house during this time, working on my leaking sink. My dad went to sleep in his chair, but I told Mom and Joan about him being there. Joan remarked how good a job he had done fixing our fence (last year) and they both seemed to think he was a great guy and very good for me. That makes me feel awesome and quite relieved in what could have been an awkward situation, although I have never really sensed from Joan that she disapproves of my boyfriend.
I walked down to my house, got my dogs and walked back to my parents so that Joan and I could walk them around the lake at the local park. She said she was not comfortable yet going to the house with Mitch there and I fully understand that, after all we are still married. After we walked the dogs I rode with her to get some gas in her truck and we had a good little talk. We are getting along so good now and I think we are happy together, when we are together. We are friends but we are more than just that, we are and will always be family. I still tell her I love her sometimes before hanging up on phone calls with her. Sometimes I say we love you, meaning the dogs and I (although I have had a lifelong habit of sometimes referring to myself as we), but often I just say goodbye or "I'll talk to you later".
She talked about possibly coming back to live at the house, but she wouldn't be comfortable with Mitchell coming over, especially until the divorce is final. As badly as I wanted her to come back over the last few months, now I am thinking that it is not such a good idea. We are developing the relationship that we need now and we just need to build it slowly. I know she is getting tired of living in Raleigh because it's not as easy to get around up there in a bigger city, but maybe we can get her an apartment here in town or something one of these days.
She also talked about how much calmer and happier I seem these days, and she mentioned it to Mom also. I am much happier within myself and now that I am pretty much over the depression from Joan leaving and not having her in my life, I have finally been able to come full circle into being myself And being fully happy with my new life. The last piece of the puzzle has come into place. Now I can relax for a moment before going on to solve new puzzles.
“Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
|Tammy Ann Matthews...2013|