Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Year

Yesterday marked one year of legal separation between my spouse and I.  The day was duly noted in my mind but there was nothing special about it, in a positive or negative way.  After an normal day, I went to bed last night about 1 AM and woke up at 2:24.  That's when it hit me.

Last December was a nervous and exciting time in my life.  I had been on hormones for 7 months and had been growing my hair a little over a year, but I had not yet come out to my parents.  They knew something was changing but they didn't really know what was coming up.  My goal to was to come out to them after Christmas, and no later than New Year's Eve.  Ideally, my goal was also to begin living as myself full time on January 1, 2013 and file for my name change by February 1. 

Having no idea how the news that I was going to transition would affect my parents and, because my life is so intertwined with theirs, or how it would affect me, I gave myself the leeway of waiting a few months if necessary to go full time.  I really wanted to start the new year as the new me, but there was so much uncertainty.  At no time did I contemplate coming out before Christmas, because I just didn't want to spoil what is always a special holiday for this family. 

Things at home with my spouse were not going well.  She knew all about my plans and while this was something she had been supportive and encouraging about at first, there was definitely a lot of tension in the air during this period last year and I sensed no support.  She also knew all about my boyfriend and the more time that went by the less tolerant she became about my new relationship.  I really wanted her to be there for through what I foresaw would be an extremely tumultuous time between my parents and I.  She said she would do this for me over a year and half earlier so I was counting on her, but I just didn't get the feeling she wanted any part of it (or me) any more.

Of course the revelation (in Spring) that I had a boyfriend really threw a wrench into the whole situation.  She had encouraged me to transition over a year before I started but now she didn't seem thrilled with the idea.  Of course my behavior had changed too in that I was spending more time away from home and early in 2012 I had begun to stay out overnight from time to time.  Prior to that I had never left her alone all night since we had gotten married, and that was something that made her very uncomfortable.  I had just waited too long and now I had to live my life.

So on the evening of December 16, 2012 , I returned home from an overnight trip to Virginia to see my boyfriend Mitchell.  She wasn't home that night and I found a letter from her lawyer (I didn't know she had a lawyer) stating that she had filed for separation.  Basically, my world fell apart.  I was now left high and dry.  How would I ever explain to my parents that she left.?  I was fully prepared to come out to them, but scared to death to do it.  I had been over every possible scenario with two different therapists and had prepared a heartfelt coming out letter.  What I was not prepared for was telling them about my relationship with Mitchell.  That would be too much at once and could potentially confuse the issue, which was primarily about me.  It was going to be a stretch to get them to accept me as a woman and I never thought they would be ready at that time to accept me being with a man.

Basically, Joan left me because I had someone else but I have to admit she was having trouble with my transition as well, as the reality of it came closer and closer.  I realize now the whole thing was just too much for her to deal with at the time.  All of this year I have fought guilty feelings and the sense that I betrayed my marriage and disrespected my spouse and our home.  At the end of the day I know that I did what I had to do regarding my own life and transition.  Also I have to know that I was not wrong in starting another loving relationship when the one I had at home was no more than a friendship.

The events that occurred the week after she left were documented in this blog post called Full Tme.  It was an amazing and blessed time in my life.  I believe I was due some happiness after suffering for so long in the wrong body and life, but the quick and total acceptance of my parents was totally unexpected.  It would have been just The most perfect time if it weren't for my feelings of betrayal over my spouse leaving, guilt over believing it was my fault, and the extreme pain of facing long, cold, dark, nights in my house alone.

Despite the comfort and joy of finally being able to be myself every day, the nights were lonely and tough.  Mitchell spent most weekends with me but the weekday nights were especially difficult.  Sleep was hard to come by and I ended up staying in my guest house for several months, only going into the main house for meals and to wash clothes.  ..........

Joan had a separate bedroom, next to mine, so I had been used to sleeping alone but not being in the house alone.  There was much I had to adjust to in the first few months of 2012.  After a few months I moved back into the master bedroom in the main house and began to adjust to life at the house alone. ...  I could sleep through the night and no longer wake up crying, suffering from insomnia and panic attacks.  Things were normal again when the lights went out and now my whole life was fitting together quite nicely.

So last night, in the middle of the night, those lonely feeling of desperation hit me again.  I will say that last night was no where near the magnitude of what I experienced in the first few months of my separation.  There were no panic attacks and no tears but still that strange feeling came over me and wouldn't let me go back to sleep.  It is really hard to describe these feelings.  It's like I can't stand being in bed and don't want to go back to sleep but my body is too exhausted and my eyes too tired to get up and do anything.  

Its a feeling that when I close my eyes some sort of fear or discomfort takes over and I fight sleep.  Last night I ended up calling Mitchell and thank goodness he answered.  I know I kept him awake on work nights too often earlier this year, so thankfully I didn't have to talk to him long last night before I got comfortable enough to attempt sleep again.  On his suggestion I ended up cutting the light on in the hall bathroom, as darkness really bothers me when these night moods strike.

I ended up going back to sleep but quickly woke up again.  I fought sleep and laid in bed looking at Facebook on my smart phone, chatting with a friend there for awhile.   I would get too exhausted and lay my head down and go to sleep again, only to awaken after a short time.  At 4:15 AM I remembered that I had forgotten to call Joan last night and she had not called me.  We had not spoken for a couple of days as Mitchell was visiting me and she was out of town visiting her daughter.  Then it hit me that perhaps this was why I was why I was experiencing these feelings.  I was feeling the separation once again and had forgotten to call her, so I left her a message in the middle of the night.

I went back to sleep for a few minutes, then woke up again.  This pattern repeated itself until the sun came up.  The sun in the morning is my friend, especially when the night seems so cold, dark and lonely.  With its arrival I found restful sleep again and slept until almost 10 AM.  Overall, I was in bed for 9 hours last night but 4 of them were really rough.  They seemed to last for an eternity.  It was a miserable 4 hours but still pales in comparison to what I went through every night I was alone during the early part of my separation.  Hopefully last night was just a taste of what I went through then and tonight I can sleep again.

There is something else I have been experiencing of late.  I still fight sleep, as Mitchell says, and stay up too late most nights.  Part of it to avoid the negative experiences sleep can sometimes bring.  I always have vivid dreams but many of them have been quite dark lately, although not really nightmares.  My old friend Mack, who died in 2012, makes a lot of cameos in my dreams and sometimes I feel as if he or other spirits are visiting me in my sleep or somehow manipulating my dreams.  These are more feelings than true beliefs but who knows what's really out there.  I wish I could understand these dreams better and my therapists' have not been much help there but don't think its too unusual.  There doesn't seem to be any real pattern or meaning to them and it sort of like watching a movie sometimes.

So I am well adjusted in life now but have often crazy dreams.  Is this a symptom of my lingering "night problems" that began plaguing me a year ago when my spouse and I separated?  It's quite possible, but I will take the interesting, (if sometimes a little dark) dreams over the sleepless nights, crying spells, feelings of hopelessness and panic attacks.  All of those are things I have experienced in the last year and all of those are things that have gotten much better and, for the most part, gone away completely.  I can only hope that last night was an anomaly, a subconscious reminder of the pain that this marital separation has caused me in the last year.

This pain, mostly manifested in the middle of the night, has gone from a big problem a year ago to almost nonexistent now.  On the real world side, after a year of separation I have to ask myself what's next?  We are now eligible for divorce under the statutes of the state of North Carolina.  Who will file for divorce first and what will our divorce look like?  Stay tuned to find out, as things on the home front get interesting again here in Tammy World.....


  1. I wish I knew what to say, Tammy. Just know that your friends love you, and I should know, because I am one. Keep your chin up, girl. You’re a wonderful, beautiful woman, and don’t you forget it! <3

  2. I read what you've written and I realize that what you went through then is what I'm going through now.

    In just over a week, I will tell my parents. And my wife and I live apart.

    I hope my story ends up as good as yours has.

    You are a great writer and an amazing person!