Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Separation

The ending is just the beginning....


As many of you know, I have been legally separated from my spouse since December, 2012.  In North Carolina we have to be separated for one year before we can divorce.  As the last few months have rolled along I don't think either of us has been in too much of a hurry to finalize the divorce but it has dragged on longer than expected, mainly because of her family's influence.  I think they wanted to overturn every stone to get every dime they could for her (and I don't blame them really), but lately we have both just gotten to the point that we want it over.

This month, after my father's passing, I got news from my lawyer that we were getting close to being ready to finalize the divorce.  My followers know that I've often been very emotional over this separation.  While divorce was something that I wanted a long time before I began transition, the actual separation from someone I had grown very close to over the years has been hard at times.  Concerning that we never had a happy or loving marriage and that I have a very fulfilling relationship now with my boyfriend, these emotions have caught me off guard at times.

There have been quite a few posts here about these strange, often deep emotions but it seems we are not quite done yet.  Last Friday I got the call from my lawyer stating that the (divorce) papers were ready to sign and I needed to call Joan's lawyer to set up an appointment to come in and sign.  That appointment was today at 1 PM.   

Yesterday was kind of a tough day.  Mama and I had to go to the Clerk of Court's office to file for Daddy's estate papers so that we could settle a couple of stocks.  We didn't deal with her on this matter, but I got to meet the actual Clerk of Court (who had been in office for a very long time and knew Daddy very well).  I listened as Mama again recounted the story of his fall, hospitalization and death a week later.  I am just glad the lady that works there keeps a box of Kleenex on her desk!

This Clerk was also the one who handled my name change last year so they obviously know all about me.  There is also a codicil to the will that deals with my name and gender change and it this was duly noted in the estate.  Once again, everyone treated me with respect and just like any other woman, any daughter, in that situation.

So I was a little down last night thinking about my dad's passing and the negative side of my divorce.  I think the strongest bad emotion I feel about the separation/divorce is guilt.  I did make a promise to stay married for better or worse and now we are breaking it.  I won't take all the credit or blame for the marriage's demise but there are times I do get down about it.  Last night was one of those times.
"dark" picture I put up for awhile last night, as my Facebook profile pic..
As I sat here alone last night I drank some wine (the first alcohol I've drunk here alone in quite some time) and made a couple of Facebook posts about feeling guilty about my divorce.  I knew my hand would be ready to sign today, but I just got sick of Facebook for awhile.  I had a lot of people reaching out to comfort me, and I really appreciate that, and my therapist even left a supportive comment on my post.  Still, I just thought it was time to take a break from that site so I deactivated my profile, signed off for the night and went to bed (quite late). 

When you deactivate your profile on Facebook, people just see that you have left and can't see any of the pictures or posts.  The good thing about it is that when you sign back in everything reactivates and it's back to where you left off.  This is the second time I've done this although I think about doing it a lot as a way to take a break from a website I spend too much time on. 

I know it is frustrating to my friends to not see my profile or be able to contact me, plus I feel the lure of Facebook calling me back, so I never stay gone very long.  When I signed back on this morning I was surprised to find that some people thought that I had or was going to commit suicide even though I never alluded to anything close to that in any of my posts, last night or ever.  I actually found the folowing post on one of my newer friends' wall and it had been "shared" with others (whom I don't know) several times over...

"REMA AMBER ALERT . POSSIBLE SUICIDE INTERVENTION NEEDED IN NORTH CAROLINA. WAITING ON LOCATION."

Wow!  The thought of suicide has not even crossed my mind since I started transition and
I was never in my life actually close to doing that, even in my darkest, most self destructive days.  I'm actually known for my positive, uplifting and inspirational musings.  The interesting thing is the person who made this post said this series of events is inspiring her to start a new group on Facebook.  This will surely be the subject of a future blog post!


I made a long post about this whole mess in my TBN Support group and one of my friends in California posted this reply...

"This was all my doing Tammy and I take full responsibility, but I only contacted your friend (Lisa) and left two messages saying I was "worried" about you. Others down the line may have put it out differently. But consider the circumstances - a well known web person leaves a string of increasingly inconsolable messages then without warning at 3am her time, exits Facebook and is no longer admin in any of her groups and every message she ever sent goes dark as Facebook page by page erases her content... People have accused me of being a Mother Hen and worrying too much, but you must admit my reaction made at least some sense.


So this is an example of how things get blown out of proportion as they get passed along the line from person to person.  It's sort of a rumor mill effect greatly exacerbated by the fact that I deactivated my account before going to bed (actually at 2 AM).  I did thank all my friends for their concern and stated it was better to err on the side of caution.  None of of my close friends ever thought that I was actually considering something like this.  I was even having a funny, if sort of dark, late night chat with Lisa about my "nervous hand" that was ready to sign.  Or was it?  lol. 

One of my personal friends even left the following in the message thread in my group...

"If y'all knew Tammy Ann Matthews then you would know that she is too strong to ever take that way out. She is THE strongest women I have ever met. And I count myself lucky that I have the opportunity to count her as a friend and a sister...


Well, enough of all that.  I may have been having some bittersweet feelings last night about finishing my 26 year relationship with Joan but I woke up this morning bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to sign.  After breakfast I walked the dogs, as usual, got dressed and went to visit Mama for awhile.  Then I got in my car and drove to the lawyer's office to sign the papers.  What happened there was not at all what I'd expected.
On a mission...almost to the lawyer's office....
When I got to the office I was called back by the legal assistant, an attractive lady named Karen who looked to be about my age.  I sat down at a desk with her on the other side and she briefed me on what I had to sign and asked for the settlement check, which I'd brought in to be forwarded to Joan.  First I signed the Quick Claim deed, taking Joan's name off the deed to our home, then I signed the other paper called the Separation, Spousal Support and Property Distribution Agreement.

When Karen went out to make a copy I snapped this signing selfie..
So the big surprise, to me, is that I did not actually sign divorce papers today.  What we have signed is a document stating that our separation term has been met and we have agreed to the settlement of the property.  Nothing more and nothing less.  We still have to get divorced!!  Actually, I just this minute got off the phone with Joan and she still wasn't clear on what we need to do.  I think she was aware that she had only signed separation papers but wasn't sure what to do next or if we were divorced at this point.  I wouldn't know either if I hadn't asked Karen, after I'd signed the papers.

What we will have to do now is hire just one of the lawyers to draw up the actual divorce papers, sign them, get them to a judge and then it will finally be over.  This will mean a little more money and little more time, but obviously the hard part is over with.  Whew?

After this brief, uneventful signing that didn't quite bring closure, the legal assistant Karen asked me if she could tell me something and I said sure.  Then, very emphatically, she said I was gorgeous.  She said it a couple of times and said that she loved my hair.  I told her she probably had no idea what to expect, after all my name had been changed during the course of this drawn out separation period.  In fact, she told me when I asked about the actual divorce, that it might have to be signed in my old name. 

No, she said, she's had friends who transitioned and even lived in California once.  I take that to mean to she has seen and known other transgender people before, and I assume she has read about some of us and seen us on tv, internet etc.  Still, in my mind, with me she had no idea what to expect today.  But she made a point of telling me again that I was just gorgeous.  Like it was a big surprise to her, but it did make my day and was a kind of confidence builder as well.  If nothing else it was a show of support which I really appreciate.  And here I'd worried that I would be stuck in front of a stodgy old southern attorney who might misgender me.....
A little shopping therapy at Golden East Mall this afternoon.
So I took the afternoon for a little retail therapy and I've felt great today.  I have to be honest and say that the vast majority of my pain lately is still coming from the loss of my father.  It is getting a little bit easier as the days go by but I will always hold his memory close to my heart and be inspired by his love, acceptance and belief in me.  Having Mitchell in my life in such a strong, loving relationship, maintaining Joan as a friend, and time have healed 99% of any wounds from us having to separate.  Some guilt remains, but if my people will be okay with my helping her out a little bit here and there I am sure I can live with that.  I just don't abandon people and believe in living up to my commitments. 

One last word on the Facebook fiasco.  One of the comments I made on the support group thread kind of sums it up for me....


I will tell y'all this. The Darkest post I put on my timeline had a lot of supportive people comment on it, including my Therapist.  If she had been really alarmed you can bet she would have contacted me in person.....
Flowers from Mitchell last weekend, just to see a smile on my face.  They worked!

I am going to keep spreading my Positive message here, near and far.  Soon, this divorce will be behind me and I can move on a little bit more with the rest of my bright future.  I might feel down every once in awhile but nothing is going to bring me down.  I've never been more excited in my life, about my life. There is my mom to take care of, my dogs, my man and maybe more in the not so distant future...so stay tuned!