Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Sixteenth

My, what a difference two years makes.  On this day (December 16th) in 2012 I came home from an overnight stay with my boyfriend Mitchell.  He'd worked the previous day, a Saturday, in Danville, Virginia and I made the 2.5 hour drive to spend the evening with him in a hotel.  That Sunday, before it was time to check out, I'd been hit by an emotional outburst and crying fit.  I had the strangest feeling.

So much was going in my mind.  My life was getting ready to change in some very major ways, some I didn't even realize at the time.  I had a goal of coming out to my parents by the end of the year and as the Holidays approached it began to look like I would be talking with them on New Year's Eve, if I could muster the courage.

My plan was to come out by the end of the year (at the latest) and transition to life as myself (Tammy) as soon as possible after that.  My actual goal was to transition at the beginning of 2013 but in order to accomplish that I had to come out to my parents first.  Being somewhat of a procrastinator and deathly terrified of coming out to the only family I had, I'd managed to go through almost all of 2012 without coming out.  This had been my stated goal since the beginning of 2012, so yes I was procrastinating.

The coming out letter was written and I was as prepared as I could be to talk to my loving but conservative parents.  I was nervous, as this was my Mt. Everest that I had viewed from the distance for so long.  Occasionally, through the clouds, I would catch a glimpse of it's peak and stand mortified, contemplating a hundred disastrous scenarios that might follow my ascension of the dreaded mountain. 

So yeah, I had a lot on my mind.  At home things were not well.  My marriage had gone from bad to much worse as the cancer of my pending transition, and her knowledge of my relationship with Mitch, poisoned the semi content friendship based partnership my spouse and I once had. 

After my coming out and going full time we were going to try to secure another living arrangement for Joan, perhaps an apartment nearby.  Maybe it would be me that moved out, we had not decided yet, but I surmised that when left with the house alone she would no longer want to live there. 

Details, details...  Details that would be decided later as my mind was a million miles away, on the frozen, windswept slopes of the looming mountaintop.  I was so distracted by the task at hand (coming out and transition) that I didn't see what was happening at home, right before my eyes.


Joan had reluctantly agreed to help me put up a Christmas tree.  I was thinking this would be our last Christmas together and I wanted something spectacular, a huge live Frazier Fir.  Normally, the thought of such a tree would have excited the little child in Joan but this year she wasn't into it at all.  I bought the tree a couple of days before leaving for my overnight trip to Virgina and put lights on it, but she had yet to decorate it by the time I left.


I'd come out to her a little over two years prior, in October 2010, and our marriage had been in a downward spiral ever since.  I still kept secrets from her but earlier in 2012, right before I began my transition with hormones, I decided my life needed to be transparent with regards to my spouse.  Before the end of the year it would be transparent to the whole world, but I still had that mountain ahead of me.

*****

It's December 16, 2012 and as I'm getting out of the shower something hits me in the gut.  My mind is thinking back to beach trips with Joan and the dogs, one of the few things we really enjoyed together in our later years.  I'd been trying to get her to take one last trip with us that Fall, as I knew it would be our last and likely the final trip for our oldest dog Jumper, who'd just turned 16.

I realized that we would never have such a trip again and I began to cry.  Usually I am very happy when I'm with Mitchell but he understands that sometimes I can get emotionally nostalgic.  In transition most of us lose something and I was about to lose my friend and housemate, as well as one of my dogs as she would surely take Jumper with her.

This loss would occur sometime in the future, perhaps a couple months or more down the road, but there was also the grave uncertainty of what would happen with regards to my parents once I came out.  Of course that was weighing heavily on my mind that morning.


But there really was something very different about this emotional outburst.  I could literally feel, at the very core of my soul, that Joan was gone.  It was a hollow, panicked feeling.  I knew something was wrong and I couldn't stop crying.  As I lay face down on the bed, Mitchell held me and attempted to comfort me.  I could feel his loving warmth (something I'd never experienced in marriage) but it wasn't enough to stop the sobbing.  I liken that feeling to when someone dies and a loved one can feel it from far away.  I'd been thinking back to what good times we'd had and suddenly, everything went black.

The time of day I was experiencing this feeling was consistent with the actual time she left the house.  When I got home late that evening the dogs were in the house and it appeared they'd been left there all day.  There was no Joan. 

On the kitchen table was a letter.  Oddly, it wasn't from Joan.  On the envelope was my old (legal at the time) name so I picked the letter up and opened it.  The letter was from an attorney Joan had hired to file for legal separation. 


This would not do!  She wasn't going to leave me like this.  Not now.  I needed her to stand by my side when I came out to my Mom, or at least be in the picture.  She couldn't do something like this without talking to me first.  She just wouldn't.  But the letter said she was filing for separation and instructed me to call this lawyer as soon as possible.


With tear filled eyes I looked up and saw the beautiful, green Christmas tree.  She'd put a few decorations on it before heading out the door.  Bless her heart....


    

Driving into Destiny

This was taken on my way to Danville, Virginia on Saturday.  On Sunday December 16th I would return home only to discover that my spouse had left me and also left me a letter from an attorney she had hired to file for divorce. Talk about a blast from the past, this was the day before my world crashed in on me and I saw an opening to begin my new world. 3 days after this picture was taken I came out to my parents and 6 days later, on the winter solstice and last day of the Mayan calendar, I began my new life; full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.