Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kobayashi Maru, Redux

So, it's been almost six weeks since I posted, mostly because I find it pretty much unsafe to say anything personal at all of consequence. Oh, I could do the "educational" posts, and in truth I should have. But that sort of thing seems like filler when tensions are so high. I promise I'll try to be more diligent in posting something that's not just an exercise in wallowing in my own "misery" in the future.

I was thinking again lately about the metaphor that I can't avoid for this situation, and I was sure I'd used the title before - and I have. So I went back and reread what I wrote roughly a year ago under this title. Turns out I was wrong, at least in my conclusions. I won't rehash that post here, probably no more than 2 or 3 people ever read it anyway, but to say that in a years time no real progress on a long term solution was reached.

If you are not a Star Trek geek like I am, you might not know that the title refers to a test designed to place the officer candidate a StarFleet Academy in a "no-win" situation, to see how they respond to it. In the second Trek movie, we learn that Jim Kirk was the only one to ever beat the test - because he cheated. Sadly, in my no-win scenario, there doesn't seem to be an opportunity to "reprogram the simulation."

If you've been paying attention (I assume the theoretical possibility that SOME one might be) you've heard me say that I recognize that my need to transition is taking everything from my wife that she ever wanted (save her kids) and that I have to face the truth that for her to lose the "man" she married is a road to spiritual if not physical death. My heart longs for her to recover from her unhappiness and find a path to at least peace of mind, whether with me or with another - but she's given me no hint that this will ever happen.

On the other hand, for me to do the only thing that apparently can solve this difficulty - de-transition - is every bit as much spiritual (if not physical) death for me. I could no more return to pretending to be the man she remembers than I could be the next Dali Lama. I'm very convinced my sanity would not survive the attempt. I do not think, however, that she believes this is true, as I believe it is true for her. Part of what makes the discussions so difficult is that she refuses to believe that the stakes are that high for me.

We have periods of "case fire" but the subject is never more than one wrong word away. We have occasional "knock down drag out" fights, but they never settle anything. We have a general understanding that the time is fast approaching when we'll have to at least try a separation. Probably within less than a month unless something changes. I have told her, and anyone else who will listen, that it is not my desire to be apart from her. I respect and understand her position that she cannot just "live with it" - I do not blame her for that. But at the same time, she doesn't, apparently, have any willingness to understand how it could be important enough to me to actually move. I continue to maintain that if it were possible to "just stop" I have had more than enough motivation over the past 18 months to do just that. Why anyone would believe it still an "optional" path after all the pain that's gone into choosing it is beyond me.

The first and most serious piece of advice any trans person receives, when they consider transition, is "be prepared to lose everything, most of us do" - I counted the costs in the weeks before and after I told her about myself and yes, I am prepared (though not eager) to spend my life utterly alone if it's the cost of conquering these demons. Again, who concludes that if they have a choice?

I do not wish to go, but if it would lead to her ultimate recovery and happiness I would willingly go. As it is, if and when I go it's only because I've been told to. For reasons which go beyond the scope of this blog, it's a tremendously bad idea on her part to try to live without me around right now, the logistics of it are crazy-difficult. but if she insists upon it then I will go, at least for long enough to assess the downside. But my desire to stay is not for my own satisfaction, though I loved how she used to love me. It's in order to be as good FOR her as my pathetic existence is capable of.

I KNOW, as surely as I know how many fingers I have, how badly I have failed. As a husband, as a father, as a provider, as a lover - by whatever measure. I KNOW that I made promises I have not kept and now cannot keep. I KNOW that she deserved and deserves better than she got. I KNOW that if she had an ounce of reason she would hate me and move on to saner men. I KNOW that no woman deserves to go through what she's going through.

I also know I have no real control over the reality of the situation.

The frustrating thing to me, as much as anything else, is that while I bend over backwards to understand her position, her pain, the impossibility of her situation - while I fully agree she's been wronged and deserves much much more than I have ever given her or ever can - at the same time I don't feel like she even remotely, slightly, in the tiniest way, understands my situation. Her refrain is "if it wasn't important enough to do 20 years ago, then it's not important enough to do now." Logically, that position is wildly ridiculous, but emotionally that's where she's locked in.

So here is us, on the raggidy edge. She's convinced that all I have to do is "just quit" - and flows from that the obvious implication that if I don't it's because I don't love her and the kids enough to do what's in my power to do. So she has no motivation to bend. And I'm convinced that I cannot live, literally, being that person again. No way out, no wining solution, no happy ending. I know that the "strong" and "honorable" thing to do is to sacrifice myself for her. bt i am neither of those things and I know it. But I also know that there is no true honor in conceding your soul to hatred and bigotry, to re-confirming in the minds of those with prejudiced ideas that those ideas were correct. There's no strength in my teaching my kids to bow your head and cater to the pressure of society to conform, or to set the example that will be set by the train wreck my life will become if I try (and fail) to live behind the mask again. Had I rather them see me like this, or see me in a box?

So being "honorable" is a ship that's pretty much sailed. I've said that I stayed here through the wars to try to be as honorable as I could to my obligations, but even that is a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Am I rambling much?

In any case, from time to time I need to write, just to be "on the record" with my thoughts because I frankly have no idea what the future holds. It pains me to see her be a victim of her own feelings - if she didn't love so hard, she wouldn't cling so tightly. And I know, whether she does or not, how undeserving I am of that love. I was, truth be told, a cold, too often uncaring, fraud of a person. I love her as much as I know how to love another human being, although I often wonder if what I call "love" is anything like what she feels or that thing people write songs about. Maybe I don't even know how to love anyone else because I've always so thoroughly hated myself. I do know that in my own opinion, what passed for loving her was far too weak, too distant, too poorly shown. And yet for some crazy reason she clings to it when she has a right to so much better.

That does NOT mean I'm "trying to get away" or "just want to do my own thing" - again, why would I stay and fight to keep it together this long if that was my aim? But it does mean that no one will ever say with more conviction than I do: "She's better off without me." If I may borrow a sentiment, as long as she continues to cling to the idea that she can make me stop, make things go back to the way they used to be, then she will never be able to go forward. if I leave, or rather comply with her instruction to leave, it will not be because I do not love her but because I do - I love her enough to want her to have better than she has now. Even if the pain of getting from here to there is excruciating both for her and for me to know I caused.

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