It is cold. February is an uncertain time, not least because we always forget that despite lengthening days, it can bring the worst of winter. February is not Spring. This morning the sun is shining because the sky is clear, not because it doesn’t always shine, even night as well as day. And I am feeling regret, because my lover flies to the other side of the world in less than two days, for over two weeks. This will be the longest we have lived apart since we found each other and began this exploration of something new and wonderful.
I feel regret; perhaps some envy? I am thinking though, that she will return with a head full of new things that I shall never see and therefore never be able to share the ‘do you remember when …’ moments. It will be a long enough time for each of us to reflect on our first two months together, how it has impacted our lives and changed us. Whether there are things we might have done together better, ways we have interacted that might have been more thoughtful, and how we then feel about moving forward together. I think we are simply wanting to be mindful about our relationship, rather than planned or aspirational, and this feels good.
I wrote a long time ago that I knew my next romantic / love / intimate relationship would be very different from anything I had previously known, and it is. I am not, however, going to write about it in any detail! It is very personal, and whilst I have been very open in blogging my transition, my lost love, marriage and family, I have always made a point not to draw anyone else into the narrative. What I can do is say a bit about why, for me, this is so different, because I feel I have learned some important lessons through all this grief and turmoil of finding my true self and living authentically.
I think the biggest thing is that when I began marriage all those years ago, I held the concept of it being part of the big picture of ‘how things are’. Life, in any normal sense had a pattern of marry, build career, buy a home, have children, buy a bigger home, increase the cars and/or pets, see the kids through education to adulthood (and repeat your own path), and then retire to grandchildren (who would grow and repeat the path …), in comfort and continue to ignore one’s mortality until it became inevitable.
Of course, this isn’t the way it goes for most people any more, though the dream remains. I know so many people who have lost and gained partners, children, futures, careers – found new sexualities even. And mortality? That is the one we still ignore or shy away from. So what are relationships for? Mutual support, understanding, sharing. A place to trust and a place to be honest.
And most of the time, they are conditional. There is a time when we just give up, because we feel we cannot, or should not, continue giving or loving. It happens in most relationships, including between family members, and this is the reality. There can come a time when you realise love was a deal, and that the conditions have changed.
How frightening. Which is why we don’t think of relationships this way. The result? We do not know how to meet and part with real love, because we do not learn this rhythm. I know that my former wife tried to end our marriage kindly. It was no longer what she wanted, whilst I felt she was all I could ever have, because I was so committed to her. And so I went through extraordinary hurt. A large part of my hurt was my singular belief in love, in my love, and that I had found the only one I could ever have. Yes, I still feel that the love she held for me was completely contingent on my gender, not my person. It was a relationship that required me to exhibit a male gender, and therefore I knew it was less than I had thought it was. And this was the love and the relationship upon which I hung my whole life, and which inevitably made constraints on both of us in terms of whether we really made the most of our own lives, and of each other’s lives.
And so I am learning about relationships and about love.
Dancing yesterday was again a thing I go to on my own, as yet something we don’t share. It gave me space to think and express something of what I was feeling about my lover going away. Why my sadness? Why so much regret of parting? What was I afraid of? The future? Of our relationship being so young, possibly fragile? I don’t think it is. Instead I began to feel strong. It was the realisation that I have come through a very significant event in life, and done more than just survive. I am rejuvenated in every part and experiencing life in so many new ways, that I can hardly say any more that being born trans was a disaster! I feel authentic, knowing myself and with this great sense of belonging in the web of all life. I feel greater and stronger as a person than ever before, and with a clearer vision of what it means to love and be loved. I am no longer holding that old, repeated concept of how life goes. No; life is what you create each day anew, in the application of love and kindness and preparedness to learn it better.
So now I imagine the possibilities of two people creating each new day, with their love not for the relationship, not for their own expectations, but for each other. This is new, because it is renewing, rather than rote. I love, and I am loved and it is a gift. The gift is not a thing, it is just a present. A present moment, a present opportunity. Not a constant but a constant opportunity to realise love, to make it real. I returned again to what I have written about before: love as the extremely difficult realisation that someone else is real. As I danced, I began to understand my authenticity, my reality, my sense of belonging. And in that sense of belonging, a security. And in that security, the understanding that the one I now love has her own reality which is quite other than mine, and to be given to, nurtured, upheld, freed; never possessed or drawn into myself as someone or something I need in order to complete myself.
This is a time when all I have written and thought about love over the years of this blog is being tested and tried for real. Do I mean what I said and wrote of as theory? I think I am coming to understand far better what it means to love another. It is in one sense less ‘secure’ that the old concept of a process of growing together, staying together, ending life together, but in another far more definite in being what it is. Love is. You can receive it, give it, but never own it, because it is alive, never runs short and makes relationships all they can humanly be. It is this constant exchange that gives love meaning, and understanding this meaning is what encourages more love.
The gift is the present: love is now.
And now …
… and now …