About time

  • Posted on April 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

ClockIt must be one of the most-repeated phrases offered me over this past six months. Give it time. It takes time. Time heals. Take your time. And here I am, with taking time enforced on me, and no idea of how quickly or slowly it will take to recover from pneumonia. The reason in part is that it is unpredictable and unseen. Had it been flu, symptomatic remedies, a few boxes of tissues, and I would bravely sit at my desk and recover as I worked. Fewer tissues means I would be getting better.

But somewhere inside one of my lungs, stuff has been going on unseen. Listened to and identified, x-rayed and seen, but not by me. I just feel unwell, breathless, hardly even coughing, but weakened and diminished. Discovering the financial penalty for this added a whole load of stress, and hasn’t helped. I have to earn so I can pay the rent, so I have to get well, and I have no idea of the timescales. I pushed myself a bit far this week, and really felt it, but without pushing and stretching I won’t know my limits.

But it isn’t actually time that will do anything; it’s healing. My body will heal itself, but can only do so one step at a time.

Last night I went for my penultimate counselling session, mainly to explain this time how I feel I have fulfilled that need. In respect to my reasons for returning to counselling, I am healed. It wasn’t time, and it wasn’t really any advice given. I found my peace through reflection, facing up to uncomfortable truths, nurturing myself, and accepting the kindness and generosity of others as genuine. The process has been very costly too. The expense of separating myself from the agonies of emotional rejection, facing the meaning of it, and arriving at my peace now, has probably been the biggest financial investment of my life. Is it a loss? Compared with my sense of wholeness and self-knowledge, no. That’s priceless. I have had the means, and I have used it to be where I need it to be.

Pneumonia will leave its scars for some time to come. As will the separation, because I have a head full of memories, wonderful memories of when I felt loved and wanted and could return the same. I picked a book up this morning that not only bore a loving inscription but two love notes, each to the other. And despite friendly text messages after my welfare this week, a quite empty feeling has crept in, where over 30 years of loving and ordinary life in partnership and mutual support, has simply evaporated to nothing at all. I thought love was solid. Instead it was fluid and volatile, dissipating easily into thin air.

I was asked in counselling how much I was saying that the love was not real. (Am I denying the past to protect myself?) It was real alright, it just wasn’t love as I thought of it. I reject none of it, I remember it all with great affection. But it is devalued by its dependency on my having played a role and filled a need, rather than being simply about being loved for myself. Yes, the same old being loved for what I am, not for who I am; that, I am afraid, is the bottom line and nothing has changed my mind. This is disappointment, not denial.

Marriage, essentially, is not about giving unconditional love. Those promises are not what they appear to be at all. It is a contract to be what the other needs, not to love the other as they need to be.

And so a realism has been allowed to speak at last too. I also know that being bonded with a woman was what kept me going, living as I did in the wrong gender role. It was a kind of proxy for my female soul. I do feel that my idea of love was the more profound (reader: the opposite is not ‘shallow’), but that is just my own judgement. I had the best friend, the most supportive companion and the most productive partnership out of those years that I could wish for, and yet I knew all along that we were not soul-mates. I may never find such a person, and what I had felt as good as I probably could ever have. Somehow I kept going for nearly 30 years, whilst knowing there was that confused part of me of which I dare not speak and share. Had I felt unconditional love, then of course I could. But I knew, and subsequently proved, that I could not.

And so it is that my true gender has found itself, asserting itself as greater than being loved for any part I could play. But with it has gone the meaning behind the kind of love given. Its dependency on my gender act (taken as genuine when of course it was not), makes it love of a different kind than I felt I was giving. Not false or shallow, just different. The agony was that I could not understand why I should withdraw any of my love, when it was all withdrawn from me; when I was missing her, but she was only missing the memory. Hence the evaporation, the cold distance, the knowing that I, as myself, am not missed at all. I know my emotional state over those months were blamed on hormones, but in the end they are only the same hormones in each of us. I am still on the hormones, but the storm of emotion has passed and memories feel so very distant.

I have arrived, at my first anniversary, a healed and complete person. I know myself as never before, I feel authentic and established. Unwell, but at peace with myself in a way I could never have imagined possible. Time is the nonsense in this. Did I transition later than I should? What if I had risked discovering love was not unconditional 20 years ago? Similarly, for many the process of transition takes a great deal longer than it has for me: how have I got here so quickly? People told me it took two or more years to get over a broken marriage, and yet I have made peace with it in much less. The only fixed time aspect is the legal practicalities, the dispersal of a shared life in goods. That will be painful, but I shall bear no guilt in knowing that we both must feel the pain. We each have our responsibilities for where we have been and how we have responded to the way I was born. It has not been ‘unreasonable behaviour’ by either of us, and we must not compare degrees of sadness. The marriage failed because of both of us, not just me.

One element of fixed time remains for me: the provable elapsed time lived in my true gender. Whatever I know, however established as a woman I am, however irrevocable my position, or certain my heart and mind, I must wait another year before I can request my rightful gender recognition certificate. Whatever procedures remain, that is a fixed time, and until then I cannot rest. Consequently, I have asked to be petitioned as the one to blame, so that I can be freed from marriage in time to apply for recognition of my true identity.

And so it is with immense gratitude that I know myself. And it’s about time. In some ways.


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