Why it is never over

  • Posted on July 9, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Today is one of those days, the sort you are reminded of, which you would have been reminded of, but for which there is no need. It’s a mark on the calendar. On our calendar it is one of many births, marriages and deaths. This one is a birthday: my daughter is 30 today. I haven’t seen her for ten years now, so we have never known each other as adults. In those years many people have said ‘you never know, she might one day …’. But I don’t think so. Not now.

This isn’t public grieving, or looking for sympathy, just a note of what happens and how you keep finding that something is gone. I saw my marriage going down against all hope as I moved into transition. It wasn’t my decision and perhaps I was naïve to think that love could overcome becoming real. But this I didn’t see, and never had any meaningful conversation to engage with her over what was a deeper divorce. I am not alone, however many good stories I read of families that survive and thrive one member’s transition. I often wished that could have been mine.

So that was then and nothing has changed. But it also means I can’t talk to anyone about her, or ask after her and get any meaningful answers. I hope she is happy; I think she probably is. But hers is a life where I can never be supporting, listening, caring or doing and celebrating any of the things a normal parent does. I find it easier never to mention her because I have nothing to add, and people will always ask what happened, and if that means explaining about the problem of being trans, it adds more uncertainty about how much people know, understand, accept, or are kind.

It is never over.

I still think that her explanation about her father is either that he is dead or that he walked out. I guess I did, but that was because I could not hold myself together still loving someone after 30 years, who was daily moving away out of touch. And my daughter just made sure she was never there, not asking or finding out. You can’t persuade a trans person to ‘be both’, to be a little bit, even, of what they are not. We all needed to face it as it was and failed. And that is where the grief still lies, probably on all sides. And so I am either dead or a deserter, but anyway, happy birthday.

I find it very uncomfortable still, watching films and dramas in which the plot revolves around relationships breaking up in predictable ways, not out of badness, but out of the way the characters are framed. I see it coming and I am squirming: why did the writer make this happen? Why did they have to wreck lives, break families up, destroy loving well-meaning people who were doing their best?

One we have just been watching had a character trying to define love, so they would know when they found it. ‘You make me a better person’ was one way of knowing. So long as it doesn’t lead to dependence and conditionality. It is quite close to my skeptical definition ten years ago of ‘You make me the person I want to be.’ When that happens the other can’t grow, not even into what they could be, and you feel that the other is taking something away from you, if they do grow.

I have grown into more of what I should be, into more of what I am. I don’t know much about my family as was, but I would rather I could help them be better people than have to play dead. I am happy, absolutely and, I think, a better person who they will never know.

Families with trans members need support, and that was conspicuously missing for mine. I hope that one day my daughter will understand just enough to know it didn’t have to be like this.

 

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