Three years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, I came out to my wife.
If Christians call the week leading up to Easter “Holy Week”, I would have to call the week leading up to my coming out, “Holy Shit!” week.
It all kicked off with a monumental feat.
After 21 years, I said goodbye to my security blanket, the one thing I would hold steadfast to no matter how many friends would try their best to convince me to part ways with it.
My beard was a big part of my identity. It truly was, as a lot of my trans friends would call it, a “denial” beard. It was grown out of spite. It was a way to thwart all those who would tell me
“You know… you look a lot like your mother.”
Almost three years into Hormone Replacement Therapy and a minor nasal correction, I have achieved what I desperately tried to avoid…
I NOW LOOK LIKE MY MOTHER!!
I had planned this day out many weeks in advance. I picked a time I would be away from home for a week to the remote wilderness of Northwest Pennsylvania. The less people who knew, the better.
I waited until after church to do the deed. As the final curse words were uttered and the razor was put down, I looked in the mirror and said “My God! What have I done?!?!”
A backup plan was conceived. If I were to hate this, I decided I’d let it grow back during the week and just tell people I lost a bet. No one would be the wiser. As the week went on, small little things happened which would lead me down the path of no return.
As much as people call me a rebel, or one who is not afraid to push the envelope, I am anything but. I hate the attention. I hate the scrutiny and opinions being thrown my way. I would rather just curl up in a ball and fade away.
The two customers who I would visit during the week never said a word. I had expected them to make fun of me, but there was nothing. I had hoped and prayed to be invisible this week as I wrestled with thoughts of my future. I wanted to be alone, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Wednesday came and the moment of truth had arrived.
Was this the beginning or was this my end? Do I let my beard grow back and once more bury the person who was dying inside? Or do I shave and cast aside years of doubt and self-harm. (not physical harm, but mental and emotional harm)
It was in this moment, instead of fear and panic, there was calm. I knew what had to be done.
As I shaved, my calm turned to utter terror.
What the hell do I tell Beth?!? How do I tell Beth?!? When do I tell Beth?!?
I know I wouldn’t be able to speak to her about this. I’d fumble my words like Ben Rothlisberger during a playoff game… I would cower and take it all back and the first sign of pushback.
Over the next two days, like Jesus before the crowds, I put my entire existence on trial. I honestly don’t think I slept for the next two days. I did what only I could do…. I wrote my words into an email. I poured out my heart. Briefly and to the point, I tried my best to explain everything in one single page.
Driving home Friday night in total silence, I knew I had to tell her when I arrived home.
As we both lay in bed, I asked Beth to check her email.
“Why?” she asked.
“Please” I replied.
I hit send, heard the ‘bing’ of the email notification and muttered one last “Holy Shit!”.
I DID IT!!
Holy freaking shit! I did it . As Beth sat there in silence, I felt as if the car of my life had just sped off of a cliff and into a vast ravine.
It was the most humbling moment of my life. Never before had I opened myself up to someone without any fake walls or misdirection. As we talked, questions were asked. The first of many, being the one I never expected.
“Are you leaving me?”
I had already left one marriage. There was no way I was willing to put myself or anyone else through this kind of an ordeal again. I told her “No. I am not. I want to be a better person. I want to be the person I have always been but have never allowed to live.”
Somewhere during a series of conversations, I would utter the phrase which would be the foundation of the past three years.
“As long as we will be okay, I will give you all the time you need to adjust. No expectations, No strings attached.”
For me, this was huge! I am by no means a patient person. I like answers. If you were to tell me “I need to talk to you later”, you might as well fit me for a straight jacket It drives me insane. The anxiety, the speculation.
But not now.
I wrote a blank check and handed it to Beth. Over the course of the next year, Beth would keep this information to herself, not telling anyone. I didn’t know or understand why. I needed to trust her and let her adjust to things her way. If I was going to have the support of the person I loved the most, I would have to give support and understanding in return.
One of the examples I like to use goes like this.
In this entire process, I am way down towards the end of the alphabet, landing at QRS, while people like Beth and others are at ABC thinking “WTF?!?” It does me or anyone in my position absolutely no good to rush others along. If we care for them as we hope and pray they care for us, we will work with them and provide some time for them as they do their best to move forward and join us.
There was something hiding beneath the surface of all of this which I had no clue was even being considered. When I was outed, and had to bear my soul to the one who I would end up being hurting in this whole ordeal, I didn’t realize how this horrible event would turn out to be a major turning point in my transition.
Up until October 24, 2015, Beth had wondered if all of this was merely a phase. When she saw I was willing to open my heart to this one person in our lives, Beth knew right then and there this was no phase. This was for real. Months later I would stun her by saying I was grateful, because through all the tears and the depression, she was able to see the real me. Honestly, I am glad she never told me. If I would have known, I would have altered the course to meet the expectations . It truly was a defining moment.
With the majority of marriages that collapse after one spouse comes out to another, I considered myself blessed to be in the minority. Over the course of the past three years, I have found company and solace in those who have maintained their marriages and I have been a shoulder to those who have had marriages crumble and ultimately end. This is not an easy process for either person. It takes a lot of love and patience and selflessness on both parts.
As we begin year four of this journey, I am still humbled at the strength and courage that embodies my wife. I don’t know how she does it. Between her work, the never ending travel of my work, home, our daughter and even my daughter from a previous marriage, I am in awe
My wife is a saint.
In the years leading up to our engagement, when I was a big jerk, I could have never foreshadowed a day like today. I can honesty, say I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for her. It takes a special kind of person. I am eternally grateful for she said yes and remain thankful every single day…well, except for the days during hockey season. *grin*
And somehow I know I’ll be strong
Long before I knew”
3 years ago, I too had my own version of a resurrection. Gone was the stone guarding a secret too big to share. Gone was the fear and the doubt. Gone was all the pain and worry.
She has risen, indeed.
For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder
For once in my life I have someone who needs me
Someone I’ve needed so long
For once, unafraid, I can go where life leads me
And somehow I know I’ll be strong
For once I can touch what my heart used to dream of
Long before I knew
Someone warm like you
Would make my dreams come true
For once in my life I won’t let sorrow hurt me
Not like it’s hurt me before
For once, I have something I know won’t desert me
I’m not alone anymore
For once, I can say, this is mine, you can’t take it
As long as I know I have love, I can make it
For once in my life, I have someone who needs me