Saturday, April 21, 2012

... Dana's a her, not a him. She's your new sister!

It took a year but I finally told my brother.  I've been working in Denver now for the last few months and as luck would have it he happens to live here.  I've managed to avoid telling him the news up until now.  I had plans on telling him when I first started working in Denver, but it was right at Xmas time and M didn't want to add that kind of stress to the holidays so I let it drop.  Then work got crazy and the days got long and I just didn't do it.

That is until M posted on facebook that's she's off to Denver to see her 'sweetie'.  As I read it on her facebook page I thought that maybe my brother doesn't really keep up with facebook and won't see it.  Nope, I was wrong, an hour later he commented that we should drop by for dinner while we're in Denver.

So now the gig is up and I'm going to have to explain this one.  Up until now I've told family and close friends in person.  I'm not a big fan of hiding behind an email or a phone call for this kinda of news.  It just seems that news this big should be delivered in person.  But this time around I really had no choice.  It's been so long since I've been Rick I just couldn't go back, and just showing up as Dana would be a little bit of a shock to say the least.  K volunteered to just go knock on his door and tell him.  But I not sure how that conversation would go...

'Hi, I'm K.  I work with your sister Dana and I just wanted to let you know she has some big news.  .... Of course you have a sister, Oh wait, you know her as your brother Rick. ....  Me, I told you, I'm K, Dana's best friend.  I'm just out here visiting her, him to you, and I thought I'd drop by and tell you he's 'her' now.  Congrats by the way, you're the first born son now.  .... No, I just told you Rick is Dana and Dana's a her, not a him. She's your new sister!  .... No, you don't have an older brother anymore I just told you that.'

Well you get the idea, it's just something you have to do on your own.  And, actually it went well.  It had been awhile since I've had to tell anyone so my delivery was a bit rusty but I remembered all the key points. 

We had dinner with his whole family a few days later and that was nice.  He has four girls ranging from 10 to 18 and he was good enough to introduce Dana to his whole family without hesitating.  M spent some time with them before I got a chance to head out to visit, and they said that helped a lot.  She was able to answer some very personal questions in a safe environment and they got a chance to read her blog.  I've found people consistently take their cues from her.  If she's happy and relaxed about all of this then they relax.  If she is open and honest, they feel comfortable asking questions and spend the time to become comfortable with me.

So in the end, one of my two brothers know now and he's OK with it.  Shocked, a little off balance, and not sure of the new rules, but OK.  He's shared the news with his family and we've spent some time with them. 

One more brother to go, and then that's it, everyone will be in the know.  I've saved the hardest for last I'm afraid.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why does she stay?

A blog post caught my eye the other day.  More or less the author asked why some women stay and some women leave when their partners transition.  And as I can’t speak for other couples I’ll try and speak for us.  So why does M choose to stay?  She married a man, she married Rick, and now I am neither.  I’m Dana and while I may not be a woman in the classical definition, I am most definitely not a man anymore.  This is reason enough for her to go.  But she doesn’t. 
The roles in our marriage are fluid at best and become confused in many situations.  She handles these situations with grace and humor, and she stays.  My personality is still changing and the person she sleeps next to is different every month.  Yet, she still stays.  She has to explain to countless people,  including her family, my family, friends, and coworkers that she’s married to a woman now.  She has to answer questions never asked of others.  Yet, she does this with patience and pride.  She never complains and she keeps moving forward.  And she stays.
We have a good life.  We have two great kids, we have a lifetime of memories, and we still enjoy each other.  She makes me happy, and I strive to make her happy. We still laugh with each other and sometimes we cry with each other.  But other couples in this same situation have these same attributes in their marriage and yet they break apart.  But she stays.
M has made me happy every day for the last 30 years.  And still makes me happy every day.  But, beyond that happiness she has chosen to give me the gift of a lifetime.  In one year’s time she has taken away the piece deep inside of me that has caused grief and confusion my entire life.  She looked at me and said ‘I want you to be happy’.  She knew what that meant; she knew the sacrifices she’d be making. Neither of us knew what lied ahead but each of us knew it was big, life changing, and a one way trip.  Why?  Why would she offer this to me?  Why would she give this gift to me, at such a high cost to herself?
I’ve also been good to her.  She’s the most important thing in my life and I still worry each day I’m not doing enough to keep her happy.  I’m not talking about the happy that money buys, not the cars, or the house, or the travel.  I’m talking about the happy of a smile, a thought, a touch, the gift of attention  I am there when the world looks dark and bleak, I am there with a touch, a hug, an ear.  I’m her best friend always, every day, no exceptions. 
But that is not why she stays while others go.
She knew of my struggles years ago.  She has lived with them almost as long as I have.  She knows the pain and confusion the struggles bring to both her and to me.  She never signed up for this, but neither did I, I would not wish this type of pain on my worst enemy.  She has worked hard over the years to learn how to live with them, as did I.  In many ways she progressed down this path side by side with me.  There were times when she did not understand, or couldn’t cope.  And, there were times when I did not understand the pain I was causing her and I couldn’t cope.  But we both worked through those times, we worked through them together.
We worked hard to be happy together, but that is not why she stays and others go.
I wondered if I had told her of my struggles late in life, and surprised her with all of this.  If after 30 years of this I had said I was unhappy and had been my entire life, would she be able to handle it.  Would she have left then?  She says ‘no’ she would not have been able to handle it, but she would have stayed.  Why?
Even though I knew the answer already, I asked her today why she stays.  Why live this life with me, why share this pain, why embrace the world together? 
She just said ‘because I love you’.
As I do her.