No, don’t worry, this post is not about Brexit. In my recent short story collection every title is related to Brexit, but the stories are about relationships, and so is this post. I recently decided to seek some online support for my situation as a straight woman being married to someone with gender dysphoria. Support’s a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Don’t you just love having someone on your side? In a culture where trans rights are celebrated and their spouses forgotten, where even to question the right of people to identify as whatever they want and however they want is to risk being branded a hate-filled TERF, you really need someone in your corner, right? Someone who gets it?
Well, you’d think so. And with that in mind I fired off a query to a support group for straight people living with gay or trans partners. Great, I thought, finally I’ll be around people who know what it’s about. And so they do, but it turns out support is a double-edged sword. The problem is that everyone knows – or thinks they know – how the story goes. You’re happily married for a time, sometimes a long time, then the partner comes out as gay or trans – it’s a horrible bombshell – you are devastated – you have a time of adjustment and negotiation and finally – and this is the inevitable part – you split up. If you don’t – and here’s the rub – you’re basically putting up with things. Subjecting yourself to unhappiness. Being unfulfilled. Not putting yourself first. And so along with all the supportive and encouraging comments there has been a persistent thread running through, along the lines of: Please put yourself first. What’s in this for you? And you may come to the conclusion that, painful though it is, you have to choose between staying in a relationship and finding happiness. Thirty years ago the perceived wisdom would have been he’ll get over it, just stick at it and you’ll come through, or it’s just a phase, or whatever. Now, the perceived wisdom is that the change is permanent and that in order to find happiness, you must put yourself first and that means leaving.
But not all stories are the same. They don’t all have the same narrative arc and they don’t all end the same way. I don’t know how this one ends but neither does anyone else. And at the age of 62 I think I know my own mind about this.
What is it again?
Here‘s the group if you’re interested.We’re all struggling with something and we’re all on a journey so let’s be kind to each other and not assume we know the answer.