So, I’ve been away a little while. Okay, I’ve been away a long while, sheesh. I could use the excuse of you know, like, LIFE and that whole having to work for a living thing, and all that stuff, but nobody cares about my tiny violin.
So never mind about all that, there’s been some really cool stuff going on in the life of Tangent Girl’s family for the past few months. My gender fluid spouse has been out of the closet in terms of his personal life for a couple of years now. However, working in a really conservative field, at a particularly conservative company, has meant that he hasn’t been able to include his fluid gender identity in his professional life for fear of reprecussions. This, in addition to the fact that the job hasn’t really turned out to be what he wanted it to be, has left him extremely stressed and down. So a few months ago he began looking for another job that would meet both his personal and professional needs, but after a promising start things stalled out for a while. And this really sunk him into a deep depression. It was so worrisome at one point that despite really loving my career and where I work, I told him he should stop telling recruiters no just because the job they were offering was in a different state.
But now I’m happy to say that tomorrow he starts a new job that he’s super excited about. It’s unknown yet exactly what things will look like, but he’s been open in the interview process and HR has been in touch with him to ensure they know his needs. So while the logistics may not specifically be worked out yet, the fact that Sarah will be a part of life in the workplace is not a question.
I’m super excited for him, but I’m nervous too. For him and for me.
For him, the journey has been a difficult one. Being LGBTQ and finding yourself and where you fit can be challenging, but gender-fluidity especially is still an area where there is a lot of confusion and lack of acceptance. Growing up in an environment where there was no ability to even try and actively work to understand himself, very much the opposite, didn’t make things any easier.
So this new job is a good thing, right? Sure. ……Maybe? He’s super excited about it, but nervous too. HR can say whatever they want and Sarah can technically go to work – but will she really be accepted? Will everyone be great about it, or weirded out and therefore keep their distance? Also, the dreaded bathroom question. The fluidity aspect of his/her gender identity makes it even harder because… will the women be okay peeing next to a girl who was a guy yesterday? Will the guys be okay peeing next to a guy who was a girl yesterday, or maybe even a girl today, depending on what decision gets made about which bathrooms they use when? Complicated. So he’s nervous and anxious about whether it will be a good thing or not. (And I’m worried about the number of pieces they’ll need me to help pick up if it doesn’t turn out like they hope it will.)
For me? He and I have talked a lot these past couple of years about coming out and about what it all meant not just for him but for the family, and for me. It’s been difficult far more often than it’s been easy. And I haven’t talked about it with other people because I feel guilty that I haven’t been as supportive as I think I should be, and that people will judge me (rightfully so) for it. It’s been scary at times. I’ve known Sarah since we became a couple almost 21 years ago, but his/her understanding of their gender identity has changed a lot over the years as they figured it out. It’s only recently that they realized it was more than a private thing, more than just some kind of a kink or fetish. It’s part of who he is and it needed to be a part of his regular life. And that was a big difference from how it’d been all these years. I had a lot of fear about the whole thing – I love my wife but I didn’t want to lose my husband. Was this really a case of fluidity, did I truly get to keep them both, or was this just another step along his journey to discovering her transgender identity? And my fears about this have been a huge source of guilt and shame. I’ve prided myself on being open and accepting of others, so why am I being so selfish with the person I love the most? If I love them, I should be THE source of unwavering and uncomplicated support, not another ‘barrier’ they have too navigate in this already challenging transition.
So, those first few years were really tough. But we’ve come to a good place, a place where we now understand things more and are more comfortable with the dynamic of our life and relationship. But this new chapter could potentially change everything again, right? Most likely no, but I can’t help wondering if this newly found freedom can’t help but create a different dynamic. And even if it does, that doesn’t mean it will be bad, but I’ll be anxious until time goes by and I can see for myself how it all shakes out.
And I’m scared for more pragmatic reasons, too. Everytime she goes out without me I’m a ball of nerves. There are so many horrible hateful people in this world. The more often she is out in the world, the more open she is, the more likely she’ll encounter one of those horrible people, and I’m terrified of what could happen. I’m the first one to say no one should EVER make decisions based on the fear of “what if,” and I believe the same thing in this situation. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold my breath everyday until she walks though the door at night.
Excited. Happy. Proud. Hopeful. Relieved. Joyful. Anxious. Terrified.
Yeah, all those things.