I think that almost all the fact checkers would agree:
Relationships are hard
For those of us who are transgender, our journey of questioning, understanding, accepting and perhaps even transitioning, each take a unique and individual path marked and perhaps marred by changes in velocity, obstructions, gains, losses and perhaps even second thoughts. While all this goes on, for so many of within the confines of our own minds and bodies, so many of are continuing to have all the relationships in our life as if none of this is happening.
And...there is one constant truth that is part of our definition as being a human being. We need to be in relationships. We need to be seen, to be heard, to belong to something, and to be touched by others in many, many ways.
It does not matter what ethnic group, or race we come from. It does not matter our age, our height, our weight, our religion, or any of the many ways we choose to identify or claim our "tribe," to often separate ourselves from others. We are all of one species and the needs of relationships are built into our DNA, and have been honed over the years to be the keys to our evolutionary survival.
Yet, I will repeat:
Relationships are hard
For many decades I struggled with my internal battle to have a relationship with myself. I knew that my body and the roles I played in the world as man, as a husband, and as a father, was the truth that was presented to the world. I signed my names on my marriage contract and stated my vows, all the while knowing deep inside, something was not right, or rather something was not true to me.
My needs, my very human needs for relationship, for connections, overwhelmed the questioning and exploration of who I really was. I never thought there was any choice for me, and I never shared what I was thinking and feeling inside with anyone. The risks of loss were too great.
Like many, I purged the clothes I had hidden away, and like many the feeling never went away, and always, in some manner took command of my being. I took risks in dressing up when I was alone. I was racked with guilt and confusion.
I began to wonder who was I betraying, my family or myself. Most times when this occurred, the savior part helped me disassociate enough for the question to evaporate from my consciousness -- at least for a little while.
I started to think a good deal about betrayals, and how hard it was to be true to myself while at the same time being true to all the people I had relationships with, especially my family. I don't think I am alone wrestling with this conundrum.
Even back in the 1970s I was already aware that almost half of marriages end up in divorce. This still seems to be true today.
Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples' mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.
- American Psychological Association
I wondered why, holding marriage vows is so difficult for such a large percentage of the population. Certainly not everyone was struggling with their gender identity, however it began to dawn on me that perhaps, just perhaps the overlying theme was not so different that the one I was struggling through. What if, the problem was the challenge of knowing one's self, and being true to one's self, while simultaneous being in a committed relationship, with the vows and contracts that can be perceived as holding one back from being authentic? What if?'
What if our feeling of and desire for "love" drive us to meet some of our human needs and overpower our individual needs to learn who we truly are? I wondered if the force of "love" is where the internal betrayal often begins. Honeymoons and responsibilities often come into collision with secrets and omissions, growth and changes. Each day, we all change, but so often, our expectations will not keep up with them. For some each day can be an exploration and discovery of not only a new facet of themselves, but a new way to be in relationship. This is where my statement above makes another appearance.
Relationships are hard
Of course, changes in mind, body and spirit can be viewed by others as betrayals.
Refrains of "You're not the person I married!" ring our over and over, and over and over. Partners find that they were led astray, or the changes were an example of treachery and lies, and the changes will then indicate desertion in times of need.
Yet to the person finally refusing to continue to betray their true selves, it just feels like growth and authenticity.
One still loves, as they are expressing their truth, yet, the other may feel devastated with all appearing to lost and their life about to fall down all around them, as they feel their own heart breaking. No this is never fair.
What's Love Got to Do With It? -- Tina Turner
It's not so much that hearts can be broken, but rather how can we learn to allow our hearts to be open, and allow our loved ones, ourselves, and all others to grow into their authentic self.
Yes, I think the fact checkers would still be in agreement. This is not going to be easy to do. My own sense and experience, is that it is the only path to inner peace and wholeness -- for all of us.
Grace Anne Stevens inspires people to find their truth and live their authentic life! She is an inspirational and motivational speaker specializing on intra and interpersonal relationships. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically. Grace is available for speaking to all groups who would like to learn the values of, and how to live authentically. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .
Grace will be presenting EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT GENDER TRANSITION IN THE WORKPLACE BUT DIDN'T EVEN KNOW TO ASK at the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference in Austin on 10/26/16. https://conferences.shrm.org/conference/2016-diversity-inclusion-conference-exposition/session/everything-you-wanted-know-about