Friday, October 30, 2009
The first correction is in how we are communicating. Up until this week, any discussion involving this subject usually dissolved into one or both of us getting upset and/or defensive. We learned this week that verbally identifying the intent behind a question or request is very helpful in diffusing that toxicity. We were able to have a very intense discussion on Tuesday this week without either one of us getting upset...and it was one of the most productive conversations to date.
William also had an epiphany this week. He learned that he knows nothing about what I like in the bedroom. It's not that I never told him or tried to share it with him; it was "selective memory" on his part. This realization took him a bit aback; it was a very solid piece of evidence showing him that his choices had really affected us. And even worse, I had forgotten what I liked in the bedroom. The truth is that we've had seven years of "quickies", not meaningful sex. William followed up his epiphany with sincere efforts to identify MY needs in the bedroom. And, boy, did he do it right! For the first time, he was able to demonstrate that he was capable of fulfilling my needs. Wow. And just as important to me, he was able to meet my needs and still enjoy himself. His response to this discovery showed me that he truly "got" it. And even more importantly, he gets that the changes that he is making need to be lifelong ones. This has helped immensely to lessen my anxiety. I feel like if he "gets" it, he'll be less likely to fall back into his old habits.
William's efforts made me happy, then, to work to identify what was not working for him in our efforts to satisfy his needs. Our stated goal was to try to fulfill his needs to the maximum degree possible while making sure that I was okay with what was happening. We were able to set aside a few hours this week to experiment a bit. William was very good about making sure that my feelings were taken into consideration during our session. He reported afterward that the changes we made were good ones and he was very satisfied with what we did together. And absolutely just as importantly, I enjoyed myself also.
Our most important realization this week is that the focus of our efforts needs to be on both of us. We both need to work to make sure that both of us are satisfied in whatever we do. We understand that there will have to be some changes and compromises, this can't be about just one of us, but at the same time, the truth is that if either of us has to give up an important part of themselves, this won't work.
And so our journey continues...together.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Fortunately, our appointment with the therapist was on Friday morning, so we were able to continue our "discussion" with some assistance. It did help....and I felt better this morning.
Right now, I am choosing not to go into great detail about my hurt and pain, but in a nutshell, my feelings are a result of the choices that William made over the past seven years and the effect that those choices had on our relationship. Prior to my discovery, William believed that the efforts that he made to act on his fantasies in secret affected only him. But that is not the reality. There were then -and still are now - repercussions from his past choices. And we have to deal with them.
I can accept who he is now with little effort. But apparently, based on what happened Thursday and Friday, I am still working to come to terms with who he has been for the past seven years. I fervently hope that we have tapped the last of any hidden reservoirs of negative feelings that I have, but I don't know. There may still be consequences for us to deal with over the upcoming weeks, months and maybe even years.
Love, committment and communication - all are healing, but it still takes time...
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
We are still working with a therapist -and he has been very helpful. Our primary focus has shifted from "how is Susanne handling this?" to "we need to work on our relationship skills." You see, William has spent over 40 years hiding himself from the world. It is requiring conscious effort on his part to open up to me, to bring me into his world. His communication skills (regarding our relationship) are quite poor. His historical preference has been to satisfy his own needs and not even consciously identify them, much less verbalize them. So, in some ways, his adjustment to this is even harder than mine.
Last week, our therapist talked with us about our path through this unknown territory and defining the clues we will see that tell us if we are on the "right" path or the "wrong" path. William's first response was that he will "feel that it's the right path." I'm not sure, however, that I trust his "feelings" in this particular case. William and I discussed this further at home and came up with some more concrete signs, such as "if he has to lie about what he is doing" or "if he is keeping something hidden from me, no matter how small" - those are signs that he is getting off the right path. The right path includes expressing his needs to me - something that he struggles to do. Actually, William is doing quite well with all of this, but the fact that it continues to be an effort means that we will be continuing therapy for quite awhile.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Last Thursday was a wonderful day - my best to date. Then Friday also went well, then Saturday, - three whole wonderful days! But then Sunday hit. And my brother came to visit. My brother who is on the verge of divorcing his wife. He feels alone in his marriage; his wife doesn't love him. He told me of his efforts to try to communicate with her about his feelings...and her lack of response...and told me of his pain over that. It really stirred the "bucket". Unfortunately, I didn't get much of a chance to talk to William that evening and the pain got a chance to take hold...and started to cause problems.
So Monday started off not great...and got worse. A little devil sat on my shoulder and whispered into my ear all day "he lied to you for all those years, habits are hard to break. How would you know? He's very practiced at deceiving you. Are you sure you know everything?" And I told him, "William loves me. He had convinced himself that he was harming no one - he didn't do it on purpose. He loves me." Then the little devil whispered "Like an alcoholic, he could convince himself again that this would be a one time thing. And it could happen again. Are you sure that you know everything?" Until that damn devil got the best of me and I decided that I needed to look through William's email. My hope was to find NOTHING to shut that little devil up, but instead, I found...well, something. I found evidence of a secret email address. William had covered his tracks well, but I happened upon a copy of a year-old email that he had forwarded to his secret address and had forgotten to delete. So I found it. And, oh boy, that bucket completely spilled over.
William was out for the evening, but I couldn't wait and called him. To his credit, he gave me his password and told me what he thought I would find there. He was right - except he forgot about the email regarding a profile that he had started on a ts-dating website. Ouch! It was rather ugly when he got home. He tried to walk away once, but I didn't let him. He did have an explanation. He said that that he was looking at photos of men in lingerie, not trying to meet them. I already knew about the photos of shemales that he had downloaded, so his view is that this was not new information. He felt that he didn't lie. But he did admit that he had chosen not to tell me about the email account because he thought it would cause me more pain. I'm not sure what I think about that.
So...where am I today? Well, partly, I'm relieved. I actually do believe William when he said that he had not used the site to meet others (it helped that he never completed his profile and the last log in date was the date that he registered.) And I'm very glad that I didn't find anything else - it reassured me that he is telling me the "big truths" - and that what he is not telling me is not as big as my mind sometimes makes it out to be. So in some ways, my looking was not a bad thing.
But really, it was. A bad thing to do. And I'm mostly very sorry that I ever did it to begin with. I violated William with that action. It was a big mistake on my part and I've been thinking about it all day long. The realization I came to today is, that in order for us to succeed, I must trust William. While I may be rightfully angry over his keeping the secret for all those years, the truth is that he did not choose to tell me his secret, I found it out. And now that I know, I must prove to him that I am trustworthy to keep it. And to do that, I do demand that he reveal himself fully to me, but I must also allow him to do it in his way and his time. I must trust him when he says that he loves me and that he is now actively working to put us first. I must show him the trust that I am asking him to show me. Because the reality is, if I fail to do this, he is fully capable of continuing to live the lie again without me ever knowing. And that is unacceptable to me.
I have a new dream. A dream where William and I create a world where we can both live happily, able to express our needs to one another, knowing that our partner is there to meet those needs, no matter what they are. And I must do my part to create that world. So tonight, I apologized to William for my actions yesterday. I gave him permission to change the password on his email account so that I cannot access it. He deserves to be able to have some privacy - and as difficult as it is for me, I will choose to trust that he will not abuse it. You should have seen William's face...
I am writing this story down so that you all know that there ARE and WILL be bad days. And sadly, sometimes one partner will do something to hurt the other partner. But if you love each other, you must ask forgiveness and then allow yourself to be forgiven. Know that just because we have a bad day now and then, and just because this is not easy for either of us, it doesn't mean that we are going to fail. In fact, quite the opposite. The more we weather, the stronger our foundation becomes. We are both committed to one another. We both love one another. And tonight, we are both more than okay, we are awesome.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
So then I consider William's story. He has said that this started when he was a child wearing his sister's underwear. He then progressing to wearing lingerie and high heels as a young adult. Wigs, make-up and painted fingernails started after that. He didn't start using toys to penetrate himself until about three years ago. He has gone as far as having an ejaculating dildo that he deep-throats. He said that it was "taking the next step in his exploration of himself as a woman." Step" implies more of a "path" than a spectrum. He also spoke of being "compelled". So where is he being taken? He tries hard not to think of it.
And I don't know either. I have to confess, after a few weeks of trying to read and understand what my husband is, I got a mental picture that looked a bit like this:I mentally placed my husband somewhere in the middle of the graph, still on "autogynephilia" line, but very close to where it branches. But is this path inevitable? or would he get to choose where he would stop? "Compelled" to take the next step implies no. And as a spouse, that can be rather scary.
Every "step" that we take could potentially take him off this new path via a chute or ladder and put him on a completely different path...or can he be taken back to the same path? I don't know. Maybe.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
When I first discovered William's secret, I took to the Internet. I tried to figure out why he was doing this. It was immediately obvious to me that this was more than just cross-dressing; one look at the photos told me that. This was a man/woman coming on to himself through the pictures, not just dressing up. I could find information about spouses of transvestites, but that wasn't ALL there was to our story. I could find some information about spouses of transsexuals (as limited as it is), but that didn't seem to fit either. And what I did find told their stories, they were told from the perspective of someone who had already reached their destination; someone who was already comfortable where they were at. They weren't quite detailed enough for me. ("It's not personal, so get over it" wasn't very helpful in those first few days.) For those spouses that still in their journey, there are discussion forums, but they are cumbersome and most of them are closed until your application to join is approved. (I'm still waiting for some of my apps to be approved - 3 weeks later.)
But there was absolutely nothing out there for spouses of those people who fall somewhere in between. No guide book for me to use in navigating my way though this. No road map to tell me where this was even leading. I began blogging as a way to process my feelings, but I certainly hope that if there is someone else out there like me, a straight spouse of a man who is not even certain of his location in the gender/sexuality plain, then this might help them. On Day One of my journey, I was kicked in the head and knocked for a loop. By Day Fourteen, I was feeling...better. Today is Day 21 and while the tough part is certainly not over, it is considerably better than it was. My mental picture of my own journey through this is one that takes place through fog. Periodically, I come to a place where the fog thins, breaks up even and I can see the sun and where I'm going. Then I hit the fog again. When I am in the sunlight, I look forward to our new life together. The intimacy that this brings could potentially be better than anything else I'd ever dreamed of. It's just different. I'm very much looking forward to the day when I'm out of the fog completely and can bask in the sunlight forever.
A man reading this might not interpret my writing in the same way that a woman would - and that's perfectly okay. Their comments show me William's perspective - and I find that very helpful when trying to explain to him what my side looks like. And with both of us working to understand the other person's perspective in this relationship - well, this can be my new fairytale dream.
As I said at the beginning of this blog...sex, love and every other aspect of my life intertwine...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
While the storm is lessening, it still rages on sometimes. I am so sad today. Last night, William and I discussed the path that this has taken over the past several years. The details of what he has done cut into me like a knife. I can hardly believe that I am not bleeding. I think it's the first time that he realized for himself how much more time he spent on loving the woman within him - far more time than he has ever spent loving me. I am grieving the loss of my fairytale - the one where I am my husband's Everything. Today, I can hardly breathe, the pain and anguish are overwhelming, thinking about what he has taken from me...from us, over the last seven years. My chest hurts so much and my throat closes trying to keep the tears in. William was home for lunch today, but I didn't want him to see my pain; I don't want my pain to drive him away. I know that he is sorry and did not do this on purpose. So I swallow it down. I bury it deep, but it bubbles back out as anger. I am so angry that William did not tell me about himself earlier. I am so angry that he did not give me the choice, early on, before we were married and before we had children. I know I would have chosen him. The lack of faith and trust that that choice shows really hurts. And then the pain comes back and the cycle starts over. It's a bad day for me.
But then William called...to see how I am doing. He knew I was having a bad day. And like a pressure valve releasing, I spilled over. I told him of my pain and sadness...and I cried. And inside my heart, I forgave him all over again.
This has been my cycle since my discovery. I feel like this huge mass is hanging over my head. And I can only process little bits and pieces of it at a time. I get upset during the "processing phase" and then I am able to forgive him for that little bit of it. And the cycle starts over...
Poor William. I know he feels bad and there is nothing more that he can do other than love me, hold me, and give me time to process everything. This is hard for him also, in many ways. He doesn't understand my need to talk, my need to grieve (he's so male that way!) He is trying hard, though. He is here. He is listening to me. I believe that he is being honest with me. He is choosing me now, over the woman within. I have to focus on that, on the positives in our relationship. That's what gets me through the "bad." My marriage vows said "For Better or Worse...'til Death do Us Part." I have never felt those words so strongly in my heart.
So forgiveness is an on-going process - and one that I am willing to work through. Because I love him...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
My William is baffled, a bit, by the "ease" which I have accepted the outer vestiges of this - the clothing, the wig, the make-up. The fact that all of this turns him on. This is the part that he was afraid I would not be able to accept. He says that he is surprised by the depth of the feelings that I have about the secrecy, the violation of my trust, the lies and deceit. In the years before my discovery, he had convinced himself that he was hurting no-one and it never occurred to him that I might feel differently. That I would feel like he was cheating on me.
Early on in this process, when I was still trying to even grasp what this was, I offered him an option - we stay married and be a couple in every sense of the word except sex. For that, he could do "his own thing" and I would go out and satisfy my needs as necessary. He said "no. Absolutely not." I asked him "why?" He said "because that is not what marriage is. That is not what I want. I do not want you to go outside of our relationship for sex." So. ... Ditto.
And I do believe that William understands this. He understands why his need to make love to himself as a woman is not acceptable to me. We are continuing to incorporate bits and pieces of the dressing piece of this into our relationship. With two small children around 24/7, it's hard to take the time for the painted fingernails, make-up, wig, etc, but that will likely be the next step - and I'm okay with that. Not only am I willing to do this, in some ways, I am very excited about it also. I am excited about the toys and the porn (I am one of those strange women who actually likes porn - William knew that at one time, but forgot it, I think.). We are slowing redefining our relationship in many ways (more ways that he ever thought!) But...
I seem to always end my blogs with questions. Our story is not yet done, nor will it be, I'm thinking, for a long time. So my questions continue, thankfully NOT as loud and urgent as before, but still there nonetheless... Will this be enough for him? Will his compulsion to be by himself force him to do things that, when not turned on, he really does not want to do? Only time will tell, I guess. We are still in therapy. So far, we are both happy with the therapist. And while William is hesitant to explore this side of himself, he is willing for the sake of our marriage, so I am ever hopeful.
As I said in the beginning of this blog, the eye of the storm inside me has passed and we are on the back-side...I think.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I have known William for 9-1/2 years. We moved in together after 18 months of dating and got married about 9 months after that. Sex was great in the beginning, but even before the marriage, the frequency had dwindled to about once a week. I was barely satisfied with that, but everything else about William was wonderful, so I didn't push the issue. We are both older and wanted a family, so we started trying right away. If we had know that I would get pregnant on our wedding night, we might have waited, but we were still excited to be expecting. Our son was born very prematurely and we spent 4 months in a NICU about 2 hours away. William and I had had sex the night before he was born and to this day, William believes that may be have been a factor in his early birth. Sex post-baby was affected, I thought, by the stress and strain of our situation. It was not very frequent, maybe once a month or so, but with everything else going on, it was not an issue. When our son was 14 months old, we started trying for baby number two. Sex was more frequent during this phase of our marriage due to our efforts. It took six months to get pregnant, but it did happen...and the sex stopped. Due to our first's prematurity, I had a cerclage put in and the doctors forbade me to have sex; I couldn't even have an orgasm! I was not happy, but William was all right...too all-right. It bothered me a little bit, I remember, even at the time. I had offered to help him out in the beginning, but he said that he would take care of his needs - and I was not thrilled about not being able to participate in the act myself, so I let him. Looking back, it was waaay too easy... After our daughter was born, sex was almost non-existant. The stress of a new baby, the medical issues that continued to plague our son, the stress of my husband's job, etc. All were too easy explanations for why my husband didn't want to have sex. He didn't like sex, he said. When the pressure got too much, his libido was the first thing to go, he said. Several times, I hinted, even asked for sex and was turned down. I could always get his body interested, even when he said "no", but somehow, it seemed wrong to do that. "No" to a woman, always means "no". So I didn't...and got more and more frustrated. William was very aware of this. About every six months or so, I would get upset with him over the lack of sex. In the cover of darkness, in our bed, I would broach the subject with him. It always ended up with me in tears, asking "why?" Why don't you want to have sex with me? Am I too fat? Am I too ugly? Are you gay?? What is wrong??? And nothing ever changed. But our life outside the bedroom was great. William is a wonderful husband and father; he was affectionate outside of the bedroom with kisses and hugs for both me and the children, so I decided that I should be happy about everything else and let the sex go. It festered, though...and about every six months or so, I would blow up at him again. I am ashamed to say this, but it had gotten to the point where I consciously considered having an affair. I didn't do it, but I was unhappy enough that I had also decided that our next mid-night conversation would include this "threat." I hated myself for that - I'd like to think that I really wouldn't have done it, but if the situation had gone on for years...who knows. Anyway, it's moot now.
So on Sept 17th, I discover "the reason why." Why my husband didn't want to have sex with me. It was because he was having sex with himself. Two to four times a week! He may have only dressed once a month, but the rest of the time, he masturbated to photos of himself dressed in ladies lingerie with wigs and make-up. He masturbated to videos of himself parading around in clothes, screwing himself with a dildo, giving oral sex to a dildo as he imagined it was his own penis. When he knew that I was unhappy, he still chose to do this instead of making me happy.
William got up and came upstairs to find me. He was willing to talk, but I had blogged my mind mostly clear, so I went to bed. I'm leaving this blog intact because it really helped me to define WHY I feel that he cheated on me. oh, my mind knows that he didn't...but tell that to my heart...
Masturbation is one thing - this is another. Looking outside of the marital relationship to satisfy his needs, especially when I have been here all the time wanting to satisfy them, especially when I've told him that my own needs were not being met - and he still chose to satisfy his needs away from me - that's cheating. That's an affair. Cheating is cheating no matter who you do it with. Period. End of Sentence.
Friday, October 2, 2009
This analogy came to me yesterday as I was trying make my spouse understand exactly how I was feeling. My entire life has changed. The foundation of my relationship with my spouse has been shaken. I am alone, now, like I have never been before. Those friends that I could always tell everything to, can no longer be the same intimate friends that they once were. I feel alone in my circle because, now, I have a secret to keep...all alone. And the only other person who knows it is the person who caused this pain to begin with.
Yesterday was...not peaceful. But last night, it occurred to me that I could stop racing around trying to find something that is gone. It occurred to me that maybe I could slow down a little. Maybe I should slow down a little. Maybe I should even think about stopping to look at the scenery here...where I am now. Yesterday, this thought was terrifying - because I have no idea where I am, maybe I'm on quicksand? Maybe it's dark out there... It's scary.
But today, I'm feeling that maybe, probably, the sun is shining out there. Maybe there are flowers and grass to look at here - where I am now. And just maybe, because I still know where my destination is, I can find my way to where I want to end up. And yes, my world has shrunk, but I need to focus on the fact that I am not alone. I am still very frightened and I'm still glancing around for my old road, and sometimes, I panic and start racing again. But my spouse is with me. And I am relying on him to help us forge a new road together.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
okay, maybe more than one question...
oh, my God. My ears popped and I could hear the blood pounding in my ears. I asked what more was there? William took my hands and led me downstairs to a box in our closet. He took a small videotape out and handed it to me. I looked at it for a moment and asked what was on it. He said it showed exactly how far he had gone in to satisfy his needs. My head kept pounding and I just looked at the cassette in my hand. He said that he wanted nothing more than to destroy it so I couldn't see how much he had humiliated himself, but in the interest of honesty, he had to show it to me. I can't begin to tell you how scared I was. I asked him to please, just tell me what was on it. He gestured at a dildo in the box and told his secret. He said that he had gotten "oral" with it. (I already knew that he had been anal with it also.)
Can you believe that I was a little bit relieved? Here, my husband was crying and in pain and all I could think was "this is completely consistent with autogynephilia." I have to confess - I had to ask just one more question - "was there anyone else on the tape or was he by himself?" He said it was just him, he thinks that he was pretending that the phallus was his own penis. And then he broke down and just sobbed.
oh, my heart... I don't want to disparage anyone who is happy with who they are, but what an awful thing this is - to be compelled to do something that tears you up inside and causes you so much pain. I grabbed William and held him. There was no doubt in my mind as to what I had to do. I handed him the cassette back and said "Here. This is yours." He said "no, I can't." I asked him what do you want to do with it? He said "I just want it destroyed!" So I destroyed it. I smashed it and pulled the tape out and completely obliterated it.
I absolutely feel it was the right thing to do. I do not want to humiliate William; I think that if I had watched that tape, I might have broken something in our relationship that couldn't have been fixed, so I'm very grateful to have destroyed it. Yet my mind keeps wandering back to that tape and wonders... Why does he do this? If I had watched it, would I have learned something helpful? Something that might have helped us get a little farther down the road a little faster? Would I now be certain that this is all? Would it have helped to rebuild my trust - that he has told me everything? or would seeing it have made it worse?
oh, God. What an awful thing this is... Yet it is who my husband is...and I love him. So onward we go...