On Wednesday night, unexpectedly, we had the long-awaited discussion. The Discussion. We actually sat down and talked about me and my identity and my cross-dressing. For reals. Tilly even listened and asked pertinent questions. It was, it is, a Big Deal. Let me preface what follows by saying that this is a Big Thing and that I am impressed by Tilly's reactions and desire to understand. This is a genuine move for our relationship, perhaps the first since she moved in back in 2007. The whole concept is one that Tilly has avoided and run away from since the beginning and the fact that she has chosen neither fight nor flight is a Huge Thing. Huge.
I am aware that I have been more immersed in this for longer and that I have been waiting for this for a long time. It therefore follows that I find it hard to maintain my objective knowledge of how huge a deal this is for Tilly. This will colour my writing about it here and may even come across as a little (ha, a lot) unfair to Tilly. If it doesn't, then that is down to my writing style. If I come across as a party in need of sympathy, know that I am not. Tilly has made a big change and is facing a lot of things for the first time. I maintain the tone that I do solely out of my commitment to being honest. This is how I feel. It is not right nor truth, but it is honesty. It is ugly and it is insulting as it stems from my throbbing arrogance and privilege, but it is honesty.
This followed a discussion about Tilly's thoughts that I am Aspergic. Now, the last time we talked properly about this was back when I was in therapy. I was under the impression that Tilly thought getting an actual diagnosis was irrelevant. I was, apparently, wrong. She would like me to get one because then there will be things that I could do to minimise the impact of my autism, to be more neurotypical in how I present and interact. It would, she said, explain a lot (and probably justify her own attitudes to me and my needs).
The biggest part of this was actually my telling her that I thought I might be Genderqueer and what that meant to me - being both male and female with varying degrees of either at any point. She shared her feelings that I raised it badly back in 2011 when she needed support and didn't get any (this, if I'm being unkind, would have to be the standard call whenever we turn to anything about me, along with how whatever it is should be something I am fixing - but I weathered it and we moved on). She also discussed her own issues and how best to address those (by doing actions that will likely result in an argument, but she did ask and I must respect that). Back on topic, she said that it explained a lot and challenged my use of semantics a few times as if searching for a way to tell me that my self-diagnosis was incorrect. I can relate, it's a very new term and I imagine it's a frightening one to someone who doesn't want you to be it.
We barely scratched the surface of any of my actual behaviours or feelings after that point, but this is a huge shift in situation. She asked that I did not reveal it to the children as there was "no point complicating things" for them, my gender identity is sufficiently complex that it would confuse them (I disagree but I said I would respect her wishes). She also shared her worry that if I expressed my love of things that are considered feminine in what is considered to be a feminine way (she was shocked to discover that I like lots of things that I tend not to comment on out of deference to her but glad that I was not commenting on them, especially things that weren't clothes) then our Boy would feel that this was typical masculine behaviour. I politely challenged but she would not brook it so, out of respect, I have decided to wait on that score. She quibbled when I became like I am, was it genetic and thus passed on to the Boy? Was it down to my parents after my sister died? Could therapy reverse it? Should I be less accepting of the genderqueer labels? Wasn't genderqueer something to do with being a gender that did not match outward appearances and still being attracted to the same gender (so, transmen attracted to to men or transwomen attracted to women)?
There followed a session of actual embracing and hugging bed, nothing more but this was welcome, and a day of nothing afterwards. During that embrace she told me that she still loved me, but I think it was the lie she told herself about who I was that she was still professing love for. On Friday Tilly started blurting out things that she had learned and we discussed some of the things she had found and some of her thoughts on the matter. There was an article she read about how cross-dressing alters the image of me she has in her head (which I found problematic, but I think this means that she's actually taken on board that I cross-dress). This grew from the Discussion where she said that she was uncomfortable with me dressing as a woman (note the phrasing) as I would not be the man she married. Truth be told, I have never met this man she married, for I am not him.
In this discussion, Tilly asked that I take account of how her image of me has changed and that I take more charge in dealing with the problems that I face (as opposed to...?). She is happy to provide more opportunities and spaces for me to dress but accepted that she did not know how I would go about asking nor how she would go about providing the opportunities and the space. She shared her research that suggested her definition of genderqueer was more common and thus correct and that my own definition (based on the genderbread man) was a tad unusual. I showed her the infographic and she was confused and scared by it but did listen and ask questions about it. I respect the fact that this is a big leap for her, though I accept I sound a little dismissive of her struggles, she is trying very hard to be supportive in a way that she has never been called upon to be in the past and supportive to someone she finds it hard to support - after all, her narrative is that I fail to support her and that I deserve no respect or support as I do not respect nor support myself. Yes, apparently I am still a little bitter about that.
Anyway, she confirmed last night, in our post-discussion, that I have feminine traits and body-language along with masculine traits and body-language at different points. She suggested that this was the source of the 'vibes' that meant that she was not interested in sex: I was confusing her. And, as she added, she is a bisexual, so she would have assumed that this was a good thing, but it wasn't. It is confusing. She bounces between thinking it's all horrible and disgusting and awful and evil and everything being fine. She vacillates between hating me and loving me, between hating my actions and thinking they're not so bad. She worries about what will happen if she compromises and it is still not far enough - if I want to dress around her or show her what I wear or something (so, I guess washing my clothes is forever out) - and I'm not sure how to respond to that. I hope I'm remaining open and positive and supportive, despite my bile, invective and sarcasm here. I explained that we didn't know what the future held and that sticking with the here and now would perhaps be best.
We then watched some Game of Thrones and went to bed. This time there was no touching, like there had been nothing on Thursday night, and, like Thursday night, she slept facing away from me and I woke in the morning to find her as far away as it was possible to be whilst still in bed. Like Thursday and Friday morning I kissed her whilst she slept and like Friday evening and, well, every evening, we greeted with a hug but no kiss and it was over quickly.
Lots going on.
At work, my colleague with support has been told they will fail their probation and has thus resigned, they will be gone by Christmas. I have lots of marking that has been piling up. I haven't managed to get through much of it at all. It turns out that Aspergic Depression is different from normal depression and, if I am Aspergic, that explains some of my more infuriating behaviours (according to Tilly) and it may mean I am much more depressed than any of us suspected and have been for longer.
Words of warning and welcome:
This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. Obviously it started out as a blog about my cross-dressing but it has developed a great deal since then. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.
It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the New Readers' Page above this and the tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!