Monday, December 2, 2013

Transition Grief

I am hunched over, sobbing and gasping, the hot water washing my tears and snot down the drain. The shower is my favorite place to cry, and I've been spending many long nights here. Our water bill is going to be astronomical this month.

I hate myself for crying so much.

I have never seen my husband with so much hope and joy. There is a new lightness about him. He recently realized that he is transgender, and that's been the cause of a lifetime of suicidal depression. Through sober self-reflection and unearthing repressed childhood memories, he finally has a name for the discomfort he's felt in his own skin. And he has a cure-- transition.

Yet here I am, acting like I'm in mourning. I say I'm supportive but my bawling indicates otherwise. Why can't I pull myself together? How long will this gut-wrenching despair last?

Then one day I read that people go through a grieving process when they learn about a loved one's transition. Grieving. Yes, that is what I've been doing. Grieving the loss of my marriage as I know it. The loss of my dream for our future and family. The loss of the physical man that I married. The loss of my life direction. The loss of my normal.

Now that I know it's just grief, I give myself permission to cry. Now I have the words to tell Jake, "I need space to grieve without feeling guilty about it. I'm not crying because you've hurt me or because I don't support you. I don't want you to feel bad when I'm crying-- I know this isn't something you're doing to me; it's something you have to do for yourself. This is just my grieving process, and it will take as long as it takes." Now I have the freedom to move through my grief and start to heal.

Every night I stay in the shower until my body is streaked bright pink and my fingers wrinkle. I cradle myself and cry with abandon until the tears won't come anymore. I soothe myself with the thoughts, This is my life now. This is my new normal. I'm just grieving. I recognize this feeling and it never lasts forever. Go ahead; let it out.

This too shall pass.

(May 2013)


  1. Okay, this post made me cry. Wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow. I'm so sorry and so happy for you. I'm here for you if you need anything.

  2. I can totally relate... I grieved. I called it complicated grief because it wasn't so clear cut. When someone dies, there is a funeral, a way to say goodbye but not in my case. Or yours. You are on the right track ... cry all you can and let it out.

  3. Hilary- Thank you so much for your support. I feel truly grateful to have such kind and compassionate friends.

    Lucy- Thank you for taking the time to comment and sharing your perspective. It's nice to meet other people online with similar experiences. Your blog is inspiring.

  4. Having seen a version of this first-hand, this post absolutely ripped my heart out. I know it'll get better someday, but it's still hard to know how much grief is wrapped up in this process.

  5. For what it's worth, from this grief blossomed the greatest happiness of my life. I wish you and yours the same, Jessica. <3