"Your husband is gone and he's never coming back. There is a loss that needs to be grieved."
That's what my therapist told me in our last session.
About a month ago, hanging out with my wife on the couch, my eyes drifted to our wedding photo, and suddenly welled up with tears. I was hit with the realization that I no longer recognize the man in the photo. I still remember that man, but only vaguely, and he is not the same person who comforts me as I cry on the couch. Well, the same person, but not the man I married.
It's strange to feel a sense of loss when I can't articulate anything that is actually lost. I don't miss the man I married. I don't wish he was here instead of my wife. I don't miss my life before she came out as transgender and we opened up our marriage. I can't pinpoint one tangible thing that is gone. And yet there is a profound grief. Our relationship has changed forever; one chapter of my life is over. I like this new chapter far better, but that doesn't ease the pain.
I only grieved for a few weeks (read that blog post here) when Jay first came out as trans and started transitioning. My focus quickly shifted to the excitement of our polyamorous adventures, and I didn't feel any loss as our relationship evolved. Only now, experiencing the finality of her transition two years later, am I swept back into unexpected grief. I look at our wedding photo often and I sob almost every time.
Our 10 year wedding anniversary is coming up next year, and I want to schedule a shoot with the same photographer. If I get my way, I will wear the dress I wore when I said my vows a decade ago, and my wife will wear a wedding dress too. Then we can have a photo in the living room that represents our new life together, our transitioned marriage. Then when I look at our wedding photo I can see my wife, instead of some guy I used to know.