On Growing Older

This post was written by my wife Haley.

Today I read a book titled, “In Our Mothers’ house.” (The title means mothers plural, even Word wants to be heterosexist and change it to “Mother’s” house.) This book tells the story about a lesbian couple through their lifespan as an elementary school children’s book. The story picks up with a lesbian couple adopting three kids and ends with those kids grown and eventually burying their moms after they got old and died. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed as I read the book to my five year old daughter. I found the story so beautiful. I saw a glimpse of me and my wife growing old together and how after raising our own four kids, we’d someday probably be grandmas together.  

And then it struck me, I’m okay with getting older. I can live with gaining wrinkles as the years pass. I can live with a future where someday I’ll be that old lady looking for a perm to give my grey hair some lift. This wasn’t always the case. Two years ago you see, I was a boy who didn’t like one aspect of growing into a man. It just didn’t sound right to me. It wasn’t me. My brain fundamentally dreaded aging as a man. This presented a real problem. I had a brain that didn’t match the gender I’d been assigned since birth. I needed to take some radical steps to get my life on a track that didn’t leave me hopelessly depressed as my body aged further into the male I knew I wasn’t. I took those scary steps. I left the life that didn’t fit me. I changed my name. I left a job as a minister where being male was part of the job description. I started seeing Doctors and got help. I started living openly as myself, and I shared this with everyone in my life. I started hormones. In many ways, I started over. This was no easy feat.

                As my transition has progressed and I’ve seen those physical changes come about, I’m entering a space where who I see looking at me in the mirror is someone I know. As I’ve spent the past year relating to people as a woman, I’ve gotten more confident and comfortable with who I am. And it is here that I’ve reached a beautiful place. My life is no longer this dreary process of getting older as a person I was supposed to be, instead I am daily living my life as me. I no longer am hiding who I am from view. I no longer second guess myself. I am who I am and I’m finally okay with that. As I start thinking to a future beyond transition, I’m looking to a future that I’m okay with. I can live with being a parent and watching my kids grow up when I know that my parenting comes from a place of honesty to them about who I am. I can live with seeing new wrinkles and having my shape shift with age when I know I’m living as me, and those marks and lines are gained in a life lived and not merely endured. I can live with the changes in lifestyle that seem to come with age, when I know that I will have had younger years when I wasn’t living in a fog.

Even the past spent living as a boy, is more palatable to my memory because I can look back now and see all of the steps and experiences that gave me the courage to become honest about who I am. I can see the love which binds two people over a marriage heading towards eight years but which spans considerable personal changes in ideas, and beliefs, and yes even gender.  We started perceived to be straight and now we are perceived to be lesbian. Those changes demonstrate to us that our love is real and it has grown through the beauty and adversity of those changes. As I think about a future spent with my wife, I smile! We’re a badass duo, we’ve taken the steps to live our lives to the fullest at every step thus far. The two people who could do what we’ve already done have what it takes to keep taking life by storm and enjoying all that life has to offer. We’ll navigate the changes. We get to enjoy being their for our kids. And when it is rough, we’ve been through tough patches before and we’ll climb that hill together.

Yes, I’m okay with getting older. Up to this day I’ve lived an exciting life. I’ve married. I’ve become a parent to four children. I’ve gotten an education. I’ve experienced living in two countries, Canada and my native U.S of A. I’ve had a career which taught me so much about love, empathy, and service. I’ve taken those skills into a new career that I am ready to embark on in cosmetology. Getting older means new experiences and an important part of my identity is now accepted by myself and expressed to the world I live in.  I’ve changed genders, a change which fits me perfectly. Becoming a grandma makes sense someday.  I am me, and aging doesn’t sound so scary to me anymore.

 

  • http://www.truerae.blogspot.com Rachel

    Beautiful.

  • http://ladyheathersdomain.blogspot.com/ Lady Heather

    I think you two are going to make awesome grandmothers. I know my hubby (FTM) is such a perfect father, he really would be an odd mother, but being a father, uncle and someday grandfather suits him so much. I watch him fit into the world so well as a man, and his “just a guy” attitude and think how much more at home he must be now in his own skin. He told me before he transitioned that he either had to transition or die and that he couldn’t die because he could not handle a female name on his grave.

    I am so happy for you Haley. You are brave and followed your truth. I read previous posts and am so glad you have found happiness and your true self and are living it. It sucks not being who you are. While I do not have a gender issue – I am a lesbian. Funny now I look to the world at heterosexual but at least for me the closest people in my life know who I am so I am being really me.

    Your kids are so very lucky to have two awesome mommies that loves them and love each other – so much other stuff going on these days that so many kids are raised by the tv and in single parent stressed homes that do not see that love can work out even through lots of changes.

    My son is nearly 18 now and my daughter is almost 17 – growing old and watching them become their own person is amazing and showing them that being honest in who you are makes such a difference.
    -Heather

  • http://vixidragon.blogspot.com Vixi Dragon

    Thank you Haley. Your story and your words have helped me to see my spouse’s transition (mtf also) more clearly. My wife and I often talk about growing into little old ladies together and scandalizing the nursing home. I’m incredibly proud of your (and of Melissa’s) courage in living as yourselves. You girls have been such an inspiration for me. Thank you for telling your story. We need more stories of transition cementing a marriage instead of ripping it apart. Hopefully I’ll eventually get my wife to write too. Here’s some of our story if you’re interested:
    http://vixidragon.blogspot.com/2012/05/defining-moments.html
    http://vixidragon.blogspot.com/2012/07/where-we-are-now.html
    http://vixidragon.blogspot.com/2012/12/thoughts-on-coming-out.html

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    That storybook reminds me of a manga about two schoolboys and their story of how they got together and their lives until they died, so sweet but also so sad, I’ve always been tremendously scared of dying so it’s nice to read different experiences and hope I can in the future see things differently.

    Anyway, very beautiful post, I’m happy you can feel like you are being yourself and that you are in a path to good things.

  • http://www.wideopenground.com/ Lana

    Thanks for sharing your story. I admire that you aren’t afraid to grow old. That thought does bother me.

  • Shane

    Hi Haley,

    I enjoyed your post very much. A lot of people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are afraid of growing old. Your post takes a positive view. I wish you and wife a long and happy relationship. I do, however, have a question.

    As a man who never felt right in a man’s body and has now transitioned into a woman, do you not have a desire to be with a man? And conversely, as a lesbian, does your wife not desire to be with another woman? I ask this not in disrespect, but in a sincere desire to understand. I think you and your wife’s story is worthy of a book and a movie. And Melissa is an excellent writer—she could write both. It would shine a light into a world not rarely seen and that could help a lot of people.

    • Melissa

      Sexuality and gender are separate issues. Haley and I both identify as bisexual and are in a committed relationship with each other. As someone who leans lesbian, I am perfectly happy with and attracted to my wife, who is a woman. And as a woman, Haley is not required to be with a man, and she has continued to be happy with and attracted to me. Obviously Gender does not dictate sexuality.

  • shadowspring

    =D


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