I was contacted a few months back on a public forum by my first husband. It had only been 33 years since I had seen him. WTF you say? Well, that is pretty much what I said as well.
This man, was only a boy when we were married. It was not a long marraige nor was it even remotely a good marriage. He was in the Marine Corp. Using a fake ID and with parental consent, we married at the young age of 17. Almost 18 if we had waited 4 months so, you can guess why the parents went ahead and consented. It was in our heads to do this so it was going to happen.
I can't say it was love. I guess in his mind it might have been but, in mine, it wasn't. Yes, I said I loved him. Said I'd be true, yada yada yada yada. But honestly, looking back, I just wanted to get out of my parents house and out from their control. So, you can imagine how angry I was when on our honeymoon night (a total disaster by the way) I was told (after the deed) that he was being shipped overseas for a 13 month non accompaning tour of duty and would be leaving in 10 days. Yea....basically I got married to get out of the house and now I would be stuck in that house for another year AND not be able to go out because I would be married. To say I was angry really doesn't do it justice. I felt betrayed, used, stuck and very angry at myself for being so manipulative and stupid.
Fast forward here a bit. I stayed with my parents. It was horrible. He left and seemed to get into one mishap after the other while overseas. Always in trouble, always being fined or court marshaled. It was a nightmare. He lied every chance he could and by the time he returned to the states, I was not sure how I felt other than I still wanted out of my parents house. So off I went with, what turned out to be, a total stranger.
As my luck back then would have it, he turned out to be much more than a liar. He was abusive. He was physically violent. He never had any money. We did without food. It was a lesson in life that I could have spared myself if I had known myself a little better. Known that I was gay. Known that even if I hadn't been gay that this marriage wouldn't have worked because I wasn't in love with him and because he was a pathological liar. The reunion lasted all of 3 months and a few days. He came home the first part of Feb and by June I was home and filing for a divorce. Nothing he had told me about his stint in the military had been truth. Not a word of it. So I got my stuff together, what was left after he went on a rampage and gave as much of it away as he could or outright destroyed it and left. At least it was over and I could go on. He left as well. Went AWOL and was eventually (30 days later) classed as a deserter.
As luck plays out, I returned to start fresh only to find out that I was pregnant. Yes, pregnant and about to miscarry. I was in shock. I didn't want to loose the baby but, I didn't trust him or want him around. And that is where my luck began to change. He never came around. He never tried to contact me after the divorce. He just went on doing whatever he was doing whatever that was. I never mentioned the baby to anyone that knew him. My attorney had advised me given his psychological profile that it would be better for me not to list him on the birthcertificate or ever list him as the father or ask for any type of support. By doing so would open up his right to visitation and that could put me in a situation where he could take the baby across state lines and I'd never see it again. This was a scenario that I felt certain could occur with him. Not out of love for the child but, to get back at me. He had, when he found out I was leaving him, put a loaded gun to my head and threatened to pull the trigger. Only the good Lord knows how I survived that terrifying morning. But I did. And so for16 years I followed that attorney's advice.
Then one day my son asked me if I would find his father. I did so reluctantly but, also with the new knowledge that he was old enough NOT to be kidnapped. The reunion was not a good one. Turns out the man had remarried. Not once but twice. This second wife he had a daughter by. And she was none to thrilled to hear about this long lost son. Lawyers got involved. DNA testing was requested and done. Child support awarded. It was horrible and drug on for two years. In the end my son was given all of $30 a week and received 3 letters from his father. The last one blamed my son for ending his current marriage. And the child support was never paid.
Finally a letter arrived telling us to contact the Social Security Administration. Seems my ex had given my son's name when he went on disability and my son was entitled to support from Social Security. Instead of $30 a week that was never paid, my son would receive $20 a week but, it would at least consistently come on a monthly basis until he turned 18 or graduated from High School. Lucky for my son, he would be 19 when he graduated so he actually got to collect this for more than just a few months. Not that it was much. Even in 1994 this was considered peanuts. A mere token more so than support. But it was something he could use for going to the movies or yearbooks, prom etc. I mean lets face it. Support as in a home, clothes, medical, dental (and believe me there was an abundance of both of those!) and extracurricular activities/expenses from such things as scouting was not covered by this poultry amount of money. But, I wasn't bitter about it. My son grew up without the grandious lies, thievery and violence and you certainly can't put a price on that.
Still there was guilt. Guilt that I made a decision to not promote a relationship with his father. I mean, who am I to play God? I grappled with this over the years. Always telling myself it was for the best. But, being adopted myself and having been one of the lucky ones that actually found and had a relationship with my biological family only made me feel worse that I had denied my son this basic right. After the letters came and my son decided that he didn't wantto ever meet his father, we turned to his Grandmother. This woman knew her son better than anyone and she was in agreement that it was better to leave him to his own devices.
I told her how I had felt all these years and that is when she dropped the bomb. The bomb was that he had in fact known about our son when I was pregnant. That some friend/person that knew the two of us and knew I was pregnant would have had to know the story of the breakup but yet, had come by her house and told him that I was pregnant was his child. This 'friend' never was named and to this day I have no idea who would have put my unborn child in such potential danger. One of many reasons over the years that I have basically ditched every person I knew from that era. Now the guilt for me was lifted and I could actually start to heal from all that happened. I had not stopped to think though, what that would mean to my son. I didn't think about how it would only reinforce his feeling of being rejected. Still it didn't seem to show and he grew into a terrifically stable young man.
Jump forward to the present. This is a big jump because so much happened during those 17 years that I would need to write a book to cover it all. And since this is a blog, I need to wrap it up. So fast forwrd now to the end of May when I received an email through a public forum from this man.
The email started with "Yes, this is the late blank blank. I am a MTF transexual..... Did I read that correctly? I had to reread it over and over and over. And then I began to laugh. Was this another one of those pathological lies? Did he speak to his mother after all these years and find out that I was gay and was trying to reach me on some kind of equal level? Of course I did a very childish thing and posted it on this public forum. A forum I didn't realize my son even read what I posted. It embarrased him. It made him angry. Not only because of the content of my words but because in a momentary lapse of judgement I had referred to my son as a homophobic. Something which I shouldn't, in hindsite have done. It sent ripples of anger my way that took me weeks to fully understand. But, it did something else. It started me thinking about the past.
After doing a bit of ameteur detective work, I was able to find out that it was indeed true and not a lie. After consulting my partner we both decided that I should answer this email. After all, in all fairness, who would want to be judged by things they said and did 10 years ago let alone 20 or 30. And so began a correspondence that has morphed into a psuedo type of friendship with HER calling me every Saturday to see how my week has gone. We talk about the past a lot. We talk about how angry she use to be. She has shared so much with me on her journey to accepting who she is and what she wants in life. I don't talk about my son with her other than to say he is doing well. I refuse to tell her about his life. My son wrote her and told her he wants nothing to do with her. I listened as she read me his letter and cried. She didn't understand what he was basing some of the comments on in the letter and where they came from so, I had to fill in the blanks. Turns out they were lies told by her then wife; they never occurred. I believe her on this. She gave compelling testimony to support it. But a lot of it WAS her fault. Things she said, things she wrote, years she didn't do anything to reach out. All of those things she is having to own and she is doing that. She admits she wasn't there for him. She admits she has no right to ask to be in his life but still she wants to be. Hopes to someday be. She wants to have a chance to explain. She wants a lot actually. But, she said she is willing to wait. Hoping that it isn't to long of one. As she put it, "I don't want him to wake up one day and want to ask me questions and I have passed away." As she points out, it isn't easy to be a transexual. There is danger every day and one never knows what the future holds. She's 53 now. Not a young one. I have no way to know for sure if this honesty is sincere. I have to go on faith. I feel I owe it to her to give her a chance to be real with me. I am not my son. I will not answer for him. I have made that abundantly clear and yet she still wants to talk to me. It is almost therapeutic in nature. We talk about her mother, her father, how she felt growing up, all the wrong choices and the things she wants desperately to correct. I am not a therapist. I try desperately not to offer advice. I listen and try to comfort. I also ask questions. Questions so that more can come out. I also shatter the memories of the past with each call. For me these are painful memoreies and I need to let them go. So in this regard, it is helpful for me to be able to answer some of her questions. One she asked this past Saturday was, "Do you think if I had come around when he was born, would you have let me be a part of my son's life?" "No," I said. "I would have fought you because you scared me and I didn't want to raise a son with someone who could lie and be so violent. I don't think he would have become the guy he is today if you had been in his life." There was a long silence followed by, "You're right. And I'm so sorry I did all that to you and made you feel that way........." and with that the healing begins. For both of us.