Chapter 5 – Climbing Out of the Spousal Closet

Chapter 5 – Climbing Out of the Spousal Closet

Later that day at the ocean, I gathered my courage to try the indoor ice skating rink. I used to love to ice skate when I was younger, working up to skating backwards and doing spins. I had never really gotten myself to the level of the professional skaters, but I had been proud of what I had taught myself. Over the years, I’d taken the kids ice skating a few times.

One of my favorite family memories was the year there had been so many ice storms in Maryland that our backyard had gotten to be like an ice rink. The kids and I had gotten out our ice skates and skated all over our cleared acre. It was so much fun. That same year, Kurt had had to climb under the mobile home his parents had bought and placed on the property. The weather had been so cold that he had to lay on the ice in 20 below wind chill, just to wrap their pipes so they wouldn’t freeze. His parents had bought the mobile home when they sold their house because their physical health had gotten hard for them to handle by themselves. I had been so proud of Kurt for hanging in there and doing the wrapping of the pipes. I knew it was very difficult, and knew I couldn’t have stood the cold if I had to do it. Thank heavens he was a man and had more stamina for the cold than I did!

How was I going to handle those kinds of challenges with the house I owned now, without him? Somehow I’d have to find a way.

I laced the rented skates tight, grunting with the effort. I was now much heavier than when I was younger, and it was harder to bend over to reach the skates. My bones ached with the effort. Could I do this without falling and breaking a limb? I had heard that the older you get, the harder it is to heal broken bones. Was I crazy for trying? I was beginning to feel the effects of arthritis during cold or wet weather, and the stiffness that comes with arising in the morning in the mid-fifties. I didn’t need to deal with trying to get to work with a broken leg with everything else on my plate.  I took a deep breath, thought about all the health articles that said the only way to stave off arthritis was to exercise, and gingerly took a step onto the ice. Besides, I needed to do this for myself! I gripped the railing tightly as well, but when my legs held me up, and I didn’t immediately find myself sprawled on the ice, I took another step. I hadn’t told anyone else in the group that I was going to try this, just in case I fell or embarrassed myself. That step was successful, although my knees seemed to complain at the extra pressure I was putting on them. So I took another one, a longer one and actually glided a little way on that foot. I still had hold of the railing, but my grip wasn’t quite as tight. I next tried for longer glides and even let go of the railing but stayed very close to it, just in case. I started to grin to myself as I stayed up, and started to move a little more. My knees and hips were complaining, but they kept me up. After about a half hour of gradually building up speed and regaining confidence, I was moving around the rink almost in time to the music. Of course, the music seemed much faster now than it did when I was younger. It couldn’t be though! There was Carole King singing  I feel the earth, move.. under my feet ! I feel the sky come tumbling down… the same songs we used to play when I was in my early twenties at the ice rink. I couldn’t quite get the rhythm this time though, those knees and hips just couldn’t change positions fast enough. How was I ever going to be able to get back into dating? Who would want someone as old and chubby as I was? Uh ohh.. my confidence went down, and I almost fell, but I was close to the edge and able to grab the rail.  It pulled my shoulder a little bit as my legs slipped under me, but at least I didn’t have broken bones to show. I sat down on the bench for a few minutes figuring maybe if I rested I could do some more skating. However, that had the result of making my knees and hips stiffer, so it was harder to get back out on the ice. I tried for another fifteen minutes or so, but at this time the rink was getting more crowded (I had come when they first opened), and I was starting to fear being in the way of the youngsters that were flying around the rink. I was kind of relieved when one of the group members saw me on the ice and told me where the group was meeting for lunch. It gave me an excuse to get off the ice. But as I left I was mentally patting myself on the back. I didn’t do too bad for an old fart!  Now if I could only skate through trying to date again, and figure out how to handle owning a house by myself, my path to keeping my feet on solid ground might be doable.

I enjoyed the rest of the day hanging out with the support group members, eating out, shopping at the outlet malls, walking through town. It was good to forget about the problems, and focus on being a single person again. It was scary, especially when the others shared their dating fiascos. I hadn’t even begun to think about dating yet, but as spring came in and I felt more settled as a single person, I figured I might be ready to move on to that phase in my own transition.

The next morning, I was up early again and walking along the beach.  It was slowly drying up and the results from the storm the other night were fading away. As I walked I thought about some of the challenges that my support group mates had had with dating.  Some had tried meeting someone on the internet, some had met people at the group. One couple that met in the group and later married, kept saying how good it felt and how angry they each were at the other’s previous spouses for preventing that spouse from living in a real marriage. How much we had missed out on in our first marriage? How was I going to find that at this age?

The beach the last morning was clean, even despite the horrific storm. However, the clean beach symbolized to me the possibilities of making new footprints on a new path. My lonely walk on the beach that morning was cathartic, reminding me that I’d often come back to the ocean for solace and peace. I recovered some of that peace, communed with my maker to refresh the connection, and make sure I was still on the path he had planned for me.  Of course, he’s not telling me all that’s ahead, but just giving me the reassurance that he’s still there. I’d always felt that the ocean could also be another metaphor for my life.  The ebb and flow of the waves reminded me that life has many ups and downs. The depths of the water and the many mysteries it holds reminded me that people have many depths, many of us as strange and mysterious as my husband’s wish to be a woman. The continuous cycle of death and rebirth that occurs on a daily basis in the depths of those waters is a solid reminder that although my emotions and feelings may have gone through a tough storm, they will come back.

More from Stormy Transitions : The  Memoir of a Str8t Spouse of a Transgender Person

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