Seeing the man who used to be my wife reminded me of the feelings of loss I felt in the months following his quiet and dignified disclosure to me of his transition. (He read a draft of this essay and consented to its publication, asking only that I not use his name.)
We had been together from our late teens to early 30s. My understanding of our divorce was that we started too young, and the differences that seemed small at the time widened, as our childhoods ended and our adulthoods began. Only one of us wanted children, but that seemed abstract at age 20, hardly worth mentioning. By 29, though, its importance was real and plain. We were terrible with money, led by my stubborn refusal to balance a checkbook. I struggled with depression and anxiety. Some days I stayed in bed. I fell to pieces at the slightest criticism. I try to be kind to myself these days. But the truth is, I was not easy to live with.
It would be too easy to say now that I always knew something was going on with my spouse, something deep and important and hidden, but I didn’t. We started fighting, and the fights — loud quarrels, really — became bolder and more frequent. Our relationship frayed.