Letter Three: To K


Dear K,

He told me again today. I thought I had been completely prepared, but I was not. It has been so long since he first told me, that I felt almost as blindsided as the first time. You see, part of my bad reaction was me asking him, repeatedly, if he was sure. Since I had asked so many times, and he was overwhelmed, he finally gave in and told me that he was not. I told him not to bring it up again until he was sure. But that’s the thing – he would not have even told me the first time if he hadn’t been absolutely sure. But I allowed my mistake to happen, and I never remedied it. My waiting for him to tell me again was also in selfishness. It let a false sense of security to swoop in. While, yes, I said that I loved him no matter what… I still wanted him to be her. So after he told me the first time, I was preparing for him to tell me the second time…

But in reality, I didn’t want to hear it again. After he told me the first time, I researched about it, even though I’d shut him down. I knew the changes that it would bring to him, and knew that it would have an even greater impact on our relationship. It was something that I had to come to terms with, and decide if I would put myself through it. So while I was preparing for him to tell me the second time, I was ultimately unprepared. When he spoke those words again, I was blindsided by all the feelings from the first time. It was as if they’d been building up in my mind, only held back by a dam. His words broke the already fragile dam, and I was swept away in feelings of confusion, hurt, and possibly even a little betrayal.

It was unfair to him, and I knew it was, so I tried my best to hide it. It didn’t work. He had become the best at seeing through my walls, so at some point along the way, I stopped putting them up when it came to him. He saw all of my feelings, knew what was causing them, and tried to help me! I should have been the one helping him, I should have been able to figure out my feelings by then. Instead, I felt my world crashing down around me again, even though this was all about him. He tried to reassure me, he tried to tell me he could keep it pushed down and locked away. I had to keep refusing him, and those were the only words I could say.

I was never the best at dealing with even regular emotions. These emotions were on a whole different level of complicated. My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts, and I couldn’t pin even one down. In my efforts of trying to come to terms too fast, I let myself fall in the cracks. I had a panic attack. It wasn’t my first – heck, it wasn’t even my first one that month. Like I said, I was never the best at dealing with even normal emotions. But at this crucial time, it was the worst possible thing that could have happened. He told me, for the second time, and all it seemed I could do was worry him and let him down.

I was too busy trying to affirmate him that I didn’t even look at my own emotions, much less share them with him. They were valid emotions, ones that I needed to say and he needed to hear, but that I couldn’t get out. So in that moment of panic, all I could hear in his voice was disappointment – he didn’t know what I was panicking about. He thought that I was trying to break up with him, because I couldn’t deal with him being transgendered. Which wasn’t true, mind you. What I couldn’t deal with were my emotions, and doing too much too fast. To be fair, he warned me to take baby steps. I thought I had. All the months in between the first and second times, I had been preparing myself for this moment. Or I thought I had been. Turns out, nothing really prepares you. Even being told once before.

In my moment of panic, all he heard was rejection. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted, but I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t correct him. The only thing I could do was tell him “no” when he said he would try and hide it again. The only thing I heard was the disappointment and pain in his voice, which only made my panicking worse. I have had panic attacks before, but this is the one I remember most vividly. I remember not being able to catch my breath enough to say what I needed to say to him. I couldn’t say that he was taking it the wrong way, and I felt so bad that I couldn’t even ask him to help calm me down. I remember the feeling of dread stuck in my chest that was preventing me from breathing.

I eventually did calm down enough to ask him to help me get out of my current state of mind. I remember it as taking hours, though I’m sure he could tell you that it took much less than that. I remember knowing it was a huge thing to ask of him, considering what he thought I was panicking about. I remember him putting aside his feelings to help me, despite the situation. I remember gaining control of my breathing again, and with it my voice. There was palpable tension between us, as he thought he knew the next words coming out of my mouth, and knew he wouldn’t like them.

And I remember the moment of relief, the look of wonder and hope in his eyes when I told him he was wrong. I was not panicking about how I was going to break up with him. I was panicking because I was overwhelmed – not by him, but by how I tried to push myself too hard too fast to accept everything at once. I explained that it was going to take me time, and how I needed to take it one step at a time instead of all at once. And the best part about that moment is he laughed at me, and said “I told you so.”

I don’t know your experience of anxiety, or panic attacks. I know you’ll probably view this as an overreaction on my part, maybe even on his. I don’t know how to explain it to you, other than I can’t control it. I can’t prevent it from happening, unfortunately. I can typically hide it from people who don’t know me, and even a few that do. I couldn’t hide it from him, he knows me too well. So his reaction, though a little misguided because he didn’t know what I was panicking about, was completely okay. He couldn’t control the way he reacted any more than I could stop my panic attack. But the “I told you so” was probably the best thing I had heard all day, in terms of letting it calm me down. I normally hate those words, anyone would. But at that moment, they let me know that we were okay. He understood, and we were okay.

I explained to him over the next few days the gist of my feelings, and how I completely supported him. I told him that I would do the best I could to continue supporting him, and that I would always be open about my feelings relating to it. I did draw away from him a little bit, though not as much as before. Since he had told me again, and not let it drop, I knew he was completely serious and accepted everything that his telling me could have meant. I wasn’t going to let him take it back anymore, but I did have to let myself think about it. Not my feelings for him, but my own identity. I had only just gotten used to calling myself a lesbian, and being comfortable with it. Now I had to change everything again.

I knew it was going to take awhile to get used to the changes. I knew we had a long road ahead, because we had to tell everyone. Maybe not right away, but eventually. Soon.

Sincerely,

Hayley

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