Being the support to any partner can feel like a challenge, especially if you are feeling low yourself. Its hardest when you are both feeling particularly low and are struggling to support one another as you struggle to sort yourself out. It can be harder when communication breaks down or you feel you are both misunderstanding one another. Equally supporting someone for a long period of time is draining and it can lead you to feel like you are neglecting yourself and your feelings. This goes for any relationship.
One of the hardest things to do in life is to watch your partner in pain; be it physical or emotional. It’s hard to sit back and feel like there is nothing you can do to ease the pain they are feeling or change things. All you can do is concentrate on what you can change, what you can control and how you can handle what you can’t control. I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel like your living in a body that wasn’t intended for you. I have no idea, despite being married to a transman, how that must truly feel. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Not only that but the hurt and pain one must feel when this dawns upon oneself. Then the struggle to come to terms with this feeling and then the bravery it must take to explain it to others who may accept it or may negate everything said.
As a partner, hearing your loved one say they want to transition can be difficult. You may feel like everything you thought you knew about them has gone. It may cause shock and take a while to register. Just remember who you love is still there. Although, only a best friend to my husband at the time, it was hard to hear. For me personally, it was hard to hear because of the pain he felt and the internal struggle he had faced alone. He had suffered from Depression as he came to terms with his feelings and spent hours searching the web to find others like him. He wasn’t aware of what transgender was and it was only when he discovered a transgender forum that he realised he related to these people. He realised he was FTM. For a lot of his family, they felt loss, loss of who they knew. For others, they were just unable to accept it. All I can imagine is that transitioning is one of the loneliest and most difficult moments of someones life.
But its important, not to expect so much from yourself, if you are supporting someone transitioning. It may be a big adjustment to your life also. It may mean that suddenly your partner doesn’t want sex with you or that they do but in a different way. It may mean you have to get used to a lot of different things. They will be for the most part the same person but there may be changes. They may feel dysphoric about a few areas of their body that they may not have been before and you need to respect and understand this. Whilst being supportive, make sure you look after yourself and regularly check in with your feelings. COMMUNICATION is key; as it is to any relationship. If possible, keep these lines open and talk to one another. Talk about the difficult things and discover this new evolving relationship and what it brings. It maybe that your relationship doesn’t change at all. It may become even better and even stronger than before. Together you are learning about your future. What I would also say is HONESTY is key, you maybe expected to be strong and be supportive, but you are entitled to your occasional low point. If you feel low then talk to your partner about it, you need to be able to help and support one another. As a partner you are going through this as well, be it not you physically, you are part of the journey.
Lastly, remember that this is not forever; there is light at the end of the tunnel and your partner will start to feel happier in themselves and more comfortable. You can climb the mountain together. All relationship have hurdles, some albeit more difficult than others. Together you can get to the end of the transition and you will feel like what once was all encompassing has ebbed away and is only now a minor part of your life, be it the occasional T injection or testosterone gel.