Thursday, 27 March 2014

A special birthday gesture I can't make

I don't usually have a problem deciding on what is the best course, but this particular decision is a difficult one for me.

It concerns my ex-partner, M---. This year, in August, she has an Important Birthday, one that in ordinary circumstances nobody would fail to acknowledge. August is five months away, but I can't shelve the issue. I need to make my mind up about it now.

M--- and I, when together, always paid great attention to our birthdays and never let them go by without some kind of celebration. There would always be a nice card, very carefully chosen and sometimes handmade; and a present; or at least a treat of some sort, such as a romantic meal out. Myself in July, M--- in August. It was a summertime thing, often while we were on holiday and in a festive mood anyway.

Even the onset of my transition did not at first affect our tradition of treating our birthdays, and especially Important Birthdays, as very special events. I think the underlying reason was a romantic one: the accumulating years together made our relationship seem ever more successful and enduring, and we siezed on birthdays and anniversaries as little landmarks in our life together. But of course my transition did eventually compromise, and then wreck, the mutual feeling that celebration was in order.

M--- faltered first, as soon as she realised that the relationship was not going to survive. More particularly, perhaps, that it would become something she couldn't live with. By unspoken consent we curtailed the birthday fuss. It seemed inappropriate. It also seemed dishonest and unrealistic and unhelpful - energies were better spent coping with all the emotional damage that was piling up. By the middle of 2010, M--- was unable to control her grief and bitterness, and a permanent parting was the only solution. Selling the Cottage enforced ongoing contact by email till August 2011, and then her insistence on having scanned copies of certain photos from our early years in the 1990s meant monthly CDs until the end of 2012. But ever since, silence. We have no reason to be in touch, and never encounter each other out and about.

Looked at dispassionately, I think I might be well advised to leave things at that, and let sleeping dogs lie. There is also the concern that if I break the silence, and send M--- Important Birthday greetings, I will annoy or distress her by reminding her of my existence and of what she has lost.

And yet, to me, it seems unspeakably churlish and incivil to pretend that I have 'forgotten' this very special forthcoming birthday. For I bear her no ill-will, even though the death-throes of our relationship hurt me too. I really would like to know she is all right. Greetings sent now, separately from the rush of greetings she will receive from family and friends in August, might open up a dialogue, and at least create the chance of better trust and understanding between us.

And yet to what end? Last year I pondered the pros and cons of contacting certain Old Life friends who wouldn't yet know that I had become Lucy. People who were educated and intelligent and (you might assume) receptive to something new and different. But on analysis I'd decided that it wouldn't work. They had liked the Old Me, and wouldn't want to embrace the New Version. Better not to disturb their memories. I can't help feeling that much the same now applies with M---. Yes, it would be almost rude not to acknowledge her Important Birthday. Yes, there is a possibility that a handwritten letter from me (not a card) might be interpreted as a friendly gesture, an olive branch, a sign that I had not forgotten her. But a communication from me would also churn up emotions and reopen barely-healed wounds and resentments. No, I must not do that.

So - mainly on the ground that I don't want to hurt M--- further - I seem to have reached a conclusion, that I had best not write to her, now or later. She is after all entitled to be Lucy-free for the rest of her life, and I ought to respect that. In fact, if she has built a fresh life with someone else (I have no information on that) then I absolutely mustn't pop up again to divert her from making a success of it.

What I can (and will) do is raise a personal (and very private) glass to her on 14th August, and wish her all the best. She'll never know about that toast, but I will have saluted her, and it's something harmless and well-intentioned that I can do every year.


  1. Lucy you face what a lot of transsexual and transgender people to deal with the aftermath of a relationship that used to be a couple and then transformed into something else. I was once married as well and while I have not transitioned, I know all too well how awkward things get sometimes.

    No matter how you handle things, it will be the right way for you!

  2. Lucy,
    Call M... and wish her a Happy Birthday. As we get older pain fades and good memories remain. It's how we are made. When given the choice between two actions, usually the one I dread is the right thing to do.

  3. I think more that it is your own fear of rejection perhaps that hinders sending a card. I think you should send one regardless. If she rejects it, and she might not, it will still let her know you are thinking about her. You never know Lucy that things may change for the better between you two. You know I don't send cards to anyone now as I think it is a waste of time unless the recipient is close to my heart and we are apart. That however isn't my circumstance so I can show love in person. Send her the card, you know you ought to.

    Shirley Anne x

  4. If it were me, I would send a card in August with a few lines inside. Sending one now might suggest to the recipient that there was an expectation of a response. Better for your card to be received with all the others ~ hopefully a nice reminder of all your happy times, an indication that she isn't forgotten.

  5. What a range of opinion. I thought there would be only silence on such a personal matter, but then it IS a problem that confronts many a trans person...

    I positively prefer a short letter to a card. And a letter that expresses greetings and goodwill only. No news. No enquiries. Nothing to make a response necessary. The only real issues are whether or not to send it, and when.

    There really is a very high chance that my letter (however admirable and sincere the message) will simply reopen a healing wound and cause renewed hurt. In which case, there is the clear answer: don't inflict pain, don't send any communication, and especially don't do it so that the timing will affect M---'s enjoyment of the Occasion.



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