A while back I swiped a post title from Gotye’s song, “Somebody That I Used To Know” to talk about somebody’s that I used to know. A little awkward now since one of them since friended me on Facebook. Well, I’ve said it before, this is the year of awkward, so no biggie. I’m going to risk some further awkwardness and push along the same lines, even though there is a chance (not sure how good of one, but still) they are right now penning me a beautifully supportive missive that will arrive mere moments after I post.
Before I go into that, I do want to be clear about something. I really, truly have nothing to complain about. The support I have received far exceeded the rosiest of my expectations in every regard. Many of those I was dead certain would right me off as an aberration and abomination have displayed a level of understanding and love that shames me for any doubts I ever had. I know this has not been the experience of most trans, and although I will likely never be in the !% of wealth, I am for certain in the currency of friendship. Even so, I am going to go on about this one person, because I was happy with the mental conversation I had with him and wanted to share that at least.
To give you some background, I worked with him for about 8 years and we did a number of projects together. Aside from that, we established what I thought was a close friendship. We’d afternoon walks to chat about this and that, and went out to lunch about every other week. He used his truck to help me pick up stuff from Lowes, and was my go-to guy when it came to home repair knowledge. I encouraged his forward thinking on how to move the company forward, reviewed his presentations and advocated whenever I had the opportunity. When he was laid off a year or so back, I used the best of my writing ability in recommendations, one of which he credited for getting him his next position. We often met up at the grocery store and always made follow up plans. When I officially came out this summer, I sent him both a long personal letter as well as a copy of my ‘Friends and Family’ letter that got me so many positive responses. Silence.
The other day he saw fit to write my ex and asked how she is doing. She sent a very nice and very honest reply that she shared with me. He wrote her back along the lines of “I don’t understand the psychology behind what Mike is doing (even though she identified me as Michelle), and I can’t find it in me to forgive him”. Yeah, I wasn’t totally thrilled by that, and I’m not even talking about the ‘Mike’ and ‘him’ part. Not understanding, fine, even though my letter explained it well enough for everyone else who received it, but also included both references for further information, as well as a very open invitation to ask me absolutely anything. But “forgive me”? Seriously? I clearly didn’t understand that his perception of my gender was the critical lynch pin that held our friendship together. Something he so dearly counted on as one of the pillars of his existence.
I naturally began to imagine the inevitable face to face, or even email to email. I can’t help it, I do that when I’m upset about something. It was easy to conceptualize his perspective (accuracy highly questionable of course); his rigidity about certain things is well known to me. “You represented yourself as male, made decisions as if you were, and therefore you are obligated then to continue on and suck up any namby-pamby feelings you might have otherwise, because that is your responsibility.” Yeah, I had heard his opinions enough to understand his position that ‘personal responsibility’ trumps any unfortunate circumstance. After all, if he managed to achieve some success as a white male from an upper middle class stable family, and paid for education background. Anyone else’s failure to do so was a clear choice on their part. If and when we meet up, and we will because Buffalo is just not that big, I imagine he is going to say something along the lines of, “You deliberately deceived me and everyone else, and chose this incomprehensible path without any regard for your family and friends.” To be clear, this may be my own circumstantial guilt speaking as well.
I want to tell him that he took no time to attempt to understand. I want to tell him that this is not at all about him; a friend at work said he had no stake in this and so had no right to any feelings about it, so why can’t he understand that as well? I want to ask him why he couldn’t even be bothered to ask me. I want to put him in my shoes and ask him, realistically, if he (a portly man) were told to run a marathon or lose absolutely everything, how long he could truly run before it just wasn’t possible to do so anymore, no matter what the consequences. If it’s all truly a choice, shouldn’t he be able to keep going? I want to tell him that in a world of no good option, I chose to stop, lose and live over running to death; a path where everyone loses. I want to tell him I’m disappointed that the package the friendship came in is more important than the quality of the content.
I doubt I’ll say much of this at all. For one, not many people have the patience to stand silently under a barrage of poignant and meaningful questions. I’m also really not that eloquent in person. Chances are, when I see him at the grocery store he’ll simply pretend not to notice me and engage in passive aggressive silent shunning.
I have nothing to complain about. I’m truly blessed by the overwhelming generosity of spirit I’ve been showered with. I love all the family and friends who knew me before and stayed, and I love all those I met after who have also become so important in my life. Still, I’m human and all too capable of irrational or invalid feelings of disappointment. No one really loves a lack of resolution either, even if it comes in the form of a ‘piss off and die’ message spray painted on the side of my dog (actually I’d be pretty heartened with that; she’s really fast and it would show a sincere effort). It will happen though. His prized ladder is still in my garage.