I’m broken.

Inside.

Not physically.

More mentally. Emotionally. Psychically.

And even that’s not quite accurate.

I am not sure I have ever not been broken. I think it’s something inherent in my nature. Some missing or malfunctioning part of me.

This is a conclusion I reached some time back. After one of my internal down times. Those times which lead to a lot of self-examination and reflection.

How am I broken you may wonder?

I seem to lack the ability to make connections with people. To make, keep and grow relationships. Not just romantically, but relationships of every kind.

Yes, I have had relationships. I still have some. Some of them have even been around for decades. But it doesn’t mean I’m not broken in that respect. None of them are what they could be. What they should be. What someone who was whole and functioning could make them. None of them are as strong, vibrant, evolving or active as they should be.

My entire life, for as long as I can remember, I have always felt somehow apart, disconnected, isolated from everyone around me. Not necessarily due to any overt action or lack on the part of others. Rather by my own inability to create a deep connection. I still today feel as if I go through life with some sort of invisible barrier between me and the rest of the world. And when you take a situation in which the result is constant but all the players, except one, change, then logically it stands to reason that the causative agent is that one constant person. Me. I am the only constant in all the relationships I have been in.

In romantic terms I have had two relationships that would be considered long-term. My first lasted approximately five years. It came about when I was in my late teens and honestly should have ended a couple of years before it did. But we were both young and neither of us really knew what we were doing in life, as individuals or as a couple. Those last couple of years were more habit than anything. And an inability to see and the fact that things had run their course. Hell I didn’t even know what love was, what it meant, how to really give it, or how to accept it. Sure I said the word but never truly grasped it’s meaning.

My second romantic relationship spanned 22 yrs. In that time I finally believe I learned what it meant to love; as a spouse, partner, parent. And how to be loved. Yet because of my own inner demons, because of the trans aspects of my nature that I couldn’t face, that I lacked the courage to face, a large part of me was held back. Kept within. And I don’t think you can be fully present and invested in a relationship if so much of you simply is suppressed. If you aren’t all there. If you’re expending a lot of energy internally and not giving it to those whose lives are entwined in yours. When you are so much closed off you cannot possibly know someone as well as you might, and they have no chance to even begin to know you. Because such knowledge is based on two-way sharing and communication. That my marriage lasted so long is more of a testament to the strength and love my ex-wife had than to any virtue on my part. She should have been able to know and have all of me. But she couldn’t. The broken missing parts of me wouldn’t let it happen. We still have a relationship today. One of friendship I guess. It’s based more on what we had, what we could have had, the years shared and having raised a family together. Fortunately for her, her life has moved forward. It’s grown. She has another spouse, and ever-deepening connection with the kids and grandkids. I am happy for her.

Since my divorce, some 11 years ago, I haven’t had a romantic relationship that lasted more than 6 months. And even that is stretching it. Even now, after having faced and dealt with my trans issues, I still find I can’t make a full, deep, open and healthy connection. There are parts of who I am, how I think, what I feel, what I desire; that I cannot express to anyone. Pieces of the me within that I have never given voice to, never spoken of to anyone. After the way my last romantic relationship ended, some 4 yrs ago, I even lost faith in my ability to judge people’s real feelings and emotions in regards to me. And I haven’t even attempted another relationship, or even had a date, since. And I don’t think I am capable of doing so ever again. That part of me that was willing to risk and take chances with my heart, has shrunken deep inside, and built a wall around itself. If I can’t trust my own judgement, my own heart, how can I trust anyone else’s? And without trust there’s no hope at all of ever being able to open up.

My feelings of being disconnected, broken, also extend into my friendships and familial relationships. I have very few long-standing friendships. Most of them are now long distance and people I haven’t seen in years. So as time passes the connection that was there grows more tenuous. Friendships also take work and effort to keep alive and vibrant. Yet I find I am increasingly unable to overcome my inner blockage and initiate get togethers. And when others do, I internally cringe, especially if they are group gatherings. The more people I am around, the noisier the environment, hell even the more jolly and social the setting, the more I feel I want to crawl out of my skin and vanish into some dark hole. Increasingly I seek and need quiet and solitude. Put me in a crowd of people and it’s only exacerbated. Even if I know everyone in the crowd. I can’t relax, I become ever more tense and just want to scream inside.

With my kids, well a gulf formed between us when I came out to them as trans. It was naturally a shock to them, very emotionally distressing and they needed time and space to process it all. For all I know they still are processing it. Having moved so far away hasn’t helped with bridging it either. Time has made it better, narrowed the gap. But again, how do you keep things alive when you’re not around? Due to my financial situation, I’ve been able to visit only once in the 5 years since I moved. I try to stay abreast of their lives via Facebook. And I have tried to initiate dialogue between us regarding their feelings about me and my transition. But they’ve never had much to say. Phone calls are rare. And awkward. I have never been very good talking to anyone by phone. I can’t see them and I end up being at a loss as to what to say. It feels as if they slip away a little more every day. And I do not know how to change it. I’d move back closer if I could, but it’s not possible. My siblings and I have never really shared much, never really known each other very well, never spoken about much important. Much of that goes back to the conditions we grew up in. But I know that at least in my case it largely is due to that broken parts of me. I kept to myself, bottled everything inside, never confided in anyone, never really expressed my thoughts or emotions. I still don’t.

It’s ironic really. Most people would think I am fairly open. And in some ways I am. I do not live in stealth. I am open about being trans, about my history, about who I was. But most of what I think, feel, am is kept within. I cannot find the means to share it. With anyone. I cannot seem to forge that connection that would be real enough, strong enough, where I felt safe enough to do so. Not even sometimes within myself.

Why not? Fear is part of it. Fear of judgement, rejection, further isolation. Of becoming even more of a societal pariah.

A lack of the ability to put much of it into words is another part.

I can also be a bit of a living contradiction. Parts of me yearn for deeper connections with friends, family, to be able to simply put myself out there and meet new people. But I find myself blocked. Locked up within.

I see other people who can go out and simply enjoy new experiences and life. My roommate for example. She’ll go places and to events without knowing anyone who will be there. She’ll go to poetry readings, activist rallys, new social awareness websites and make several new contacts each time. And she’ll develop those into friendships of varying degrees. If I went to any of those events, I’d end up being the silent person in the back who didn’t speak to a single person the entire time. Almost as if I were invisible. Sure people see me. But I don’t register with them. They feel no urge to meet me and I am too bound up internally to initiate any sort of contact. I grew up being taught not to impose on others, to not bother other people. So unless someone approaches me, I feel somehow I would be imposing on them. I know it makes no sense but it’s how my mind works.

And like anyone else part of me desire recognition for things I do. Yet I hate being the focus of attention. So I shield myself. I stay withdrawn and I avoid. It’s only gotten worse since my transition. I already get enough curiosity stares and social isolation being trans. Factor in being overweight and “mature” and there’s even more social dismissal.

I am broken. I am missing a crucial factor in the ability to make connections, to have them grow and thrive past a certain point. I remain locked within. Most of who I am will never be known. And I really don’t think it matters to the world at large.

 

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