Thursday, March 22, 2012

Therapy the Third

Update: Thank you for your comments.  I really appreciate your insights and advice.  I'm too close to this and too confused by what happened.  Your input is really helpful.

I don't know what to make of this session.

The therapist mentioned that my wife called her during the week.  She hadn't mentioned this to me.  During the previous week, she hadn't mentioned any of what follows.  I guess she thought I enjoy surprises.

My wife did almost all of the talking.  The only time I chimed in was to directly refute what she said, which is all nonsense.  As before, I'll only talk about dressing issues, although there's a side issue that I don't want to discuss but I think I need to ~ your wife (or therapist) might be thinking along these same lines.

She started by saying she doesn't like to look at pictures of me dressed (and that's how she refers to it if she even says that much) because it reminds her of "my pain."  I asked what she meant by that, because I never said that dressing causes me pain ~ I said that hiding does.

She also said I was "incurious" about dressing.  The therapist interrupted to ask me what I thought about that.  I said that she has no idea how much reading I've done on this, how many people I've spoken with.  The therapist asked my wife what she knew about t-issues.  She said she had borrowed books from a therapist friend (who they both know).  Great.  My wife is learning about this from a strictly clinical point of view.  This, as my son would say, has not gone well.

She said that it reminded her of my "shame and humiliation" about dressing ~ how I'm ashamed of it and how going out allows me to be humiliated which, apparently, I get off on.

This is all news to me.  I know some folks do get off on humiliation, but I'm not one of them, I've never expressed any interest in being humiliated, and that's kind of it.  If that works for you, that's great and I hope you find what I don't have ~ a spouse who has at least a grain of understanding what you're all about.

She repeated this assessment of me several times, in different ways, during the hour.

I asserted each time that I enjoy dressing and that's why I do it.

Facts don't seem to have a place in this world.  She upped the ante at one point by announcing that she understood why I enjoyed being humiliated and shamed: it was because I was sexually abused as a child.

Steven Hawking tells a story:

A well-known scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, "What is the tortoise standing on?"  The old lady replies, "he's standing on the back of another tortoise, of course."  "And," asked the scientist, "what about that tortoise?"  "You're very clever, young man, very clever," said the old lady. "But it's turtles all the way down!"

When I denied any sexual abuse, her answer was "there is such a thing as 'repressed memories.'  It's very real."  What can I say?  To her, it's tortoises all the way down.

She started telling me of all of the "clues" that led her to this diagnosis.  I won't repeat them here.

Suffice it to say, I think there's a bigger problem than I thought there was.  What do you do when your spouse thinks you're fundamentally flawed?  I really don't know.  I don't know what the way forward is now.  From the hour in the office I realise that I'm not understood at all, and there's probably nothing I can do that won't make her think I'm acting out the trauma of my childhood.

And now I'm wondering if her agenda is to lay the groundwork for custody.  She clearly has no interest in letting Meg come out further ~ that would just encourage my personal perversion and keep me from letting go of my horrid youth.

I feel like I've walked into the Twilight Zone, one of those episodes where nothing makes sense.

I used to enjoy those episodes.


  1. I have been by your blog a couple times, and I empathize with you. Some people, want an explanation of the why, to hear that we like to dress, or enjoy the clothes is simply to simple an explanation. I think it is good that you are trying to keep the communication lines open and trying to keep the relationship alive, I do hope you are able to and your wife moves closer to you as well.

  2. You need to have a separate session with the therapist and make it abundantly clear that there is no sexual abuse in your history, that humiliation is not part of your dressing, and--most importantly, IMO--that having your wife do the "diagnosis" in this process is inappropriate.

  3. I think Pretty Sissy Dani summed it up very well. This doesn't sound like therapy as much as it sounds like an ambush. Based on your descriptions, I'm concerned about the choice of therapist as well. I think it's important to see the therapist alone and make your own determination about her suitability-and to make those things Dani mentioned clear.

  4. Also - being charitable to your wife here - she may just be going through a denial phase. From what you have shared it sounds like she *does* want you to be happy, but she is so stressed over the implications of your T to her that she is trying to find a reasonable way to envision a happy ending (in her terms, anyway). This is most likely *not* because she directly wants to prevent you from moving more fully into your own perceived social identity, but because, for her, losing you - as a male companion - hurts too much for her to consider anything else. As you well know, inner pain is a powerful force.

    You are in the midst of a very delicate negotiation between desires that both of you have. Patience and emotional charity are key enabling factors if you want the relationship to continue or find a renewal with a different gender/social model. None of it is very easy - and of course both of you have to play.

  5. I agree with what others have posted. I would like to add two points. First, there are a number of therapists in DC/NoVa who either specialize in, or have significant experience with, persons dealing with LGBT issues. These include Eleanor Criswell, Martha Harris, and Rusty Lynn. If you are not happy you can always switch. Second, going slow may help reassure your spouse. And you may wish to negotiate any major life changes rather than announce them as a given. I am not saying you are doing the latter, I just want to point out that taking the slow approach and with some give and take, you may end up in the same place, but your spouse will have more time to adjust to the changes and will feel like she is part of the decision process.

  6. This is all well beyond my understanding, I expect that this is all good advise, all I can do is assure you of my empathy, consideration and what ever virtual support I can offer.

  7. I can't tell from this post but are you seeing this specific therapist as a couple's therapy session or are you see the therapist in both individual and couple mode? If you are doing the latter, I would suggest that you need to separate the two. Both need to be gender therapist. You may also want to find a seperate therapist (gender issue expert) for your wife to discuss her issues without you present. This would direct the conversation away from you and towards her issues with her situation.

    Also, I would suggest that her insistance that you were abused might be her way of saying your TGism isn't your fault and that the image of the wonderful man she married can remain intact.

    Good luck,

  8. Your suspicions were rightly raised when your wife suggested this endeavor, and the evidence keeps piling up that this game is rigged. As a therapist herself, she is an insider. She is having secret "ex parte" communications with the therapist. She has reached massively wrong conclusions about you motivation, and has indoctrinated the therapist in these wildly misguided ideas.

    Your Twilight Zone metaphor is quite apt, and your guess about this being used in an evidenciary fashion down the road is chilling, but not unfounded.

    If you feel there is any good coming from this, you have to insist on choosing another therapist. They are in cahoots, and that is beyond the pale ethically. As professionals in the field, they should both be aware of this.

    And I agree with Leann that the same therapist should not be doing both the individual and couples sessions.

    I am a big advocate for therapy. I wish I had something positive to say about your situation, Meg. You need to take a stand for yourself before this goes much further.

  9. Meg,

    I think you are right to be very concerned. Your wife is drawing a line in the sand, and I echo what some other folks here are saying --- this sounds like she's creating a paper trail. Rightly or wrongly (and I have no idea what her side of this is), she is strongly opposed to your crossdressing, and if she simply cannot tolerate it, then I don't know what a "compromise" is going to look like. (I'm not saying whether she should or shouldn't be expected to accommodate a crossdressing spouse, simply that she isn't.)

    I wish I had something kind or more hopeful to say. I don't know you, but I feel terrible about this.

    Also, not sure what the rules are for therapists in Virginia, but here in Pennsylvania practically anyone can hang out a shingle and do "family counseling." I was victimized by a quack back when I was a teen-ager and was being used as a pawn in my parents' divorce.

    You definitely have the right to find someone who's neutral and impartial ... that's a perfectly reasonable request, and I would hope your wife would be OK with that.

    I like what Leslie and Leann have to say --- it seems reasonable compromise for you both to see a couples therapist together, and for her to see an individual therapist whom she trusts and respects.



My day is brighter when I hear from my friends!