Handbags at Dawn
So do I really walk in my girlfriend’s shoes or is it just a metaphor for my wanting to empathise with her? Does Kate wear my shoes, or do I wear hers? Occasionally I do borrow her shoes to run out into the garden to sort out the hens and sometimes she’ll borrow mine as she can just squeeze into my open back ones. But generally we have our own clothes, our own make-up just like any couple does and just like any couple does we sometimes borrow and lend – er hang on, no that’s not quite right is it? Not every couple does do this in a heterosexual relationship; most men don’t wear make-up do they? I had forgotten that and how refreshing in many ways that I have begun to normalise this for us!
What is normal anyway? I think normal might be any way of being that is consistent for the person – it isn’t necessarily a good thing sometimes because people can be in abusive relationships or having grown up in dysfunctional families and that has been a normal way of being for them – it is normal for that person at the time. So maybe normal is perhaps more about what is normal for us as individuals, than comparing ourselves to the rest of society because when we get into the comparison game, well that’s when life becomes overly complicated. I used to wear the t-shirt for that one and took many years to untangle it. It can certainly become a game of wondering what other people are thinking so we can try to fit in and appear normal to them when perhaps we don’t really feel that way and in that way, we aren’t true to ourselves. And ultimately perhaps how we perceive another to be (normal or abnormal) is still our perception and as our perception comes from us, it always comes back to us and our experience anyway.
I am noticing the benefits to this normal way of being, for us. The other day Kate exclaimed as I very inelegantly bent over to pick something up ‘you’ve split your trousers’. One of my worse nightmares in public that (along with going swimming at the local baths and forgetting to put my swimsuit on and just trundling out to the pool all birthday-like – now that’s symbolic!!) but luckily this was a daymare occurring at home. Kate suggested that I borrow hers. Ooh don’t mind if I do, that’s really got me out of a hole, thanks – and they fit and looked good too. I tried to cadge them off her permanently but she wasn’t having any of it. Meanie.
Hand bags at dawn were an issue in Matalan though, not long after Kate started come out. I needed a small simple black bag for a wedding I was going to and there was one left in the shop. Kate wanted it too. ‘You buy it and I’ll borrow it’ she said glibly. Very snappily, defensively and indignantly I said ‘you will not, it will be my bag! Boundaries!’ What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine too as the saying goes – and not too far from the truth as it turned out in the end!
The reason for me snapping so snappitily (a made-up word) was that when Kate first transitioned, for a fortnight or so I felt rather threatened. It was an adjustment to the yin-yang masculine-feminine relationship balance. In our relationship I was the woman, though (quite crudely) I would quite often wear the bossy boots and pants too, but I was allowed to be a bit wimpy when I felt like I wanted to and let (him) carry the man-bags because I claimed they were too heavy. I mindfully milked it sometimes and L. knew it too, but generously played along. I am bloody capable but sometimes I don’t want to be! I realised pretty soon that I was going to have to drop that malarkey, if we were both women I couldn’t use that one. However, I do fully intend to still be doing the ‘would you just hold this for a minute whilst I….?’ (bugger off and leave you standing there holding the bag whilst I gad off to look at this that and t’other). Sorrrrry, it has to be done Katie-Lou!
My identity and feeling threatened, that was odd for me but perhaps quite a normal feeling in these circumstances. I figured I was having such reactions because it had taken me a long time to get to know myself. For years I had lost myself, I didn’t know who I was, what I liked, what I wanted to do – I was so disconnected – so adjustments like this were a little uncomfortable though now I was able to be relaxed with this change as I am more mindful and aware than I was. So, I was the woman in our relationship primarily on a day to day basis; that was how I related. Now this other woman was muscling in on my act, on my territory – ‘get oooout, it’s my role to be bossy boots laaady’ a small part of me irked. I felt a bit threatened. Where did I fit in? What was going to happen to the yin yang balance? My thoughts and feelings about being mistaken for a boy when I was younger came tripping out; people would look at us and decide I was the man! They would see my chin hair and think I had a beard and wonder if I was transitioning too! And here was this Katie character moving in and not like a shrinking violet either with her bright red hair! The leap in confidence was quite noticeable, but also very nice to see. It was just a case of well hang on what about me? Where do I fit in? Is there room for me?! (I am still wondering at times!)
So there was me and my identity issues and Kate and her gender dysphoria pootling around Matalan having a look at the things, when I noticed a pair of unusual leggings that I really liked. Hmm, I had to make a decision, handbag or leggings, needs must but I really liked those legging. ‘Erm Kate, I have to have those leggings, my life might depend on it, in fact I don’t have to have, I neeeed these leggings. Now, the little matter of the handbag, you really wanted that didn’t you, well in my generosity I shall step aside’ (kindly) ‘and you could have it couldn’t you…?’ clearing my throat and muttering ‘and lend me the handbag for the wedding?’ Cue sweet innocent smile from me, as if the boundary conversation never even took place. Cue look from Kate which read along the lines of ‘ah so you’re changing your mind now, the boundary conversation bloody well did exist but because I love you and you’re funny and I know what you’re like I shall just smile at you and forget it…oh,hang on a minute, no! dammit I won’t forget it, I shall say it…‘oh, so now you’ve changed you’re mind and it’s ok for me to…..’ and in that moment my tantrum and strop was named and I had to eat a bit of humble pie which never really tastes very nice when you realise that you are in fact a little bit of a meanie yourself. It is a good job that the pair of us can laugh at ourselves, admit our faults and eat a bit of humble pie, our attitudes are probably the custard that sweetens it! I have been working on sharing, only a bit now because that’s abnormal for me, since – and my identity discomfort seems a little more comfortable as we have progressed, discussed, processed and pretty much forgotten the handbags at dawn. The ironic thing is, I never did get to the wedding!