As I sit here in my kitchen sipping coffee and reading the latest news about “Caitlyn” Jenner, I can’t help but reflect on the darkest time my soul has ever endured.
I was a young girl when I met my husband in the mid 1990s. We were vibrant and madly in love. We got married, quickly discovered we were going to be parents, and were over the moon excited. I gave birth to a girl, and a beautiful, strong boy followed four years later. My husband was successful and I was grateful that his income afforded me the opportunity to stay at home with my children.
I started my first company, we bought a house, and we traveled with my husband. Life was beautiful and we were truly happy.
But as the years went on, I started to notice little changes in my husband and in our marriage. Our intimacy completely stopped and he was spending more time traveling away from home. When he was home, he would throw himself into projects, spending hours at a time on them. Our bank account was being mysteriously depleted and my husband wouldn’t let me buy necessities like bras and underwear for myself.
Why was this happening? My parents encouraged me to look further into our finances. I had always trusted my husband, so I was reluctant to do so, insisting there wasn’t a problem. But my intuition had always been strong and it was telling me that something was very wrong, so I agreed.
I called and had all of our credit card statements sent to me. As I carefully scrolled through each one, I started to notice a pattern. Hundreds of dollars were being spent on women’s clothing. My heart sank — I was sure he was having an affair! Distraught and exhausted, I confronted my husband a week before Christmas.
As I began telling him what I had discovered, I expected him to tell me about “her.” Visibly upset (and after he tried to lie about the statements), he agreed to tell me what was going on. Nothing could have prepared me for what he was about to tell me.
Very confused, I asked him to explain and that’s when the dam broke. He told me that he was born wrong. That he should have been born a woman. That all of the missing money was being spent on women’s clothing and shoes — for himself. I reacted with both hysteria and shock.
He proceeded to tell me that his earliest memory of doing this was in kindergarten, when he would sneak into his mother’s closet and steal her clothes and underwear. He said that he identified with women in every way and that God had made him wrong. He had been hiding this his entire life and now he was buying clothes and dressing up when he was out of town.
I didn’t know what to do.
I was the first person he told and I had no one to turn to. I felt paralyzed, broken, and completely alone. After he told me the news, he packed up his bags and left on a three-day business trip. I don’t know why, but the first person I thought to call was my gynecologist. I guess I trusted him and thought that because he was a doctor, surely he could help.
He gave me the names of two “specialists” in the area who had some background with this. I didn’t know what “this” was. Was it a fetish? Had I done something wrong to drive him to it?
The first doctor I called was a gay man. After telling him what had happened, he said in a calming voice, “This is normal. What your husband has been doing is totally normal. You are just in shock right now, but I assure you, it’s normal”.
Normal? In no uncertain terms, I told the guy he was nuts and in my world, this was not “normal.” Crying and afraid, I called the next doctor, this time a woman. She validated my feelings and told me that this indeed was not “normal.” I loved my husband dearly, so I agreed to attend counseling to see what exactly “this” was all about, and to find out if he could be “cured.”
My romantic feelings for my husband changed dramatically during our time in counseling. I was repulsed by the man I love so dearly. This was not what my idea of what a man should be. It was devastating to hear him talk about his desire to wear pretty ball gowns and to have breasts and other womanly body parts — how he would love to be called “Sara” and that his manly physique made him physically sick. I was heartbroken.
There were two defining moments that solidified my decision to leave the marriage.
The first was when I asked my husband, “If God came down from heaven and tapped you on the shoulder and offered to make you a woman, would you do it?” His answer was, “Yes.”
The second moment came when the therapist asked him if he would stop wearing women’s clothes to save our marriage and he replied, “I don’t think I can, and I’m not sure I want to stop.”
Shortly after that, I told my husband I wanted a divorce. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life because I loved him. It was so painful, like a death. My husband had died and I was a widow.
And yet, I felt somehow responsible for breaking up our family. He was angry with me. Angry for not staying with him and supporting what he was doing (he even thought it would be cute for me to dress up as a man). At this point I had no choice but to tell my family and close friends what was going on. I needed some kind of support system through this massive, life-altering event.
Some of their reactions were stunning. Instead of reaching out to hug me or offer understanding, some of them actually responded with, “Wow! That’s like an episode of Jerry Springer!” or “How horrible it must be for him to have to deal with something like that.” These comments made it even more isolating for me.
As a result of the the divorce, I lost everything. My business went under, I couldn’t afford our house, and my husband fought me in court for every dime because of his anger. Everything changed for my children. They were all of a sudden thrust into daycare, wondering what had happened to their home and loving parents. We went from having money for necessities to being dirt poor. I found a job making ten dollars an hour with no benefits. Our world was crashing down, nearly destroying us and we were alone.
To add insult to injury, my husband decided to move out of state after he met another woman. He married her and they had a child together. Not only did he ruin our lives, but he abandoned us in the process. I went into sheer survival mode. With no money coming in from him for a while, my only thoughts were taking care of our two children and making sure they were healthy and happy.
I worked every single hour of overtime I could get, eventually landing a high-paying job with benefits. I was able to get my children a cute little cottage with a great backyard in a good school district. The three of us went to family counseling to help us cope, but I kept the reason for the divorce a secret to protect them.
This was by far one of the hardest things that has ever happened to us. As victims, we didn’t have a choice. He lied about who he truly was, and we paid a very large price. Few people understand the impact these decisions have on the family members involved.
I remember watching a news program about high school sweethearts who had been married for over 30 years. He told his wife he wanted to become a woman. She stayed with him through all of his surgeries, nursing him back to health. After she said she couldn’t be intimate with him anymore he told the interviewer he was considering leaving her. I cried. The hurt in the woman’s eyes and the look on her face — that was me! I knew the pain she was feeling.
Bruce Jenner was recently named “Woman of the Year.” Here’s the truth: Bruce will never be a woman. It’s not physically possible, even if he removes or adds something to his body. It is a mental disorder, not some kind of brave, heroic event. (Forgive me if I don’t think it’s heroic to destroy an entire family.) Many times, transgenders also have other underlying mental disorders, like narcissism, or Borderline Personality Disorder, as my husband does.
I’m not a fan of the Kardashians, but I sympathize with Kris Jenner and all of the Jenner kids. They did nothing to deserve this. He knew he had this problem and yet he continued to bear children. They didn’t have a choice in all of this. I see the hurt in Kris Jenner’s eyes and in her tears. Even in today’s world, you are still alone — on another planet — when it comes to people understanding this issue. I don’t care if someone wants to live his life as a transgender, but don’t drag a wife and children into it.
Hollywood can try and glamorize and “normalize” transgenders, by taking God and science out of it, but it’s a slap in the face of the innocent victims to act like there are no consequences. My children and I have suffered because of my now ex-husband’s decisions.
And you know what? It’s OK for a wife to not accept it. You are not a bigoted monster if you say that this is not normal.
I have forgiven my ex-husband, but the pain never really goes away completely. It’s a mark that has been burned into my soul for eternity. But I won’t let it define me. To other women who are going through this, know that it’s not your fault. There is hope and you are not alone. There is life after the darkness.