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My Lover and My Friend?

Mary Smith

 

Issue 7
August 1999

 
And so where do I begin? Begin my story of two people, who married and walked on through life together "Till death do us part"? Well that's what I would have thought. That is, until fairly recently. No one has been more patient, persevering, tolerant, and forbearing, than me, and I think you'll agree, that is until recently when even I realised I can't do any more.

We met in a little Baptist chapel in my home town. I thought, "Oh yes! he seems OK. He had trained for two years for a job, just as I had. He's a chef, me a nursery nurse. He seems a nice chap, talks about his family. Perhaps a bit lonely as am I. He looks OK. Yes , why not? Why not make a play for him." And I did! He ended up by walking me home. We arranged to see each other again and he made a real effort, dining out, courtship etc. He took me out and tried to look good with his appearance, and seemed to like me. I couldn't say looking back that we fell head over heels in love, but I worked on the sex thing and after about six months I had seduced him and it just seemed right. I also was not experienced in this act, but I wanted my "first time" to be special with someone who had never done it before, as most had, and I knew that he hadn't. I was happy and I hoped I made him feel the same about me, well I thought I did.

We married after one year and although a couple of times during our illicit pre-marital sex, I bought and wore the odd sexy little night-dress and he had put it on, I thought nothing of it. It seemed to all be in the playful way of things. And, don't get me wrong, I wasn't naive enough to think of for one minute that every couple swapped Baby-Doll night dresses.

Then on our wedding night he put on my negligee to pop out to the loo. Again it seemed playful not wrong. And so we went on, quite remarkably it seemed at times, until six months into the marriage and I was ecstatically pregnant. I suppose when I look back he had started to appear in the occasional dress of mine. He'd serve me cups of tea in bed whilst dressed, and even do housework. There was nothing that gave me any real cause for concern, it seemed sexy and fun. I liked what we did. Time went on, and I had our beautiful son John and when I was about to come out of hospital, he brought me in a midi coat, grey herringbone pattern, with a black patent belt and fur around the bottom and cuffs. I remember it feeling rather heavy after wearing just night-dresses for a fortnight. It was nice of him, but I would rather have chosen a coat for myself. I wore it home. It was years afterwards, I learned from him, that he had been in the shop, tried it on and swirled around in front of the mirror before purchasing it.

Anyway, in the months that followed, he often came in with cheap crimplene dresses for me, saying he thought I might like them and they were bargains. Some were OK., and I did used to wear them, but he used to wear them as much. In fact it was his routine to come home from work, put one on, sit down in the chair, nurse our baby son, with I might add much care and affection, give him his bottle, all whilst watching TV. (which he has always avidly done), whilst I got on with preparing the evening meal. Life was secure and it was a darn sight better than living with a domineering mother that never so much as let me breath without her approving of it. He thought the world of me, and you know as I write this, thinking back on all our time, I do, and always will love him. Our love grew. It didn't hit us like a firework, just grew. That's why, now that he lives and calls himself Marjorie, I still have to say that I love him/her, the person. And so we went on, spent nigh on a whole day in bed once, around the time we conceived Adam, getting up occasionally to eat, and hang some washing out, and of course, to care for our little son John. The rest of the time we went "at it " with the occasional rest and watching TV. and Hey Presto - Adam was on the way!

Then, I don't know really why, whether I just felt under pressure, what with one baby, and feeling very sick with another on the way, it was then for the first time ever, I had a moan about his cross dressing. I said, "Why are you always doing this?" I can't really recall the answer I got, but I did tell his aunt and uncle, and stupidly my Mum and Dad. They said, "parcel him off to the doctors," which I did, and his doctor tried to explaining transvestism to me. Soon after, we moved, and I can remember that he was referred to our local hospital. During that time we had a visit from a clinic nurse She spoke to us both about the Beaumont Trust, and I think her aim was to be supportive to us, as a family. I didn't really know what to make of it all. I had two little boys to look after and my hands were full. A couple of years went on and he was referred to the Maudsley Hospital. I went there once with him, leaving the children at Mum and Dad's. He says now that they explained to me that he was a transsexual, but I did not take it in at the time. All I do know is that there came a point that he was told to leave me and the kids and move out, which I didn't want any more than he. I wanted the Hubby I'd married, father to my children, lover and friend, to stay close by me. And he did.

I had confided in a close girl friend and she advised me to get a divorce. She said her Dad's solicitor would help me and that I'd be looked after, and it would be him that would have to go and the children and I would be able to stay in the house. I just couldn't go through with it. The thought of him living in some crummy bed sit and never seeing us again, filled me with horror.

And so we went on with the 'normal' life. Normal that was for us, with him cross dressing, not in front of the children as they got older, but at every chance he got. Life was fairly settled. We had, I thought some quite saucy times, and conceived our daughter. The few friends, that I had mentioned the cross dressing to, were initially shocked (it wasn't on TV in those days), and didn't know what to make of it. One of them said that her husband would take him down the pub, if that would help, to make a man of him. In the end I stopped telling people because I found I was just hurting myself with embarrassment.

One person I thought should know was his sister in Australia. I wrote to her and the phone call I got back was astounding. She said "Don't write things like that in a letter about her brother. If her hubby saw them, it could break up their marriage." Anyway, subsequently, his other sister and his widowed mother, came over to see us. They paid one visit to the hospital to consult, without him. I don't know what was said, but his mother has always denied any knowledge of his cross-dressing in childhood; contrary to what he says nowadays. He never said much at all when she was over here. I still don't really know why, but they never had much to say to each other at all during that visit.

The years rolled on. We moved, the children got older. Until the day came when Becky was talking of leaving home. It was then I visualised our future lives and I became deeply depressed about the prospect. You see the boys had left as soon as they had become 18. Each for different reasons, but somehow deep inside, I couldn't help thinking it was because of what they knew about their dad and couldn't cope with his oddness.

Until recently he had never deliberately dressed in front of them, although the boys had come across him inadvertently. Adam had come across his dad getting ready for work one afternoon, leaving the bathroom in petticoat and bra (Nev used to work evenings and nights). It was me that had to do the explaining. On another occasion the two boys had returned home from to school early one day, for some reason. They came in and found their dad dressed as a woman and doing the hoovering. John had fun poking derisively and Adam was more seriously hurt. As the years went on Adam would not have any of it spoken about. John grew to have a more endearing, and to a point of a shoulder shrugging sort of attitude about his dad

Becky never knew, that was, until I told her later in her teens. She was shocked and I think that now would like to see her Mum and Dad (as a man) keep together, but is still bewildered with it all. At her eighteenth birthday she wouldn't stand close to her father (dressed as Neville) for the photo's, and that hurt me. She has on one occasion hugged him whilst dressed as Marjorie, that was just after Christmas, and that was nice for him.

I was devastated when Becky stood in the doorway to our lounge, about a year before her "A levels" and said, very calculatingly, "I'll live one year in Halls and then Andy and I will move in together. I said, "I think I've lost you and it's all because of your Dad". I still feel, although children do go for whatever reasons, that mine did all leave home at 18, because of the knowledge that what dad did, was the ultimate embarrassment.

And so now where are we? Well let's just go back to last year. I was down and very depressed. Then I seemed to be on an upward trend. Call it the detoxing of my body after illness, call it the therapy I received about really finding my true self, but myself I did find, and a very sexy nice person I'd uncovered. Of course this person was always there, but she just got lost, got hidden. But now found she was, ready to stride out on her own adventure.

Now that adventure is hers, her own book, her own time, but because her path does intertwine with Neville's, the story does have to go on. Any way he came to an "Introduction to Counselling" course with me and he was asked to open up. He did, and someone had a contact number for the Sibyls. Well life still goes on, and he went to his first transgendered meeting in Oct. 1998. I wouldn't go, it didn't appeal to me, I said, seeing one man dressing as a woman was bad enough without seeing others.

Eventually he started telling me about these other people, and more in depth about his own feelings, and how he visualised his own future. I think that all this was especially relevant to him, after mingling with TS's.

I think it was at this point we both went through a time of change. Changing in attitude, for him it was about advancing, for me it was about seeing him dressed, in other people's company, albeit transgendered. And so it began to progress. If I felt as I did, just before Christmas and expressed as much to my son, I got criticised and put down for what he called encouraging his father. His words were, "Have both of you gone mad?" Of course I'd told him that I'd started going to transgendered venues and events and I thought the people were all very normal, which I did, and still do. But he really couldn't understand this, and was very disapproving of us both.

Since then, things seemed to happen fast. What ever I approved of, like letting him go out to the car dressed and driving somewhere, he had to do something more. Until that fateful day when he actually went up to the neighbours and said "Don't call me Neville any more, call me Marjorie," and that even more hurtful time when he came home and said "I have changed my name by deed poll and I'll be living and working as a woman from now on". He said I knew that he was a transsexual and that this had been explained to me in '76. But as I have already said, I couldn't take it all in at the time. He said he felt he should have been born a woman, and although he had no regrets as to ever meeting me and having our children, this is what he wanted for the future. He went on to tell me, he had never been keen on the sex act and had actually found it repulsive at times. On many occasions he had said I was over sexed. This left me feeling very dejected and very undesired as a woman. His response was, "If I wanted a man, to go out and find myself one."

I felt left out, cold inside and in a "no marriage, no woman's land". I was Mrs. Smith, but where was Mr. Smith? Where is my husband? Do I live with Marjorie and still sleep with her even if she gets re-assignment and has a sexual relationship? Or do I pursue happiness elsewhere? If I ever suggested to friends that I still love him, so much even as her, they think I am mad and can't understand it. A Christian therapist recently said it was because I was insecure that I ever contemplated such a life, and my marriage was over because he'd broken the contract. I was shocked.

The thing is now, where are we? Well, I have been through many stages of attitude. We have discussed a lesbian relationship with each other if she was re-assigned, but that again is something for the future, and I really don't know. We will always be more complex than just good friends. She understands and accepts that I may have to go through a time of exploring other relationships. If I ever did go, it would be my choice for the future. We have always been emotionally bound and have always relied on each other, ever since we met back in '69. People have bamboozled us with advice, there has been a lot of head shaking and people just cannot understand that I can even consider the idea of a future life with Marjorie, as my lover, or my friend.

The most important thing at present is that now I have decided to let Neville go. I have stopped clinging to him. Yes the therapist was right. I was insecure for Neville and I tried and tried all those years to make him the ideal husband I perceived. The funny thing was that neither of us really liked Neville. He was very insecure as a man. Now that I have let him go I have started to venture out on a new life with Marjorie. And Yes, she is allowing me to be free. It is working. We have gotten down to living again. All right, not everyone is going to accept her. Just lately Marjorie and I have ventured out with new zest for life. I have taken the plunge and gone round the supermarket and other local shops with her. We have had lunch in the Wimpy bar, both been wished "Have a nice day ladies" and had a real laugh in the charity shops trying on clothes. I left every ounce of self-conciousness and embarrassment at home and went out with an air of confidence, having a much fun attitude as we walked and talked. And it worked. And even if Marjorie was read on occasions, what does it really matter? We were too busy having fun.

It all seems so strange and bizarre and is sure to be to those that have known her as Neville, and us as a married couple. Our children are bound to have their own problems, and I don't know any easy answers. Whether or not I do pursue, a sex life with Marjorie, is at present immaterial. We have an understanding that we are, and always will be, there for each other. I will try to get used to Marjorie, even though pursuing the ordinary, everyday things in life may be sometimes difficult for me. We have talked and she, in turn says that she loves me enough to let me go, even if I wish to have a relationship with another. I still would always hold Marjorie dear in my heart, even if I did marry again, and would not like to think that I would have to cut her out of my life completely. Perhaps I would have her as Bridesmaid!

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