Dis-Integration… and the Process of Becoming Whole

I can look back on my life now and see that through various relationships and traumatic events, I’ve become a collection of splintered selves, personality shards held together by force of habit and stubbornness, but with less and less connection between.  My wife recently asked me about integration, wondered if I was moving in that direction.  Sometime last  year, or maybe the year before, Roxy and I talked about integration but at that time I didn’t feel very motivated, and I didn’t really know what it would mean for me.

I still don’t entirely know what integration would look like for me.  Maybe it’s one of those things where I’ll know it when I see it.  I do know that I have some fears, maybe unfounded, but mine nonetheless.  I worry that integration will mean loss of what I’ve discovered about myself.  The Casey/Kyle mix is not always blended.  I still have moments of almost pure Kyleness, islands of living and feeling and breathing through that self, surrounded by a sea of being Casey in most of my day to day interactions.  My wife said that she doesn’t know Kyle, that she knows Casey and that’s who she’s in a relationship with.  That makes sense, Kyle has kept to himself for the most part around her.  He hasn’t seen a willingness on her part to know him.  Maybe that’s changed, maybe it’s time to introduce them.  I don’t know.   She sees my identities as the result of early trauma, would she every welcome Kyle as a person of his own the way others have?  Do I need her to?

Every time I think about how that conversation might go, it seems like she’d hear it as more a description of characteristics I’ve invested in that part of myself.  And maybe that’s really what’s happened.  Sometimes I have the sharpest sense that the real I feel is worlds away from the real other people perceive.  That might not be a bad thing, but it feels a little lonely.

Who is Kyle?  What part of me is Kyle and what part is Casey?  What the heck does integration look like, how do I get there?  I really don’t know yet.

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4 Responses to Dis-Integration… and the Process of Becoming Whole

  1. Jonathan says:

    Damn, yes again.

    In my community the usual modus vivendi is a sort of bigender existence: generally (straight) male and only occasionally/periodically en femme. Indeed, a national (UK) support organization offers membership to “the two of you”, reflecting this duality. But that whole idea – which, I think, largely arises from a closeted existence (or at least previously so) – has never worked for me. I’ve always wanted integration too.

    As for introducing your wife to Kyle, that sounds very much like one of our traditional narratives and sets off all sorts of alarm bells. If I was offering advice to someone here, I’d say: “be very careful; be very considerate of her feelings; and remember that it’s not just about you.” But possibly our circumstances aren’t really the same, and you don’t need to be told anything like that anyway.

    Jonathan, if you don’t mind, what is behind your caution about telling her? A personal story or something you’ve heard from someone else? I’m just wondering what you see as a potential risk if I open up to her more about this identity – K

  2. Jamie Bauer says:

    It is hard to explain to your partner that even though you’ve been together for a really long time that there were parts of yourself (that are authentic) that were so suppressed that you could not share them (or let them out in public) or integate them into reality.
    When I started to talk to Donna about my boyness (transness) and my not knowing what to do with it, she freaked out. I think she felt betrayed (even though I’ve always been seriously butch), questioned her identity as a lesbian, my identity, questioned what else I was hiding. Two years later we are still reparing the damage, but surviving. Being in a long term relationship takes a lot of work, and a lot of tolerance. Good luck.

    Almost all of that applies to my story as well. My partner has expressed those same fears and some betrayal, concern that I might choose to transition medically and how that would impact her queer identity (she’s bisexual, and dates men sometimes, but relishes her visibility as a queer woman when with me). I often wish I could give her a roadmap of where I’m going, but I haven’t even benn able to do it for myself yet. She’s doing a lot better now, and gaining in her trans fluency all the time, as well as more confidence in us because I’m finally opening up. But exactly what you said, it’s been hard to come to her and say “Hey, that person you’ve been with for almost 20 years? That’s just a part of who I am and the person I truly am includes that person as well as all this other stuff.” Many many conversations lately have brought an increased sense of safety for both of us and I feel closer to her than I have in a long time. And there is still so much to do, it’s exhausting.

    Thanks for the comment and the empathy 🙂 — K

  3. CK says:

    Coming out of a 25yr ‘straight’ marriage in which I filled a very feminine role to midlife as a butch with some questions about gender….yeah. I know about segregation. I moved across the country and Cindy became CK. Gradually, the family is getting to know CK. I think the scariest part for them and me is putting my love into question. Admitting that I hid so much of myself (from them and from me), pretended so many things, opens the door for them to wonder if the love I gave was real or was that an act too?

    One son shows some willingness to know CK and I am able to set aside my own insecurities to give him the reassurances that he needs. Another son throws up walls and my own insecurities determine that I show him only a modified version of the mom he knew. They’re grown, but they’ll always be my boys you know?

    Tread softly with yourself and those you love. You don’t have the luxury of moving away from the challenge. (from what I read, you wouldn’t want to anyway). You do have the tremendous benefit of a wife who’s stayed around for the journey. Give yourself credit for what you’ve been able to do this far. Trust yourself to know when and how much to expose Kyle; when you have enough to hold both Casey and Kyle safe no matter the reactions and to love your wife and family no matter the reactions.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Hi Kyle. The usual experience in my community is sort of a mirror to CK’s: Fulfilling a masculine role within a straight marriage and then coming out as “feminine”. And then it’s like Jamie and you have described it: freaking (sometimes), a sense of betrayal (often), fears of what it means, where it’s going (e.g. is “feminine” going on to mean “female”), all sorts of questioning self-questioning, etc. Because, as I’m sure you know< who we are sex/gender-wise also goes to the heart of who our partners are sexuality-wise, in that what they were attracted to in us is now suddenly undermined. So understanding comes slowly (if at all) and compromises are reached as to how our and their needs are met or accommodated, and often (in our case) they don't want our femininity to feature much in their lives at all, and generally there's a lot of hurt on both sides. All the same, we have to do what we have to do when it comes to the point. So my alarm bells were not so much "don't" as "be careful" *entering dangerous territory*. Good luck anyway 🙂

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