15 October 2009


"Gunnar Berg" didn't wish me me good luck. Instead, he advised me to be strong. I am happy for that: It's a lot more satisfying to achieve by being strong, or simply working hard and from the bottom of your heart, than it is to have things fall in the right places.

What's odd is that lately I've felt strong: strong enough, in fact, to take on new projects, reach out to new and old acquaintances and to extricate myself from a relationship that, really, has had almost no reason to be for some time.

And now Michelle, a former student of mine, is exhorting me to be strong and not to go back. "You don't need a man to be complete," she said. "No woman does. A girl, yes. But not a woman. And that's what you are."

Michelle knows whence she speaks. And I was so happy to see her again.

The relationship from which I've liberated myself is the one I had with Dominick. Now, I'm not going to "trash" him in this post, or anywhere. I didn't suddenly realize that he's a terrible person or find out some dim, dark secret of his. Rather--as cold as this sounds--I no longer have a need he once filled, at least partially. As a result, I have had to acknowledge something I knew intuitively: We don't have much in common.

Furthermore, I feel that each of us needs to move forward in our lives. In doing so, each of us will be going in different directions and, as a result, will most likely have very different journeys in front of us.

Actually, I knew that a while ago--from when I first knew him, really. So why did I continue with him?

Well...Now I'm about to reveal my shallow side. Here goes: He's a very good-looking man, and he was at least reasonably good to me most of the time. When I was still forming my identity as Justine, as a woman, I felt at least somewhat more affirmed as such by his presence.

What I didn't realize at the time was that, in a way, he was looking for the same thing I sought: stability. I was, as you can imagine, going through a lot of change and even some upheaval. And he was trying to figure out a few things about his life--while living in a dysfunctional environment.

I haven't seen him since about a month before my surgery. The truth is, I haven't wanted to. As you know, whether or not you've been reading this blog, I had to focus so much on myself--first the preparation for my surgery, then my recovery and other aftereffects--that I didn't have the energy or time (or, after the surgery, enough waking hours) to deal with much else. And, frankly, there wasn't much he could have done.

I realized this during the time I spent in Colorado. (Something about the mountain air, right?) There was so much he could not understand about what I was going through, much less what I had gone through. I knew that, in part, because I spent my time out there with people who understood perfectly. Dominick could and would spend time with me, but he never could understand exactly how vulnerable I am or why I'm that way.

Again, I do not mean to disparage him. This sort of thing happens sometimes in relationships of any sort: What he could give me, I no longer need. And he can't give me what I need or want now, mainly because we lost what (as it turns out, little) common ground we had.

I'm not nearly as upset about this as I might have expected to be. In fact, I'm feeling stronger, knowing what--or more precisely, why.

Thank you, "Gunnar." And you, too, Michelle.


Jeanne Genet said...

This may sound cold and scientific, but relationships started during a serious transition do not tend to last. This is because the relationship tends to be rooted in the transition itself, and cannot exist outside of it. Once you begin to grow out of the transition, the root needs to remain in the past, while you now need to grow the stem and branches. He will always be part of you, but he can't come with you. Hope that does not sound too cheesy.

Justine Nicholas Valinotti said...

Jeanne, it may be cold and scientific, but it does make sense. At least, it describes what I'm feeling: That I'm growing out of the transition (which, really, is the purpose of the transition) and that I'm ready for new experiences.

I know trans people who gave up all of their old friends and acquaintances when they began their new lives. I also know others who found, as I found, that some of the people, places and things of their pasts simply fell by the wayside--or left them.

This may seem trite, but change is inevitable.

I also know that whatever and whomever you move away from remains a part of you. That's one of the biggest lessons I've learned in my transition.

Thanks for your comment!