But that was far from the end. With every ounce of courage and strength I could muster, I made it through Kim leaving me, moved to Greenbelt, kept and cared for my dogs, and cobbled together a feeble support network. I had a home which I’d remodeled, expecting to live there until the day I took my last breath and finally understood the why’s and wherefore’s. I had successfully transitioned from female to male and was finally, glory be!, happy in my own skin. No longer “indeterminate,” I was male to all who saw or knew me. But that’s when Paula entered my life, my realm of being…
Paula and i had married in July of 2010. But she had told the Big Lie about owning her home which had prevented me from moving to the UK until July of 2011. I had gone for a longer stay in England starting in October of 2010 through early January of 2011. On my birthday, October 24, we had taken a road trip to Wales.
Here is a picture of Paula and me on our way to get married, July 20, 2010:
And this is a photograph of me standing on the beach near Prestatyn, Wales:
It’s near impossible to explain my frame of mind. My biggest hope for this trip was to return to the US with a copy of the (nonexistent) deed to Paula’s house so that I could submit my spousal visa application. With various lies and excuses, Paula had not made the (nonexistent) deed available, and i couldn’t understand why. There was constant chaos and drama, and nothing seemed quite right. Yet I loved this woman.
The trip to Wales promised to be an exquisite adventure, but it came with the stress of being cooped up with Paula’s four children who misbehaved horribly. Screaming, fighting, whining, complaining, balking. I don’t blame them at all. In fact, I loved them very much and still do. They were silhouettes of their mother, just as I was my mother’s shadow.
In Greenbelt, I’d had a dear friend named Meg. She’d attended a meditation group I’d organized and ran for 2 1/2 years. When the meditation group became defunct, Meg and I seldom saw each other even though we lived only a few blocks apart. Meg was finishing up her postdoctoral work in microbiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and her husband was finishing his postdoc work in neuroscience at NIH in Bethesda. They had a toddler named Max.
Both of us were lonely and shy, and Meg was busy, so we corresponded via email. Meg was truly one of those bright beams of light in a sometimes dark and confusing world. We shared our angst and woes, and gave voice to our hopes and dreams for the future. Emailing with Meg was part of the “feeble” support network I’d cobbled together post-Kim.
As I’d become involved with Paula, Meg was deciding to have a second child. She wanted Max to have a sibling and she wanted them to be close in age. She had a lot on her plate, and wasn’t exactly ready for another pregnancy and the responsibility it would entail. These things Meg confided in me…
On their first attempt at pregnancy, Meg had a miscarriage. She was so very happy to tell me she’d conceived again, and that she’d made it through the critical early weeks. In one email, Meg wrote of her concerns. She had a blood-clotting disorder for which she took blood thinners. There was also a problem with the pregnancy, and I can’t remember what the condition is called, but Meg wasn’t too worried because she said the issue almost always resolved itself before childbirth. As I recall, Meg’s due date was in early November.
I flew to the UK for my extended stay with Paula on October 6, 2010, arriving at Heathrow on the morning of the 7th. The road trip to Wales overlapped with my birthday on the 24th. I was swimming in all the lies Paula had told me, yet reaching for that blissful future she had promised.
On the 24th, Paula took the four kids to explore children’s activities at the holiday resort where we stayed in Wales, and she left me in a cafe for a respite from the incessant arguing amongst the children. I sat at a table by the wall with a glass of Coke leaving a ring of moisture on the smooth surface and opened my laptop. Laptop booted up, and I went to check my email.
There was an email from a guy who had attended my meditation group. I read in stunned disbelief. The email reported that Meg had gone into labor and given birth to her second child on October 6, and she had died on October 7. I turned my face to the wall and sobbed, my body shaking. A sweet dear soul gone, what had been a promising young professional couple / family, and now a husband widowed with a newborn and a toddler who wouldn’t have a mother. Simply couldn’t believe this old world could be so cruel. And the “coincidences”… Meg giving birth on the day I boarded the plane destined for the UK, and her dying on the day I arrived on UK soil — and me finding out about it on my birthday.
The rest of the day was a blur, but the evening was hell. I needed peace and calm, but the kids were going wild. The holiday resort was almost a small town on it’s own, with winding “streets” of caravans (aka mobile homes) where visitors stayed. It was near the beach by Prestatyn. A man from a neighboring caravan invited himself inside ours that evening and sat talking for hours. We listened politely and hinted for him to leave, but the man didn’t take the hints. When he left, it was far beyond the kids’ bedtime, but they were refusing to go to their rooms. An argument flared, and Paula went into one of her infamous rages. Nothing seemed real, and yet everything seemed a little too real.
All I wanted Paula to stop yelling at me. By then, it seemed I couldn’t do anything that pleased her, and everything I did was wrong. I couldn’t endure another spate of the “silent treatment” — not after Meg’s death and not after waiting all those months for Paula to produce the nonexistent deed to her house with the mystery of why she wasn’t cooperating. I just wanted it to stop, to get away. But I was in Wales and there were no B&B’s to run to.
So I decided to take a few of my anti-anxiety pills and sleep. I could “run away” from the screaming that way. I think I dropped a tablet on the bed and Paula saw it. Like Kim had done, Paula threatened to call the equivalent of 911. In no way was i prepared to have a replay of the St. Elizabeth’s experience in a foreign country, and so I downed the rest of the pills. From what had happened before, I doubted that they’d kill me, but I hoped that they would. But even if not, I could sleep until her rage was over.
Paula summoned an ambulance. Once again, I denied having taken the pills and the emergency techs were about to leave when I lost consciousness. I woke up in the emergency room of a hospital in Wales. Everything was so much gentler. Once my health was stabilized, I was immediately released. Perhaps the difference was that I now looked fully male and not “in-between,” with no hint of my past female life, not a freak or a societal reject, but I really think the “system” there is just kinder. The drive back to Shoreham-by-Sea was a vague but miserable journey, with Paula continuing to yell at me and castigate me. Later, Paula would say to me, “If I didn’t love you, I would have left you in Wales.” And I would silently think, “How does that prove love? Who would even think of abandoning their husband in Wales?”
So my extended stay with Paula was over and I flew back to Dulles in early January of 2011. And of course, I didn’t have the nonexistent deed to Paula’s house. I would go through much more before I learned the truth from Paula’s cousin, Esther (pseudonym).
Although I’m not 100% sure, I believe that the hospital I was taken to in Wales was the following:
Glan Clwyd Hospital
Rhuddlan Road, Bodelwyddan, Rhyl, Denbighshire
If so, it looks like this:
For anyone who’d care to see, here is the video of our wedding, and yes, we are still legally married: