I'm reminded of a joke I heard in high school, which I now offer with an extra infusion of irony:
Q: What's the difference between a sadist and a masochist?
A: The masochist says, "Hurt me." And the sadist says, "No."
The fruit of which a trans-person such as myself delights is bittersweet. Every bite is a struggle to reconcile two naturally opposed forces of nature: The search for identity versus the mandates of social familiarity. Dread of loneliness against the fear of discovery. Yearning for meaningful relationships... belief that no one will ever be able to love you for being you.
Sometimes these symbolic battles manifest as genuine situations. In my case, marriage. "I love you so much, but I can never do what you ask of me." This is no overnight phenomenon. Such dazzling contradictions, like diamonds take lots of time and intensity.
I revealed my hidden gender to Erica one quiet night at college, both of us laying together on her dorm bed. I was gentle, but candid. There was no way to predict her reaction, and no expectation on my part beyond hope that I'd made a good decision.
In the years that followed, Erica traveled from one end of the gamut of complicity to the other. She began with sincere acceptance. With time and consideration, she eventually stood against any kind of physical cross-gendered expression.
After she graduated, and later discovered how I'd sought expression outside her sphere of approval, Erica reluctantly granted me a few opportunities to become "freely feminine" in her presence. She survived these sessions with self-distraction techniques and measured apathy.
In marriage, Erica's alleged indifference was incinerated by her zeal for being a wife. While some form of feminine expression was anticipated on my part, she was taken aback by the frequency of routines. Over the years she became more vocal with her reservations, even while still attempting to honor my entreaties for participation.
2003 - let's call it the year of the Purge & Empty Promise - was when Erica officially wrote herself out of the Holli Cherise Show. That was pretty much all on me.
As a gesture of compassion for the love of my life, I spent a full final weekend en femme and then ceremoniously discarded the majority of my assembled wardrobe. After the inevitable revelation that I wasn't, in fact, through with cross-dressing (less than a year later, if memory serves), the disappointment created an unbreachable rift between the two of us. Her conscious mind has remained closed to the feminine me, for the most part, ever since. Erica expresses no interest in my thoughts, feelings or activities regarding cross-dressing or any other trans-hobbies I might keep in the back of my closet.
Her last words on the matter declared that she could no longer see me as a person when I dressed for the role, that I seemed some nameless "thing" taking up space until her spouse returned A sure sign that I could no longer rely on her as an accomplice or confidant.
In an ironic twist, my irrepressible femininity would begin to manifest during the rising passion of our lovemaking. Surprisingly, Erica has attempted with admirable success to use it rather than succumb to it. Some of the elements of submission have come into play, and if she doesn't dwell too deeply on the subtext our experiences are quite mutually pleasurable. Will some common ground avail itself to our mutual benefit, at least as far as the darkened bedroom? One can only hope.
Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure I won't be completely satisfied with any pseudo-cross-gendered interaction until it's reflective of a heart that knows exactly who stands before it, and then embraces her. (I know, right? Let's hear it for mile-high standards!) But there is a bright side: she insists on denying me the very thing I would beg her to do for me. It seems Erica has the makings of a first class dominatrix.