‘I Don’t Know Who I Am After My Divorce’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

Just a few months in the past, my husband of six years and I divorced. I’ve recognized him endlessly. I ran to him proper out of highschool and by no means regarded again.

Simply earlier than we acquired married, I spotted I wasn’t cisgender. I took the label of nonbinary however was hesitant to experiment with my gender presentation in any manner which may delay my (very straight) husband, who I liked very a lot. After a small trial interval of presenting considerably masculinely and realizing it was a turnoff for him, I satisfied myself I used to be completely satisfied to current principally femininely whereas nonetheless figuring out as nonbinary.

The pandemic proved to us each that that was not sustainable.

I used to be stifling myself on function, and regardless of my each try to cover it, my now-ex might see I used to be sad. He introduced up the subject of divorce at the beginning of 2021, and after many tearful discussions, we agreed it was for the perfect that we half. We’re nonetheless good pals, and he encourages me in each aspect of my new life.

The issue I’m going through, I believe, is that … I don’t know who this “new me” is. This “me” who isn’t married, whose id isn’t so tied up in one other individual that I can’t inform the place he ends and I start. Who’re they? I assume I don’t know find out how to be me with out another person to floor me.

I believed it will come to me over time, however it’s been nearly half a yr since I left and I nonetheless really feel adrift. What’s worse, I really feel like I’m prone to throwing myself right into a rebound with a longtime pal, and I don’t wish to damage him. He accepts me for who I’m and is encouraging me to search out myself, however I don’t even know the place to start trying.

I really feel like I’m at sea with no port to be discovered, no North Star to information me to wherever residence may be. I’m hoping you will be my lighthouse. Or a minimum of sound the foghorn for me.

Misplaced and Listless

Hey there, LL!

Oh good, I get to pontificate a foghorn. That’s thrilling for me as an individual who has been marinating in an terrible lot of silence currently. Seems you don’t need to undergo a breakup to bear an id disaster.

Sure, it looks as if we’re in the identical boat, to increase our nautical theme. Solely you’re navigating postdivorce life, and I’m navigating the query as to why all I can appear to do anymore is pour hours and hours into Tremendous Smash Bros. on my Nintendo Swap.

Shut sufficient!

In any case, I’m glad this query got here to me when it did. I’ve been doing a variety of considering on this topic. Who precisely are we? How is such a factor decided? Is it a linguistic dilemma — is there a phrase or label that may provide us with a sturdy sufficient raft to navigate these uneven waters — or is it completely behavioral? As in, is it a type of peace, an ease of motion, that units into our each day actions as soon as we now have arrived on the excellent (or a minimum of appropriate) conclusion?

Let’s dive in.

I believe your request for a lighthouse is extremely apt. Certainly, the “state of being” is similar to the ocean — its unpredictable suits; its rogue, mapless expanse; its occasional islands. All very maritime. All very salty. All very shark infested. The duty at hand is an unattainable one. The very fact is you’ll by no means be capable to discover your complete self, to understand it effectively sufficient to confidently categorize it. There’ll all the time be another dimension, some cave, some isle, left completely uncharted. There’s simply not sufficient time, and there’s an excessive amount of depth.

So for those who’re in search of an absolute id, one that may give you the steadiness you want earlier than shifting ahead, effectively, I don’t assume such a factor exists. However that doesn’t imply you possibly can’t determine something out or that you simply’ll by no means discover your stretches of peace. It doesn’t imply you need to take into consideration this complicated time as fully dreadful. As a result of I believe, in the long run, you’re not doing something distinctive right here. Most people are on this journey. You’re simply being extra up entrance about it.

Pure conjecture right here, however for all of the rhetoric round queerness being “unconventional,” I’ve all the time considered it as being extra essentially trustworthy than the choice of shopping for wholesale into the notion of mounted id. To me, it asserts the reality: that id is difficult, consistently shifting, and wholly unattainable to fully perceive, particularly within the restricted vocabulary we’re taught from a younger age.

So maybe you’re not as confused as you could assume. Maybe you’re participating in one thing of a time-honored custom right here, one that may be as thrilling as it’s scary. Maybe we — every considered one of us — are at sea, and you might be merely astute sufficient to have acknowledged this. With that realization comes the required means of adjusting. Loads of it isn’t enjoyable. However a few of it’s!

I don’t assume figuring out your self by the individuals round you is as unhealthy because it sounds, essentially. All of us use reference factors to orient ourselves. We’re beings in fixed dialog with the world round us. That may, after all, lend you an excessive amount of context for who you might be. However I believe it’s sensible of you to carry off on a brand new relationship within the right here and now, particularly for those who’re already calling your pal a “rebound.” Possibly wait till the basketball terminology subsides.

As to your bigger quandary, although, what can I say? Welcome to the boat, seafarer! Struggle me in Tremendous Smash Bros. Final.

Con mucho amor,

Initially revealed on September 16, 2021.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s ¡Hola Papi! e-newsletter, which you’ll be able to subscribe to on Substack. Buy Brammer’s e-book ¡Hola Papi!: Learn how to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Different Life Classes here.

https://www.thecut.com/article/hola-papi-i-dont-know-who-i-am-after-my-divorce.html | ‘I Don’t Know Who I Am After My Divorce’


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