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A Love Less Ordinary

A Love Less Ordinary

Laura Newman

‘... we all lose ourselves amongst the constant expectations that modern life throws at us ...’

This is my story of having woken up, I realised I was not living my life for me. It’s about the perspective I’ve gained of what a healthy relationship can and should be. My relationship just happens to be with someone who identifies as transgender.

It is about how I realised if transgender people can find the strength to be open with the world about who they are, considering all the challenges this presents, couldn’t we all find the courage to be honest with the world about who we really are?

The heart and essence of this book is about more than being the partner of someone who is transgender. It’s about learning to be true to yourself. To love yourself and live the life that you want. To be free – truly free – as the person you are meant to be.

Excerpt from the book

N

icci and I have found that there is just one secret to maintaining openness and honesty in our relationship in a continually loving, sharing and non-argumentative manner. Like the golden rules of buying a property, it is so important it is worth repeating three times: ‘no censorship, no censorship, no censorship’. This concept works two-fold. Not only does it apply to communication with the other person but also to looking inwards at your own behaviour.

It comes into play when you have something on your mind about which you must be honest to your partner; perhaps you don’t feel they have been supporting you as much as you would like on an issue causing you discomfort, or else you are not happy about how they have behaved, something they said when you were out with friends. Rather than give a personal example, I invite you to imagine for yourself approaching your partner and saying: ‘I need to have a no censorship conversation with you .’ Or alternatively, stating: ‘No censorship: I am not happy about this .’

Obviously, you will both be familiar with the concept by this point; most importantly, it gives the other person the opportunity to brace themselves for something they may be uncomfortable hearing – perhaps even something they would really rather not hear at all.

I believe that this works for Nicci and me. I have noticed that others feel that we communicate well.

‘You are both willing to accept change and work with what you’ve got,’ SJ observed. ‘You are both so open-minded in the way you think about things as they come up, and discuss them. Because there is constant communication between the two of you, it does not build up – so you don’t have arguments about stupid little things that got out of hand.’

I believe that Nicci and I don’t argue about the little things because we are both generally laid back and the little things do not bother us. I believe people often do not discuss all the things they really should for fear of upsetting the other – I know I didn’t with H. There are several things wrong with this. One is that you are censoring yourself if there is something bothering you. Two is that it is healthier to get things off your chest, and three is that you are not giving the other person the opportunity to share your problems with you, to let them prove that they can be supportive and sympathetic to your feelings. Lastly, discussing what bothers you is fundamental to being a fully well-rounded and adjusted adult who can satisfy your own needs.

Children have temper tantrums and they do not have the capacity to understand how this affects their relationships. As adults, we can see that when one behaves unreasonably towards someone else, they are very likely to mirror your behaviour and communicate in just as much of an unacceptable way. Instead of letting things that are bothering you go unsaid – which is unhealthy and unfair to both of you (I should know – I did it for thirteen years) you should open yourself up even over little things. I believe it is a key element of self-respect.

Crucially, all issues must be dealt with in the present. If you wait too long your partner could rightly ask: ‘Why didn’t you say anything at the time?’ or ‘Why are you bringing that up now?’ If it is left to fester and raised it in the heat of the moment at a later date, it will cause all manner of discontent. Instead, it needs to be out in the open, acknowledged and discussed. Yes, it may have been something hurtful; we cannot change what has been done. Nevertheless, it must be forgiven, forgotten and left in the past. This is why it is important to make sure that you are satisfied with the outcome of the discussion before you try to move on.

I acknowledge that being this open is easier when you have had to learnt to accept yourself. It makes a difference when you have been on a journey such as Nicci’s – or that of any transgendered person. Nicci has fought a difficult fight to come to terms with identity, shared this with others and decided to stand out in the world in order to find comfort. After that mountain, facing up to smaller issues and having honest conversations is probably a breeze compared to how many of us may feel about doing it – myself included. I absolutely hate confrontation but recognise at this point in my life that facing things is better in the long run than sticking your head in the sand.

Much as freedom from censorship is a great concept in any relationship, whether it be partners, friends or family, before you can rid your relationship of censorship, you must first deal with censorship within yourself. There is something particularly raw and exposing about executing non-censorship with your partner, and I think it is more successful when you have a truly deep understanding of who they are as a person and in return, they understand the real you. This is where the fear ramps up – exposing the real you and inviting a partner to expose the real them, involves risk. There is always a chance they might not accept you for who you are if you reveal certain aspects of yourself to them; they may feel you are not the person they once thought. That, in turn, makes you panic. ‘What if they reject me?’ you might ask yourself. The knowledge that the alternative is pointless will help you get past this; if you try too hard to be what you think they want, you will eventually and inevitably be discovered – even if that point comes when you are firmly trapped in an unhealthy relationship.

Self-revelation is not easy for all of us. Some people grow up in situations where they could not fully express their true thoughts and feelings – were not given the freedom to discover themselves openly, because it would have caused discomfort for their parents. However, it is vital to have the freedom to be your true self in any relationship. If either of you has not experienced this in childhood or adolescence, your partner’s offer of an opportunity to be without restriction is likely to lead to a relationship that is stronger and will grow deeper. There is the risk that the other person may not accept you, but if they reject you, it will be clear that they are not the right person for you.

First and foremost, it is important to be yourself. Relationships must come second, as I truly believe someone else can only really love you when you love yourself. However, there is greater joy when they do accept you; you will know, for a fact, that they love you for exactly who you are, not a weak concept that you have built for them; some half person that is convenient for them to love.

In my and Nicci’s relationship, it will not be my acceptance about the more unusual aspect of our relationship that I think will be the key to the sustainability of it. More likely, it will be that we enable and support each other to be ourselves with the use of encouragement. Nicci says to me that I am extraordinary (in the true definition of the term) in my attitude and outlook, and that should we ever split up, she would never find another woman with whom she could strike up quite the same relationship. Nonetheless, her strength of self is such that she knows that, if it came to it, she would rather be on her own and be true to herself than be in a relationship with someone who placed restrictions on her or was controlling in any way.

Laura’s website

Angel and Princess

 

Designed and published by Bramley Press
cover art 2012©Ingrid Padilla
original photograph by Michelle Geoghegan, Scrounger Photography
cover design by Doug Davidson