Season 1: Episode 3 – Nikki

[00:00:00] Dr. Alissa: Welcome to thanks. It’s the trauma. I’m dr. Alissa, and 

Heidi: this is a podcast 

Dr. Alissa: with my friends, Nikki and 

Heidi: Heidi. We’re connected by a unique 

Dr. Alissa: and unusual experience. And we talk about it and other traumas with honesty, 

Heidi: booze and cussing

Dr. Alissa: season one episode one intersection. Hey, it’s dr. Alissa and I’m here with. 

Heidi: Nikki. Hi 

Dr. Alissa: Anne. Heidi. 

Heidi: Okay. Margarita. It’s very good. I’m super excited for our very first episode, the inaugural season of why our lives are fucking crazy. I shouldn’t 

Dr. Alissa: know. He just keeps going. 

Heidi: Yeah. Like we shouldn’t know each other.

We shouldn’t, but I’m really glad that we do. So, 

Dr. Alissa: what are the odds? You know, what are the odds that we would find each other across state lines? 

Heidi: What are [00:01:00] the odds? 

Dr. Alissa: And not only that 

Nikki: in 

Dr. Alissa: the, in the same doctor’s office, you know, like so close and then so far. Yeah. Right. 

Heidi: So I guess we should tell everyone where we live.

Hi, I’m Heidi. I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina, staring at my zoom computer. Where dr. Alissa and Nikki are together 

Dr. Alissa: in Nashville, Tennessee 

Heidi: music city, every time we 

Nikki: didn’t know each other, but we do, 

Dr. Alissa: we do. I’m 

Heidi: glad that we do. I’m so glad that we do too, but I was thinking maybe as we kick off this podcast, we should have a code word that whenever we hear it, we’re allowed to drink.

Is that okay? Yes. I think that would be 

Dr. Alissa: acceptable.

Heidi: And maybe that’s how we let everyone know that. I think the word 

Nikki: should be Tinder 

Heidi: or hinge. I’m not on Tinder 

[00:02:00] Dr. Alissa: hinge swirl on him. 

Heidi: So jury God. Yeah, Alissa, I’m dying to know why

Dr. Alissa: it’s the mystery to you, huh? Yeah. So I guess I’ll start off with my, just a small version of my story and how it connected. The three of us. So I’m dr. Alissa and I was mad, married to James for 

Heidi: five years 

Dr. Alissa: and we had a great marriage. It wasn’t perfect, but it was, it was a great marriage. We loved each other very much.

James had two kids from a previous marriage, and then we had a child together, but we are now no longer married and. That started for me August 4th, 2019, on my nephew’s [00:03:00] 16th birthday party, James told me, as we were sitting in the kid’s play room and the kids were running all around us, that he was questioning his gender.

And I said, well, what does that mean? And James said, I think I might be a trans woman and that is the moment that I laid on the floor to try to stop the room from spinning and yeah, and then it just continued from there. So. You know, this big reveal, I might be a trans woman, but then not really fully knowing it was like, what do you mean?

We mean, you might be a trend woman because this has never been something that has ever been discussed before. James was a very manly man. There was nothing about him that made me think that he might be a trans woman or a woman in any regard. 

Heidi: And, 

Dr. Alissa: but it had been something that he had been thinking about for a few months and really came to fruition then.

And then a couple of weeks later, [00:04:00] He came to me and said, you know what? I think that it’s wrong. Maybe it’s just some weird fetish, it’s wrong. I’m going to stay. And I was relieved and I believed it. And I told you know, anyone who knew, nevermind, don’t worry about it. James is really, really a man. It’s okay.

Hey, this is dr. Alissa interrupting this podcast episode to give a disclaimer. In this episode, we talk in 

Heidi: detail about our 

Dr. Alissa: experiences with our former spouses who are transgender. Our former spouses have given us their permission to share these parts of our story. We affirm their gender and affirm every person’s gender 

Heidi: and sexual 

Dr. Alissa: orientation.

Not every person who experiences their spouse coming out as trans will interpret it as a trauma. But that is our story. We are still growing as former spouses of trans folks. And we certainly 

Heidi: make mistakes along the way and pronouns 

Dr. Alissa: and names. We have no [00:05:00] intention 

Heidi: of mis-gendering or deadnaming. 

Dr. Alissa: There is nothing wrong with being transgender.

Their identities are valid 

Heidi: and we for all LGBTQ 

Dr. Alissa: folks now 

Heidi: back to the episode, 

Nikki: So this is Nikki and we’re all still getting to know each other. I think me and Alissa know each other. Well, I think Heidi and Alissa know each other well, and me and Heidi are still learning each other. So Alissa and Heidi, I want to know your story.

How did you two meet? 

Dr. Alissa: Well, I apparently a few days after, I don’t really fully remember this, but a few days after James told me that he might be a trans woman and was questioning his gender, I found a trans. Spouse support group was that it was what it was called. Yeah. And I made a fake Facebook account so that nobody could find out that I had joined this group.

I was terrified that somebody would find out and it would out to James and change our lives. And so I made a fake [00:06:00] account to get on there and see what other people’s experiences were. And then that’s how I found Heidi 

Heidi: done, done, done this wasn’t really, this is kind of a hard story for me to even go back and.

And kind of, you know, go through Alissa, but sort of before we get to meet, can I ask you some more questions please? About your story? Yeah. So I think in later episodes, I know in later episodes, we’re going to share all of the details of our personal stories and journeys. I want to go back to that moment of your, like James had just told you, and you’re laying on the floor and you have a doctorate in counseling.

What did you do to get off of the floor to be able to get onto Facebook, to make a fake account? Like I kind of missed that part of your. Journey cause that’s how you got to me. 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah, I think, you know, part [00:07:00] of it feels like a black hole. There’s a lot of those moments. I don’t remember because I mean, really it was, it was a trauma to me.

And so, you know, my initial response was just keep going, take the next step. You know, it was shock. There’s a lot of shock. And so, you know, in the immediate it was just shock and hope that it wasn’t true. You know, some dial perhaps and, um, getting on that group was, you know, I was hoping to find other people that.

Could answer questions for me. Like, what does this mean? Did your spouses always know weren’t they like little kids and they knew that they were a girl in a boy’s body and they hated their body because those things were not true for James. So, you know, I was looking for answers and I only have vague memories really, of those early days of reaching out and trying to find them.

Yeah, 

Heidi: that’s [00:08:00] just so eerily similar, you know, so, Hey everybody, I’m Heidi Charlotte, North Carolina. I have two young children boys until they tell me otherwise. And I was married to Jay and all of us were actually married to Jay’s. So, but I was married to Jay and well, we had a very happy. Marriage. We were deeply, deeply in love, cruising through life.

Like I just thought, you know, I felt sorry for everybody else, honestly, because my marriage was great. I mean, Jay is one of my favorite people in the entire world just perfect kind of match. And the way that I found my way to Alissa is because on October 21st, [00:09:00] After about nine months of my husband being in a pretty severe depression and was typically a pretty happy and go lucky kind of guy.

He tried to commit suicide. And after he. Attempted there, you know, thought about and was attempting to take his life. He opened up to me and shared with me that he was depressed and he saw a counselor and little did. I know he had sought counseling with a gender identity counselor. And my story is very similar to yours, Alissa, in the sense that Jay, he also did not have memories of.

Like just, it was only a recent thing. Didn’t have memories of being like a young boy that wanted to be a girl, but all of a sudden his brain was exploding. This is how he describes it. But his brain was exploding with images [00:10:00] and thoughts of being a trans woman. Just being a woman, not being a trans woman, but being a woman.

And that led him down the route of suicide, which we will address extensively. I think in each one of these episodes. Wow. Well, I decided to give my husband some space and I took our kids on a lot long trip. I think we were gone four to six weeks just on a road trip and we went to Disney world and did all sorts of fun things while the meds could kick in and.

And could find some peace because at that time I just thought we were we’re in the middle of, you know, a major depressive episode. And when I returned on October 21st, 2018. So you know, about 10 months earlier, then your story started Alissa. My husband handed me a letter when I got home from that trip and that letter described and he read it to me.

So he said, we need to talk those words you never [00:11:00] want to hear. And I thought, yeah, God dammit. He cheated. Son of a bitch and the depression is all because of his guilt. And this is ridiculous that this has become my life. You know, I trusted him and he’s getting ready to open his mouth. And what I did not think was coming out of his mouth was.

I’m transgender. And I swear to you, I had never even, like, I don’t have a doctorate in counseling, like the only person I had ever heard of to use this term. Well, to actually there’s a little boy, Reiland that like, had this, you know, viral YouTube video when I was pregnant with max and then Caitlin Jenner.

And so I’m reading this letter. And I’m thinking, Oh my God, the blackout, like you said, that’s when the blackout started. I remember I did say to my husband, I spend, I love you. And God made you perfectly in his image. This was not a mistake, [00:12:00] but I’m gonna need you to leave before I go crazy. You know, I mean, like I need some space.

Well, I ended up leaving. One of my really good friends who is also a doctorate in counseling drugged me. Yeah. I mean, and then it became a blog, but I found myself, so the way I got to this Facebook group is I found myself Googling transgender spouse because I didn’t have language. I’d never heard the term.

Cis-gender. As I’m Googling, I’m reading all these things. I, my eyes were never open to, even though my family is very liberal and very affirming, it was just an eye opener of doing is different than saying for our family. So I was learning, learning, learning as much because I could to wrap my head around this.

I didn’t know what it meant for our marriage, our kids. I just knew I needed help. I knew, I felt very alone. I felt humiliated. [00:13:00] I felt embarrassed. I felt shame. All these things where we could get into. And then I was also kind of blacking out, not eating, not sleeping. And so I jumped on Facebook after Google.

I will say Google failed me. Google was like, you mean your child? It’s transgender. I’m like, Nope, Nope. I mean, my spouse is transgender and I didn’t know it. So I also found that there’s a lot of people that know their spouses, transgender and knowingly get married to someone who’s transgender. And that wasn’t my story.

So I was just having a very difficult time and I typed in transgender spouse into Facebook and I was like, Oh, wonderful. There’s a support group. And you have to answer these questions and you jump in it. Well, You know, Alissa, I don’t really remember what I posted, but it was, let’s just save, you’re listening to this podcast.

You’re probably not [00:14:00] in that, that support group, because that support group was nothing, not this gender heterosexual, well, females that were surprised that their spouse was trans. 

Dr. Alissa: Very few, certainly very few, 

Heidi: very, very few. I think I put something on there. Like I feel like a widow or an, I use the male pronoun because, you know, my husband just said he’s transgender, but he hadn’t transitioned yet.

So like, I don’t know a she or her, I just know, you know, at this time I just knew him. And so anyway, long story short, I got a nice collated on this Facebook support group. It was the opposite of support. I was shamed and I was attacked for not like being all, knowing of all the correct terms. And I just was not the right place to be.

This particular support group was for spouses of transgender [00:15:00] persons who were going there’s difficulties in that that are different than our difficulties. Well, 

Dr. Alissa: and to be, to be fair there isn’t another one. 

Heidi: There is a way 

Dr. Alissa: for people who were unhappy with their spouse being trans, that doesn’t exist 

Heidi: today does now.

Our podcast. Yeah, we have a Facebook group. Everybody, if you didn’t know it, I will didn’t even know we have a Facebook group and she made it.

And if this story is sounding all too familiar, please come join the hot. Wives of transgender

ex wives ex-wives of transgender women. Um, well anyway, I get annihilated in this group and then I get this text message on Facebook [00:16:00] messenger from this girl list B and it’s like, Hey, I think we should talk offline. I think our stories like in our sec, and I was like, Oh, I just remember thinking, Oh God, you know, please.

So let me read you Alissa, your text message from August the ninth, 20 days, 

Dr. Alissa: five days after I found out that yeah, that might be transgender. 

Heidi: And let me also just take a reminder that this was 10 long fucking months of sorrow and loneliness, loneliness, like deep, deep loneliness. I mean, you can’t just call up all your friends and be like, Hey, my husband’s thinks he’s transgender, but do you think about that?

I mean, so anyways, 10 months of loneliness and I get, hello, Heidi. This is lispy from the thousands of transgender people group. I created, I [00:17:00] did an alternate account, so I don’t out my spouse on accident by people seeing the group I’m in. Right. When I read that, I was like, well, shit, I accidentally outed him to a whole bunch of people.

Okay. It says Alissa continues. So we are super early into this process. My husband has only realized over the last few weeks that he’s a trans woman, I’m devastated. And I know in my gut, I cannot do it for many reasons, mostly because I’m straight. We have a very young child together and two other young children.

That I’m a stepmom too, that I’ve been helping raise for the last five years. This is complicated to say the least, how are you handling this process? It’s so nice to find someone else in a similar situation. This is me bawling, bawling, bawling. And then I go into. I don’t believe her. This is a [00:18:00] stalker crazy person, but it was like coming to get me.

I don’t respond for days. 

Dr. Alissa: How many days, how many days did you 

Heidi: make me wait, two days. Jesus. Heidi. Two days. Okay. So I waited two days and then we started chatting and then we like exchange phone numbers. And for the first time in my life, I am just kind of like. Oh, my gosh, this is amazing. I have, I have like a friend in this, so I waited several days to respond to Alissa because I thought she was like a fake, but then we started talking and sharing and it was really apparent and I stalked you on Facebook.

And then I realized, you know, this was a real person. And so we exchanged hundreds of text messages. And for the first time, I just feel. I feel like I’m going to make it right. I feel like if there’s one, one person in this world, one that’s, all I need is one [00:19:00] I’m going to be okay. And. I’m not kidding you.

Two weeks later, Alissa, she sent me a text message that says , I’m just kidding. 

Dr. Alissa: I did not. No, no. 

Heidi: Tell me what you said. Tell me what you 

Dr. Alissa: said. I said, James thinks it’s actually 

Heidi: a fetish 

Dr. Alissa: and so he’s not really transgender until I think we might be able to figure it out and work out our 

Heidi: marriage. And for everyone listening right now.

Yes, it was like, I got punched in the stomach and left for dead and I was like, well, good for you. I’m glad that your husband’s not transgender. Mine still is now. I have to go back to Google and that fucking got off.

Try this again, but anyway, but 

Dr. Alissa: unfortunately for [00:20:00] me, a couple of weeks later, James realized, but really he was a transgender woman, Jamie, and started that transition at that point. 

Heidi: And then I got a text message that was like, Just kidding again.

We should be friends. We do have something in common.

it’s this weird thing, because like I had felt happy for you and sad for me. And then now I was switching back to like feeling sad for both of us and just kind of, you know, well, For me, Alissa, this launched this, you know, long distance friendship, long distance support system that I really honestly for 10 months thought was an impossibility.

And so, you know, I’m forever grateful [00:21:00] and I’m so excited now that I’m free. Nikki do now. Nikki. I, I like, I sorta know a little bit of this story, but like how in the world? Spoiler alert. Nicky’s husband’s trans too. If no one else. Yeah, not yet, but like Nicki, how did your life intersect with Alissa? 

Nikki: I work in a doctor’s office that Alissa those two and, you know, she’d been a patient and we shared some yeah.

Moments where I was packing wounds and things like that. Fairly gross. It’s disgusting was awesome. One day she wrote into her provider and I get every message from patients and I divvy them out to the providers as necessary. And I didn’t even read hers. It just said Xanax, I think as the subject line and everyone asks for Xanax.

So I just gave it to her provider and her provider actually stands right in [00:22:00] front of me with her laptop and we talk to each other and she looks at me and she goes, Nikki, did you read Alissa’s. Message. And I said, no, she wants Xanax. You need to read it. So I read it and I look at the provider and I say, give her my phone number.

You can put it in the message. You can tell my story. I don’t care at this point. And I 

Dr. Alissa: was asking for Xanax because I was having panic attacks because of James coming out as transgender. 

Nikki: Literally minutes later, I get a text message from Alissa and that begins the history of our friendship. And we, I think we met for breakfast 

Heidi: that weekend 

Nikki: and Alissa was still very raw and I was 

Heidi: approaching

Nikki: divorce.

We had already filed and we were going to be final in October. And this was when was this? 

Dr. Alissa: I mean probably, probably August. [00:23:00] Probably August. Yeah. 

Heidi: 

Dr. Alissa: reached out quick. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: Yeah.

Well, now that you know, own most everything about us. Let’s hang out on social on insight. You can find us on. Thanks. It’s the trauma podcast, everywhere else, including our website just thinks it’s the trauma. And if you have any questions or want to email us, we would love to get back to you. Thanks. It’s the trauma podcast@gmail.com.

Nikki. I want you to back up and tell me what this part of your story that I don’t know. And that’s right. All of it. So Alissa gets to you, but like, so honestly, like we’re all pioneering, but you’re really pioneering. Cause you, you went first, I guess, and this, and so [00:24:00] will you just share a little bit about what your marriage was like and your life and how you came to discover or how you were told?

Nikki: I was also married to a James. We met when I was 21. And it was, uh, for me, I just knew it was that, you know, this is going to be the person we dated five years while I was in college. And then we got married and we were married for 18 years. Plus the five we dated and lived together. We have two teenage sons and in 2015, his story starts, and I’m not going to tell any of his side of the story because that’s his story 

Heidi: or her story.

Nikki: I am the most not correct in using the right pronouns, just so you 

Heidi: know, we’re working on 

Nikki: it. I’m working on it. These two, these two are teaching me. Oh, I will always forever have my husband in my mind when I speak [00:25:00] about him. 

Heidi: That’s yes.

Nikki: That’s where I’m at still. So there’s still things for me. 

Heidi: I think that this is an important break for our listeners as Nikki and dr.

Alissa and I speak about the past. We will speak with the pronouns, he and him and our husband. And as we move to present day, you’ll hear us shift to the pronouns of she and her or their new names, correct? Yeah.

Nikki: In February, 2016, my husband had been attending therapy for quite a few months and I thought it was for trauma therapy, but it ended up turning into, he.

Or learned that he was transgender and wanted to be a woman first, it was just gender dysphoria. And then it, it dived into full transgender and wanting to change. And when he told me, I [00:26:00] thought he was going to tell me he was gay and that was very cut and dry to me, you know? No, 

Heidi: we weren’t going 

Nikki: to stay together because I mean, it wasn’t, you 

Heidi: know what I mean?

It was incompatible 

Nikki: compatible.

Heidi: Sure. 

Nikki: But then. He told me he wanted to transition into a woman. And I don’t remember what happened after that, because I tend to forget 

Heidi: things 

Nikki: that are traumatic in a moment. And you guys did research. I tried to research on Google as well and find groups and support groups.

And I did join a couple of Facebook groups. And when I, I am in a dramatic. Overwhelmed and anxious situation. I shut off and I don’t want to know anything. 

Heidi: I don’t want 

Nikki: to research it. I don’t want to talk to anyone who’s going through it. I don’t want to know what’s lying in front of my path ahead of me.

I just want to kind of fold inward and just. Deal with whatever 

Heidi: I’m dealing with. 

Nikki: I do [00:27:00] that. I find myself doing that often in traumatic situations and, uh, eventually I’ll snap out of it. But my first initial reaction is to not be compliance in any way. That’s my nature. 

Heidi: Did you also reach out to your doctor for Xanax?

Like, 

Nikki: or not? No. And I work with doctors all day long and they watched me cry my eyes out every morning and I would tell them what was, well, not really. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time because I was very ashamed. And how do you tell anybody that this is going on? What are the words. What are the words for me?

I don’t know. I could imagine different other reasons of why I might be getting divorced. This was never one. Yup. And I had deal breakers. My deal breaker is if you cheat on me, we’re done. I’m not gonna. There’s just no situation for me that will refer back to my childhood hood history later when we dive into that.

[00:28:00] But no, this was not on my radar. And I think all of us had that initial thing pop in our head where we didn’t sign up for this. This was not in my life plan. 

Dr. Alissa: Wasn’t in the vows. 

Nikki: And I don’t want to be with a woman. I want to be with a man. And that was. You know, and we spent two more years together where I thought he was in midlife crisis and he thought I was going to learn to love a woman, or I was going to learn to love a woman and it just wasn’t happening.

And then like Alissa, James went away for a work event and came back and said, you know what? I want to be a man. I, yeah, forget it. I I’ve changed. You know, it’s not me. That’s not, I’m not going to be a woman. And in seven days he came back and said, yeah, I can’t do it. 

Heidi: I want to be a woman. Wow. 

Nikki: And that’s where my heart shut off.

I said, that’s it we’re done. This [00:29:00] is the end. 

Heidi: Yeah. 

Nikki: It was a hard line instead of just a blurred line. It became a hard line and I was mad now. I was mad. That was a heart jerk around. 

Heidi: So 

Nikki: yeah. So from about then I would say that was in 

Heidi: September. 

Nikki: 2017, 2016. Maybe we stayed together a little longer. 

Heidi: He, 

Nikki: she moved out in December of 2017 

Heidi: before Christmas, 

Nikki: and I moved into another house with the boys.

Heidi: In April of

Nikki: 2018, we filed in July of 2018. And when we were final by 

Heidi: October 18th, it was a whole nother year plus before your life intersected with Alissa 

Nikki: right there intersect until 2019. 

Heidi: Was there any other. Person 

Nikki: that no, 

Heidi: you heard of new. Okay. Okay. Well, let me, [00:30:00] let’s just laugh about something for a minute.

Cause you didn’t email Chris Jenner like I did. 

Dr. Alissa: Did you relate?

Nikki: 

Dr. Alissa: was like, I know 

Heidi: one transgender spouse.

I was like in the whole, we should have her on the podcast. 

Dr. Alissa: She should come on here. 

Heidi: And she needs to explain herself as to why she didn’t respond to the deaths here, bail, you know, because 

Nikki: we didn’t, I didn’t want a million now. I wasn’t going to watch any TV shows or 

Heidi: documentaries

Nikki: or read any books I wasn’t doing any of it.

No, my personality is I’ll do this myself, do it myself. I’ve done harder. I’ll do it myself. 

Heidi: Well, that’s just how I work. Well, it’s 

Nikki: not healthy.

Examples of me [00:31:00] not being healthy mentally in all of this I’m standing. So also my ex did become suicidal. And there was suicide ideation and he had a plan and I worked a lot of years in suicide prevention and with loss survivors of suicide. So he was smart enough or G smart enough to tell me that this was going on.

This is what she was thinking. And this is the plan that she had. And. That’s kind of, when we, um, really dove, he, she got really involved in therapy, really intense therapy. 

Heidi: Well, for everyone that’s listening, I think that you’ll hear many ways in which. The three of our lives have intersected and really the ways in which our ex spouses lives have intersected.

So they don’t know each other. So we talked about like, we have this one common denominator, [00:32:00] like we all are cis-gender heterosexual women that are attracted to men and loved our husbands and have children. You know, younger children, like under the age of that are not adults, you know, 18 and under. And 

Nikki: you know, I have an 18 year old.

Gotcha. 

Heidi: No, I mean, at the time of, at the time of learning though, like all non adult children, two of us. Have had spouses that had suicidal ideation or attempts to others. Have you had the intersection of trans phobia, internal transphobia where they, your spouses said yes. Uh, no. Uh, you know, um, and so I want to share that because anyone who’s listening who needs this, we are going to address on this podcast.

[00:33:00] You know, all of these, we’re going to dig in so deep, like you’re going to know about our sex lives and our dating lives and our Xanax lives and, you know, 

Nikki: trauma and anxiety. 

Heidi: Yeah. So what, we just have everyone we’ll, we’ll stick around for, you know, So much more of this intersecting, like we’re just scratching the surface.

Well, now I want to share Nikki about like how we got to know each other right then. Right. So it’s like this domino effect is going on and we hope that like other we’re going to hear from other women, we just hope that. We’re going to hear from other women in our, in our like hot ex wives club is gonna grow.

There are other 

Dr. Alissa: people who’ve had the same experience. And even in that group, there were women having this experience who felt like they couldn’t leave or shouldn’t leave. And who had so much shame themselves about the situation that they [00:34:00] just felt trapped in it. And so, you know, we certainly want to be a safe place for other people who are having this experience.

Nikki: I want to ask you two questions. Did you ever at any time think that you could stay? 

Dr. Alissa: No. I wanted to, I saw my therapist and I was like, I just, it feels so wrong of me to leave. And she’s a lesbian, thank God. And she looked at me and she leaned in and she said, 

Heidi: Alissa, 

Dr. Alissa: You are not a lesbian. And I was like, right, 

Nikki: right, right, right, right, right, right, 

Dr. Alissa: right, right.

So I knew that I could, and I felt guilty and ashamed for wanting to, you’re thinking that having a gut, knowing wasn’t even a wanting, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to get out of my marriage, but it was, it was a deep, deep knowing and Glennon Doyle talks about that in her books. But that knowing with a capital K and it was my knowing that this was what was right for me, was [00:35:00] to leave.

Heidi: Well, my answer is different than Alissa. So I spent, I also have a therapist who is a lesbian, who reinforced to me that I was not lesbian many times. And so I spent a lot of time in therapy, not trying to know if I was going to stay in a sexual relationship and our marriage as it. Was forever, but I did spend a lot of time contemplating whether or not I could continue to be married co-parenting partners and an asexual marriage with my best friend, because that’s who Jay is to me.

I was figuring out for about the first eight, nine, 10 months. This is like insert Alissa. Right? I was hiding behind the like, shame that I can’t share this with [00:36:00] anyone. Well, if I just stay and we kind of keep it in our little bubble. Also, my J is moving at like a snail’s pace. Okay. So we’re here, we are. 18 months later.

I am still married. I should probably disclose that. Legally. At least we don’t live together. Our children, you know, no, we’re not together and all of that kind of thing, but like there wasn’t this quick transition. And in fact, on most days I’m seeing someone who’s like, sorta looks like a guy, but like is on estrogen and like, You know, it’s just difficult.

Cause sometimes he, it has a baseball cap on and like hiking shoes and like still, you know, well, maybe not so much anymore, but for awhile afterwards, like just still looked like my hot ass husband probably before estrogen still look like my hot ass husband. And it was like kind of hard to like, You know, make your brain switch over to like, you’re seeing one thing and hearing another thing and it’s just all sorts of confusing.

[00:37:00] So anyway, I thought about it. I sometimes I still kind of like, you know, negatively fantasize about not having to get divorced and being able to raise my children and a family. I don’t ever consider the possibility of like being intimate with Jay ever again. I mean, that is like, so gone, gone, gone, but as long as they don’t, I mean, cause now I do kind of look at them.

Her as, you know, a girl that I’m not a drug to do. And any way, Jay, if you ever listened to this podcast, I’m so sorry I’m saying that, but so yeah, I struggle still with it because I am deeply in love. I don’t even know I’m saying that in the present tense, and as I say it, it still sounds weird, but like I am, I deeply love the person, the soul, the human.

That Jay is. And I like, I would have never gotten divorced [00:38:00] unless he told me he was going to be a woman. So here we are. 

Dr. Alissa: That’s the thing, you know, 

Heidi: that’s the thing. Yeah. 

Dr. Alissa: I knew like James was never gonna cheat on me. James was never going to leave me, like we were going to stay married, but the, it turns out this is the thing.

Heidi: So if you’re like 21 right now, you know, I mean, it’s conversations with your fiance, you know, before you and me counseling, this never came up. Pre-marriage counseling. Sorry, premarital counseling. This question never came up. So now Nikki, you said you stayed for two years while you know, their journey on folded kind of back and forth.

Like, did you think at any point. We’ll talk about this later on, when we addressed Nial as one of the stages of grief, did you think really at any point that this was ship was going to turn around that this was [00:39:00] just a phase? 

Nikki: Yeah. I thought it was midlife crisis. I thought, instead of buying a really expensive 

Heidi: car, we were going to do 

Nikki: this instead.

Or instead of him finding a really young, hot girl in her twenties, this is what we were going to do. And so that’s also a reason. I didn’t tell anyone because. What if his mind changed halfway through this, and I was going to have to be like, listen and be like, eh, never mind. 

Heidi: Right. 

Nikki: So I just, um, it was probably the biggest secret I’ve ever kept 

Heidi: for the longest time.

I will say that right now I’m moving towards divorce. Alissa, you are already divorced because frankly it’s easier to get divorced in Tennessee than it is in North Carolina. So is that, so yeah, it is, it takes a long time. It takes a long time over here in the Bible belt, but you know, I still think about things like ethical non-monogamy right?

Like, could I. Continue to [00:40:00] be partnered with someone, but then I am free to date and have sex with other, you know, people, but that we live, we’re friends and we live together and we raise our children together and we partner in co-parent. So I don’t think that that’s the way my life is going to go in any way, shape or form hints.

Nikki and Alissa have me on hinge.

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: All you hotties out there. Just look up Heidi and North Carolina, right? No, but I mean, you know, I, so, so it’s, it’s evolving for me, uh, through my therapy and my healing. So part of my permission is falling out of love. And letting go and accepting that, you know, accepting that the person that I fell in love with really no longer exists.

[00:41:00] Dr. Alissa: So I decided to have a goddess party. Uh, because have you guys seen, I’m sorry, the show. I’m 

Heidi: sorry. Show

Dr. Alissa: it is so freaking funny. Nick, you have to watch it so on. I’m sorry, which is a hilarious show, highly recommend it’s on Netflix. There’s a woman in the show. Who gets divorced and she has a goddess party and the main character thinks it’s hilarious and we Wu and kind of hokey.

And, but then she goes, and she’s like, this is actually quite beautiful. And I was like, after I realized I was getting a divorce, I looked at my best friend Lindsey, and I was like, you’re throwing 

Heidi: me a goddess party. 

Dr. Alissa: So I decided to have a goddess party. And of course I invited the two only people I’ve ever met in my entire life that have been through this situation to my goddess party and Heidi.

And so then you guys, you guys are there. 

[00:42:00] Nikki: You,

Heidi: you, Oh my gosh. Yeah. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: I kept it as a surprise, I guess. I mean, yeah, but I mean, it was like this really cool thing because I landed in Nashville and I’ve Alissa, I think we were having coffee and you’re like, yeah, There’s going to be this other girl. They are Nikki.

And I’m like, there’s someone else like, and then the jealousy kicks in. I’m like you have a friend right down the road. I had to buy a $500 plane to get like this.

Dr. Alissa: So what was that like for you guys to meet each other, to meet another person who has been through this 

Nikki: and was just waiting for the story to be similar. You know. Okay. Tell me if you’re, I think that’s the thing is I want to know everyone’s story. That’s going through this because I want to find the similar, because [00:43:00] did I miss signs?

Did I not see things that I should have seen all these years? Everyone always asks you that. Did you know, did you have a sign? Did you, did you feel like 

Heidi: no, it’s 

Nikki: never showed up anywhere. I mean, we were together over 20 years and I’m like, nah, never, never. 

Heidi: Well, like people, let me just give you a little thing.

If you are straight and you are in love with your spouse. No, no. You have no idea. You know, like no idea, like, no, there was not a clue, 

Nikki: like 

Heidi: bedroom. No, they were 

Dr. Alissa: like, yeah. Even, even my mom, even my mom was like, When I told my mom, she goes and she’s nodding. And this is something that you guys have been working on for a long time.

Heidi: No, even 

Dr. Alissa: my own mother was like, surely you knew this, this is something you are 

Heidi: aware of. No, I 

Dr. Alissa: know. I fucking wasn’t. 

Heidi: No, no. 

Nikki: Yeah, 

[00:44:00] Heidi: totally blindsided. I think we tried to also name this podcast that. But I think something that was helpful was that the people all around my J two were just as surprised as I was like every day, every friend, your friends, I will say, even Jay, like I’m working on it in therapy.

It’s still very hard for me to believe, but like now I’m going to go to present tense. You know, my husband hasn’t transitioned yet, so it’s very hard for me to use the female pronoun. When they haven’t transitioned, but I will try here’s my first attempt, she, when she shares her story is very, the past is a black hole.

So if there were thoughts or feelings, they were pushed down or repressed at such a young age that they don’t even know that they. Exist or are there. And that has been one of the hardest [00:45:00] things for me is moving to trust and belief that you know, that the person and that I loved and that I love and fell in love with and had children with.

Wasn’t like lying to me for seven years. Nikki. Did you feel like James had been just lying to you for 20 years or? I felt so 

Nikki: betrayed. I felt something and I didn’t know what the word was. And then one day we went to therapy together and it was a different therapist of my choice this time. And the therapist asks, have you ever apologized Nikki for the betrayal 

Heidi: and 

Nikki: the look on.

My ex husband’s face. He didn’t even answer. He would just kind of stumbled, uh, uh, uh, I kind of, uh, yeah, and I answered, I was like, no, no, never, but that was the first time, the word betrayal encompassed, everything that I felt because they 

Heidi: did feel betrayed. I 

Dr. Alissa: don’t like, I didn’t feel that at [00:46:00] all. And I still don’t feel that at all.

I never had any anger toward Jamie for realizing who she was. And I do think that a piece of that is because of what I do is being a counselor. Having seen people who are, you know, come out in different ways. And, um, just having the knowledge that I 

Heidi: have 

Dr. Alissa: about what it means to have 

Heidi: gender dysphoria. 

Dr. Alissa: And so I think like having all of that was gift to me to be able to.

Have compassion for Jamie. And that has served me really well as far as co-parenting well with Jamie, it, unfortunately it did not serve me well when it came to my family and they’re supportive me because they did not understand my not feeling betrayed and angry and not wanting to totally disconnect from Jamie.

Heidi: Interesting. My family has been so supportive. And affirming that it’s almost made me a little [00:47:00] mad sometimes. Cause I’m like, can’t someone be angry at Jay, you know, and really, you know, everyone’s sad that I’m hurting, but they’re sad that she’s hurting. Also. And so, but I will say there’s been some days where I’m like, all right, thanks everybody.

I would just like one person to be on my side and just say, yeah, that’s really ridiculous. So as we close the season one episode one, and you’ve learned a little bit about our lives and our intersecting. It’s very important that we leave a little note for everyone. That’s listening. Just a little 11 note to say that we are all works in progress.

That we have no intention and to offend, we’re trying to use the correct language to be affirmative and informing and educational and supportive and loving. [00:48:00] And we are also doing this podcast because it serves as counseling for each of us also. So we just ask anyone that’s tuning in to listen, to stick with us.

And here. So much more about the crazy twists and turns of this life and the stories and growing through it. But to give us leeway in compassion, if we use the wrong pronoun every now and then. 

Dr. Alissa: Because we are not transphobic and we are, and I was accused of that and leaving. And I don’t know if either of you were, but in not stay, I was accused of being transphobic.

And so that is something that we want to make sure that we communicate is that we are affirming, you know, and if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. 

Heidi: Right. 

Nikki: This is from our point of view, we’re not going to speak their story. We’re not going to say what it was like for them, because we don’t know we weren’t in their shoes, but we know what it’s like to be in our shoes on 

[00:49:00] Heidi: this journey.

So they accept our invitation to interview them right later, later in this year. So dr. Alissa share, before we sign off, what are some things that listeners can expect out of season one? 

Dr. Alissa: So, what you’ll hear in the rest of this season are 

Heidi: our stories. 

Dr. Alissa: So this was an abbreviated version of our stories is really our intersection, how we met, how we know each other and why in this unbelievably fucked up situation.

Uh, but in our stories, we’ll go a lot deeper and we’ll also go through. How we initially really coped well, have a conversation about that, and then what we needed permission to believe, and then where we are now, what points we’re at in each of our lives, some similar in some really different and we’ll end there.

Heidi: Gail is that you’re really Heidi. 

Dr. Alissa: You are so 

[00:50:00] Heidi: strong. It’s the trauma. Nikki, you are so sarcastic. 

Nikki: They it’s the trauma.

Heidi: The drama, cheering each other on and cheering you on 

Nikki: from my 

Heidi: Vilvas day. Last to you.

Love you girl.

Nikki: Thanks. It’s the trauma podcast is not a substitute for therapy or mental health advice. If you or someone you love is in crisis, please call one 802 seven three. Talk +1 800-273-8255. You can also text the word home to seven four one seven four one to reach a trained crisis counselor.

You’re so funny. Thanks. It’s the trauma. [00:51:00]

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