Season 1: Episode 5 – The Black Hole with Jeff Goins

[00:00:00] Dr. Alissa: Welcome to thanks. It’s the trauma. 

Heidi: I’m dr. Alissa, and this is a podcast with 

Dr. Alissa: my friends, 

Heidi: Mickey and Heidi. We’re connected by a unique 

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

Heidi: Season one, episode five triaged interviewing us is Jeff Goins. The reason that we wanted to get you on today and.

Kind of pull some things out of us is because the moment following something, this traumatic and trauma looks different for lots of people. But the three of us identify finding out that our spouses, who we thought were men, you know, are when we’re going to be are our spouses forever, who we had children with.

That very abruptly finding out that they were transgender. [00:01:00] Put each of us into what we have identified in earlier episodes as like a black hole. The memories are there, but they’re, they’re hard to tap into because it’s so dark. And then. You know, many, many months of therapy for each of us following that.

And so we wanted to record an entire episode where we kind of go back in time to those black holes. 

Jeff Goins: So triaged is the moments when you were like, what is happening? I’m just trying to survive kind of thing. That’s that’s it? Yeah. 

Heidi: I would say like, I think. So for me, I go by dates. Like for me, it happened October 21st.

And I really don’t remember. I mean, if you ask specific questions that their memories are there, but like Thanksgiving, Christmas, new years, it was really probably March before I felt like I [00:02:00] was waking up. 

Jeff Goins: I’m still a little bit hung up on the fact that you told me you wrote a book about birth stories, and then you said, if you could just pull some things out of us, but I’ll, I’ll move past that and jump into the stories.

Heidi: Yeah, 

Nikki: it’s okay to laugh. Can we run,

Heidi: could you burn our stories? Oh, 

Dr. Alissa: okay. Are you ready to hear my story? I did tell it at your party and you have my boy listening to 

Heidi: it. Can’t imagine why 

Dr. Alissa: I have to make more drinks in the kitchen way over 

Nikki: here. I walked over for a second. Like now she’s like, Oh, that poor girl, 

Dr. Alissa: I feel terrible. 

Heidi: Curl. 

Jeff Goins: She has a name.

You traumatized her. She has a name. So is it fair to say that this news of your spouses. Being the other gender, your husbands realizing they were women. Like what was this? A surprise to everyone? 

Heidi: Yeah. Yep. A hundred percent. 

Jeff Goins: And is it like one of those things? Like once, you know, [00:03:00] you, you go, Oh, that sort of makes sense.

Or like, does it still not make sense? 

Heidi: No. No, really? It’s not like we’re all shaking her head. No, like no hundred percent out of left field. Yeah. No. 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah, it was a warning. 

Jeff Goins: And so like, what do you do? Like the next day? Right? Like, I’m sure you’ve told your stories. Right. So we don’t have to do that, but like, 

Heidi: Oh, let me start, stop you there.

We ended each of our stories with the delivering of the news. So like any previous episodes, we brought the listeners to that moment and then ended the episode. Right. So they have no idea. Like, so this episode will be triaged, like the moments after, in the months after, and then next week’s episode will be, where are we now?

What does our life look like now? 

Jeff Goins: What is the next day look like? Right. So you get the news, I guess you go to bed at some [00:04:00] point. And then like, what happens is this is a bad dream. Do you deny it? Do you like immediately start making plans? Do you tell people what happened? 

Nikki: The first thing that popped in my head was this is over.

Heidi: There’s what, 

Nikki: there’s nothing I can do here. I can’t, we can’t fix this and I’m not a lesbian and that’s not how I wanted to be married. So I wasn’t now it was just instant done. So how do we get out of this now? 

Jeff Goins: So I want to be sensitive to the pronouns, the best that I know how to be. So he told you. And then you like immediately thought I’m done.

Did he want to stay in a relationship with you? 

Nikki: He wanted to stay married. 

Jeff Goins: And then what did you do? What’d you say? 

Nikki: I said, I’m not a lesbian. That’s not what I signed up for. 

And 

Jeff Goins: then what happened? 

Nikki: And then a lot of anger and guilt and shame. How do I tell anybody about this? How do I tell anybody about this?

[00:05:00] I didn’t tell anybody about it for a long time. 

Jeff Goins: You felt guilt and anger and shame, guilt for wanting to leave 

Nikki: and not being able to stay in support, anger for betrayal. 

Jeff Goins: Oh, you 

Nikki: felt betrayed by her. I felt betrayed. 

Jeff Goins: And then shame 

Nikki: because like shame, because how do I tell this story? 

Jeff Goins: Who do you tell us to.

So you said that in the conversation and then like, what does tomorrow look like? What was the next day look like? Thank you. 

Nikki: I don’t know. It was, it was a days I don’t, I don’t remember. You just go through the muscle memory of your, your life and go to work and feed kids and come home and walk dogs and 

Jeff Goins: know what you do.

You guys are still doing life as, as a normal family. 

Nikki: I just thought it was a midlife crisis. 

Jeff Goins: So you didn’t believe him. 

Nikki: I thought he’d snap out of it. Huh. And he thought I’d changed my mind and want to be married to a woman. 

Heidi: Yeah. So also [00:06:00] denials another stage of grief. Oh 

Nikki: yeah. Yeah. And I don’t know, Jeff doesn’t know my whole story, but my mother died by suicide.

So shame and guilt is very carried over very deeply. I mean, those are instant things that trigger back up. So. 

Heidi: Yeah, 

Jeff Goins: Alissa, what did the next day look like for you? 

Dr. Alissa: You know? Um, I don’t remember. I remember the day. And then, yeah, I remember w within the next few days, I do remember, like trying to find support, like very quickly trying to find other people who had been through something similar.

Like within, within days I created a fake Facebook account and I found two different Facebook support groups for spouses of transgender people. And I tried to find [00:07:00] anybody there who. Felt like they couldn’t do it. Yeah. 

Heidi: Who felt like they, that, that wasn’t for them. 

Jeff Goins: So, yeah. You created a fake Facebook account cause you didn’t want anybody to know that you 

Dr. Alissa: were going through it.

Well, I didn’t want to out my husband and I, it was a really afraid that like it was going to show up in groups I’m in or something. Sure. 

Jeff Goins: Yeah. And I mean, I, you know, we knew each other at the time. Weren’t super close friends, but I remember like seeing the announcement on. Facebook and yeah, and I feel like you’ve always been gracious about this whole process, Heidi, what was, what was the next day or the next moment like for you?

Heidi: Well, I feel like I should probably tell you what happened right in the moment, because like Nikki and Alissa, I feel as if it’s a little bit of a black hole, but I’m very ashamed of what happened the next day. So I would like to tell you what happened in the moment first. And my husband handed [00:08:00] me a letter and he said, I’m gonna read this to you.

And then I’m going to give it to you so that you could process it and read it again. And I just remember thinking, Oh my gosh, he is going to tell me he had an affair like this letter. That’s what it’s going to say in my mind. That’s the worst thing that could have happened. Sure to our marriage. And like, there was like this a moment where I really thought this is like a joke.

I mean, he’s kind of like a really fun person and there’s a lot of pranks. Like there’s a lot of really good stories of pranks. And so I thought, Oh my God, this is, this is, this is like the worst. April fools ever or something, you know, and then he just, then he started crying and then the letter went on and on and on, and I thought, Oh God.

And so I think I just started blacking out. But I did say to him immediately, I said, God made you [00:09:00] perfectly in his image and that this was not a mistake and that I love you. And then I said, and now you need to leave. Before I say something. Worse is going to come out of my mouth. And then I, I ended up actually leaving.

And so I think this is when I had an outer body experience. I don’t know about you Alissa or Nick key, but this is the club I’ve ever been to. I would say shock, I guess that’s what I was like, literally physical shock. Like, I didn’t feel like I was in my body. I remember thinking I’m in a coma in a hospital somewhere.

And this is I’m dreaming. Like I had this really weird, like hallucis in the 18. Yeah. Okay. Thank you. I was like, give me something there. So I had this really weird psychological thing happen where my body and my mind physically like separated and I felt like [00:10:00] they’re gonna have to hospitalize me in an institution like.

Cause I’m not right. You’re mental break. Yeah. And I have a friend in my neighborhood and I was, I do remember this. I was parked in the swim glove parking lot because I couldn’t drive and Oh, I’m going to back up. I walked out that front door and I drove straight to the fucking gas station. And I asked for Marlboro light.

Yeah. And I hadn’t smoked a cigarette like 15 years. He and the girl was like, what’s a Marlboro light. And I was like, for everyone listening. They stopped selling Marlboro lights apparently. And like 1997, they’re called Marlboro golds. Now Larry and they are signified they’re all of us older smokers.

[00:11:00] They’re like $10 back. And I didn’t have a lighter. I had to go back and get a lighter 

Nikki: because 

Heidi: I forgot you had to have a lighter and I didn’t even know how to order the cigarettes. And they wanted like a nurse. They wanted like an idea and all these things anyway. So all I know is I’m setting in my life, you know, white picket fence, suburban like vomit neighborhood, because what cigarettes like, Hey everybody, I mental breakdown.

Yeah. One of my friends came by with Xanax and that. And then basically I went to sleep until the next day. 

Jeff Goins: So you told a friend Heidi? I did immediately. So I’m curious about you, Nikki and Alissa, like who did you let into this part of your story? And at what point, because I think I’ll say you mentioned the second American, you say share this or not Nikki, but like, I would imagine there’d be a certain level of like fear, embarrassment, shame.

Who do I tell? When do I tell them. Et cetera. So how did you guys navigate telling other people about [00:12:00] what you were going through and who did you tell? 

Dr. Alissa: I mean, the very day that I found out, I called my best friend Lindsey, and I told her everything and sobbed and she was shocked and she cried with me.

And I know that I told other friends too, but it’s a black hole. 

Jeff Goins: You just don’t remember. 

Dr. Alissa: 

Heidi: just don’t remember. What is the next 

Jeff Goins: thing that you remember 

Dr. Alissa: after finding out after that first day? 

Jeff Goins: Yeah. Like how long does the black hole last? 

Dr. Alissa: It’s like, I’m in the black hole and then I 

Heidi: like pop out 

Dr. Alissa: for a minute and I have like a memory, like for a few days later when I go back in for a week.

Jeff Goins: What was the next memory? Do you recall? 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah, I mean, I remember making the Facebook account. Which was probably two or three days later. And then I think, you know, and now I can’t remember, it was a week or two weeks later, but I know at that point I had told my therapist, I told several [00:13:00] friends and then like, I was pretty clear.

With Jamie, like, you know, that this is not something I’m going to be able to do. And then Jamie was like, you know what? Nevermind, it’s all wrong. And like went around the house, like getting, you know, gathering all her things and throwing it away and being like, like, no, I’m just going to stay a man. Like, it’s fine.

Like if we can’t be together, like. Then, you know, I’m just going to stay a man. And I was like, I can not 

Heidi: ever 

Dr. Alissa: ask you to do that. And she was like, well, it’s too bad. I’m doing it. I can’t, yeah. I can’t remember now probably two. That was probably two weeks. 

Heidi: Talk more about that. 

Jeff Goins: So like she has stuff around the house at this point, like what 

Heidi: female 

Dr. Alissa: cloves.

And, 

Jeff Goins: and this is after the announcement. Yes. So 

Heidi: she.  

Dr. Alissa: two minutes, very quickly on 

Jeff Goins: things, right. And then like starts dressing apart and 

Heidi: in private 

Jeff Goins: as long. And then you said maybe two weeks [00:14:00] in. Yeah. As a change of heart, seemingly. Yeah, because, because you finally told her you couldn’t do this or just kind of hit or what happened 

Dr. Alissa: very clear.

I think from the moment I found out, I was like, I don’t know what this means for us, but yeah. Once I had like gone to therapy and thankfully I have a very fabulous lesbian therapist who is 

Heidi: able to. 

Dr. Alissa: Look at me and be like, you’re really not a lesbian. And I was like, Oh my God, I’m really not. 

Jeff Goins: Were you ever confused 

Dr. Alissa: about my sexuality?

You know, I’d always thought like, you know, everybody’s a little gay, right. You know, everybody’s like a little bit gay. Um, you always thought this. No, no, no, 

Nikki: that’s not true. 

Dr. Alissa: Thank you for calling me on that since leaving the church. Uh, I 

Nikki: wish that, 

Dr. Alissa: um, yeah, so, I mean, I’ve thought for a while, like, and I’ve even talked about that with Jamie, which I think probably confused her [00:15:00] in the beginning of this process of like, you know, I don’t know, like I’ve never kissed a girl, but like, Who knows what that would be like, you know, I might do some 

Heidi: crazy like that.

Dr. Alissa: Um, and then, you know, when it came down to it, I was like, Oh yeah. Oh, like, no, really no. And this isn’t about, it’s not about Jamie becoming Jamie. 

Heidi: It’s just about like, 

Dr. Alissa: that is not the, that’s not, for me. That’s not the relationship for me. And doesn’t the person doesn’t have the person who married, you know, that’s not the, that wasn’t the agreement, I guess, you know?

Jeff Goins: Yeah. Nikki. I can’t remember the first question, but I’m curious what, like the next memory for you was after. 

Nikki: I don’t know. We just carried on like normal. And then we actually were living in a, in a house and we decided to move. We’d lived in that house for seven years and we decided to move and we moved like normal, you know, we’re just going to go rent this house and [00:16:00] it’s going to be all fine and dandy.

It was kind of like, I’m just going to pretend it’s not happening. Cause I thought he was going to snap out of it. I really thought. Okay. I’m having a midlife crisis in, instead of having an affair and buying a fast car, I’m just going to do this, but no, and we had that moment two months later where he left.

So he was a musician and he left to go play a show and came back and decided, he told me, I don’t want to be a woman. I want to be a man. I want to be your husband. 

Jeff Goins: So he did the same. He did the same thing that Jamie 

Heidi: did. 

Nikki: Yeah. And of course we have makeup sex, and. Literally seven days later, he said, I can’t do it.

Heidi: I want to be a woman. 

Nikki: And that was literally my. It’s like, if you could see the gauntlet throw down, boom, done cut. All cords are done. Cut. Done. We’re not, we’re going to recover. We’re not going to recover. Like, I kinda knew that like, you know, we carried on with daily life. So [00:17:00] I thought, well, okay, he’s going to snap out of this.

But then when that happened, I mean, it was like such a backstab and I let myself feel okay and we’re going to make it through this. And we’re just still Nicky and Jamie and know it that’s when anger came up real hard and stayed was right there. Cause I felt really betrayed then. It was like, okay, 

Heidi: well 

Nikki: I believed you.

Heidi: And, and I had sex with you. And now I just had sex with a woman 

Nikki: and yeah. And 

Heidi: Alissa, did you have sex with Jamie? 

Dr. Alissa: Oh, man. I’m trying to decide if I should want to share that. 

Nikki: 

Dr. Alissa: mean, in the month, of course, you know, in the month between I’m questioning my gender and for sure I’m a woman. 

Heidi: Yes. Yeah. 

Jeff Goins: Wow. Do you want to try?

Nikki: And for me [00:18:00] it wasn’t, I didn’t think that I was having sex with a female. I found husbands back, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Dr. Alissa: That, and that was the same experience for me was like, I really, like, I went, I remember I went to therapy. I was like, he’s not a woman. Like he was confused, you know, it’s like maybe some weird.

Like, like for sure that’s not happening 

Heidi: anymore. 

Dr. Alissa: Like, it’s just something he’s going to go figure it out in therapy and we’re still interviewing. Right. And she in all her graciousness was like, and if someday, you know, it comes out that 

Heidi: perhaps 

Dr. Alissa: he really is, then you’ll be more prepared. And I was like, no, ain’t happening.

That’s not what’s happening. Nope. Nope. That’s not happening. 

Jeff Goins: So I just want to get timelines straight. So Alissa, for you, it was sort of like a month. It sounds like, like Jamie told you there was sort of this limbo period at one point, she was like, no, I’m a man, but by the end of that month, it was [00:19:00] clear that this was the path.

Is that right? Yeah, 

Dr. Alissa: it was, yeah, it was about four or five weeks. Yeah. 

Jeff Goins: Okay. And then Nikki, how long was that? That period? Cause you said you guys have a year a 

Heidi: year. Yeah. We 

Nikki: stayed married for two years 

Heidi: after he told 

Jeff Goins: me we’ll come back to that, 

Heidi: Heidi. Wow.

Jeff Goins: Limbo period. Tell me what, how long was that? 

Heidi: So mine was a little but different.

It was in reverse. So my husband had attempted to take his life and we knew he was in a very serious depression. And that was early September, 2018. And it was about six weeks of him going to therapy. I thought for anxiety, depression, and suicidality, and the conclusion of those six weeks, he was seeing a gender therapist.

And I didn’t know that. And so I guess like her story would have been, you know, that this [00:20:00] was about a six week period from like, Their break of like finally addressing some feelings for the first time in their life to saying it out loud. To me, the spouse was about a six week period, but when Jay told me.

My husband did not change his mind and come back and we had great sex or anything like that. Like I just never lived with him again after that moment. 

Dr. Alissa: So great. I don’t know. 

Heidi: I’m hoping that the last time was great. I don’t know. So, um, now we did have sex one time in those six weeks, and that is a very big point of contention with me because he already knew.

And had addressed the fact that he was transgender in his own mind and body with this therapist and still had sex with me, with me, not knowing that. And so, like, I kind of feel weird about [00:21:00] that, but well, now that you know, almost 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.

Jeff Goins: He went through this kind of six week period of Diana therapy. You thought it was for suicide depression. It was for gender questions. And then told you with the letter and the speech we’re reading a letter, and then you left, got the smokes. You said you never came back. Like 

Heidi: what happened? So I kind of at fuzzy black hole, but I think, um, I had probably told someone that he needed to leave, or I had told him he needed to leave and he went and got like a two week Potel, uh, like a longterm [00:22:00] stay at a hotel while he was looking for the right place to live.

So I went home at some point and we have two small children. So at the time I had a three year old, three and two year old and three and two or four and three, I can’t remember again, black hole, but young children. So just like Alissa and Nicky said, You know, I had to take the Xanax and go to sleep, but I still had to like wake up and go drop off every school in the morning and pack lunches and, you know, 

Nikki: there’s tragic shit going on.

Yeah. 

Heidi: Yeah. I mean, literally, I mean, in the morning they still have to blow their nose and change their diaper and yeah. 

Jeff Goins: So you came back and then he moved out 

Heidi: after that he was gone and ironically we had, or he had, I don’t remember. Prescheduled. Marriage counseling [00:23:00] for the next shit for the neck. Yeah. So I would like to answer your question about the very first memory that you have after it.

So basically I was drunk. I smoked my smokes. I was drugged. I woke up and was preschool mom, and then I went to marriage counseling. 

Jeff Goins: Wow. 

Heidi: And he came. Yeah, I guess we, I still like, I look back on this moment and this is why I said, I wanted to say what I said in the first moment that I found out, which I felt like was very, I came from a very loving place and over 18 months of this happening have evolved to a very loving and affirming place.

But, you know, I have to tell the story because part of our story and our struggles. As what happened in this moment. So when you were in the middle of shock and trauma, do not go to fucking marriage counseling, who caused you this [00:24:00] pain? Because this is how it went. We sit down on the couch, there’s some exchanges and the therapist says to me and Nikki and Alissa, I’m sorry, this is going to be hard for Nikki to hear, but.

The therapist says, Heidi, what is your best case scenario here? And, and then atrocious vicious attack of words. I went this comma sweetest voice looked at the therapist straight in the eyes. And I said, I wish she would have just been brave enough to have done it. And now is talking about the day that she attempted suicide and didn’t commit to the, and that concluded our marriage counseling session.

Um, 

Nikki: my husband also had ideation, so I know where you’re coming from. Heidi. He did it. I, I mean that because being [00:25:00] a child of a parent, who’s lost a parent to suicide. I wasn’t gonna put my, yeah. I want my kids to go through that. So, and that’s kind of where it all came out is like, we, he told me that and I was like, well, we got to start counseling.

So 

Heidi: yeah. 

Jeff Goins: So Heidi, you guys went to counseling and to go into counseling, you said this in front of 

Heidi: her. 

Jeff Goins: And then like the counselor concluded the therapy session. Like, is that what 

Heidi: happened basically 

Jeff Goins: and said what, like, we ain’t going there or 

Heidi: like what happened? Like this is not going to be a safe. Place for anyone.

So this is over and we could pick this up at a different place. And then, you know, lots of regret about that sentence that came out of my mouth. But I will say that the last 18 months of. Therapy and healing and repair with our families. So [00:26:00] you would think, well, maybe you wouldn’t think I’m just being judgy right now, but like I have been sort of that moment made me the assailant basically.

So this for me and my story, it is not, everyone’s mad at Jay for not. Understanding their gender before getting married. It became, Heidi told Jay too. Yeah. Killer. So, 

Jeff Goins: so just to understand what you’re saying, I imagine Jay was hurt from that exchange and then started saying these things about you telling other people, like, how did you become the assailant and the story 

Heidi: he told his family.

Yeah. And then I. You know, told I’m an open book. So then I told all my friends and family what I had said, because I needed to process the regret. She mean [00:27:00] I was a toddler reaming out a parent, you know, in the middle of counseling. And the only thing I can say is that I was hurting so badly that. And whatever brain I was in in that moment, it was the only thing that I could imagine that would take place.

Ain’t no way. Yeah. Like looking back, I think like, why would I have ever said that? Why would I want the person that I love and is the parent of my children to take their life? I mean, it doesn’t even make rationally. It doesn’t make sense, but in that moment, I just. Needed the fear and that pain to go away.

And that was the only thing I could think. Like here I am 18 months later and we’re recording this podcast because each of us has found a way through and we want to [00:28:00] be an inspiration to others to find the way through and not the way out. But that moment was really dark of like, just make it go away.

That makes sense. 

Jeff Goins: And when you told people about this, it sounds like they didn’t react well, 

Heidi: no, 

Dr. Alissa: 

Jeff Goins: mean, I’m actually super hard. Like this comes out in counseling therapist is like, get out of here. He starts telling his people, you start telling your people and. And you said you became the assailant. Like I would imagine this is my projection.

I would imagine feeling really rejected by everybody at a really difficult 

Heidi: time. Yeah. Super rejected. My family, like, of course came around because they know me and they know that like sometimes I will fire off and mean [00:29:00] things in the heat of the moment that I don’t mean, you know, but yeah. I mean, it’s really.

It’s like, it’s an unforgivable thing to say, but thankfully at this point, I think, you know, Jay has forgiven me. Her family has said that they forgive me. I don’t know if they. Really mean it or not, but they say it and you know, and we’re trying to like move forward, you know, but if, if God help there is anybody listening.

Who’s in a similar situation. I think that the three of us could just share that like, Oh my gosh, just take it 10 minutes at a time because you will get through it. You will get through it. You will get through it. It just takes time. Tremendous amount of therapy. Oh, tremendous amount of work, emotional work to get through all of the stages of, [00:30:00] of grief.

So, so I was going to move away from the suicide conversation really quick, but I want it like Nikki a lot, like you, I mean, in the stages, right? Like I feel like it was this vicious circle of like, So I went through the denial stage, hard, hard core. And so like, Jay never went through that. Like, you know how, like Alissa, you said like Jamie was like, Oh no.

And you know, like your two were like, went through this process themselves of like, Oh no, you know, well, I feel like I went through that. Like I literally went to therapy and made my therapist go through like, is there any possible way I could be a lesbian? Oh, wow. Because I’m so [00:31:00] fucking in love. Hmm. That if I’m in love with a soul and I believe in heaven, How could I N and I asked God to unite our souls as one in a wedding.

How could I possibly walk away if like tomorrow my whole body gets infected with cancer and I’m about to die. Like, Does that soul in me and heaven give two fucking shits about gender and sex. Like, so anyways, so I went through this very, very, very long process of denial of not only Jay’s transgender furnace, but also like my ability to not be me.

Like I had to go through this, like, could I leave myself? To be something or someone for someone else for the sake of [00:32:00] love. Could I be in an asexual marriage? Could I be in a, so like, you know, Nikki and Alissa knew right away, like it was done. And for me, it’s like, I knew I was done, but I was in negotiation mode.

Like, okay. Well, I already had kids and I’m 40 and I’m in love with a human being. So like, I don’t know that that whole process took me eight, eight months, eight months, eight months. It was really remember, or the day that I was like, okay, I’m done trying to wrestle in my brain and therapy, whether or not.

My marriage is going to continue to be a marriage. Okay. 

Jeff Goins: Let’s come back to that. Nikki. We didn’t hear from you when you started telling 

Heidi: people, 

Nikki: how 

Jeff Goins: did that unfold? 

Nikki: I didn’t tell anyone until I told one cousin, my very close cousin. I told her [00:33:00] she knew every step of the way from, I think, pretty close to day one.

And I didn’t tell anyone because shame and guilt and shame for how long. 

Heidi: Oh, 

Nikki: gosh, I’m going to say, 

Heidi: 

Nikki: mean, I can’t think of the timeline anymore, but I’m going to say six months, 

Heidi: ish. Well, 

Nikki: well, we did tell my boss who is a doctor, because I thought you need to talk to him about what is going on. He told him everything, everything, and.

That was the first person, the second person we told. And then one of my best friends is the person who sits next to me at work. And I told her eventually I don’t, I don’t even know how long it had 

Heidi: been six 

Nikki: to eight months before I told anyone. It was just very hard to, how do you bring that up? How do you bombshell somebody?

That cause nobody has gone through it. I mean, I [00:34:00] know anyone who went through it. 

Jeff Goins: Yeah. Question for all of you. So Alissa talked about this a little bit, like Jamie started moving quickly, buying ladies clothes, that sort of thing. What did that look like? Cause you all. Went through different kinds of periods of like, how’s this gonna work?

What do we tell? Is this happening? Is this not happening? Heidi? You talked about United that eight month stretch of trying to see if you could get lesbian or have some sort of a sexual marriage. So my question is like, talk about the transition, like in 

Heidi: the home, ELIZAs 

Jeff Goins: talked about this a little bit, like.

Body changes, clothes changes, whatever else kind of changes happen while you’re still in a relationship with this person in some capacity. I’m curious what that looks like during this period was a question for everybody, Alissa, maybe I’ll start with you and ask you the question like. What was the first thing that she brought into the house.

[00:35:00] Dr. Alissa: So she knew that I was very uncomfortable with the idea that she might at the time, it was like she might be trans. 

Jeff Goins: That’s how she broke the news to you. Not like I’m a hundred percent. 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah, it was, it was I’m questioning my gender. I might be a trans woman. She’s like, I’m going to start getting some, like things, you know, You know, I don’t know if you want to see.

And I was like, 

Heidi: 

Dr. Alissa: absolutely do not want to see any of it. I did see a pink loofa in the shower, uh, which seems so benign, but, you know, um, but it was like, okay, it was, it was, I mean, I’m very, like, I can see it in my brain now. Like it was so distinctly. I was like, Oh, I don’t know. And also, and we’ve talked about this, maybe just personally a little bit.

It was like, that’s what you think it means to be a woman is by a pink Lupa.

[00:36:00] I don’t judge Jamie. Cause she’s, she’s still figuring out this process of what it means for her to be a woman, you know, and in 

Heidi: some way, 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah. A lot of ways, you know, she’s just, she’s figuring out which, you know, you know, God bless her, but, but yeah, in 

Heidi: the 

Nikki: moment doing this a long time, you 

Dr. Alissa: know, it was like this really like a loofa, but yeah.

So I know there were other things and there’s a whole trash bag full of stuff that got thrown away. 

Jeff Goins: When she went, thought she was going to go back. Yeah. There’s a trash bag of stuff that when she thought she was going to go back, so she threw it all out. 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah. Whole trash bag full of stuff. It was like, Holy shit.

How does it so much?

And he’s like makeup, just a bunch of stuff. Yeah. She threw it away, threw it all away. 

Jeff Goins: How did you feel when you saw the pink loofa cause it, you said it was, you know, a small thing, but it sounds [00:37:00] like, I mean, you remember it. 

Dr. Alissa: I think it was a trigger to the trauma of finding out. I think it. You know, it was like, I don’t know.

It was like a flood. Yeah. It felt flooded, flooded with emotions. 

Jeff Goins: And just for some clear on timeline, as far as you can remember, maybe you said this, but I missed it. So she threw all that stuff away and then said that she wasn’t going to do it. And how long did that cause you were, you were like, not at all.

So I last, last that 

Dr. Alissa: lasted about two weeks. 

Jeff Goins: Got it. Got it. Okay, cool. So the question is for the rest of the group, When did you start seeing things come into your life or into the life of your then spouse? I 

Heidi: can answer that question. Jeff. We’ll probably wait for him. Yeah. Yeah. 

Jeff Goins: So you have this eight month period where you guys living together.

Cause you said he okay. 

Heidi: No. So like the letter was like the conclusion of us living together. But 

Jeff Goins: you still tried to make it work at least for years, year part, see if you could find a way to stay with 

Heidi: her. [00:38:00] Yeah. And I will say that, like, she didn’t know that I was even entertaining any of that in my mind.

Like, we were completely not in a good place after the whole suicide comment. Like it was basically like, we. Or just taking care of our children, you know, as best we could co-parenting and then dealing with our own emotions. Like from that point on, we just never talked about emotions to each other, getting, so my husband moves at a snail’s pace with all things.

So, I mean, just as like a, an example, He, she didn’t realize or come to the conclusion that she was a trans woman until she was 36 years old. And so, you know, the timeline for her transitioning has also been at a snail’s [00:39:00] pace. So like 18 months later, she is not transitioned other than, you know, just a few things.

So. The first thing I saw was red fucking toenail Polish. And it sent me right back to Marlboro lights

and all the things. And so we did have to have a conversation because I was like, She was in flip flops or whatever. And I was like, you can do what, I just remember, like being in this really terrible negative place with that, I’m not in anymore. So I just wanted to clarify that, but my emotions were just very sad and seeing something like toenail Polish was very triggering, just like it was for Alissa of reminding me that my marriage was over because you know, when he would just show up and his like, Baseball cap and like, you know, dad cargo [00:40:00] shorts, it was easier to forget the truth, but you know, red toenail Polish kind of brought, forced me to go back to that moment.

I didn’t want to ever go back to again, I’ve learning. My marriage was over and then there was the day that okay. I need to clarify this for the audience. We did a nesting divorce, so we did not live together, but our children were so little that we pretended that. So my kids didn’t know we lived separately.

So every night Jay would come home and we would eat and then arm together the family. And then we would give our kids a bath. And breastfeed and sing songs and read stories and we would put them to bed. He did that for over a year. Wow. How was our children? Great. I mean, they had great for our children. I mean, you know, awkward for [00:41:00] us, but great for our children.

Sure. They, we just felt like they were too. Yeah. And so, so one day there was like a few days here or there maybe where she, she spent the night, you know, For like in a getting guest, real like, Oh, I remember why I’m sorry, my job, I have a job that makes me work night. Sometimes I’m like, wait, I have this thing called a job.

Dr. Alissa: I’m like, why would I, 

Heidi: Oh yeah, I was working and I work nights often. And so when I was working nights, she would come and have to spend the night. And that’s when I saw the bra. And it was like a training bra that had like, The silicone like to make you look like you’re bigger than you are or whatever.

And I just remember it with like the underwear. And I just remember being like, you know, I don’t know, sail on me. So I guess first was toenails. Second was the bra and underwear. And then, and then the third thing that I could add ever that I could even remember, [00:42:00] and this is kind of a, was a pivoting moment for us was the vial of estrogen and the needle.

Where 

Jeff Goins: did you see this? 

Heidi: On my children’s bathroom counter that my children were holding. My three year old was holding a, uh, well as a bag, a Ziploc bag and in the bag was a needle and estrogen because Jay had just gotten back from a trip and had their dopp kit at my house that they had left on the counter within, I guess in the stop kit was all the things, you know, Makeup and lotion and purple shave gel who needs that and the pink glue.

And so I go upstairs, like, you know, to go help my kids get to bed. And my three-year-olds like standing on the stool, like an, all the makeup and stuff is spread out all over the counter. And then they’re holding this bag of estrogen. 

Jeff Goins: Yeah. What’d you do 

[00:43:00] Heidi: freaked out. That was also not one of my best moments.

Jeff Goins: You screamed and chef, 

Heidi: it was more of like a parenting. Like I’m going to take away your parental rights because you just left a bottle of estrogen and a needle for our three year old. So I had this like terrible moment of panic and was, you know, basically like get out and we’ll talk to the lawyers about your parenting.

And then I took a breath, you know, that, that only lasted about 24 hours before I realized like, Well, yeah, I slammed my kid’s hand in the target door once, you know, or car door at target ones. And, you know, I, when they were six weeks old, they rolled off the bed and I also had some parenting mishaps that I had to remind myself of that like a human being could leave their medicine on the counter and that’s, while it’s devastating, you know, I’m not flawless.

And so, but yeah, that’s it. I mean, yeah. And now since then, there’s been so many more things, but from. Toenail Polish to estrogen [00:44:00] was like, I don’t know, 15 months or something like very slow. 

Jeff Goins: Nikki, do you want to share the first thing that you 

Heidi: saw? 

Nikki: Okay. The first thing was this gadget that he had ordered on.

EBay or something that basically suctioned into his chest to grow breasts. 

Jeff Goins: Whoa, 

Nikki: that was the first thing. Wow. I don’t know if I feel bad, but yeah, that was the first thing. And he would do it in front of me and I would be leaving for work and he would have this contraption 

Dr. Alissa: on. And your face 

Nikki: your face.

And 

Dr. Alissa: you’re like 

Nikki: go to 

Heidi: work 

Dr. Alissa: in the morning what’s happening 

Jeff Goins: on the

Dr. Alissa: couch.

Nikki: Okay. So this was my dark moment was when I would have to go to work and put on this face that nobody knew. And I would, 

Heidi: um, Stuff 

Nikki: it [00:45:00] all away and pretend it wasn’t there. That’s hard. That’s hard to think about. Yeah. I hit a lot. I hit a lot from a lot of people for a long time.

I would walk out of the room and shut the door and I was like, God forbid the kids freaking blow through the door and find this. And then we moved to this house. And I don’t know what I was thinking. At some point I was trying to be supportive and I was like, here, I have an extra sports bra. Why don’t you take it?

Cause I 

Heidi: don’t ever wear it. They gave 

Nikki: it to him, did that too. 

Heidi: They found a sports bra, but I did that also. 

Nikki: I had this box of old that was just sitting in the closet and I didn’t offer it to him, but it was there. And he did go through it. And I found like a bunch of my stuff in his shoved in his closet cubbies.

And I was like, you’re taking my clothes. And he’s like, well, you weren’t going to use, you were getting rid of those. And they were stuff that you didn’t want anymore. So I just thought that I could, and we, we ended up having a fight and he put them all [00:46:00] back.

Heidi: Thank you to Jeff points for interviewing us today. You can find Jeff on Instagram at Jeff Goins. And we just want to leave you with a beautiful poem that Jeff wrote the quiet and incredible farewell by Jeff Goins. One day, if you are lucky, you will say goodbye to all the stories you ever told about yourself, about what a woman is an a man does when all the world is, as it should be.

It is a quiet and incredible farewell. You will give to the person you once were. It is a long and slow salutation. This becoming who you are, a hello to a whole new existence that you never before imagined, [00:47:00] except perhaps in a dream. One day when you are walking by yourself in a park at midnight, you will hear the sound of an old life echoing from a past that you swear, belongs to someone else.

You will listen to a voice telling you stories of a person you no longer recognize speaking in a language. You do not understand. And then on that day, you will know, as the butterfly exits the Chrysalis as the leaves of cold November, blow by without you’re noticing that you two have changed.

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 [00:48:00] +1 800-273-8255. You can also text the word home to seven four one seven four one to reach a trained crisis counselor. 

Jeff Goins: You’re so wise.

Dr. Alissa: Thanks. It’s 

Heidi: the trauma.

Season 1: Episode 4 – Heidi

[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, booze and cussing

season one episode one intersection. 

Heidi: Hey, it’s 

Dr. Alissa: dr. Alissa and I’m here with. 

Heidi: Nikki I 

Dr. Alissa: and Heidi, 

Heidi: cheers. 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. You 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 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 and 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. 

Heidi: In this episode, we talk in 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 

Dr. Alissa: pronouns and names. We have no [00:05:00] intention of mis-gendering 

Heidi: 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.

Heidi: Yeah, that’s [00:08:00] just so eerily similar, you know, so, Hey everybody, I’m Heidi. I have, 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 soulmate kind of match. And the way that I found my way to Alissa is because on October 21st, after about [00:09:00] 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 or, 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 also did not have memories of.

Like just, it was only a recent thing. He 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 and thoughts of [00:10:00] being a trans woman. Just being a woman, not being 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 level 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, or 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 want to hear. And [00:11:00] I thought, God damn it. He cheated that. 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 love you. And God made you perfectly in his image. This was not a mistake, but I’m gonna, I need you to [00:12:00] 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. And I mean, and then it became a blur, but I, 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 as I could to wrap my head around this. I didn’t know what it meant for our marriage, our kids. I just, I knew I needed help.

I knew, I felt very alone. I felt humiliated. I felt embarrassed. I felt [00:13:00] shame. All these things where we could get into. And then I was also kind of blacking out, not eating, not sleeping and stuff. So I jumped on Facebook after Google. I will say Google failed me. Google was like, you mean your child is trans gender.

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 in that, that [00:14:00] support group, because that support group was nothing. This gender heterosexual, female 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, and 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 persons who were [00:15:00] going there’s difficulties in that that are different than our difficulties.

Dr. Alissa: Well, 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 didn’t even know we have a Facebook group and she made it the trauma.

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

X, Y X wives of transgender women. 

Nikki: Um, 

Heidi: well anyway, I get annihilated in this group and then I get this text message on Facebook messenger from this [00:16:00] girl lists B and it’s like, Hey. I think we should talk offline. I think our stories like intersect 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, five days, 

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

Heidi: transgender. And let me also just take a reminder that this way, 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 thinks he’s transgender.

What do you think about that? I mean, so anyways, 10 months of loneliness and I get, hello, Heidi. This is lispy from the spouses of transgender people group. I created an alternate account, so [00:17:00] 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 stalker crazy [00:18:00] person who was like coming to get me.

So I don’t respond for days. 

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

Heidi: you 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 I’m going to be okay. [00:19:00] And. I’m not kidding you.

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

Dr. Alissa: Did not. No, no. Tell me what you said. 

Heidi: Tell me what you said. 

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

Heidi: actually 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 marriage. 

Heidi: 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 God awful

try this again. But anyway, but 

Dr. Alissa: unfortunately for me, a couple of [00:20:00] 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 and I’m so [00:21:00] excited now that I’m friends with Nikki too. So 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 Nikki, how did your life intersect with Alissa?

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

Necessarily, and I didn’t even read hers. It just said Xanax, I think as the subject line and everyone asks for Xanax, so it to her provider and her provider actually stands right in front of me with her [00:22:00] laptop and we talk to each other and she looks at me and 

Heidi: she goes, Nikki, 

Nikki: did you read Alissa’s.

Message. And I said, no, she wants Xanax and you need to read it. So I’m 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 

Heidi: so she 

Dr. Alissa: 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 that weekend. 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, 

Dr. Alissa: I mean probably, probably August, probably August.

Yeah. [00:23:00] I reached out quick. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: Yeah.

Now that you know, almost 

Nikki: everything about us. 

Heidi: 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 will you just share a [00:24:00] 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 or 

Heidi: her story.

Nikki: I am the most not correct in using the right pronouns, just so you know, we’re working 

Dr. Alissa: on it.

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

Heidi: quite a few months 

Nikki: 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 thought he was going to tell me [00:26:00] he was gay and that was very cut and dry to me, 

Heidi: you know? No, we weren’t going to stay 

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

Heidi: know what I mean?

It was incompatible compatible. Sure. 

Nikki: But then yeah. He told me he wanted to transition into a woman. And I don’t remember what happened after that, because I tend to forget things 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 am in a traumatic. Overwhelmed and anxious situation. I shut off and I don’t want to know anything. I don’t want 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 I’m dealing 

Heidi: with. 

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

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

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 50 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.

But no, this was [00:28:00] 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 

Heidi: she thought I was going 

Nikki: 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. I want to be a woman.

Wow. And that’s where my heart shut off. 

Heidi: I said, 

Nikki: that’s it we’re done. This is the end. 

Heidi: Yeah. 

[00:29:00] Nikki: It was a hard line instead of just a blurred line that became a hard line. And I was mad now. I was mad. That was a heart jerk around. So yeah. So from about then I would say that was in September. 2017, 2016. Maybe we stayed together a little longer.

He, 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 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 that no, you heard of new. Okay. Okay. Well, let me, let’s just laugh about something for a [00:30:00] minute. Cause you didn’t email Chris Jenner like I 

Dr. Alissa: did. Yeah. Did you relate?

I was like, I know 

Heidi: transgender spouse he’ll drink. I was like the whole, we should have her on 

Nikki: the podcast. 

She 

Dr. Alissa: should come on here. 

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

Nikki: I didn’t want a million now I wasn’t going to watch any TV shows or documentaries or read any books I wasn’t doing any of it.

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

Heidi: Okay. Well, that’s just how I 

Nikki: work. 

Heidi: Well, it’s 

Nikki: not unhealthy.

That’s going to be many examples of me not being healthy [00:31:00] mentally in all of this here, 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 she 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, although they don’t know each other.

So we talked about like, we have this one common denominator, like we all are [00:32:00] 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. 

Nikki: And I have an 18 year old. I have adult children now.

Heidi: Well, 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, yeah. Um, and so I want to share that because anyone who’s listening who needs this, we are going to address on this podcast.

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

Nikki: you know, trauma and anxiety. 

Heidi: Yeah. And so what we just have, everyone will, 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 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 going to grow 

Dr. Alissa: because there are other people who’ve had this 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 just felt trapped in it. And [00:34:00] 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, Alissa, You are not a lesbian. And I was like, right, 

Nikki: right, right, right, right, 

Dr. Alissa: right, right, 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 it 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 the capital K and it was my knowing that this was what was right for me, was to leave.

Heidi: Well, my [00:35:00] 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 anyone. Well, if I just [00:36:00] 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 looked 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.

So anyway, I thought [00:37:00] about it. I said, yeah, 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 gone gun, gun, gun, gun gun, 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 drag to do in any way. Jay, if you ever listen 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 unless he told [00:38:00] me he was going to be a woman. 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 going to cheat on me and 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, there’s conversations with your fiance, you know, before you 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 denial 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 just a phase? 

Nikki: Yeah. [00:39:00] I thought it was midlife crisis. I thought, instead of buying a really expensive 

Heidi: car, we were 

Nikki: going to do 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, but be like, eh, never mind. Yeah. 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 

Dr. Alissa: is that, so 

Heidi: yeah, it has to, it takes a long time. It takes a long time over here and the Bible belt, but you know, I still think about things like ethical non-monogamy right?

Like, could I. Continue to be partnered with [00:40:00] 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: Sure. Yeah.

Heidi: All you hotties out there. Just look up Heidi and North Carolina. Okay. 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.

Dr. Alissa: So I decided to have a [00:41:00] goddess party. Uh, because have you guys seen him? Sorry, 

Heidi: the show. I’m sorry. The 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 recommended 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 like 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 me a goddess. 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, 

Heidi: you, 

Nikki: you, 

[00:42:00] Heidi: Oh my gosh, 

Dr. Alissa: that. Yeah. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: I, I kept it as a surprise, I guess. I mean, I don’t. 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. 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 is not fair.

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

Nikki: I 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 did I miss signs?

[00:43:00] 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 no, never showed up anywhere. And I mean, we were together over 20 years and I’m like, nah, never, 

Heidi: never. 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. Like, 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, 

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

Heidi: aware of.

Dr. Alissa: No, I know. I fucking wasn’t. No, 

Heidi: no. 

Nikki: Yeah, 

Heidi: totally [00:44:00] 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, 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 out 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 things for me is moving [00:45:00] 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 

Nikki: so 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 and the look on.

My ex husband’s face. He didn’t even answer. He would just kind of stumble. Well, I, uh, uh, I kind of, uh, yeah, and, 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 

Heidi: didn’t feel bad 

Dr. Alissa: at all. And I still don’t 

[00:46:00] Heidi: feel that at all.

Dr. Alissa: 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 have about what it means to have gender dysphoria. And so I think like having all of that was a 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: Oh, interesting. My family has been so supportive. And affirming that it’s almost made me a little mad sometimes. [00:47:00] 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 to offend. We’re trying to use the correct language to be affirmative and informing and educational and supportive and loving. And we are [00:48:00] 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 saying 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. This is 

Nikki: 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 this journey.

Heidi: So, [00:49:00] and lady except our invitations to interview them, right. Not 

Nikki: later, 

Heidi: 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 

Heidi: are our stories. 

Dr. Alissa: So yeah, this was an abbreviated version of our stories is really our intersection, 

Heidi: how 

Dr. Alissa: 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 

Heidi: initially 

Dr. Alissa: 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 and some really different, and we’ll end there.

Kayla 

Heidi: is that you’re really Heidi. 

Dr. Alissa: You are so 

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

Nikki: Thanks. It’s the trauma.

Heidi: It’s the drama cheering each other on and cheering you on from my Vilvas. They LA 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]

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]

Season 1: Episode 2 – Dr. Alissa

[00:00:00] Dr. Alissa: Welcome to thanks. It’s the trauma. I’m dr. Alissa, and this is a podcast with my friends, Mickey and Heidi. We’re connected by a unique and unusual experience. And we talk about it and other traumas with honesty, booze, cuss words, season one, episode two, Alissa. Welcome to thanks. It’s the trauma podcast.

Heidi: Alright, Alissa, we’re so excited to hear your story this morning and it’s Alyssa tells all, so let’s get started. Alissa. I know that everyone that listened to episode one, and if you’re just tuning in we’re aligned, this is going to be very confusing. Start at the beginning. So if you’re joining us for episode two, Then, you know, that Alyssa is about to take us on a journey and tell us her story of finding out that her spouse is transgender.

And so before we get into like that bomb drop Alissa, [00:01:00] why don’t you just walk us through or share with us a little bit of who you are and your background and kind of what led you to that moment? I really don’t even know where to start. Where were you born? I was born in bucks, County, Pennsylvania, and really, we can start before that because I was, we can go back to my conception.

Dr. Alissa: I was conceived in a Petri dish with a sperm donor. It was one of the very early IVF kids. And I wouldn’t find that out though until I was 15, but that’s how I was conceived. And that definitely impacts my story and the way that I, the lens that I see things through. Well, this is interesting because we’re actually recording on infertility awareness.

Heidi: So, um, I am so curious about, I know it’s timely, but I [00:02:00] really thought you were about to tell me you remembered your con, like you had a concussion or something. And I was like, I have a lot to learn. And there’s like, no. So your mom was, was she married or was she a single woman? She was married to a man named Keith and they were young.

Dr. Alissa: My mom was, my mom was I think 24 when she decided, or was when I was conceived and she was married to Keith who could not have children. That’s a very young to go through the IVF process. Do you know any. Like, do you know anything more about that story? Like did they talk for a long time or multiple? No.

So Keith was not always the most forthcoming person. He had had some kind of medical. Incident happened when he was very young, that meant that he was infertile. And he knew that [00:03:00] prior to getting married to my mom, but did not tell her that information until after they were married. And she was devastated because the only thing she ever wanted was to be a mom.

So after some time after they got married, I don’t know how he told her or how, how that came about that information came out. But then she just became very. Determined to have a child. And so somehow found out about this experimental program, temple university in Philadelphia and was free and she went and one time and she was pregnant with me.

Heidi: Wow. Okay. So you said you found out when you were 15, but before we get to that, what was your childhood like? 

Dr. Alissa: My childhood was confusing, sometimes lonely, and then sometimes feeling loved. So Keith was emotionally abusive. Occasionally [00:04:00] physically abusive to my mom. And so I grew up with them married together until, until I was, I think, nine or so my mom decided to divorce him and then I would go back and forth between the two houses, but mostly living with my mom.

And so living with Keith was frightening. It was hard. I, I, but I didn’t know for many, many years that the things he was doing or abusive, I wouldn’t know. I wouldn’t have called it that, you know, she just knew he was unpredictable and frightening, but, but yeah, it was abusive. But then my mom could be really loving and warm and I would spend a lot of time with my grandmother who was the most.

Maternal person ever. They were in light spots in there too, but most of the hard, I didn’t even have words for. So it wasn’t even like I talked to anybody about any of it. Now you’re using the name, Keith and not dad. Tell me why that is. [00:05:00] Well, a couple of reasons, one he’s not my biological father, thankfully, and two, like he never was.

I mean, I called him dad for a number of years, but he wasn’t ever a good dad. He was, he was not, he was not a good day. Yeah. I was 17. I completely cut off that relationship. One of the things we’re going to talk about a lot in this podcast is namesake and like the importance of names. And so I just wanted to kind of hear from you on making the decision to choose a name rather than an affectionate name, like dad.

Heidi: So now tell me, how did you find out when you were 15? What happened. 

Dr. Alissa: Well, that was Keith also. So sitting in a sports bar called bleachers and Franklin, Tennessee, and I’m getting hot dog and it’s a really [00:06:00] big, juicy, hot dog, and I’m excited to sit down and eat it. And then Keith says to me, my kidneys failing.

And this was a conversation. We’d have a lot. He’d had a kidney transplant back in the early nineties. This was at this time, late nineties or early two thousands. So he tells me his kidney is failing healing as one. And he had had a kidney transplant. His brother gave him kidney. It’s not working anymore.

So this was now I can see manipulative. What you know, why do you tell your teenage kid, your kidneys failing? Because you hope that she’s going to say, well, I’ll just give you my kidney. So that’s what I said. I said, can you set it up? I gave him exactly what he wanted. I’ll give you mine. And he said, well, you can’t.

And I said, wow, why not? He said, you tell your mother, you wanted to know this. You tell your mother. I was like, what the fuck? Wow. Still haven’t still, haven’t been into my. Juicy hot dog, by the [00:07:00] way, it’s just sitting there. Do you want from Costco to make up for this thing?

Tell my mom that I want to know what, and he says, I don’t even know the words he says. I remember this moment so clearly, and I don’t remember the words that he used, but in effect, he told me I am not your biological father. We had to use a sperm donor to have you. And my world just spun out of control at that moment.

Like I just, everything I thought I knew was a lie. Where did I come from? I’m not related to this person. And by the way, like up until this point, I had been at that time, my dad’s. Like caretaker his confidant in some ways, like the role of a wife is very dysfunctional relationship, but I was whatever he needed was I was that for him.

And so to [00:08:00] find out he wasn’t really, my dad was. I mean jarring isn’t even isn’t even just timestamping. And then I started crying and I got really upset. And then he got mad. I’m still your dad, you know, he didn’t really get why this was upsetting to me now you’re 15 years old. And so, I mean, do you have, like, I mean, I’m assuming at this time you have a concept of like how babies are made.

Heidi: Like have you already been sexually active yourself? Well, just trying to think they’re like a 15 year old mind on like, did you know what IVF was or insemination, like, were these new terms to you? I mean, where were you as a 15 year old maturity-wise well, this is another black hole moment because I really, I truly don’t remember any of the words that he said to me to explain what it was that happened, but in effect I did get the message.

Dr. Alissa: He wasn’t my biological father, someone else was, [00:09:00] I was definitely not sexually active because I was super Christian and was very committed to true love waits. And so, you know, I I’m sure that I had an under yeah, I I’m sure that I knew about sperm and eggs and all that. And that’s how you have a baby, but yeah.

Heidi: Now you said that some of the, like, looking back now, you know, you know, that there was a lot of emotional. Abuse and some different things, but was this your first experience with a major trauma? When you look back on your life? Like that moment. It wasn’t. Do you want to share what number that was? 

Dr. Alissa: You could go back live with when you live with somebody who’s abusive every day is somewhat dramatic, certainly a complex trauma, but then there is other types of traumas, you know, sexual abuse type traumas that I experienced from some peers as well before this happened.

Heidi: But yeah. Okay. All right. Well, [00:10:00] I’m not going to let you gloss over. I was super Christian, like, explain to me what that means for you and kind of like what your relationship with, you know, you said Christian, so God or Jesus, like was as a child growing up in the middle of trauma, like who was taking you to church and who is introducing you to.

Dr. Alissa: Your faith hypocritically? No, no, no. My family was not very religious. We went to church, some vague memories of going to church when we lived in Pennsylvania and we moved to Tennessee when I was eight. And when we moved to Tennessee, I feel like, yeah, we tried out a couple of years. There’s just my family.

Wasn’t super religious. My mom was not super religious. And then, so God was just like a concept. And then my mom married, my mom got remarried to Pat. Pat was very religious and church of Christ. And so we became church of Christ. And again, that it didn’t really [00:11:00] feel like a connection kind of thing to God.

But when I was 14 is when I really became a Christian because of my peers, my peers started telling me about Jesus encouraged me to go to church there’s youth group, you know, those kinds of things to second. And so I got sucked in and bought it all. Every single bit of it, you know, had no doubt or questioning every word that the pastor said was true.

And then I happened upon, I kissed dating goodbye. As a teenager. And so I kissed dating goodbye and ironically Joshua Harris who wrote that book now follows me on Instagram. He was fucking weird. Hey, Joshua will tag you in this.

Yeah. So went to school, told all my friends, I kissed dating goodbye, which nobody was asking me on dates. So it was the most [00:12:00] just don’t don’t do it. I’m not doing it. And, you know, I think like again, now looking back hindsight thing, I think part of buying into that so much security culture stuff. Well was also having experience with being sexually assaulted, you know, and like not wanting to open myself up sexually or being terrified of opening myself up sexually.

And so I think like those things partnered together were a perfect cocktail to create somebody who would buy all of it completely. 

Heidi: So Alyssa, with all of this, like tumultuous. Family life. And then kind of, you know, I’m sorry if you judge me, everyone, but like the toxic purity misconceptions that you were influenced by your peers.

When did you leave that town or that place or those people? Did you go off college?

Dr. Alissa:  I did not. I had intentions of leaving for [00:13:00] college, but. And got scared, you know, fearful of being on my own, not being able to make it on my own. So I went to community college. I stayed at home during that. And then I started working at a church and I was able to finish my undergraduate online through Liberty university for free, probably don’t need to tag them the day.

Go for free because I was working at a church and they had some crazy scholarship. And so I got my undergraduate online. Through them. And so I lived at home all through college. Did not really have that college experience at all. And then I moved out after I finished my undergraduate degree, but I didn’t move far.

I mean, I, we lived in Franklin, Tennessee. I moved to Nashville, Tennessee. So it was like 20 minutes away. And so really like, my family was [00:14:00] still a pretty constant part of my life at that point. And your family at this point was defined as your mom and your stepfather, Pat, and was in your life at all. So I completely severed that relationship, but when I was a teenager and he kept trying to come back in, he showed up at my work.

I was working at TJ Maxx. Showed up and was frantic and told me his wife had ODI on something and it was in the hospital. I didn’t know his wife because he wasn’t a part of my life anymore. He would make sure I knew that he could still reach me. He would send me letters even after I, I moved to it. It was very frightening and kind of had some stocker type behaviors, which sounds weird when you think about it as like a dad or something, but when it’s somebody that you’ve cut out of your life, It’s pretty frightening.

And I would have nightmares that he was gonna show up and kill my mom or show up and kill me. So, yes, I definitely, he [00:15:00] was not a part of my life at all. So where did you move to when you moved out? I moved in with a friend Morgan to a house in Donaldson, which is just a little East of Nashville. Yeah. This cheap house, her family owned it, um, had fun time.

Heidi: And so were you still committed to not dating? 

Dr. Alissa: No. Okay. At this point, at this point, I realized you actually do have to date if you ever want to get married, but I was still very committed to the purity culture stuff and was on the hunt for a husband. So now I want you to bring us kind of up to speed with knowing some of your background and kind of intersecting with your current life.

Heidi: So here you are today, right? Not identifying as a Christian, you know, divorced a mom, doctorate in [00:16:00] counseling. So how did you make that leap from where you were having just moved out of the family home, completing your undergrad degree to then, you know, having this master’s degree, this doctorate getting married, having kids kind of.

Bring us up to speed. Cause that’s a major girl. That’s a major leap. So in just a few years. 

Dr. Alissa: Yeah. So, I mean, my twenties were really spent very committed to evangelical Christianity, doing mission trips, um, leading student ministry. Searching for a husband, a godly has been. And then when I was 28, I met James and within three months we were engaged.

Heidi: Okay. Back up, back up. How’d you meet him? What happened? Where were you? How. 

[00:17:00] Dr. Alissa: It was new year’s Eve two of my friends, I went to a bar for new year’s Eve and one of my friends invited two of her friends who were guys to come out to this bar for new year’s Eve with us. And we did not know that she had invited anyone.

We have no idea. And then she starts talking to this guy across the room and this guy is gorgeous and he’s wearing this pink tie and he’s got this blonde hair and he’s just so cute. He looks like a Ken doll. And I say to my friend, Amy, like who is that guy that she is talking to? Like, he is so hot and Amy’s like, he is so young.

I said, no, he’s not. He’s my age. I’m telling you. He’s my age. Cause he looked, he looked young, he had a piece of baby face and it was James and we meet, I flirt a lot. She’s very drunk and remembers very little interaction. Which, [00:18:00] and if he wasn’t drinking still, remember

he remembered a little of it and then I was smitten. But again, he didn’t remember much about meeting me. And then I, I did everything I could to get in front of him over and over again, after that old. Were you then? And how old are you now? I was 28, then I will be 35 in two weeks, seven years ago.

Heidi:  Were you on Facebook where you stalking or you asking everybody about him?

Was he asking about you? How did you get together for, like you said, you tried to put yourself in front of him, but like, How did you nail them down?

Dr. Alissa:  I made Amy Adam on Facebook first and then he accepted. And so then I added him on Facebook. And then I, I don’t know if Jamie knows this to this day, but I have them.

I don’t want to use air [00:19:00] quotes accidentally. Message James, instead of somebody else, it wasn’t an accident. It was totally on purpose. Total ease of women. Yeah. And then we started talking on there and then my other friend who knew James at the time told him, Hey, Alyssa likes to go swing dancing. If you ever need a partner, because James likes to go swing dancing.

I had never been swing dancing. That is, I’ve never done that. It was a bit, it was. And so sure I do. Right. And so he had, he one day needed a swing dancing partner because his partner. Sick or something and reached out to me and said, Hey, do you want to go swing dancing tonight? And I’m in the middle of old Navy with my mom and my grandmother.

And I’m like, Oh my God. And I had already planned on like watching my nephews that night. Frantically texting my sister, like I [00:20:00] have to, I have to go out with this guy, like, this is super important. And she was like, go, my mom’s like, well, watch them. Cause my mom was ready to get me married off. So I have this date set up.

That was not really a date. Okay. Like it was not a date. It was supposed to be swing dancing in a church. Okay. And James single.

Heidi: 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.

Dr. Alissa: Yes. He was single only, fairly recently divorced. Okay. At that time only [00:21:00] divorced a few months, but yeah, let’s pause for our listeners because James, as you heard earlier, had already been married and had already had two children. And so, so you knew this going into the swing dance, right? Like the super hot guy.

Heidi: Recently divorced two kids. And you’re like, he’s that hot? That I’m all at a hundred percent. 

Dr. Alissa: Oh no. I, the kids sold it more for me. That’s awesome. Uh, because I had actually, at the time I met James, I was like, okay. So I’m going to be a single lady, the rest of my life. So I’m just going to adopt, I want to be a mom I’m going to adopt and I’d actually gone to Haiti.

A month before I met James to make connections, to see if I could adopt, I was ready to be a mom. And I felt like my kid was already out in the world. And so when I met James and was like, infatuated, him, having kids was a bonus. Really? I have so many [00:22:00] questions right now, Alyssa, because, so you’re still at this moment.

Heidi: Like you’re still in purity culture and you’re right. Like you’re still identity. You just have gotten admission. Okay. So this is where I have some, because I did not grow up like this. Like I was a huge slut. I had already had sex with a million people. By the time I’m getting into this very similar story, I am.

I stand by her story over here

and now Mickey and I are confused by each other. So you’re 28 years old. You’re a Virgin question. Mark. Question, Mark. Question Mark. Okay. This is amazing. And then so tiny business, there was no funny business. Not even like we’re not even just talking a technical Virgin, like no funny business was my next question because I grew up in [00:23:00] North Carolina.

In the Bible belt, but all my slutty friends did everything but have sex.

Oh. So a thing that some, some girls have anal technical,

a hundred percent. I was like, you could kiss. That was it?

No. At 28 years old, you still have no STD. This is amazing. Clear at 35. I also still have no STDs. Wow. Well, get on it. That means you’re not having enough.

Okay. Alright. So this sweet little Virgin purity, her vision is showing up for her date with the guy who’s. Clearly he had sex cause he [00:24:00] has two kids and has been married and is now divorced. And God, I mean, he’s at this point, he’s so hot, you know, because this is a lot for someone I would imagine that’s impurity culture.

So anyway, let’s skip to the date. So is it super obvious that you don’t know how to swing dance right off the bat?

Dr. Alissa:  100% and not only do I not know how to swing dance, I’m also very nervous about swing dancing, period. Like that made me nervous. Like this is not something I know how to do. And then terrified because I’m going on a date with this guy that I have been absolutely.

You know, Facebook stocking for two months at this point and had been jokingly calling my boyfriend for, for, since we met. Yeah. I might

call them your future.

[00:25:00] Heidi: If it makes you feel better, I just call it manifesting. Yeah. Instead of stocking done it all. Yeah. I have like had about a thousand. I am doing it right now. Let’s open up him. I’ll tell you is my next husband, my boyfriend. Andre says are right now. Okay. Sorry. Okay. So keep going. You’re swing dancing. You, did you break an ankle?

Dr. Alissa: I did not. And very quickly into it. James figured out, Oh, this is a date like this. Isn’t just, this isn’t just like two new friends getting together, doing swing dancing and he was into it. So that was good. Like we were both. Like very into it. And like, it became a date more than just focusing on swing dancing.

So then we, so we did the swing dancing thing and then we left and we went to a bar and we talked for hours and learned a lot about each other’s lives. Like way [00:26:00] more than you tell somebody on a first date, which to be fair is how first dates go with me. So I eat therapists.

Heidi: Yeah. Everyone’s on a first date with us right now. Right. It’s a hot mess. Welcome to train wreck. So did you walk away from that date thinking, like, I think I’m going to marry this guy. 

Dr. Alissa: Oh, for sure. I mean, yes, absolutely. 

Heidi: And did you kiss, was there like a man? No. Okay. 

Dr. Alissa: So here’s the thing at this time, James was also have heavily.

Christian and was not having sex outside of marriage either. And not only that. So it was, it would be three weeks later, James would sit me down a Mexican restaurant in Nashville and read me a note that he had written asking to court me, my,

[00:27:00] we would have our first kiss outside of the Mexican restaurant in the rain. Oh, that is so the notebook. Oh, that says, I love that. Just remember how this story.

Heidi: Okay. Well, let’s just keep with the happy times right now. Okay. So you date and you fall in love and middle of the lot, and you just dropped the bomb early that you were like, you got married three months later, engaged three months. We got, so yeah, we got engaged three months later. Oh, yeah, that’s fast.

Yeah. Okay. And how did he do it? Or how did you do it? I don’t know. Maybe you, no. 

Dr. Alissa: We were at a park in East Nashville and James starts to play me the song. And then my friend, Allie is a photographer and she comes walking up and I’m like, what are you doing here? And she’s like, Oh, I was just taking some pictures.

Do you want to see? And she shows me [00:28:00] the camera and shows me. James and the boys holding signs in the camera and it says. Will you marry me, you know, Alyssa, will you marry me? And the boys and James are holding signs that say this. And then I start, I didn’t realize this was happening. And I’m like, well, what’s going on?

What’s happening? And James gets down on Monday and proposes actually a little bit of that black because it was such a big. Moment, but it also was really, really scary and I’m shaking and I’m like, yeah. And I’m so in, but also just so scared because this is such a big commitment, but I wanted it so bad.

Heidi: Yeah. Now you guys, I’m assuming, had already told each other that you loved each other and. You know, all of that. How long until you got married so that you could have sex, sorry. 

Dr. Alissa: Eight months later, five months later, we got married after where’d you get married? We got married in spring Hill, [00:29:00] Tennessee, which is South of Nashville.

It’s just beautiful outdoor wedding venue. On October 4th and yeah, it was, it was a beautiful day. It was a very, very cold day. Turned out to be the coldest day of the month. Every day around. It was really warm and 60 seventies that day was in the thirties, unfortunately, but it was a beautiful day. All right.

Heidi: So dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Did you have sex on your wedding night? Yes. Oh, good job. See those of us sluts. Like me and Nikki had already had plenty of sex. We were too tired to have sex on her.

everyone drank. I was, I wanted to go to bed. 99% of everyone I know does not have sex on their wedding night because they had sex every other night before that, Nikki, I don’t know about you. The only people I know that have sex on their wedding night are ones that are Virgin. [00:30:00] But yeah, I did have sex on my wedding night.

Dr. Alissa: It was not like the glorious, you know, that it should be. It was more of like, yeah, we gotta do this.

Heidi: Not to say it was a bad thing. I was just tired. I was too tired. It was also pregnant. We’ll get into that later.

yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. So I just. So here you’ve dated for eight months. Everyone knows where the story is going. So what I think is on our listener’s minds, because it’s on all my friends and family’s minds. And so let’s just ask some of those questions, right. Is in those eight months of falling in love and like getting married and having sex and like moving in together and starting your life together, you know?

What was your [00:31:00] greatest fear? Like what did you think if you ever got divorced? What did you think would be the reason I was afraid that it would be growing apart. Okay. Or falling out of love just over time. So yeah. Or me missing the signs, like thinking this was God’s plan for me, but you know, like maybe it wasn’t and like this, it just would be really hard or, yeah.

So your inauguration and to becoming a wife was also becoming a mother stepmother at the same time. Yes. When did you and James decide to have your own biological child? 

Dr. Alissa: So the funny thing is, so my very best friend, Lindsey, she and her husband had been trying for, for a while to have a baby. And then you found out on Monday that they were pregnant and were so excited for them.

And then James said, well, should we [00:32:00] try to, and like, you guys could maybe be pregnant at the same time. And I was like, yeah, let’s do it. Like, that would be awesome. I found out Friday I was already pregnant. Oh, that’s so sweet. So you hadn’t been on birth control or anything? No, we’d done natural family planning, but I was kind of like loosey goosey about it at that point, because I was at that point, I was okay if I got pregnant.

Heidi: Okay. So now I need you to catch me up because you just said natural family blaming again. At what point does the Christianity piece drop for you and James?

Dr. Alissa:  It was after Jamison was born. So my, my son, my youngest son, it was after he was born. And for James and I still, I say James, because that’s, we’re talking about.

And yes, at the time, you know, it started to fall apart for him, first reading, Rob bell, you know, that heritage, some other more progressive theologically [00:33:00] Christian folks, you know, and there was a question of. I think it was, is there really a literal hell or something? There was something like that for James that was like, you know, struggling with this.

And I was like, Oh my God, my husband is losing his faith. What is it? This is the thing that tears us apart. Oh my gosh. You know, he’s not a godly husband anymore. And then really just a few months later, it would start to fall apart and unravel for me too. And what made it unravel for me? Was one day James said, did you know that the Bible is by definition, not an errand because there were errors in the early texts that they have in created the Bible from.

And I said, that’s not true because if that’s true, the whole thing falls apart. And he was like, no, it doesn’t. And it did. I was right. It did, it all fell apart for me after I really accepted. The truth that like there were errors in the early scripts. So [00:34:00] by definition it cannot be an errand. Once the Bible was not an errand, in my opinion, the rest of it just fell apart.

Heidi: So I they’re being judged for this next statement and I care zero, but I actually think it’s a very beautiful thing to let go of faith together. Actually more powerful than like you said, going separate ways. And on separate paths and journeys, but being able to be support for one another as you kind of just dissect a new reality and let yourself unravel so that you can rebuild in kind of spirituality, faith or nothing, you know?

So I kind of think it’s beautiful. I just needed to kind of catch up from like the 28 year old Virgin to like, I know today where you’re at in that. So Alyssa, your marriage pretty typical, happy, like, tell us about your marriage, any [00:35:00] signs that maybe the person that you were married to wasn’t their true self of who they were born to be?

What was marriage like? 

Dr. Alissa: Our marriage was great, right? I mean, we decided before we even got married, that we would be committed to growing together. We would go to, you know, marriage retreats every year we would go to marriage counseling. We were just really committed to having a healthy marriage. And so, I mean, we would go to these marriage retreats and do these little games that are designed to show like how well you communicate and things like that.

And we’d be. The best out of all of these couples, like couples, who’ve been together 50 years couples who’ve been together 10 years and we’d been married one. And we would be the ones that like did the thing faster than anybody. Cause we could communicate so well and we just, we liked each other and we loved each other.

And we, we did, we worked so hard at being good at marriage. And I think that was a goal, [00:36:00] James, because of having been married before and that marriage not working was wanting to be good at marriage. And I think like he really was, no, he put forth every effort. That he could into being a good husband. And so, you know, we had, we had a good marriage and there were no signs for me that James was really Jamie.

You know, the molest that I could say is, you know, James had a, a limited emotional range, which is not unusual for a man, right. In our culture. Lots of men. Don’t experience a range of emotions because they’re told that they shouldn’t. And so that made sense with his history upbringing, you know? And so that’s it.

And now knowing Jamie, Jamie has, Jamie has all the feelings. And so now again, hindsight, like I can put the two next to each other and see, okay. That. If anything, that would [00:37:00] be a sign that James was not fully whole, but again, like culturally, if it’s so even looking at it that way, like, no, there really weren’t any signs.

Heidi: So, and I’m going to dig even deeper in this because people are curious. Right. And so. So your idea of what sex should be or should look like that was good and normal for you and your marriage. It sounds like. And your dating life. I mean, I think that there’s a misconception out there. Like people are like, Oh, did you ever catch it M in your clothes?

Like, no. Why? Why? Like husband was wearing my thong? Why would I have been.

Like we all have children here, which means we were sexually very sexually charged and attracted to our partners. So, Melissa, I just wanted to kind of make sure that we said that for listeners in your [00:38:00] story, right? Yeah. There’s no, yeah, there were, there was no, there were no signs and our. In our marriage, that James was really a trans woman now.

Yeah. So leading up in episode one, we heard about the bombshell being dropped at the birthday party. What was it like for the couple of months or the week before that happened before James told you about becoming Jamie? You know, at that point we were both still finding our way through spirituality. And connecting to different things, faith wise or spiritually.

Dr. Alissa: And so, you know, that was part of where we were, was both kind of exploring on our own, our own individual spirituality. And so I think. Part of that is where Jamie is born. It was in that spiritual journey recognizing that she really was [00:39:00] trans. So, I mean, I was aware for sure that we were both kind of figuring some of that spiritual stuff out and that there were.

That was just a, it’s an uncomfortable process to kind of lay everything out and go like, what do I, and don’t type a leave and what stays, what goes. And so we were both kind of still in that process. So that’s kind of where we were the couple months before I would say, and maybe even, you know, butting heads at times on some of that and not landing at some of the same places, which I think is fine, but again, kind of led to where we ended up.

Heidi: So like the morning of. Pretty normal day on that day. Did you wake up still thinking I’m going to be married to this person? Forever.

Dr. Alissa:  Of course, absolutely. I was very committed to Jane. Yup. I think it’s important that this is where we talk about the introduction of trauma. So hearing Alyssa, you walk [00:40:00] through your whole story and the fun and the love and.

And the creating a family and changing and journey together and waking up in the morning thinking, you know, I love my life and it’s gonna be like this forever. And then a major trauma being introduced. And we each have our own unique stories that we’re going to go through, but that’s where banks it’s.

Nikki: The trauma comes from. Alyssa, thank you for sharing that big story. Next episode, we’re going to dive into my story and the episode after that, we’re going to dive into Heidi’s story. Then we’ll move into the aftermath and the coping and the healing and the grief of all of this and how each one of us are on different planes and levels.

But at the same time, in the same place. So, thanks. It’s the trauma.

[00:41:00] 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 41 seven 41. To reach a trained crisis counselor.

Thanks. It’s the trauma.

Season 1: Episode 1 – Intersections

Link

1 TITT V4

[00:00:00] Dr. Alissa: Welcome to thanks. It’s the trauma. I’m Dr. Alissa, and this is a podcast with my friends, Nikki and Heidi. We’re connected by a unique 

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

season one episode one intersection. 

Dr. Alissa: Hey, it’s Dr. Alissa and I’m here with Nikki and Heidi. 

Heidi: cheers. 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. You 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 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 and 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. 

Heidi: In this episode, we talk in 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 

Dr. Alissa: pronouns and names. We have no [00:05:00] intention of mis-gendering 

Heidi: 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.

Heidi: Yeah, that’s [00:08:00] just so eerily similar, you know, so, Hey everybody, I’m Heidi. I have, 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 soulmate kind of match. And the way that I found my way to Alissa is because on October 21st, after about [00:09:00] 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 or, 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 also did not have memories of.

Like just, it was only a recent thing. He 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 and thoughts of [00:10:00] being a trans woman. Just being a woman, not being 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 level 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, or 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 want to hear. And [00:11:00] I thought, God damn it. He cheated that. 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 love you. And God made you perfectly in his image. This was not a mistake, but I’m gonna, I need you to [00:12:00] 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. And I mean, and then it became a blur, but I, 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 as I could to wrap my head around this. I didn’t know what it meant for our marriage, our kids. I just, I knew I needed help.

I knew, I felt very alone. I felt humiliated. I felt embarrassed. I felt [00:13:00] shame. All these things where we could get into. And then I was also kind of blacking out, not eating, not sleeping and stuff. So I jumped on Facebook after Google. I will say Google failed me. Google was like, you mean your child is trans gender.

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 in that, that [00:14:00] support group, because that support group was nothing. This gender heterosexual, female 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, and 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 persons who were [00:15:00] going there’s difficulties in that that are different than our difficulties.

Dr. Alissa: Well, 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 didn’t even know we have a Facebook group and she made it the trauma.

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

X, Y X wives of transgender women. 

Nikki: Um, 

Heidi: well anyway, I get annihilated in this group and then I get this text message on Facebook messenger from this [00:16:00] girl lists B and it’s like, Hey. I think we should talk offline. I think our stories like intersect 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, five days, 

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

Heidi: transgender. And let me also just take a reminder that this way, 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 thinks he’s transgender.

What do you think about that? I mean, so anyways, 10 months of loneliness and I get, hello, Heidi. This is lispy from the spouses of transgender people group. I created an alternate account, so [00:17:00] 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 stalker crazy [00:18:00] person who was like coming to get me.

So I don’t respond for days. 

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

Heidi: you 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 I’m going to be okay. [00:19:00] And. I’m not kidding you.

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

Dr. Alissa: Did not. No, no. Tell me what you said. 

Heidi: Tell me what you said. 

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

Heidi: actually 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 marriage. 

Heidi: 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 God awful

try this again. But anyway, but 

Dr. Alissa: unfortunately for me, a couple of [00:20:00] 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 and I’m so [00:21:00] excited now that I’m friends with Nikki too. So 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 Nikki, how did your life intersect with Alissa?

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

Necessarily, and I didn’t even read hers. It just said Xanax, I think as the subject line and everyone asks for Xanax, so it to her provider and her provider actually stands right in front of me with her [00:22:00] laptop and we talk to each other and she looks at me and 

Heidi: she goes, Nikki, 

Nikki: did you read Alissa’s.

Message. And I said, no, she wants Xanax and you need to read it. So I’m 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 

Heidi: so she 

Dr. Alissa: 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 that weekend. 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, 

Dr. Alissa: I mean probably, probably August, probably August.

Yeah. [00:23:00] I reached out quick. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: Yeah.

Now that you know, almost 

Nikki: everything about us. 

Heidi: 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 will you just share a [00:24:00] 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 or 

Heidi: her story.

Nikki: I am the most not correct in using the right pronouns, just so you know, we’re working 

Dr. Alissa: on it.

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

Heidi: quite a few months 

Nikki: 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 thought he was going to tell me [00:26:00] he was gay and that was very cut and dry to me, 

Heidi: you know? No, we weren’t going to stay 

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

Heidi: know what I mean?

It was incompatible compatible. Sure. 

Nikki: But then yeah. He told me he wanted to transition into a woman. And I don’t remember what happened after that, because I tend to forget things 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 am in a traumatic. Overwhelmed and anxious situation. I shut off and I don’t want to know anything. I don’t want 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 I’m dealing 

Heidi: with. 

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

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

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 50 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.

But no, this was [00:28:00] 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 

Heidi: she thought I was going 

Nikki: 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. I want to be a woman.

Wow. And that’s where my heart shut off. 

Heidi: I said, 

Nikki: that’s it we’re done. This is the end. 

Heidi: Yeah. 

[00:29:00] Nikki: It was a hard line instead of just a blurred line that became a hard line. And I was mad now. I was mad. That was a heart jerk around. So yeah. So from about then I would say that was in September. 2017, 2016. Maybe we stayed together a little longer.

He, 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 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 that no, you heard of new. Okay. Okay. Well, let me, let’s just laugh about something for a [00:30:00] minute. Cause you didn’t email Chris Jenner like I 

Dr. Alissa: did. Yeah. Did you relate?

I was like, I know 

Heidi: transgender spouse he’ll drink. I was like the whole, we should have her on 

Nikki: the podcast. 

She 

Dr. Alissa: should come on here. 

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

Nikki: I didn’t want a million now I wasn’t going to watch any TV shows or documentaries or read any books I wasn’t doing any of it.

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

Heidi: Okay. Well, that’s just how I 

Nikki: work. 

Heidi: Well, it’s 

Nikki: not unhealthy.

That’s going to be many examples of me not being healthy [00:31:00] mentally in all of this here, 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 she 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, although they don’t know each other.

So we talked about like, we have this one common denominator, like we all are [00:32:00] 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. 

Nikki: And I have an 18 year old. I have adult children now.

Heidi: Well, 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, yeah. Um, and so I want to share that because anyone who’s listening who needs this, we are going to address on this podcast.

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

Nikki: you know, trauma and anxiety. 

Heidi: Yeah. And so what we just have, everyone will, 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 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 going to grow 

Dr. Alissa: because there are other people who’ve had this 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 just felt trapped in it. And [00:34:00] 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, Alissa, You are not a lesbian. And I was like, right, 

Nikki: right, right, right, right, 

Dr. Alissa: right, right, 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 it 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 the capital K and it was my knowing that this was what was right for me, was to leave.

Heidi: Well, my [00:35:00] 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 anyone. Well, if I just [00:36:00] 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 looked 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.

So anyway, I thought [00:37:00] about it. I said, yeah, 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 gone gun, gun, gun, gun gun, 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 drag to do in any way. Jay, if you ever listen 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 unless he told [00:38:00] me he was going to be a woman. 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 going to cheat on me and 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, there’s conversations with your fiance, you know, before you 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 denial 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 just a phase? 

Nikki: Yeah. [00:39:00] I thought it was midlife crisis. I thought, instead of buying a really expensive 

Heidi: car, we were 

Nikki: going to do 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, but be like, eh, never mind. Yeah. 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 

Dr. Alissa: is that, so 

Heidi: yeah, it has to, it takes a long time. It takes a long time over here and the Bible belt, but you know, I still think about things like ethical non-monogamy right?

Like, could I. Continue to be partnered with [00:40:00] 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: Sure. Yeah.

Heidi: All you hotties out there. Just look up Heidi and North Carolina. Okay. 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.

Dr. Alissa: So I decided to have a [00:41:00] goddess party. Uh, because have you guys seen him? Sorry, 

Heidi: the show. I’m sorry. The 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 recommended 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 like 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 me a goddess. 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, 

Heidi: you, 

Nikki: you, 

[00:42:00] Heidi: Oh my gosh, 

Dr. Alissa: that. Yeah. 

Nikki: Yeah. 

Heidi: I, I kept it as a surprise, I guess. I mean, I don’t. 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. 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 is not fair.

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

Nikki: I 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 did I miss signs?

[00:43:00] 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 no, never showed up anywhere. And I mean, we were together over 20 years and I’m like, nah, never, 

Heidi: never. 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. Like, 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, 

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

Heidi: aware of.

Dr. Alissa: No, I know. I fucking wasn’t. No, 

Heidi: no. 

Nikki: Yeah, 

Heidi: totally [00:44:00] 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, 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 out 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 things for me is moving [00:45:00] 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 

Nikki: so 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 and the look on.

My ex husband’s face. He didn’t even answer. He would just kind of stumble. Well, I, uh, uh, I kind of, uh, yeah, and, 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 

Heidi: didn’t feel bad 

Dr. Alissa: at all. And I still don’t 

[00:46:00] Heidi: feel that at all.

Dr. Alissa: 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 have about what it means to have gender dysphoria. And so I think like having all of that was a 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: Oh, interesting. My family has been so supportive. And affirming that it’s almost made me a little mad sometimes. [00:47:00] 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 to offend. We’re trying to use the correct language to be affirmative and informing and educational and supportive and loving. And we are [00:48:00] 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 saying 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. This is 

Nikki: 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 this journey.

Heidi: So, [00:49:00] and lady except our invitations to interview them, right. Not 

Nikki: later, 

Heidi: 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 

Heidi: are our stories. 

Dr. Alissa: So yeah, this was an abbreviated version of our stories is really our intersection, 

Heidi: how 

Dr. Alissa: 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 

Heidi: initially 

Dr. Alissa: 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 and some really different, and we’ll end there.

Kayla 

Heidi: is that you’re really Heidi. 

Dr. Alissa: You are so 

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

Nikki: Thanks. It’s the trauma.

Heidi: It’s the drama cheering each other on and cheering you on from my Vilvas. They LA 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]