Transgender & Partners: A Collection

Callan Williams, Copyright 1995, 1998, 1999

Talking To Partners

The Lean Out

TG & Relationships

TG & Partners

My Husband Makes Me Crazy

Talking To Partners

A speech written and not delivered to a partners group in 1995

I want to assure you of one thing. I have great respect and affection for anyone who chooses to be the partner of a transgendered person, who chooses to invite transgender into her or his life. For many of us who were born profoundly transgendered, we wish the "gift" of transgender is something we could have declined, as it has caused us great angst and pain. But we had no choice.

Each one of you had a choice, a choice to invite transgender into your life, a choice to walk away when the ripples of transgender reared up in your relationship. But you chose to stay, to face transgender, and that shows your own strength, your own love. It takes a powerful, big person to deal with transgender.

I spent 6 years with one partner, and another 9 years with another as I have been uncovering my own transgendered nature, and I have seen how it can affect their life, their identity, their peace. I know how hard it is to be a partner with me, an overthinking, oversized, transgendered person, and have a lot of respect and sympathy for you partners.

I know that a good partnership, a good marriage cannot be the connection of two damaged people searching for someone to prop them up. At its heart, it must be a place where two people are strengthened in their own individual search for wholeness, for becoming authentic. Joseph Campbell, the teacher of myth, has noted that the reward of this life is becoming who you are. We are each on our individual quest, and our relationships must support us in that quest, that process of death and renewal, of change and growth, or we will have to leave them behind. Our relationships have to be based on strong and loose bonds, not simply on shared patterns which will change.


One of the biggest questions that people ask about transgender is "Why?" Why do you have to dress up, why do you get so upset, why do you have to be away, why do you have to experiment, why do you have to be transgendered in the first place?

Why? is the key question of philosophers, and as you have figured out, each level of why? is based on the next level. Imagine the questions of a two year old, that persistent series of plaintive "Why?" that force you to eventually explode "Because that's the way it is, OK!"

The key question is why some people are profoundly transgendered. Is it just a freak of nature, the roll of the genetic dice, or is there some divine purpose underneath? Is TG something we should work to cure, or something that has benefits that we should embrace? This is a question that all of us struggle with. Why something so odd as transgender?

William Dragoin, of South Georgia University has done work on trying to understand gynemimetic, or female impersonating shamans, from a wide range of viewpoints. He notes the research into theatrical creativity that shows that some boys seem to have a flair for it, and that flair seems to be tied into gender expression. He looks at the importance of shamans to the tribes that humans lived in for most of their existence, bringing theater, creativity and insight, and contributing vastly to the success of the tribe. And he looks at social biology, where there seems to be indication that these gynemimetic traits were a value to the success of a tribe and were therefore encouraged in breeding, an "altruistic" response.

Is there social benefit in transgender? And if so, what is it?

One friend has suggested that the real benefit of transgendered people is to screw things up. No, no, I mean in a good way, by breaking down the barriers that humans tend to build between themselves. The shaman transcends barriers by transgressing gender roles and forces us to remember that simple answers aren't that simple. Life and nature are not either/or propositions, but rather a set of scales that have to be kept in balance.

Anne Bolin has said that from her anthropological perspective that "in cultures which a bi-polar gender system, rituals of gender transgression show our continuous common humanity." They remind us that life is about a continuous common thread, not about a war between the sexes.

Ask Sandra Cole about what this culture did to women after World War II, and she will quickly launch into a detailed discussion of how women were forced back into traditional gender roles when the boys came home, forced out of jobs and into tiny suburban houses, with women's magazines that told them how to be a woman, everything including how to take a bath just before he came home and have a pitcher of martinis ready.

Ask any of my peers about what they remember about growing up in the 1950s, and they will tell you that they remember the despair of our mothers, stuck at home and not happy. I watched a friend get soused on a pitcher of martinis and talk about watching his mother's little afternoon parties. "Well, I love the kids, but I don't know if I should have had them so soon. Another martini?"

We bred a generation of kids who saw despair, and who swore that they would not get trapped in the same way. These girls became the women's movement of the 1960s, declaring that biology is not destiny, that they would not be trapped in limited gender roles like their mothers were.

Minnie Bruce Pratt, in S/HE, talks about her times as a feminist, arguing for women's rights. Conservative women would throw back that changes in the gender system would break down the entire system, with unisex bathrooms, and same sex marriage. At that point, the theme was to fight that notion, declare that separate but equal was the goal, not a destruction of gender, of civilization.

But Minnie Bruce has realized that, just like the blacks did, separate but equal is never equal. It still perpetuates limits, and limits all of us. We are now dealing with the natural outgrowth of that process, and the gays & lesbians have talked about the limits that they face in the gender system, and transgendered are the next to talk.

This may be just the role the transgendered are supposed to play at a time of paradigm shift, reminding everyone of the need to get back into balance, being the pivot point of society, of civilization.

Waking Up

I was talking about this process at the IFGE conference when a wise shaman asked "This is all fine and good, but how do we live our life in this context? What do we do when we get up in the morning?"

Ah, now that is the question. I know that while the big picture of life is interesting, that life is in the details. How do you get the kids to school, get you to work, get into the world? How can you be big in the context of the small details?

To me, the answer is both very difficult and very simple. You live your life with honesty and courage. You take the spiritual context of your life and you express it everyday, in everything you do. You stand up and actually live your beliefs.

This is the hard part. We are brought up in this culture with a huge list of shoulds, things that we should be and should do, and we are taught that if we don't follow these shoulds we will be unconnected, separate, alone. This is the dragon with "Thou Shalt" printed on every scale that Joseph Campbell talks about.

My friend said to me: "It's just so hard to love someone that no one else likes." Yup, those of us who point out that the rules, the "thou shalts" are designed only to keep us in order and not to make us winners, not to make us whole, are people who make other people uncomfortable. Question the goals of someone else, the goal of trying to follow all the shoulds, and you can make them crazy.

She isn't asking me to stop being bigger than the dragon, questioning the culture. She's just trying to figure out where she fits in this context. She isn't sure that she is ready to be big -- or worse, isn't sure that she is big. She grew up a woman in this culture and she was taught that playing small was the right choice.

This is the challenge for each one of us. Can we play big enough to live our live according to our inner voice, our spiritual knowledge, the connection to the godself that we all hold inside, or do we have to keep playing small enough to fit in the spaces we "should" fit in?

This is the hardest question that any of us have to answer. If you were to ask me about the benefits of transgender, I would say that it forced me to explore myself, to figure out who I am. It is so easy to figure out who you are not, but it is hard to figure out who you really are, especially in this culture that works so hard to tell you who to be.

Transgender puts everything into play. All those hard and fast rules about what we are supposed to be fall apart when everyone cannot be neatly divided into men and women. We have to live an active life, creating out own solutions, not just following the ruts carved by all the shoulds.

Why Me?

I think that may of you may know that transgender has this kind of power, the power to question all we have been taught. The question that comes up is "Why me?" Why am I being forced to look at my assumptions, my givens? I have seen many people mourn over this question, trying to reject the challenges of their life, from physical challenges to family issues to transgender. And the harder they fight the more miserable they get.

What do we share? We share the desire to create a world for our children where they won't be made miserable because the suit of shoulds doesn't fit them. But we worry that the loss of the shoulds will make the world fall apart, leave nothing for them. Should we have shoulds or not? Argggh!

The answer is that we will always have shoulds, and we will always have people who are challenging them, helping us as humans keep in balance. And those people are good, and important -- and very challenging -- people. You love those people because they see clearly, because they are big and special. And you get crazy for the same reasons.

Transgender is about finding a balance, and as long as it is a balance between two poles that seem as disparate as man and woman are supposed to seem in this culture, there will wide swings of emotion and energy related to that change. To force transgendered people to swing between two poles is to force enough changes to make everyone seasick.

But to find a center ground, closer to a point of rest, means that we have to live our lives outside of the shoulds that are designed to force men and women apart. We have to reinvent who we are away from classic definitions and closer to who we are inside.

I do believe that reinvention is a part of a wider change in this world, a change towards a less mechanical and more creative and spiritual life, one that values thought and not machine like consistency.

Facing the past, Facing the future

I admire all of you who are facing the past, facing all your socialization by actually coming here today. In facing your own past, you face all of our futures.

Transgender is not easy, nor simple. As humans we are all connected, in families, in networks, and the changes to one of us ripple out to all of us like the springs in a bed. As partners of transgendered people you are very close to that change, close enough to feel the pull between the past and the future, close enough to feel pulled apart by being the boundary between what is and what will be. And that position deserves respect and understanding.

I do hope that you get enough energy and caring from your partner to help make this position more comfortable and more rewarding. I know that while big people offer bigger challenges they also do offer bigger rewards, and those can be delightful.

Thank you for being here. And thank you for being there for my sisters and brothers. We are all in this life together.

The Lean Out

I was thinking about the issues in a relationship with a transperson, and one of the big issues I don't think I have spoke to you about is the "lean out." I think that the "lean out" is one of the biggest issues that transpartners have to deal with.

What is the "lean out?" It's when one partner starts to lean way out, to start taking risks and gets kinda crazy. The problem is that the other partner -- usually the spouse of the transgendered one -- feels the obligation to lean out to the other side to keep balance.

If one partner starts coming out, the other one ends up working harder to keep the secret. If one partner starts spending more money on exploration and transformation, the other has to even more zealously guard the purse strings. If one partner says "flaunt convention" the other partner feels the need to demand convention.

This is the advantage of coupling, that in pairs we can both take abstract positions and come to a compromise. "We shouldn't go to the party it will be boring!" says one while the other says "We have to go, because we have an obligation" says the other, while the truth is that both are ambivalent about going, feeling both the obligation and the desire to blow it off. This is a challenge for singles, who have to flog out these tradeoffs all alone, which makes it easier to take fewer risks.

It turns out, though, that partners of TG people hate the feeling of this obligation to balance their partners, leaning farther right while the partner leans farther left. It also means that the separation between the TG person and the spouse get wider and wider as they both feel more pulled to extremes.

I know about this, because I have been attacked by many TG partners for speaking up for gender freedom. They see my words not as freeing their spouse, but as having the Newtonian equal-and-opposite effect on them: spousal freedom forces them farther into chains.

There are solutions for this. I remember one leader whose wife would be angry when s/he got home from a weekend conference. They both assumed it was a response to the TG. Things changed, though, when she got a job that took her out of town once in a while and the anger went away. I call this the "He has two lives and I have none!" complaint.

We need to find ways to pass the conservative/progressive dichotomy around. Both need to speak for freedom and for responsibility at various times. I remember Delane Matthews, the woman who played Beth on the sitcom "Dave's World," talking about how she demanded that the writers let her character be crazy too. "I just didn't want to become one of those TV wives who only listen to their husbands loony stories and say "Oh, Honey!""

So many partners have this issue, that they feel the transgression of TG forces them into being the police person, the sane one, the one without needs, the party-pooper, the dull voice of authority. For people who already have children who demand they be the grownup, losing the place where they can be equals is very hard. They don't need another adolescent child around, especially one with their own credit cards and keys to the car.

Clearly, the issue of boundaries falling -- boundaries around identity, around sexuality, around roles and parenting, are a big deal for partners of TG people.

But the forced lean out is one that really can piss people off.

TG & Relationships

Callan Williams 1995

Let's face it. Relationships are hard. Interacting closely with another person is probably the most human thing that we do, a true representation of the "twoness" of this world, as Shakti Gawain calls it. In relationship we are constantly faced with a reflection of our actions, with new problems to solve, new challenges to face. As we grow, our relationships change, and sometimes holding our growth back, maybe as a safety net or maybe as an anchor, and sometimes accelerating our change. Our relationships keep us grounded, and allow us to fly. From the relationship with our mother at birth, to our relationship with caretakers as we lay dying, relationships shape and define our lives.

All relationships are the same. They all exercise different facets of ourselves, but any time when two people meet face to face, they form an instant unit, working together on their own issues around the interaction. This may be as simple as exchanging chat with a cashier, or as complex as a long term relationship with a life partner. All relationships we have with others revolve around boundaries, that interface between you and them, the edges of ourselves. As traditions of etiquette and the range of options open to us have changed, those boundaries have gotten less and less clear.

Perhaps there is no more complex example of changing boundaries than the pair-bonded heterosexual marriage. The institution of marriage has been with us a long time, but like any other social construct it has been shaped by custom and ritual into what we see today. The meaning of marriage, changing from economic bond to romantic connection, the opening up of roles, the requirement for a two income marriage, all of these things have created major changes in our traditional view of marriage.

There are many people who study these changes in marriage. They look at important issues, like how stress affects pair-bonded couples, stresses like disability, illness, family needs, money, employment and all sorts of other issues. This is important work, for it is clear that the traditional pair-bonded heterosexual marriage will continue to be the backbone of this culture for a long time.

But it is also clear that alternatives to this model will continue to flourish. Mature people are redefining their relationships to meet their own unique needs. As we mature and change, we need our relationships to change with us. This may mean moving apart, or may mean new ways of being together.

It is clear that bringing transgender into a classic pair bonded relationship puts everything in play. The traditional balance that comes from the pairing of a boy and a girl is truly challenged when one of the partners does a profound gender shift.

We have people around the gender community who say they "speak for the women in the community." By this they claim to speak for the female-born partners of transgendered women in traditional pair bonded relationships, not to speak for transgendered women, or women who choose to be men, or any other women. They claim the high ground of womanhood for the female-born. We even have conferences like SPICE, which forbid males to express transgender by dress during the conference.

These groups come out of the historical model of "heterosexual crossdressing," a model founded on the premise of males wearing women's clothing as a compulsive behavior. The proponents of these conferences talk about the amount of stress that the behavior of crossdressing puts on a relationship, often forcing the female partner into difficulty, forcing her to keep the secret, confront issues, and cope with her own responses to the behavior. They create manifestoes that purport to define the obligations of the crossdresser in relation to the female partner, and focus on how to manage the behavior.

There is no doubt that women who have been surprised by the revelation of transgender in their relationships have a lot to deal with. They are the unwelcome recipients of the shame that transgendered people have developed all their lives, and are forced to cope with issues of intimacy and rage that have grown over the years. They are forced to deal with stigma, and often with the issues of secrecy and denial. They can be isolated even while having to face their own issues. They thought they were going to follow a nice normal unchallenging rut, but the issues of transgender mean that they must now live an examined life that most are not prepared for. As transgender is exposed, both partners have to go through a growth process that is often painful and difficult, even while often having to maintain a home for growing children, a huge challenge in itself, one that support systems can help.

In this case of a surprise revelation, transgender (and the symptom of crossdressing) can be seen as another stress on traditional relationships. Often the goal for the female-born partner is to find a way to minimize the expression by managing, a contradiction to the transgendered partner, who wants to find a way to happiness, not the simple maintenance of stability.

The real issue in transgender relationships, as opposed to the issues of managing crossdressing behaviors in a traditional relationship, is how to completely reinvent relationships so that neither partner is bound by gender roles. For a culture that most often defines identity negatively, announcing that I am "not them," this can be hard. Each partner has to find out who they are rather than assuming a traditional role, one often handed down from parents or TV shows. Transgender forces both partners to come as whole people, not as half people looking to find what they are missing in another. This is a real challenge.

It is a good thing to look at stresses on traditional pair-bonded heterosexual relationships, and there is no doubt that the revelation of transgender is a significant stress, one that can be assisted with support.

But the real work of looking at transgender and relationships is looking at how we can redefine relationships beyond the traditional structures, like the obligation of only one person being the "woman." Many of us are trying to make new models, and we need to share them with each other.

Relationships are hard. But bringing maturity, authenticity and wholeness to them, going beyond labels, may just make them easier -- and more fulfilling.


TG & Partners

Callan Williams Copyright 1995

Do transgendered people and their partners have two different goals?

On the one hand, it might appear so. As TG people come out of the closet, explore their lives, partners may feel that their job is to provide balance , and are they pushed into the role of the stable, conservative member of the relationship. This leads to the feeling that any growth by their partner stunts the growth in themselves, forcing them into a submissive role. They worry about the need to have stability in a relationship, and see transgender as inherently destabilizing.

This apparent conflict in goals can lead to lots of stress on a relationship, and anger and resentment of anyone who is pushing for a more open approach to transgender. The fear that a more open approach to transgender will bring more chaos, forcing others to "take up the slack" can easily drive a wedge into the gender community.

However, I believe that there is no real conflict in goals between transgendered people and their partners. All humans are looking for the same things, a mix of connection and individuality, a safe and loving space, the opportunity to be themselves. Once the partners in a relationship are able to accept change, in themselves, in their partners, and in their children, a true balance can be created.

The big problem with transgender for many partners is that it breaks all the rules. We all spent many years being programmed with rules about how life should be, fantasy images of an ideal life, tied deeply into the system of desire, and to the demands of this consumer culture. But if we are trained that love can only come in a purple box, then we may reject it simply because it is in a pink bottle.

How someone feels about breaking the rules of this culture is at the heart of how ready they are to accept themselves. Everyone who achieves success in this culture has broken some rules to do it, because rules are set to enforce order, not to guarantee success. The rules are about learning not to lose, not about learning how to win.

To people socialized as women, the thought of losing connection with others is terrifying. The way to be safe from this terror appears to be to follow the rules. But many women are finding that they must learn to break the rules if they want to come to full flower. This is an exceedingly painful process, the breaking of an implicit promise made to girls that if they follow the rules everything will be fine. But that is not true.

We each have to embrace our own humanity, our own style and find the way that things work for us. At it's best, this is what the exploration of transgender is, an exploration of how to become comfortable and effective in your own skin. Unfortunately, at it's worst, the exploration of transgender in this highly rigid culture is about coping with the pain of shame and stigma, often in very difficult ways.

For many people, it is difficult to see past the mess of transgender to the deeper messages, the message that to be effective as humans we must be able to break rules, find our natural path. Yet this is true not just for transgendered people, but for all people, as women writers have pointed out in many, many ways.

To respond to a partners need to explore with a fear that it will cause your own destruction is to fear that you are not capable of growing as a human. To try to force someone not to explore what the need to is to force them away from you, into a space where they can follow their hearts.

Coach Ilsa, a newly married high school teacher, said to us students, "You can't both be weak at the same time." Is this always true? Does it mean that you can't both be strong at the same time? It now seems clear to me that you can both be weak at the same time, and sometimes that is a powerful thing to do. The trick is to live in the moment, understanding that at any moment you may have to be strong to calm a crying child, or face another emergency.

For me, an ideal relationship is one where two people are making their own journeys through life, finding their own strength in their own humanity, and come together to make a safe place, for each other and for their children. To deem one partner and explorer and the other a supporter is to deny the full circle of humanity that lives in all of us. We all have to be allowed to be who we are in our hearts.

Do transgendered people and their partners have different goals? They both want to be happy, challenged, safe, comfortable and loved. They both want to keep growing as they live their lives.

As long as we believe that our relationships are about two fundamentally different kinds of people (men and women) coming together, and that the rules must be followed, we will always be engaged in what has been called the battle of the sexes. In any battle, a win by one side is a lose to the other, and we are forced apart, angry when the other side appears to win.

If we can come to the understanding that the things that appear to divide us -- including sex and gender -- are just social rules, then we can allow full expression and cooperation in all relationships.

Separate but equal never is equal. We are not separate, we are the same -- and we must not let apparent separations allow any of us to be limited, restrained, forced into a role that we resent and are angry about.

As long as two partners believe they have separate goals that require the other partner to act in a specific way, whether it be as the wife stuck at home or as the husband trudging to work, resentment can poison a relationship. We must work hard to find shared goals, to take responsibility for our own actions and feelings.

It is not simply the transgendered who want the opportunity to grow and explore, to learn to break rules. Until we can bless in others what we went for ourselves, we will never have it.

Having a separate goal for what I must do is one thing. But as long as we have separate goals for what others must do, we are all limited. Relationships are about finding our shared goals, and going towards them, hand in hand.

Subj: My husband makes me crazy
Date: 1/2/99
To: TheCallan

Your husband's crossdressing pushes unpleasant emotional buttons for you. You find it incomprehensible that he gets pleasure from something that makes you distressed, specifically constraining lingerie. Its so incomprehensible that it seems bizarre.

On some level you know that your husband's choices are about him, what he desires. On another level, though, it feels like those choices are about you, some sort of slap in the face. On the first level you understand that he isn't deliberately trying to push your buttons, rather he is just trying to push his own. On another level, you want him to stop, because his behavior is pushing your buttons and making you uncomfortable.

His behavior is forcing you to confront feelings, fears, old pain and expectations that you have held for a long time, and that is uncomfortable. Lots of your stuff is coming up, and it's easier to think of him not doing things that bring that stuff up than for you to have to the work of confronting stuff you really hoped would stay asleep -- things like how you felt about your mother trying to mold you into some perfect image, and how you dreamed that when you found your soulmate your marriage would be perfect and save you. These are standard issue dreams in this world.

So your partner, the man you promised to be with until death, finds pleasure doing things that make you squirm. He wants his space to enjoy who he is, but you find what he enjoys to be nauseating. The question is simple: is the problem that his choices are nauseating or that you have a weak stomach from a less than prefect upbringing? Is it his job never to push any of your buttons, even if they are pushed though him pursuing his own nature and not out of spite, or is it your job to unwire your buttons and not be so easily squicked?

As you say, this is not a guy who wants to throw in the towel on being a man and a husband. It's just a guy who finds nice, quiet pleasure in lingerie. I have known many marriages that face this challenge. He says "one of us is going to wear this teddie," and she replies that she can't, that it brings up too much stuff -- body image, mother, feeling like a slut, repressed sexuality, whatever. He then wears the teddy and she feels even worse.

The partner's journey is an invisible one, as Dr. Sandra Cole would tell us. She has to work though her own issues, issues of sexuality and expectation and emotion and more.

It's not easy, especially when so many partner groups are fond of looking at gender transgressive behavior as something akin to an illness to be tolerated, rather than a truth of how some people are that can be a joy. I know many couples, usually second marriages, where the wife will often ask the partner to dress, because she has learned that it can calm him down and open him up in valuable ways.

There is no doubt that we have to try to not do things that make our partner uncomfortable AND that our partner has to try to become comfortable with the things that bring us pleasure. It's a two way street, and my biggest complaint is when the transpartner dumps too much responsibility on their partner, assuming she will take care of budgets and secrecy and emotional support and more. Trannys have to do their own work of healing the shame and unwiring their own buttons, not just dump that work onto their wife. (There is an old axiom in therapy that a man spends the first year learning to acknowledge that he has feelings and he won't die if he actually lets himself feel them. Work to do.)

It's hard when we get our buttons pushed. The only thing I know is that if we don't address the feelings when we have them a sea of resentment build up that wedges us apart, and then it's too late. Too many trannies have said "Well it seems fine now" and then had a big blowup. They didn't work during the time they had a grace period and once the rift comes, it can be too late.

Good luck. It's hard to come to a place where we don't have our own history, our own expectations, feelings and fears come up and block communication over sensitive issues, like sensuality and gender. The process of being pounded into a gender is hard for each one of us, and seeing people transgress the gender rules we often learned in a hard, humiliating and painful way can be a real touch thing to watch, let alone participate in.

Still, if we are committed to a relationship with a person, it's the kind of work we have to do, making a safe space for them to be who they are, no matter who they are makes us a bit crazy.

Good luck. Continue analysis on all fronts -- and I mean that for EVERYONE! <g>


Subject: Re: Some self-analysis
Date: 1999/01/03
Author: TheCallan <>

Andrea Bennett writes

>One problem that sometimes arises with a crossdressing husband is that
>the behaviour can become exclusive and private. The wife may feel
>left out if that occurs, and worry that she is losing the benefit of
>the bargain for which she contracted. The reasons underlying such a
>situation are several, but the net effect is that the crossdressing
>becomes "excepted" rather than "accepted", and increasingly remote
>from the terms of the relationship

>Ideally, we want our partners to not just tolerate us, but to truly
>understand us, to revel in who we are, and to love us for our
>uniqueness and individuality. You are correct, Callan, that getting
>there requires a lot of hard work and patience. But it is definitely

I believe that intimacy is at the core of any relationship, and that by definition, trannies are "intimacy impaired." The only thing all queer people share is the experience of the closet, being forced to lie about who they are because they feel unsafe about expressing thier nature in a society which finds that nature bizzare.

We learn to isolate a part of us, even from ourselves. This can be frustrating for partners because we do cut ourselves off, do stay closed, because we have learned that is what the acceptable thing is to do.

Unless, though, we feel safe enough to open up, to share what society tells us is a "horrible" and "sick" secret, we cannot be intimate, even with ourselves.

You are right, Andrea: "Ideally, we want our partners to not just tolerate us, but to truly understand us, to revel in who we are, and to love us for our uniqueness and individuality." It's the core of any great relationship, to feel like you are known, scars and all, and loved for who you are, not for what you do or who you pretend to be.

This is way hard for the intimacy impaired, the people who learned how to hide from even themselves, but it seems impossible to build a good relationship without this understanding and revelation that creates honest, open safe, intimate and strong bonds