Tangled Web

Deceptions of a transgender guy




I was born under the star sign Aquarius. The Water Carrier. And it turned out to be the story of my life.

My dad died when I was not even a teenager. One of my mom’s friends made the mistake of telling me, an only child, “You will have to look after your mother from now on.”

I took her seriously. Very seriously. My childhood died that day. From then on, I looked out for my mom. I helped her understand a world that was sometimes too difficult and cruel for her to comprehend – until she died at the age of 84.

In my relationships with women, this pattern continued. I was the giver, the carer, the bearer, pouring myself emotionally into the relationship. The first time I was left drained and deserted. Literally deserted, as she walked out on me.

When I met B, I knew she had been emotionally deprived in childhood, abandoned to state care along with her siblings by a substance-dependent mother and an emotionally weak father. The carer in me took over again. I supported her through two suicide attempts, the suicide of a brother, the demands of two fetal alcohol syndrome siblings, a number of meltdowns, hospitalizations and deep depression. I lived through every moment of her breakdown at work and being declared unfit to ever work again, wiping away her tears while shedding my own later in solitude. When she later developed physical problems, including sometimes being unable to walk, I became a literal water carrier. And I do it with dedication and love, as is my nature.

My trait to care spills over to other relationships – with family, friends and colleagues. I will worry about those I care about, even if they are blissfully unaware of my concerns. I keep people encased in down in my heart, even if they are not in my life any more. But investing in others emotionally has to draw interest, and often I find myself empty-handed and bankrupt when considering my return on these investments.Broken pot

It leaves me somewhat bitter, even although I know that most people are self-centered and self-serving and that I should not set any standards for emotional attachments. After all, my mother was the ultimate example of the doctrine, turn the other cheek. It is just sometimes when I stop to reflect, like now, that I feel the void of giving without receiving in turn.

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’”
~Rudyard Kipling, If

As all who are taking care of physically ill people can testify, along with those who are mental pillars of support for those with emotional needs, caregiver burnout is very real. Even if the needy is someone you love dearly.

It is at times when my heart and nerve and sinew tell me that the water urn is empty, that I wonder, “Who cares for the carers?” Is it just “pie in the sky when you die?”


Author: Kris

Hi! I'm Kris. I live in South Africa with my life partner of 27+ years, whom I call B or Madam in my posts. We have a Pug dog child, Remi, also known as Pooch, who has graced and enriched our lives for the past 12 years.

10 thoughts on “Acquarius

  1. Aquarius here too. However, I’ve been on the receiving end of care for most of my life, I’m afraid. Doesn’t look like that’s going to change much either. Hate it, and I often grumble at people for being overly protective and wanting to do too much for me. Sometimes it feels like they want me to just sit on the couch and waste my life doing nothing. Not gonna happen.
    Then there’s the people in my life I care for – because one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. I drive my daughters nuts telling them not to do the things I do. I limp to open the gate for my girl, even though she can easily do so herself. I drove myself to exhaustion caring for my severely disabled baby. At age five she died all the same. But you know what? I’d do it all over again. 🙂


    • So sorry about the baby, Liam. I guess the common denominator in care for and being cared for, is love, as corny as it sounds. That excludes carers who make a living from it, of course, but there is no quitting in a (loving) relationship. Take care.

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  2. I hear you, there were times I wanted to reach over and kill Donna while I was taking care of her after her heart valve surgery, just because every time I thought I had a minute to myself she needed something else. Fortunately, she is recovering and I am hanging up my candy stripes for good (I hope). I don’t know if I could keep giving/caretaking without assistance for much longer.

    Sounds like after your father died you decided to take his place and be the responsible adult – big shoes to fill for a teenager – and a role that doesn’t allow for a lot of grieving. Once we create those roles for ourselves (or have them foisted upon us) I think it is hard to get out of doing them. I hope there are some things that you get from B that fill the well, and I hope that you get a bit of a reprieve soon.


    • Yes, I still feel I have to always be strong – “boys don’t cry”, you know? B does give me a lot of emotional support and love, so there is a replenishment of some sorts. I just miss having a close friend to share with. This blog has however also afforded me an outlet to blow off steam and you guys have become friends. Your online encouragement and support means a hell of a lot to me. I am glad Donna is so much better. Take care of yourself too.

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  3. I’ve been on the caregiver side of things on occasion and throughout my relationship and I know how exhausting and depleting it can make you. I can’t imagine of lifetime of it! Who cares for the caregiver? The caregiver. You have to make time for your needs and for you to rest and get some spiritual replenishment. Otherwise, you will definitely burn out and your spirit will break. I hope you find some time for yourself to pamper you however you can. Strict boundaries for yourself and your needs is very important. This is MY time now for this long. I will be back after that. I hope you can get some rest and feel better.

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    • Thank you for the understanding and advice. I work full time and in my position, I have many hours of working alone, which helps a lot. I get what you say about spiritual replenishment. I need to be more strict with the me time and boundaries. Hope you are healing well? Take care of yourself too.


      • I am healing well now and doing much better. I know it’s really hard to set those boundaries because there’s always something you could be doing. I just know that I wouldn’t have made it through a couple times without taking a mental break for a couple hours now and then.


  4. You’ve been through a lot in your life…I hope your path gets a bit easier. My mother has been the “care giver” to so many people in her life, I see her go through this and through the emotional emptiness that sometimes comes with it. Personally I don’t know what I will ever do without her support in my own life when that day comes. But you are right, who cares for the carer? I know that I am aware of my mother’s propensity for caring for people and I try to help her see when it’s good and when it’s not good for her…and I care for her immensely…I hope your writing carries some relief to you, it’s good to get to know you a bit. Looking forward to more. ~MB


    • Thanks, MB. Yes, writing is a huge outlet of frustration and therapeutic – to an extent. Loving the person you care for, does make a difference, but sometimes you need a bit of venting (like I did with this post) and then you can carry more water and chop more wood. I somehow lost my subscription to your blog, but fixed that now. Nice to know you. Take care.