Hello, my darlings. I hope you are well. If you are in the U.S. I hope you are actually looking forward to Thanksgiving. I know that going to see family members, especially within the trans* and LGB community can sometimes be more painful than thankful. I know what it is like to have family members not only refuse to acknowledge who you are, but to be rather mean about the whole thing. Pronouns and birth names are truly a hot-button topic when it comes to family gatherings and I wish my trans* readers the very best of luck if a family gathering is looming.
I hope that many of you are among the lucky few who have totally accepting and supportive families, and if you don’t I hope you are like me in that you’ve developed an adopted family of people who truly have your back. This thanksgiving I am thankful for my friends, for the people who have no reason to be good to me but still are. For the people who’ve taken me under their wings as I find myself suddenly single at 30 and completely new to the LGBT social world. I don’t know that an introvert such as myself could have survived the trip into the unknown realm of LGBT nightlife alone. In fact, I’m certain that without their help and care, I’d be totally hopeless right now.
I know that because I feel as though I’m on the verge of it now. Were it not for the safety of my close group of friends, I feel as though I would be plunging over the side into the gulf of loneliness and despair. Going to the bar, as I did last night, is both a rewarding and truly depressing affair. On one hand it’s exciting and new and fun. It’s wonderful to feel social, to know that there are people who care. It’s also fun to get dressed up and feel all sexy and confident. It’s even more rewarding when your efforts to look good net you a lot of positive attention from the local lesbian populace. I definitely got checked out many times by women who clearly thought I was attractive and even had a few flirt with me.
There was one in particular who caught my eye, and we met and chatted a couple different times, but my shyness overtook me. I wanted so much to expand our interaction, to try to get to know this person better and to see if her flirtation was more than just harmless fun, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be that bold. Although my friends were around and I talked with them many times, they were also working the fund-raising event that was going on, so our interactions were usually pretty brief. Despite knowing and chatting with perhaps 8 or 9 different people that I’ve met in recent weeks, I felt completely alone much of the night.
The person who I’ve been having butterflies about was there, and a big reason I took my appearance up a notch or two was because I was hoping to impress them. I wanted them to be blown away by how well I clean up when I put in the time and effort, but as my interactions with them were truly limited (they were working the event too), I didn’t get the positive reception I was hoping for. While I know it’s important to be confident in yourself and to not rely on external validation (I’m seeing a tiny version of my therapist standing on my shoulder reminding me of my “work”) to shore up your confidence, I am at a very vulnerable place in life so external validation does wonders for my broken self-esteem.
I’m single and alone for the first time, truly, in about 10 years. I am less than 6 months into living full-time as Emma and I’m having to throw myself into very uncomfortable and anxious environments without much support or safety. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never done this before. I was never the person who went out and went to the bars on a regular basis. Sure I had a close group of friends and we’d hit a favorite bar a couple times a month to drink beer before going to watch hockey, but it was always a group outing. I was never totally cut off from my social circle.
When I’m out, alone, in an intense social situation, I clam up. If someone doesn’t come to pry me open to remind me that I need to get out of my own head, I just gravitate to a corner and watch the scene quietly from a distance. I know, even in that moment, that if I just let go and started to not care or not worry that I could have a great time, but I just… don’t do that. I don’t know why but I can’t. I get overwhelmed and then just want to crawl into a hole and hide, or flee back to the safety of my own house. I can usually stand to be in such a situation alone for about an hour before it becomes too much for me.
Last night was no exception. It was fun, it was interesting, I had a lot of great experiences and moments of flirtation, but after a while I just felt lonely and overwhelmed. Everyone was having so much fun and there I was, sitting on a barstool by myself, not talking to anyone and no one really even noticing that I existed. My friends kept walking past me doing their job*, maybe pausing to smile or wave, but not really talking to me.
(*They were pretend police officers who were putting people in “jail” where others had to come bail them out; the bail money went towards the fund-raising cause. It was really quite entertaining and I was even one of the people who got put in jail; Butterflies was the person who took pity on me after I’d been in there for 10 minutes or so and bailed me out because they are a total sweetheart).
So, it didn’t take long before the overwhelming loneliness became too much for me and I decided to leave. I decided to be somewhat bold as my final act of the night and went up to the girl I’d chatted/flirted/danced with and told her that it was very nice to meet her and that I hoped to see her again. She was very kind and said likewise. I said goodbye to my friends, grabbed my jacket and fled the scene with a growing sense of sadness.
I just felt so… lonely. So sad and lonely. I drove home alone, I arrived to a dark house, and I went to bed alone. None of my friends, despite recognizing that I’d gone dark on them, messaged me to see if I was okay before I fell asleep. I did wake up an hour or two later to see that Butterflies (that’s their new name, just as an FYI) had actually messaged me a short while after I dozed off to see if I was okay. That did make me feel better before I fell asleep again, but in some ways the damage had already been done.
I’d dressed up, gussied up, went out feeling all confident and sexy, had fun for a while, and then eventually crashed into lonely depression. It doesn’t bode well that so much effort and excitement resulted in such crushing loneliness. The depression makes me want to not even try again. I know I will, because Emma is never truly defeated but I needed something more than what I got. I want to heal from all of this recent trauma and I know that having positive and rewarding experiences will help in that process. The risk, however, is that promising and rewarding experiences can easily become mistakes or regretful experiences, which only exacerbate the situation in need of healing.
I don’t know that I regret going out last night, per se, but I definitely don’t think it helped me in the healing process. It’s one of those things that the results of the action take so long to truly manifest that It’s difficult to tell if it was a waste of time or not. Perhaps going out last night, socializing with these people I’ve recently met, meeting flirtation girl (her new name for the moment), getting checked out by the local ladies, and becoming a more familiar face around the bar will be a good thing in the long run. Maybe it will even net me amazing opportunities later for fun, excitement, friendship, sex, or even love, but it will be a while before I can say for sure. All I know is that I went home alone, sad and feeling dejected, and now I have to pick myself up out of the dirt again.
I’m getting so tired of falling face first into the ground. I’m truly weary from it, my friends. A big part of me just wants to lay in it for a while; to just give in to the weight of gravity and stop trying. What’s the point in getting back up when all I’m going to end up doing is landing right where I am now? Taking a nap sounds so much better right now than struggling to get up again. I wish I could just spend a couple weeks sleeping my days away. Eating like nothing, drinking entirely too much rum, and sleeping. We can call it a depressed-drunk-acation. Think my employer would pay me for that? If only.
But no, I must keep moving ahead. I have to keep going to work and going to class. I have to keep forcing myself not to give up. I have to keep eating and I have to keep getting dressed up. I cannot let it all slip. I refuse to let it all slip. If you fail, try and try again, isn’t that the old adage? Well, I have failed but I must try and then try again. Eventually, it will be better. Eventually getting dressed up like a foxy lady will pan out and some lucky person is going to finally recognize in me what I already know, that I’m totally fabulous!
Anyways, thank you all for coming here to read my random thoughts and depressing candor. Sometimes being able to discuss these things is the only thing that brings relief from the pain, so thank you for bearing with me as I try to navigate this storm that’s swept my old life away. I promise that someday soon I’ll be writing to tell you about all the new and exciting things I’m doing and experiencing because of my new life as Emma the Trans* socialite. A bright future is out there waiting for me, and for all of us, we just have to keep moving ahead, even when things are difficult and heavy.
I hope you all have a lovely week and I hope you find yourself surrounded by loved ones.