Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Psssst........Gather Round, I Need Your Advice

I live approximately 45-50 miles from town, where I lived for over twenty years in apartments, before the quest for privacy drove me to buy a house out in the country, 17 years ago.

During the seventies, and for the first two years of the eighties, I would go out dressed a couple of times a year. Usually just to go to a salon, to get my hair and nails done. I know……that probably sounds pretty lame to those of you who have been out and proud for a while, but there was no trans scene here back then, and being an isolated TG girl, that was my only outlet. It was easy for me to do that then without being outted, because I lived in a suburban apartment complex, where literally everyone worked a day job. All I had to do was take a day off, and I could come and go, without any of my neighbors ever seeing me dressed.

Although they were few and far between, I really used to cherish those days. Unfortunately that all came to an end in the early eighties, when I moved from the apartment complex, into an apartment in the inner city. There, the streets were lined with a mix of small apartment buildings, and single family dwellings, and unlike my former neighbors in the suburban apartment complex, who all had traditional 9-5 jobs, my new neighbors were a mix of students, professors, housewives, day workers, and retired people. There were always people out and about on the street, so coming and going without notice, was out of the question. Because of this, I retreated entirely back into the closet, but even that became a problem, because I lived in a 3rd floor flat, in a 100 year old apartment building, with virtually no privacy. There was no insulation in the walls, or between floors, so you could hear everything your neighbors said and did, and they could hear you just as well. I had to lay carpets throughout the apartment, just to muffle the sound of my heels on the hardwood floors, and I had to make sure the shades were drawn when the sun went down, because the neighbors across the street could see directly into my windows. I bought most of my clothing through mail order, but because I worked full time, deliveries were left on the front porch of the building, where all my neighbors could see them. And of course there were the constant knocks on the door, by people dropping in unannounced, and me inside in a dress, having to play opossum until they left.

Out here in the country, although isolated, at least I could come home from work and be myself in relative privacy. And that’s what I did for the next 16 years, until I retired last year. Since then, I have lived entirely as Melissa, except for when I have to go into town to visit family, or shop for groceries, or hardware, etc. But now I have received an invitation from a friendly TG girl I met on Pink Essence, to join her, and members of her TG support group, for dinner at a local hangout they meet at twice a week, back in town. It is a popular lesbian restaurant and bar, and she said they have a very accepting attitude towards TG people. She said I could come either fab, or drab. Either way would be OK with them.

Now, I would really love to do this, but if I do, I would want to go as Melissa. I mean what’s the point of going to dinner with a group of out trans women, and not presenting as a woman myself? Naturally, I’m very apprehensive about this. It will involve going out in public, for the first time in over 25 years, and driving nearly 100 miles round trip on the interstate, dressed as a woman. Naturally, the gears in my head are spinning over this, and producing many little negative thoughts. What if my car breaks down? What if get pulled by the police, or run into a sobriety check and have to show an ID?

I’m also insecure about how I will look. Some of you have been very sweet, and complimented me on the way I look in my pictures, and I just love you for it, but those are, well… I can assure you that up close, I am not nearly as pretty. I’m 60 years old and I look it. I’m big too, over 6 ft. tall. The only part of my beard on which I’ve had electrolysis, is a small strip on my lower neck. Although most of it has turned white, even with beard cover and an opaque foundation, you can still detect a shadow. I realize that everyone there will know I am TG, and they won’t care, but let’s face it, I’m a girl, and I admit to a certain amount of vanity.

I really want to do this. I even bought a purse for the occasion, but every time I start seriously considering it, I become bombarded with all of these negative thoughts, and I get discouraged. Where is that overriding drive to go out, which helped me to overcome all of these insecurities when I was young?



chrissie said...

Go for it, girl. You only have yourself to worry about, and you'll be with friends when you get there.

My fears are for my family, not for myself. Left to myself, I'd be full time.

It's overcoming that initial fear that is the hard part.

But you have to win that battle, otherwise it's easy to start making excuses every time.

When I went out to Manchester (my first public appearance in over 20years), I sat at this PC thinking of dozens of reasons not to go. But I knew in my heart that I was just scared.

So I just bit the bullet, and did it.

I wasted a good worry. it was fine, and freeing myself of that fear was a wonderful feeling.

So rock and roll, Melissa.
Do it.


alan said...

As far as breaking down on the highway goes, even being mechanically inclined I have AAA "gold", partly because my wife has had hip and knee replacements and though changing a tire wouldn't have bothered her before it's off the consideration list now. Also, there are too many electronics to go "kaput" for my shadetree/roadside/jerryrigging capabilities to be of much use anymore! They came last year and let me back in my truck when I locked myself out while changing a water pump on my d-i-l's car; you just never know...

The "gold" part is to get free towing up to 100 miles because I do end up running "cross country" at times and figure that should get me somewhere. They towed my son's Neon 42 miles to my driveway when he dropped a timing belt (my wife was riding with him). No charge for either incident...

As long as you're sober I'd think the sobriety check shouldn't be a problem, no matter how you're dressed. (Or getting pulled over for any other reason short of felonies!)

Which leaves your looks.

That vanity you speak of is a cruel sword. It makes us look in a mirror and see each and every flaw, magnified a thousand times over and keeps us from seeing the wonderful things others do!

Especially in your case!

I see my balding, graying head; the circles under my eyes; the freckles I've been picked on about my whole life; the double chin and that grows with my weight...sometimes feeling very toadish!

Yet those who've commented through the years tell me about my smile and my bright blue eyes.

I know that I wouldn't be ashamed to walk into a restaurant with you; would that I could say the reverse was true!

Something I'm finding in my own dotage (53) is a tendencies to "stay in", to avoid crowds, to pick and choose travel times to avoid the "rush hour" etc.. I wonder if it's the beginning of something that turns into being a shut-in at 80? I even avoid the lake on weekends and fish on weekdays if I'm going!


caroline said...

I saw this invite and wondered if you would take it up.

I have been guilty of over thinking possible situations to the point of paralysis.

Fear of the unknown has meant years of self denial for something which when the courage is finally found was actually nothing to fear, such as diving into a pool head first.

I am so jealous that you have the opportunity to meet these girls and have a fun night out and has to be a million times better than a meal with an unaccepting mother. Melissa , you have so little to loose and so so much to gain, you have to go for it.

Caroline xx

Reagan said...

Girlie you gave me some fabulous advice and I hope that now is my chance to give YOU some. I TRULY think that you need to go for it. You need to do this. If you don't you are always going to regret it. You need to start somewhere, and this is the perfect start! You will be surrounded by people that will love and accept you for who you are and won't be ridiculed for it. This can help be the first step, perhaps to going out and about on a more regular basis. Please go for it; for yourself! You deserve this! And---just remember that everyone else there is probably just as self conscious as you will be.

Let us know what you decide!
love and hugs...Reg

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I've been in similar situations and I just made myself go. It was a little scary at first but I have never regretted the decisions. I think you should go as Melissa reason to waste a purse purchase, right? :)Suzi

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how closely your situation mirrors the first time I ever went out dressed in public.
I, too, lived in an apartment complex, where the people were not very friendly to begin with. Getting out of my own front door proved to be the worst part of the evening. Whilst locking my door and making my way to the car, some teenage boys walked by, forcing me to hide in the bushes in my front yard! Yes, hiding in the bushes! Looking back, it was hilarious... and if I had known then what I know now, I would have laughed at myself for my insecurities. After driving almost 100 miles round-trip into LA, I came home early in the morning having spent one of the greatest and most memorable nights of my life. I can't begin to tell you what an impact that night had on my life. Hands down, the best decision I have ever made in my life, so far.
All I can say is, please don't deprive yourself of the possibility. I can only think of where I would be today, if I had?

Love you,

Cassidy Brynn said...

OMG do it! I have the same apprehensions about my appearance. Splurge and get a motel, or hotel and drive home in drab...

but i say make a mix cd and gather your prettiest things and get gone!

caroline said...

Well I think from my analysis of the comments you have no choice girl.

Now we just want to know how you got on.

Caroline XX

dr.morbius said...

Fear is the mind killer. You should go. While many of the outcomes you imagine might come true, they aren't as bad as you might imagine. Just keep your speed to the legal limit and don't drink on your outing if you're worried about it. I've been stopped at sobriety checkpoints and the worst that has happened to me was I gave the officers something to talk about with their buddies. I can live with that. I've been to the emergency room, too. That was fun, given that I was not only in drag, but I had been at a fetish ball that night, so it was all pvc and latex. Again, I gave them some stories, but that's okay. I don't mind.

For the most part, you'll think everyone is looking at you, but they aren't. Most people don't care. They're wrapped up in their own lives. Plus, you'll have a great time.

Brittany Roche said...


We have all gone through the "social anxiety" phase. You WILL get past it -- just take that first step. You want to know the real secret of beating social anxiety?? Here it is: BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE! Who CARES what others may think! You only have so much time to live - don't waste ANY of it! You will find that you won't get a second look -- and so what if you do? Just look back and smile..!

Take care, and ENJOY your life!


Melissa said...

Thanks so much to all of you, for your word of encouragement!