Monday, 14 December 2015

Another party night

Last night I got unexpectedly sideswiped.  One of the groups I lead was having its annual Christmas party.  In 2014, it was simply a case of going for a really nice curry to an Indian restaurant and I enjoyed myself.  This year, a different group of people are in place after a number of staff changes.  They wanted to organise the party themselves and just for me to turn up.  They decided to go to one of these 'organised parties'.  I had, in my head a template of the evening.  You see, I recently went to another one: it was fun and very relaxed and I thought I knew what to expect.  So I ‘dolled up’ man-style: pressed trousers, shirt and wool jumper - same as the last one.  Grabbing my money, wallet and keys, I headed out.

The cab arrived and I hopped in the front without looking at the other passengers.  We conversed on the way but I didn’t look round.  We arrived and I gulped.  As the other passengers got out of the car, they were all in suits, shirts and ties.  The ladies we were with - who were all in their 20s and early 30s and who’d travelled ahead - were dressed for a prom ball.  As I started to look around there were a lot of men in black tie and dinner jackets.  If a pavement swallowing service had been available, I would have paid good money to disappear.  Not only had I unexpectedly turned up to my worst nightmare - women in the most beautiful make up and dresses, I was the scruffiest person in the room and wasn't appropriate as a man either.

Needless to say, perhaps, that it got worse from there.  We sat at the table.  Men on one side, ladies on the other.  Younger ladies (20s-30s) in low cut tight dresses one side, older men [me included :o(] aged 40-60 on the other side.  People having fun, running around, enjoying themselves one side, me looking everywhere else trying not to appear lecherous on the other side.  The thing is that my usual defence, of ‘I’m admiring the dresses and the clothes’ (which is true), feels so lame when you are a fat 41 year old looking at a 20 year old young lady with everything hanging out.  Whilst I genuinely am not trying to cop a look, that is not going to be what it is going to seem like to them.  Plus these are people that ultimately report to me and I don’t want them to feel like their boss is like that - they need to be able to come to me when they need to talk / have problems etc. They can’t think that I was the one who ogled their breasts at the party.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more uncomfortable in my whole life and I couldn't get my head back into a positive space.  The men went into stereo-typical British middle aged man behaviour: we shouldn’t dance, we are embarrassed by this lively party atmosphere etc.  Whereas at the last one I was appropriate, I fitted in and I ‘enjoyed’ it and danced.  This time, being dressed wrong, even for a man, feeling old AND dysphoric - I’m not sure how I didn’t go and cry in the toilet, because I sure felt like it.  In fact I want to cry now.

I just hid at our table all night, smiled as much and as widely as possible.  I clearly didn’t do a good job of it.  People were concernedly asking me if I was having a good time.  Always happens when people think you aren’t having a good time.  The trouble is that they don’t know about my dysphoria and transgenderness.  My discomfort looks like social awkwardness and being a boring old bloke.  Actually, I was just losing a massive fight against my demons for the night and instead contemplating running away from everyone and everything and hoping never to see anyone again.  Ever.  Quite literally for the rest of my life.

9 comments:

  1. Ouch. I'd have feigned illness at some early point and escaped. It must have been a terrible ordeal for you.

    Lucy

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    1. Hi Lucy - thank you. I'm clearly too slow on the uptake - that would have been a great thing to do. It really was horrible.

      Rhiannon x

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  2. Ouch. I'd have feigned illness at some early point and escaped. It must have been a terrible ordeal for you.

    Lucy

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  3. Oh that's truly horrific! It is a nightmare that you have described.

    At least you're here describing it? That's... Wow.

    Joanna

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    1. Thank you Joanna, it really was hard going. I needed to blog it to get it off my chest - I'd been stewing on it and that's no good either. x

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  4. Ow. Bad times indeed. :-( Sorry to hear you had such a sh** night out. On the positive side, at least your colleagues noticed and asked if you were okay. You may be their boss, but you are human. You are allowed an 'off day' y'know?

    I wish I had some answers for you, but I think.... I think you already know what they are. Good luck X

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    1. HI Lynn - thank you so much. I think your point is a really good one - I don't let up on myself, ever. I always expect perfection from my actions and behaviour. I should just ease up really. You are right - I have the answers, its just doing them that isn't easy. Thank you for your support x

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  5. Really bad of them not to have briefed you properly! Lucy got my suggestion.

    I spent my life avoiding any such events. My poor partner had hoped that taking up with the old me that she would be able to dress up and attend fancy reception events and was somewhat shocked that I adamantly refused. even hearing of these invitations, like you, made me want to crawl into a hole and die...

    Learn from mistakes, be prepared and be prepared to just say no..

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    1. That's the stupid thing: I had a get out of jail free card and normally I would at least think of taking it. But I had sort of enjoyed the one I went to recently because I knew the people, it was low key and informal and randomly, a very nice man (complete stranger) wandered up to me and told me that he loved me - for no apparent reason. I need to learn the lesson that not all parties are the same...and to be more discriminating, or just to point blank refuse!

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