Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those mopey ramblings, but instead a quick look at the aftereffects of a dressing session from the perspective of a gender confused mid-life crisis-er.
I’m still coming down from what, to be honest, were probably two of the most fulfilling days of my life so far. Suddenly, after all the stress and worry, the feeling of getting on a bit, enjoying the mid-life side-effects of watching my waist-line approach epic proportions, I found myself in a situation that the person in the mirror reflected someone I’d never met, a version of Sarah that, gasp, could actually be a woman.
Bit of a mind f*ck, to be honest.
But anyway, I found myself, between constant flashbacks and warm fuzzy moments, wondering why, after such a superb event, I couldn’t just enjoy it all the time, you know, skipping down the road, stopping to smell the perfume, whistling a happy tune. That’s not strictly or completely true, I enjoyed all the looks, I loved the photos, I got the almost giddy rush at seeing the photos for the first time, it’s just that I always find after the effect there’s almost a period of grief. Taffeta grief. So, in a semi-amused way, I’m going to try and explain the stages so I can deal with them myself.
Before we get going I just want to say something to some friends out there. This time of year is tough, and a number of my friends, cis and trans, are going through dark periods. Everyone is different, everyone has a number of things they have to deal with themselves, but for some reason trans-girls, especially those that have had to hide their passions from ones they love, have to deal with some soul-crushing times. To those people I’d just like to say that it gets better. Life comes and goes in ups and downs, however dark it feels there will be a time when you look back and realise that it was part of the ride, a bump in the road, a hill to climb.
I suffer from something I casually call ‘the Black Dog’. Well, not strictly true, I pinched it from Winston Churchill but I don’t hear him complaining. It’s that time when everything internal is muted, no histrionics of drama, simply all the responses and feelings seem to be greyed out. It comes and goes – like many trans-people I have a history of ‘not being wholly happy’ (go figure, no idea why, etc etc).
The counterpoint is this. I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in my life, period. I’m lucky enough to do a job that isn’t a job, it’s a passion. I have access to enough money that the days of walking depressed around Tescos with a budget of £20 for the week are way in the past. I have almost total freedom to explore my self in a gender way that I’ve never had before, not quite open to the outside world but in a position that if I accidentally posted a Sarah picture to my drab FB I wouldn’t drop dead of a heart-attack, I would simply take a deep breath and be honest, and it would feel good. Not that I will because a: I’m a coward and b: I like the subterfuge of having a female personality that no-one knows about.
Hey, it’s one of the few pleasures a trans-girl can take if they are firmly in the drab-mode of life. I sit in meetings sometimes, powerfully deflecting arguments with angry people, and a little, naughty piece of me is sat there in my head going ‘if you only knew Mr.Executive Chairman, that last week I was down on all fours with massive boob-bage blowing kisses at a camera…’.
So, to recap. I suffer from possible slight autism, possible bi-polar, modern day anxiety, gender-confusion, confidence issues, the list is bleeding endless.
But she doesn’t.
And I’ve always been amazed by that. The minute the dangly bits are tucked away, the foundation garments are on, his face dissolves slowly, buried under makeup, and she appears, at that moment I, the person inside, am a different person.
For a couple of weeks before my latest foray into the glam world of Sarah I was starting to think about whether I should see a doctor, specifically about my gender. The male hormones in my system were making me angry, snappy, short-tempered. I had eczema appearing on the back of my legs, the beginnings of styes in my eyes, all those horrible little effects that are indicative of an internal stress that is trying to break out into the outside world.
So I wondered, in great depth, whether I should consider starting the path to femininity. I have friends at different stage of the transition process and, on the whole, the effects they describe sounded wonderful. A calmness of spirit, perceiving the world in a nicer way.
And I realised that that was not, nor would it ever be an option for me. Because Sarah is my port in the storm. She’s the person I go to when the drab life gets, well, too drab. She’s special, she’s a luxury.
I don’t want to be her all the time, it would destroy what makes her beautiful to me.
I’m a (soon-to-be) 48 year old cynical bloke who is looking down the grey barrel of a life of never having sex again, so the idea of throwing it all in and embracing the femm world has it’s appeal, but hell, what would I moan about?
Anyway, took a long time to get here and I kinda swerved all over the place, but anyway – Taffeta Grief.
Stage (0) – The Time of The Before
Before the event. Brain all over the place, fear, trepidation, not a huge amount of excitement because for me I don’t ever believe I will get a chance to dress until Cindy’s door shuts behind me – the trek to get there is often epic and stupidly sprinkled with failing of the UKs national infrastructure, so I spend a lot of time in a car, on a train, on a Tube, battling through London crowds, aware that at any minute I could get stopped somehow and end up stuck somewhere for hours on end, carrying a bag of frocks while my stubble gently grows back. So the time before is all worry until *bang* I sit on the comfy sofa and wait for the shakes to subside. Because yes, standing outside of the door waiting for that subtle click when the lock opens and you can come in, away from the absolute zero sets of prying eyes that you imagine are actually an entire street full of shamers, is some of the longest seconds of my existence.
Stage (1) – Ecstasy
The moment the door closes behind me and I step out into the street, skin still stinging from the cleansing of Cindy’s artwork from my face, a moment that feels like someone pissing on a Banksy, blinking slightly because the makeup remover always gives me the squints. Inside I’m like a new-born child, all the voices are singing and memories are firing off, only ten minutes or so old, of moments – snatching a look at my own arse as I totter past the mirror, hearing that wonderful click of a heel on wood, the vanilla taste of the lip-blam Cindy uses before delicately teasing my lips into a frankly kissable state. All of these pile through my mind like pink coloured trains draped with silk ribbons and it literally feels like I’m walking on clouds. Possibly down to the lack of blood flow in my feet having worn slightly too small heels for slightly too long, but I’ll take that feeling.
Stage (2) – Warm Fuzzy Frustration
Sitting on the train. Knowing that tucked away in that backpack, carefully stowed above me away from other peoples luggage and clumsy hands, are pictures, proof of the existence of that most rare of creatures, Sarahicus Wonderfulus, but knowing I can’t peruse them until I’m behind three doors of my own, three hours from where I’m sat. Still on a roll, still got that burn, but wanting to see, wishing the carriage would empty so I can sneak a peek and hope I don’t get a catastrophic swelling of a response that would make it impossible to get out of the train seat. And oh boy, have I had that in the past. First time I went to Cindy’s I was in a First Class carriage of my own and flicking through the pictures in iPhotos when a female conductor came around to check my tickets, which I’d left in my back pocket. Never has an erection seemed so big and so determine not to subside, pinning me under the table and making the surfacing of the ticket an exercise in yogic bending. Good times, good times.
Stage (3) – The reveal, the release, the subsidence.
Getting home near midnight, rushing to do the human chores (empty the bladder, clean the teeth, slip naked into a cold bed). Flipping open the laptop and letting the photos flow over me, smiling uncontrollably at the nuances, remembering fondly the jokes and laughter as we tried to bend Sarah into poses that simple male design and tight corsets really don’t allow. That exquisitely sad moment of realisation that that was the past, that now comes the comedown. But still, a high, an overdose of pleasure, but the start of that poignant feeling.
Stage (4) – the Realisation, the Acceptance, the Sigh
The closing of the laptop as the eyes are becoming harder to keep open, even though you want to. Choosing the best picture of her as the backdrop for the laptop, taking pride at knowing that under the makeup, under the clothes, that delectable creature you see that fills you with a confusion of reactions, love, lust, pride, want, yearning, realising it’s you. The realisation the day is over, the brief sigh as sleep takes you, the slight jitter as you breath in deeply and it catches in an unknown, sad way. The fact you yearn to be her, to turn the damn clock back six hours, eight hours, nine hours, to stand at the door again and wait for the delightful and yearned for click.
Stage (5) – the cold morning, the hot flush, the inevitable calendar check
The face feels odd as you wake, the absence of the usual stubble growth, carefully cultivated to ensure that no-one thinks you could ever be trans, feeling strange and cold. Wanting to stay in bed with the laptop and go over the pictures, one more time, but knowing it’s a work day. Opening the laptop anyway, checking to see if you’ve got any email, anything different on her accounts. Re-reading the booking emails for the last session, sighing slightly but still feeling that tantalising afterglow, like a warm flush that becomes hot, reminding you of just what you were doing the day before. Making it all of two hours before you’re scanning the work calendar and working out if you could fit another day in. Maybe in a couple of months? A month? Couple of weeks? Tomorrow?
Ahh dammit, I’m opening my work calendar with the other hand as I bloody type this……
Stay beautiful, you sexy beasts, I would type something more pithy but you know, I need to see when Sarah can flounce and play again.
4 thoughts on “[Philosophy] The Five Stages of Taffeta Grief.”
Sarah, one of the most important things I love about your blog is your frank approach and honesty. And obviously now not just in the highs that we all like to hear about but the lows too.
You’ve told us some poignant things about yourself and I myself, as well as others I’m sure greatly appreciate what you have written.
I’ve never met the black dog but I’ve seen it on the horizon. I am close friends with his cousins, anxiety and panic though.
The trepidation and anticipation you write of I feel before I am able to dress too. Usually due to the panic if my plans fail.
Thank you for sharing this with us my friend.
LikeLiked by 1 person
A great, emotional read capturing a wave of emotions many of which resonate somehow.
I loved the bit about sitting in mundane office meetings with people throwing their weight about and/or being overly authoritative.
I sit there underdressed at work in my lingerie and sometimes it is the only thing that keeps me sane. It is nice to know others share those sorts of experiences.
Dressing is, for me, on another level and brings an air of calm, control and rational thoughts that dissipate when the 40 something bloke returns.
I so very much appreciate your blog entry – word by word so thanks for sharing.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oh gosh Sarah you have captured every emotion I felt on my so far one visit to BWBG…. I could feel myself welling up. Thank you for sharing Louise xx
Hey, ASD sisters! Sorry.