For the nine years prior to 2014 I have spent Christmas Day on my own, and of course that made me feel pretty lonely… and I probably ate too much chocolate as a result! That’s just the way it worked out once my marriage ended, I have almost a week with my daughter over Christmas but that always starts on 26th or 27th December… just as it did this year.
But this year I was not to be on my own on Christmas Day. Since I ventured out into the world at the start of 2014 as my true self, Andrea, so many things have changed this year, mostly for the better. One of those things was joining a walking group, as Andrea, where everyone seems to accept me for the person I am, whether they can tell that I am TS or not. So on Christmas Day our wonderful walking group leader, also called Andrea (McK…), had organised a walk for us, and this was to be the first time in so many years that I would be with other people, and is it turned out this was the most enjoyable part of the day. As usual I only just got there in time, not helped by some very icy roads near where I live, but I was not the last to arrive – that honour, for a change, went to Andrea McK. As it turned out, most of the regulars that I meet were not at this walk and many of the attendees I had not even met; some were coming for their very first walk… and what a day to choose, for the weather was gloriously sunny, even if a bit cold… but I had recently bought a lined woolly hat, complete with pompoms, and matching gloves – see right for photo of us, including my pompommed self, about a quarter of the way into the walk. The walk lasted about two hours and, as is always the case, I had lovely chat with a variety of people almost non-stop, including a nice retired guy called Robert, a lovely, gentle girl called Helene who I had met once before, and a girl Miriam from one of the former Russian states who was very interesting to talk to. At the top of the mountain, called Cave Hill, the wind picked up a bit and was a bit icy in the shade as we rounded the promontory of rock for splendid views across Belfast and the coast beyond. After a while we sung a few carols, well, I didn’t vocalise much because my semi-girly voice is not really up to singing, and I fear it could give me away by singing. As is the nature of these walks, everyone does not walk at the same pace, and so the group ends up being pockets of people… and on this walk these pockets somehow split up and ended up taking different routes down to the car park. But eventually we met up, and many (including me) had brought flasks of hot drinks and sweet cakes, biscuits, and chocolate. It was a lovely time, we eventually bid each other farewell, and then I had a little chat with my group leader who does know about my gender history; she is always a good listener, with down-to-earth advice, and so I gave her a present to show my appreciation for her support.
Once in the car I phoned my daughter to wish her Happy Christmas; she sounded very disgruntled that she had not got any great presents at her mother’s house, and I hoped that my offerings would not be so bad once she arrived the following day.
Then I went for Christmas dinner with someone who I thought valued me as a friend, for I have visited her many times – we have had many heart-to-hearts about our TS journeys… and I have done more than my fair share of listening!!! Apart from me and her, there were three other women present, and it was nice to dress up smartly for my first ever dinner on Christmas Day as Andrea. The dinner itself was fine and very tasty… and as drink accumulated in some of them the whole thing became rather rowdy for a while – three of them ‘indulged’ (sorry, can’t think of a better word) in a bout of unnecessary vulgar swearing and one of the women there openly said that she disliked the word being used, and I vocally agreed with her (I consider I swear very little), and of course that only made it worse and they chanted it on and on like ugly football hooligans. Being a girl who apparently wears her heart on her sleeve, I allegedly gave one of the attendees a look of disapproval (I don’t know I do it, it’s just part of who I am) and now I have been told that I am not wanted as a friend, all for giving a look of disapproval over an appalling swear word that both myself and another had openly stated we did not like. But I have learnt a lesson from this, and reflecting back on it I realise that this person liked having me around for company (as did I) but also to talk about themselves – I feel there were times when what I said was just not listened to, I was frequently interrupted or completely talked over, I often struggled to say all that I would like to do (which is partly my own fault for being a bit timid I suppose… except that I very rarely have that problem with my true friends), and was at times not allowed to have my own opinion on something, in other words my opinion was wrong! To me, a true friend is someone who values what you have to say and respects your right to have differing views on things. I am sorry if you all think I am venting… but what made it worse was her posting on Facebook about this, not mentioning my name directly, though confirming later by message that she was talking about me – she insulted me in the worst way she could possibly do… and frankly I do not have time for people who go out of their way to be truly hurtful and insensitive – how can they expect acceptance from others, or be respected by anyone, when they behave like that to others!
I hope you have all had a happy festive period. Mine could have been better… sigh.