Sometimes, I write in a very detached and generalized way. I did so in a recent post called “Friendly & Uptight”, in which I described how awkward and uncomfortable I often feel around friends and family when I´m struck by a bout of dysphoria. I´ve decided to re-write that post in the format of an open letter to those people.
I love being around friends, after all they´re the greatest bunch of people on the face of the earth, scattered across it most of the time. With the exception of my folks, with whom I don´t get along so well, I seemed to luck out in the department of accepting grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as well. But let´s move past the sweet talk.
The trouble with dysphoria and being social is that dysphoria tends to make me so thoroughly uncomfortable that I´m no longer able to socialize with the next person, process what they are telling me, or even communicate with them on a genuine level. The only thing I will be thinking at that moment is about running away from my body.
When this is happening, I never know what to say. I usually put on a fake smile, nod in agreement, and just look altogether uncomfortable, like I want to flee the scene. I am not entirely sure if people notice (I would like to think my friends and family are pretty astute), and I am never entirely sure if I should just tell them about the dysphoria.
Maybe if I do, they might start asking difficult questions, like what triggered it. Often when I´m triggered, I don´t want to specify the details – and if I did, it would probably sound like language from outer space to the ears of a cisgender person. Also, I just don´t want to burden them with awful stories about transitioning.
Nonetheless, acting like nothing happened makes me feel tense and guilty. I actually really enjoy the company of friends and family, and to think that my behavior or expression could suggest otherwise, makes me cringe. So next time I have a great big frown on my face and act all distant, don´t hesitate to ask why.
I don´t expect people to fix my problems or make me feel better. Maybe just expressing what´s going on will alleviate some of the tension for me, and if it doesn´t, I might go for a walk or take a break in the restroom. Depending on the situation we can just discuss what works best, and still enjoy the time together.