Last Updated on
This is Ness, she came to her first Sugar and Spice party in January 2016 and tells us of her first experience and how she felt
So I knew about Safe Haven for many months as I had been invited to be a member of the page on Facebook. It wasn’t until I found myself living and working in London Monday to Friday away from my family that the voices in my head started getting louder, it was driving me insane sat in these four walls (bedroom) all week with no company but Facebook and the Internet.
I had often pondered with the idea of going down to Safe Haven and meeting everyone, and yes everyone was saying, “come on you’ll love it!” or “you’ll wonder why you never did it ages ago!” … but in the back of my mind I just kept thinking that I’d spent all my life as I am now (yep dressing since the age of about 8)…so why do I suddenly need to change anything at this time of my life (45 last time I counted!), not only that but getting dressed up in the safety and comfort of my own home is one thing…..being with others is an entirely different ball game surely!
So there I was for months, refusing to go down to Safe Haven, thinking that I wasn’t good enough….or that I wasn’t like the rest…”happy” (who am I kidding) in the knowledge that I would carry on for the rest of my days as I’ve always done….behind closed doors with just my smart phone and Facebook and a handful of carefully selected pictures to satisfy my girly needs!
One Sunday night in January 2016 I was on the train on my way back to London and was chatting (on Facebook messenger) to one of the girls who regularly goes to Safe Haven, I don’t know what it was but there was some voice inside of me that said, “right, enough, what are you doing? You are wasting your life away, you only live once, there are genuine friendly people at Safe Haven who are trying to help you…..for Gods sake, live a little, stop worrying, get yourself down there….what’s the worst that could happen!?”
So I took a deep breath (still on the train) and sent my wife the following text:
“So there are a nice bunch of people down in Cornwall who hold a get together for other people like me and their wives who have transgender tendencies and need to dress as women, they normally hold an event once a month, it’s a B&B too on a campsite, lots of “ladies” like me go, and a few with their wives. I keep getting invited to it (remember there was something similar in Plymouth, but I was too scared to go, this one down in Cornwall seems much better), what do you think? Would you come with me if we got a baby sitter one month? I think I need this, I think I need to know I’m not alone with my need to be a girl sometimes, don’t worry I have no desire to be a girl permanently…..just need to accept that it’s part of who I am and has been all of my life. A bit of a deep text, just don’t want any secrets and want you by my side always because I love you more than life itself. Xxx”
And the reply I got back was, “Yes, I will support you xxx”
So that was it then, I was finally going to go to a Safe Haven, Sugar and Spice party….and I was already getting nervous about it, I’d never been out before dressed as a woman (well apart from the very odd occasion, late at night up and down the street to the post box when nobody was around!).
From that moment 17th January 2016 until the party on the 23rd January I was chatting to a few of the regular girls who attend Safe Haven, guess I was looking for reassurance that I was going to be ok. Pixie and a few other girls gave me their mobile numbers too and Pixie said she would hold my hand and walk me into where the girls were having the party. I was very nervous about the whole thing right up until two days before when I almost backed out of the whole idea…..but I didn’t back out….I took a deep breath and decided to go for it.
For my first visit, I had no idea what to expect really, what I did know is that I wanted to be in “girl mode” when I arrived….the thought of someone seeing me in man mode at that point for me was just unthinkable…..what if I knew someone there I thought (in hindsight….if I did know someone there….then they would be in the same boat as me anyway!).
I arrived back in Plymouth on the coach late on Friday night (just before midnight) and my wife was there waiting for me as usual, we had obviously discussed during the week the event at Safe Haven and we had already agreed on what I would be wearing. Up until that point I had assumed that I would be driving down to the event by myself in girl mode as it was not possible for us to get a baby sitter, and although my wife had said that she would support me…..I was understandably not sure how far that support went…this was all very much unknown territory to me. As we were about to leave the bus station and set off for home my wife announced that she would be accompanying me to Safe Haven on the Saturday for my first visit…..well…..as you can imagine….I was just stuck for words…it had taken me all week to get it straight in my head that I would be driving down to Safe Haven as Vanessa in my car…..and I had been through all the turmoil of “shall I?”….”shan’t I?””….”shall I?”….”shan’t I?””….”shall I?”….”shan’t I?””….and then “BOOOOOOOOM” ……my wife announces that she is going to go with me…….how do you cope with such a roller coaster ride going on in your head….I just started to cry….I was just so overwhelmed that I had the tremendous support of the woman I have loved dearly for the last 10 years….I’m such a lucky girl.
The next day (the day of the party) I was shaking like a leaf, and for my first visit (as I didn’t know what to expect…would I be the “new girl”? What would others be wearing? Am I going to fit in?) I decided to dress conservatively and so wore some ankle boots with black skin tight jeans and a loose belted top that covered my bum, my wife lent me a nice long fur coat too (which is mine now!).
When my wife and I arrived at Safe Haven one of the tgirls met us, when she introduced herself I started to cry….with happiness….I was so overwhelmed…it was the first time in my life I had ever met another person like me (and I will carry that moment with me to my grave). We then met Pixie in her house and had a hug and a brief chat and then we went to join the others at the party.
I was introduced to the girls there (I couldn’t remember their names all night as I was just buzzing to my core with happiness and emotion that seemed so natural). Everyone was so nice and friendly and welcoming….hugs all round, at that moment it was like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders, a weight that I had carried all my life, a weight that I had kind of got used to being there, so much so that I didn’t realise I was carrying it….and I just felt it lift away!! It’s very difficult to describe in words….I’m welling up now as I type this as I remember what those first few moments down at Safe Haven were like.
My evening there was very short as the babysitter was only prepared to look after our children until about 10:30 (still….I think we blagged another hour out of her! 🙂
I woke up the next morning with a huge grin on my face….and this is what was going through my head:
– “what the hell just happened?”
– “wow, that was amazing!”
– “ I want to go back down Safe Haven and experience that again!”
– “those people I met are amazing!”
– “can’t wait for the next party!”
So that’s my first experience of Safe Haven in a nutshell, and I never thought I’d be the type of person who would ever pluck up the courage to go there, I know everyone says it, and I’d heard it a thousand times before myself but…..”why did I wait so long before going down there?”
One of my favorite films is The Matrix, and in the first Matrix film there is piece of dialogue between Morpheus and Neo as he offers him the red and blue pill, in a similar way….no one can be told what it’s like to experience the love and support that you get at Safe Haven.
Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be…told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. [opens pillbox, empties contents into his palms, outstretches his hands] This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill [opens his right hand revealing blue pill], the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill [opens his left hand revealing red pill], you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. [Neo, after a pause, reaches for the red pill] Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.