Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 8: Survival

Bloom (High School Me): Talking with Libra again, I see.

Mom (Present Me): Yup. Does that bother you?

Bloom: Maybe a little? She gets to have all these big emotional moments, and the only one I got was when I learned I was a girl.

Mom: Do you want big emotional moments?

Bloom (proud): Might be nice, but what can you do. I guess it’s just evidence of how well adjusted I am!

Mom: There’s the Bloom I remember. A hyperconfident mask over a powerless child.

Bloom: What? That’s not true! There’s lots of stuff I have power over.

Mom: Such as?

Bloom: Such as what I read! Even though I usually can’t read books for class; just fantasy novels or my D&D books. Or the grades I get! Even though I can’t ever seem to get homework in on time… Or… Uh…

Mom: Or how you’re totally going to find a girlfriend one of these days?

Bloom (starting to cry): That’s not fair! That’s not up to me! Why are you being like this!?

Mom: You literally asked for a big emotional moment.

Bloom (upset): But why this!? Why can’t you focus on something positive?

Mom (sad): Honestly, I don’t remember much about high school that was positive. There were a few bright spots I guess, but… We were constantly fighting with our parents, and we were pulling barely decent grades in school. Our teachers told us we had all this potential but they could never convince the people who actually cared for us. We were angry all of the time. And we were powerless to do very much about most of it.

Bloom (crying): It’s not my fault! Our parents don’t get us! My grades are okay; I always ace the tests! And it’s not like I want to be angry all the time! I’m getting better at keeping it in check, it’s just really hard!

Mom: I know, Bloom. It’s not your fault.

Bloom (still crying): Things are getting better and you shouldn’t blame me if… Did you… Agree with me?

Mom: Yes, Bloom. It’s not your fault.

Bloom (stunned): But it’s always my fault.

Mom: No it isn’t. You’re a kid, and the grown ups around you are supposed to support you, but they don’t really know how. So you’re left to your own devices, and you did the best you can.

Bloom (calmer): I just… I get so angry all the time. Does that eventually go away?

Mom (tired): No, it doesn’t.

Bloom: What!? I tried so hard to suppress it! If I could just stop being angry it would solve so many problems!

Mom: That’s not how anger works — it doesn’t really respond to suppression, nor does anxiety. But you know what does? Every other emotion. What you did was suppress all of your other emotions, so the love and joy and sorrow and longing and everything else that could have balanced out your anger… They’re mostly gone, and all you have left is willpower.

Bloom: Okay, but I’m strong. I can build up enough willpower to manage any angry outburst.

Mom: Turns out you can’t. Willpower is a garbage weapon against anger and anxiety. You get really good at using your cleverness to police your anger, though. As we get older we reach a point where we’re very rarely triggered, but when something does trigger us, it enrages us instantly.

Bloom (depressed): I really screwed this up, didn’t I.

Mom: No, you didn’t. I told you, this isn’t your fault. Honestly, it isn’t anyone’s fault. Maybe certain grown ups could have known better, but they didn’t understand us either. The 90’s were not kind to kids like us. It wasn’t until recently that we finally started to understand how to deal with those feelings.

Bloom: But we understand now? How do you deal with your anger then, if not through willpower?

Mom: I have a sea of other strong emotions, so anger can’t dominate my feelings. And… I don’t have as much anger to mitigate. I think the biggest reason why you’re angry all the time is because of testosterone. It turns out our body really doesn’t handle T very well. Everything about us just seems to work better on estrogen.

Bloom: Huh. There’s no way I was going to get estrogen.

Mom: No, you certainly weren’t.

Bloom: Would have been nice to have functional emotions though.

Mom (pensive): Honestly Bloom… You did what you had to do. Dealing with what you went through is hard for me, and I have decades more experience and resources than you did. Suppressing your emotions just kind of muted the feel of everything… Powerlessness, failure, loss.

Bloom: They didn’t feel muted. They still hit me pretty hard.

Mom: Exactly. So imagine having to deal with them at full volume with no tools and a body full of T. I think you did what was necessary to survive. And if you hadn’t… Maybe neither of us would have made it here.

Bloom (sniffling): I thought I’d done such a bad job, Mom.

Mom (proud): No, Bloom. You saved us. You did great.

(As Bloom breaks down crying, I sit beside her and hold her, shedding a few tears too.)

Bloom (sobbing): Why does this hurt so much!? I should be happy I did well! Why is this so hard?

Mom (tearfully): This is emotional release, Bloom. It’s big and powerful and scary and overwhelming, but it makes space for healing and for love. And I have so much love for you, Bloom. I love you forever.

Bloom (still crying): I love you too Mom. Can you hold me like this a little longer?

Mom: As long as you want, sweetheart.