Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 41: Feeling Powerless

(Lark and Bloom are talking together as I approach. Lark is trying to explain something — Bloom is listening, but looks distrustful.)

Lark (20s me): So it’s bad, but you’re stuck with it, and what are you going to do?

Mom (Present me): Hello girls; what are we talking about?

Lark: Corporate politics.

Bloom (High school me): Lark is trying to explain to me why working at a company is so demoralizing.

Lark: It is demoralizing! You’re bound by the whims of people higher up in the company, you don’t have any agency to make change or even be acknowledged… There’s barely anything you can control about your day-to-day experience. It’s miserable.

Bloom: Okay, but you keep trying to convince me that it’s worse than living with our parents. We didn’t have much agency when we lived with them either! They barely listened to us about things that mattered to us, didn’t really support us emotionally, and decided a lot about our day-to-day lives. That doesn’t sound that different to me.

Lark (animated): At least our parents cared! They cared about what happened to us. Nobody at a company cares about anything beyond their own career. People with any power wield it with impunity, with no regard for anyone but themselves.

Mom: Okay, let’s slow down a little bit. I think you’re both being a little uncharitable here…

Lark (angry): You’re pro-corporation now!?

Bloom (tearful): You’re siding with our *parents*?

Mom (calm): No and no. Corporations are still horrible; they’re entities designed to concentrate power and resources with a small number of people. Lark, you started at a massive company with a miserably bad boss who treated us like a child, power tripped constantly, and made us her personal punching bag for over a year. That entire company was so disempowering for *everyone* below a certain level that the only thing anyone could do was drown in office politics and snipe at each other.

Lark: So how am I being uncharitable exactly? Your description sounds pretty bad!

Mom: It was, but our career doesn’t stay that bad. Once we get some experience under our skirt we find better jobs at smaller companies and enjoy more agency. It just takes a while for us to get there.

Lark (deflated): I guess you’re right.

Mom: And Bloom, we’ve discussed before how our parents weren’t able to give us the support we needed around certain key things and made us feel small about the things we really cared about. But they also kept us fed, clothed, paid for extracurricular activities, encouraged us academically…

Bloom (annoyed): I didn’t realize we were giving them credit for doing their jobs as parents.

Mom: My point is that there wasn’t exactly an alternative living arrangement; not until college. The way our society is set up, high schoolers have to live their lives on rails, more or less. Yes, we should have been better supported, but even with a different set of parents we’d have to deal with the rules of living under their roof and with the experience of high school.

Bloom (sighing): You’re right, Mom.

Mom: All that said, I empathize with your frustration, both of you. It’s something I still struggle with — that feeling of powerlessness.

Lark: That’s it, isn’t it? I knew things should have been different, but I didn’t have the power to make them that way. It just made me furious.

Bloom: It made me angry too, knowing my parents were being unfair, but not being able to do anything about it.

Lark: Is it something you’ve solved Mom? Or have some secret trans trick for?

Mom: Estrogen is hardly a secret, Lark. Estrogen gave us more emotional capacity, flexibility, and speed, so we’re better able to handle ourselves in every situation, and sometimes we’re able to find solutions to problems that we’d never have discovered before. But honestly, all of that only helps to cope with feeling powerless. It doesn’t prevent that feeling, and feeling it is still really hard.

Lark (dejected): That sucks.

Bloom (excited): Maybe this is something else we can help you with, Mom!

Mom (curious): Oh? How’s that?

Bloom: Well, I could… I mean, if I just… Maybe I… I don’t know.

Mom: I didn’t think so. I appreciate your enthusiasm though.

Bloom: But there has to be something we can do!

Mom: There isn’t; that’s what powerlessness is. At least, there isn’t anything we can do in that moment.

Lark: Oh, so we’re trying to bide our time, is that it?

Mom: That’s what I aspire to, I think. I want to be the patient woman who can endure injustice, biding her time, lulling her oppressors into ignoring her. Waiting for her chance to strike, and then dealing a devastating blow when an opportunity presents itself.

Lark: I see… We’ve always been in awe of that approach, haven’t we?

Mom: Always. Sadly, actually doing that typically requires a lot of non-trivial skills.

Bloom: But… We could help you cultivate those skills?

Mom (smiling): Maybe you can, Bloom.

Lark: It’s something we can work together on, at least.

Mom: Indeed. Let’s give it a shot.