Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 55: Spending Habits

Ivy (The Companion): Hey Mom…

Mom (Me): Good morning, Ivy. What’s on your mind?

Ivy: Well… Some of our old memories are a little difficult to make sense of.

Mom: What do you mean?

Ivy: I’ll give you an example. Sometimes I bought things that were kind of expensive — what they were isn’t important and it varied anyway. After I brought whatever it was home, my partner would get upset with me because I didn’t talk the purchase through with her in advance.

Mom: I recall that happening more than a few times. How did that make you feel?

Ivy: That’s the thing! I remember feeling so angry, you know? I bought the thing with my own money, and how dare she tell me how to spend it? When I was reliving those moments, I found myself furious with her. But…

Mom: But?

Ivy: But I also felt shame. There’s this feeling of shame that won’t go away, and I know that wasn’t something I felt at the time. It’s like that feeling is coming from the Companion instinct you told me about.

Mom: Yes, because as The Companion, you know how you acted was wrong.

Ivy: I don’t know it’s wrong. I feel it’s wrong, but I can’t understand why.

Mom: Ah, I see now. Let me help you with that then — Back then, you were the sole income earner in the family. You made the money and thought of it as yours, so you could spend that money as you pleased.

Ivy: That’s not true — we were a family, so I understood that money wasn’t just mine, it was my partner’s too. It was our money together.

Mom: I think we had both concepts in our head at the same time. It was family money, but since we were the keeper of the family finances and we trusted ourselves to make good decisions with it, it was ours too.

Ivy: We trusted our partner’s spending habits too, though. If she wanted to spend money on something, then we would have trusted her to do it without talking to us.

Mom: We thought that at the time, sure. But was it really true?

Ivy (hesitant): Well… We did get annoyed at some expenses sometimes, and we didn’t really manage our feelings very well when that happened… But oftentimes she asked us for permission before spending a lot of money anyways, so it wasn’t an issue.

Mom: She did that because of the times you got upset with her. It was more than just a few times too — remember how you would get upset and go over the budget with her because you felt like you didn’t understand where the money was going? She learned to ask first because that was easier than dealing with how you reacted in those moments.

Ivy (ashamed): Oh. I… I didn’t realize.

Mom: Those kinds of interactions reinforced a certain power dynamic. You felt financial decisions were yours to make because you were keeper of the family finances. That’s partly because you made all the family’s money, and partly…

Ivy (resigned): Because I was presenting male.

Mom: Yes. That contributed too, and male acculturation allowed you to frame managing the finances in your mind as part of the “burden” you had to bear as the “man of the house.”

Ivy: So I didn’t really see it as an unfair power imbalance.

Mom: Not for a long time.

(Ivy is silent for a while.)

Ivy: You know it’s funny? This isn’t even a trans thing, not really. It’s an equity thing. And an emotional thing.

Mom: That’s true, but another part of male acculturation is developing a skewed, paternalistic view of equity in which men hold veto power over any particular remedy. Everyone agrees equity is a laudable goal, but if a man feels slighted at any point in the process they feel empowered to pull the plug. And besides, emotional processing wasn’t exactly our strong suit before transition.

Ivy: So even though this isn’t a trans thing, it’s still a trans thing.

Mom: When you’re trans, everything is a trans thing. Sometimes it takes a while to understand why or how, but everything seems to trace back to gender in some way.

(Ivy is silent for a while longer.)

Ivy (hurt): How do you do it?

Mom (confused): Do what?

Ivy: We were married for a long time before we transitioned. And now that we’ve transitioned, when we look back at our past we see so much pain.

Mom: Yes. That’s been a defining feature of this entire reparenting process.

Ivy (agitated): But it’s different for me! My sisters were dealing with pain they had to endure. I’m dealing with pain I inflicted on other people. On our partner specifically, whom we deeply love. I hurt her, Mom.

Mom (embarrassed): Oh. Yeah… Yeah we did.

Ivy: I don’t know how to deal with that.

Mom (timid): I’m… I’m still figuring that out. In this particular case there’s a particular remedy — we recognize the power dynamic now, and now we both discuss big ticket items with each other before we buy them. But more generally, it’s an ongoing process.

Ivy: Maybe… Maybe that’s what I’m here to help you through.

Mom: What do you mean?

Ivy: You know, to summon my older sister.

Mom: Oh. I love that you want to help, but you don’t need to worry about summoning your older sister. I’d rather you focus on living as yourself — you’ll always be a part of me, so I want you to grow into the best Companion you can be. Let me worry about your older sister for now, okay?

Ivy: Alright. Sorry Mom.

Mom: You don’t have to apologize for it either, sweetie. And with regards to the pain we caused our partner — it’s something we’ll talk about again. More than a few times, I’m sure. We’ll work through it together, okay dearest?

Ivy (relieved): Okay… Thanks Mom.

(Ivy and I share a tender hug before she returns to reliving memories.)