Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 66: Missing Piece

Mom (Me): Hello Ivy.

(Ivy stares ahead into the middle-distance, unfocused.)

Mom: Ivy?

(Ivy jumps slightly, finally hearing my voice.)

Ivy (The Companion): Oh! Sorry — hi Mom.

Mom: You seem a little distracted.

Ivy (sheepish): Yeah… I guess I am.

Mom: Something on your mind?

Ivy: I just visited a memory of a couples therapy session, and… It happened again.

Mom (sad): Oh.

Ivy: I thought I finally had it this time, you know? We went out on a date, things felt like they went really well, and I thought I was finally cultivating some intimacy in our relationship. I felt really good about it. But then we went to therapy together, and after I related my experience… My partner related hers.

Mom: She didn’t feel anything.

Ivy (upset): Not a thing! Our date didn’t really feel intimate to her at all.

Mom: I’m sorry, Ivy.

Ivy (crying): And if this were the first time, I know I’d feel upset, but… I’d still have hope, you know? But it keeps happening, Mom! It’s been *years*! Years of trying one thing and then another and another and not being able to connect! I love her, Mom; why can’t I connect with her?

(I step forward and wrap my arms around Ivy as she sobs into my shoulder. As I wait for her to cry her tears out, she wraps her arms around me and squeezes desperately. Eventually her crying slows and then stops, and I wipe the last of Ivy’s years out of her eyes as I step back to look at her reddened face.)

Ivy: Please tell me that you’ve figured this out.

Mom (evasive): It’s… Complicated.

Ivy (horrified): Oh no.

Mom: It’s not catastrophic, Ivy. Sexual intimacy between us is still a struggle, but transition has opened my emotions to so much more than I ever imagined.

Ivy (cautious): What do you mean?

Mom (excited): Intimacy! Intimacy is *so much broader* than I had any notion of back then.

Ivy: You mean there are sensations that we didn’t experience back then? I’d heard that women are more sensitive to touch, and how we respond to different stimuli besides how hot a person looks…

Mom: No no, not that. I mean, those things are true, but they aren’t what I’m talking about. Let me ask you this: At its heart, what is intimacy?

Ivy (unsure): Well… When you find a certain intimacy with someone… Hang on, I shouldn’t use the word in its own definition… I mean, if you feel close to someone, then you… Uh… This is a trick question, isn’t it? I’ll know it when I see it.

Mom: I don’t think you would, and it isn’t a trick question, dearest. At its heart, intimacy is a deep connection between two people — between their innermost selves, in a way.

Ivy: If intimacy is a connection, then if I’m having trouble with intimacy it must be because I can’t see my partner’s inner self. She must be hiding her true self from me.

Mom: You know that isn’t true. She deliberately opens herself like a book to you. She hates keeping secrets like that.

Ivy: Then… It’s a problem of perception. There are some key senses that I’m lacking that prevent me from seeing the parts of her that I would connect with.

Mom: I remember thinking that for a long time, but that’s not it either. As soon as I transitioned, those senses I thought were missing started working as if I’d always had them… Because I did.

Ivy: Then what could it possibly be? What’s the missing piece?

Mom: You’re the missing piece, Ivy. Intimacy is a deep connection between two people, and there’s no *you* to connect to.

Ivy (confused): But I’m… Right here?

Mom: Just the shell of you was, back then. I gave you a hint a moment ago — transition unlocked intimacy for you because transition unlocked *you*. You couldn’t access your deep, innermost self before transition; there were too many layers of fear and self-denial in the way. As soon as you hatched, those layers began to fall away.

Ivy (shocked): That… Oh my goodness.

(I waited patiently as Ivy processed what I told her.)

Ivy: All those years… All those years together with her, of trying to find intimacy with her, I couldn’t make a connection because I didn’t have anything to connect *with*. She couldn’t connect with me because I wasn’t there in a way that mattered.

Mom: Now you’re getting it.

Ivy: She stayed with a shell of a person for an entire decade.

Mom: She… Yes. Yes she did.

Ivy (mortified): How could she stand it?

Mom (pained): I’m not sure she felt like she had a choice, some of the time. I was the only one of us who worked because my career paid so much better, so… It’s complicated.

Ivy (softer): But how could she stand it, Mom?

Mom: I… I don’t know.

(There was silence between us for a long time.)

Ivy: So things are better now?

Mom: Unbelievably so. That’s what I was getting at earlier — there are so many ways to connect deeply with another person. We’re connected with our partner emotionally at a level that was unthinkable back then. We’re connected as a family more than you could have imagined. And even though it’s a struggle, we’re actually connected romantically now, whereas before I was going through the motions at best.

Ivy: You said sexual intimacy was still a struggle too.

Mom: It is. But our relationship is so much broader than it used to be. There’s so much more *there* now.

Ivy: And the pain we caused our partner, all those years…

Mom (shameful): We’re still searching for a way to answer for it.

(Ivy lets my words hang in the air for a few moments.)

Ivy: It sounds like things are a lot better now than they were back then, at least.

Mom: They are, Ivy. I promise.

(Wordlessly, Ivy leaned into my chest. I hold her tightly as I support her weight, tears sliding slowly down her pale cheeks.)