Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 72: Extending Care

Mom (Me): Good morning girls. It’s good to see you two together again.

Lark (The Dreamer): I’ve calmed down a bit… I’m trying to work on my emotional regulation.

Ivy (The Companion): There’s still some tension, but she’s making a good effort.

Mom: That’s encouraging. I feel like having different parts of my personality fighting in my head would be… Troubling.

Lark (sheepish): I’m trying to do better.

Mom (smiling): I’m happy to hear that. What are you up to today?

Lark: We’re revisiting a memory today. 

Mom: Oh? Which one?

Ivy (sighing): Looks like another argument.

Lark: Goodness, it’s like all we ever see are arguments.

Mom: Hm, I should address that. This is a space for self-reflection and self-discovery and growth, so we tend to focus on the more difficult parts of my past. I want to make it clear that I love our partner, and part of the reason we stayed together as long as we have is because there’s a lot of genuine good here in our relationship.

Ivy (pensive): I don’t think I’d even be here if you felt our relationship with our partner was just a chore, Mom.

Lark (humbled): That’s… A very good point.

Ivy (annoyed): Ugh, am I centering myself in this discussion *again*? It’s like that’s all I ever did.

Lark: It’s kind of a requirement though, isn’t it? Ultimately, we can only see things from our own point-of-view, so we kind of have to center ourselves.

Ivy: I don’t think that’s true. I’ll grant you that we can only see things from our point of view, and that when someone discusses an experience that’s similar to ours, sometimes we can give feedback that’s informed by our own experience. But it’s also possible to listen and ask questions or extend comfort to someone in ways that leave us out of the conversation.

Mom: To be fair to Lark, that isn’t a skill we learned until very recently — after your time, Ivy. I have a feeling that the only reason you have any sense of it at all is because you’re The Companion. You must be feeling more in tune with your instincts.

Ivy (flattered): Oh, I guess so… That’s kind of exciting.

Lark (dismissive): Well thank goodness *you’ve* got this figured out, Ivy! Leave it to my big sister to tell us how we’re all supposed to think.

Mom (pointed): Lark, that was uncalled for.

Lark (sighing): I know, I’m sorry — I’m just frustrated. Mom, you said this was something you learned very recently, right? As in after transition?

Mom: Yes, after transition — within the last year, honestly.

Lark: In other words, we figured this out because we’re trans. So why don’t I get it?

Mom: That’s too reductive, Lark. Estrogen helped us tremendously…

Lark (trite): As it *always* does.

Ivy (mumbled): Come *on*, Lark.

Mom (patient): …as it always does, yes. Estrogen fuels our empathy and drives us to connect with other people. But we learned to avoid centering ourselves from support groups and social media. In both spaces there are lots of people who extend kind words, who extend comfort and care, even in cases where they haven’t personally experienced whatever harm is being expressed. 

Ivy (surprised): Sorry, did you say social media?

Mom: As strange as it sounds, yes. There are a lot of supportive voices in transfem social media, if you know where to look.

Lark: So being around supportive people helped us become more supportive?

Mom: That’s exactly it. We hadn’t had that behavior modeled for us very often, and before we were running on estrogen we had a lot of trouble accepting that behavior as something we should be doing.

Lark: So I shouldn’t be held to this standard at all!

Ivy (incredulous): What!? You know you’re a girl now, so you’re just as capable of learning this as I am.

Lark (angry): You act like it’s so easy! Sure, I’ll just flip the “empathy” switch inside myself and be better! You *know* it doesn’t work like that; it takes time and it takes effort and I’m *going* to screw this up, and if you just beat me up over and over while I’m learning then I don’t see how…

Mom (calm): Lark.

Lark (furious): *Don’t interrupt me!*

(I take a deep breath as Ivy stands stunned and Lark seethes.)

Mom: Lark, you’re making the face.

Lark (sharp): What?

Ivy (quiet): Lecture face. You’re making the lecture face.

Lark (mortified): I… I’m sorry I…

Mom: It’s okay Lark…

Lark (crying): But it isn’t, is it Mom? I just… I just want to be understood…

(I wrap Lark in a comforting hug as she sobs into my shoulder. After a few moments of hesitation, Ivy steps forward to comfort Lark as well.)