Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 83: Forgiving Ourselves

Ivy (The Companion): Hey Mom, I know you’re busy with Lark and making a home for her twin…

Mom (Me): Ivy, I’m here for all my daughters. Of course I have time for you.

Ivy: Thanks. I just… I’m not sure what to do.

Mom: About what?

Ivy: About Lark’s twin. About my memories. About… About me.

(Ivy stops, unsure of how to continue. I stay silent, giving her space to work through her thoughts.)

Ivy: I just… I’ve been through all of my memories and I’m digging through your later ones and there’s just so much pain there. My partner and I had a lot of good times together, we work well together, but our relationship keeps getting worse.

Mom (solemn): Yes. Things between us… Weren’t great, honestly.

Ivy: No they weren’t. I know I just said I was waiting to talk about it later, but… When Lark said she wanted to start over it got me thinking. I said I was getting close to the point in our history where you transition, and I imagine that was sort of like starting over with your partner.

Mom: Sort of. It’s a bit more complicated than that. I suppose it became a kind of fresh start eventually.

Ivy: What do you mean, “sort of”?

Mom: I mean that as I started my transition, I didn’t yet know what that would entail. I was adamant that I’d still be the same person after transition; my gender would be different, but I’d be unchanged otherwise. I was pretty clueless — when I hatched, I wasn’t even sure I was a woman. I wasn’t certain of that until six days later.

Ivy: So you didn’t ask for a reset?

Mom: Not at all — I didn’t want one, but I got one anyway. As soon as I hatched the pantomime of masculinity I’d been acting out fell away quickly and I was a pretty different person underneath.

Ivy (hesitantly): So what about the pain?

Mom: What pain, Ivy?

Ivy: We caused our partner a lot of pain over the years we’ve been together. You can’t just pretend it never happened.

Mom (cautious): Does it feel Lark wants to pretend the pain she caused you didn’t happen?

Ivy (deliberately): No… Even though she seems to be a different person now, she seems willing to own up to what the past version of herself did.

Mom: So am I, with my partner. I don’t think I could have faced up to the pain we caused without transitioning. That was a necessary first step, though it wasn’t the last.

Ivy: I suppose it’s a little different for you than in is for Lark. Nobody forced another version of you out of your body. You didn’t become a completely different person overnight…

Mom: On the contrary, I think that’s exactly what happened, Ivy. I forced the false male facade out and that changed me more than I could imagine. If I think back three years to who I was before transition, I hardly recognize that woman.

Ivy (struggling): I guess that’s true, isn’t it? Does that mean Lark’s twin represents… A false male version of you?

Mom: This is where things get tricky, don’t they? The version of me from three years ago is still me. I have her memories, I’m still responsible for the ripples she made in the world. Lark’s twin is no more male than you or any of my daughters are, but there was a lot of friction between her and my other personas. She had a difficult time with you in particular, which you’ve noticed.

Ivy: I guess that leads me right back to the question I came to you with. What do I do with that pain? It’s a lot easier with Lark’s twin — She hurt me but she’s also my sister, and ultimately I’m going to forgive her. But what about the pain I caused my partner? I can’t just forgive myself for that.

Mom: Can’t you? That’s exactly what you need to do — at least, it’s the first step. It’s still important to seek forgiveness from your partner, which I’m still working on, but it’s equally important to seek forgiveness from yourself.

Ivy (incredulous): But how? I can’t just say “I forgive you, Ivy.”

Mom: Yes you can. You can say it and mean it. You’re not that person anymore, and you know she was doing the best she could under the circumstances, which have since changed. You’ll still take responsibility for her actions but you’re going to make different decisions than she would have. You can tell yourself all of those things convincingly. You could even write it all down over months into an ever-lengthening account of your past selves in order to really drive the point home.

Ivy (sarcastic): Goodness, Mom — that sounds really excessive. Who would go to all that trouble just to forgive themselves?

Mom (dry): Very funny, Ivy.

Ivy (smiling): Jokes aside, that’s still only half an answer. Forgiving yourself doesn’t change your partner’s experience of you.

Mom: It can. It’s a distinct change from how we used to handle our failings, which was to beat ourselves up over them and tell ourselves we had to change. It’s also not an easy thing to do sometimes — forgiving ourselves, I mean. But when we manage to actually do it, it means we’re not bringing that self-destructive energy to our partner and we end up making more space for her experience.

Ivy: Huh, that’s a really good point.

Mom: Ultimately though, you’re right. Forgiving yourself isn’t enough, you also have to work to repair the harm that you caused. There’s no easy method for that — repair is a process centered on the experience of the person you hurt, and it’s genuinely difficult to center someone else’s experience… Especially for newly hatched trans people. Puberty tends to make a person self-centered, whether it’s the first or the second one.

Ivy: I guess that repair remains to be seen, then — I’ll be watching for Lark and her twin to repair things with me. I’ll also observe as you repair things with your partner, and I’ll try to forgive myself for the pain I caused her in the meantime.

Mom: That sounds like a plan.

(Ivy steps forward and gives me a big hug. I hug her back enthusiastically.)

Ivy: Thank you for listening, Mom.

Mom: Always, Ivy. Always.