Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 105: Feeling Desired

Ivy (The Companion): Hey Mom… Can we talk?

Mom (Me): Of course, Ivy. What about?

Ivy: Last time we spoke, you told me we needed to talk about desire.

Mom (uneasy): Right… Yes I did.

Ivy (pointed): You keep doing that, Mom.

Mom: Doing what?

Ivy: You insist that this conversation is important, but then you keep hedging, like this is the last thing you want to be talking about.

Mom (resigned): Oh. It’s important, but it’s a difficult subject. Last time we talked about being desired… How it feels to be the object of someone’s affection.

Ivy: Right, you asked me how it felt to be desired by our partner, and I told you it was a work in progress.

Mom: No, I didn’t. *Libra* asked you how it felt to be desired by our partner, because the thought of someone else finding her genuinely attractive scared her. I don’t blame her; it still scares me.

Ivy (surprised): It *scares* you? I find it flattering; why on Earth would that be frightening?

Mom: It’s scary because we don’t get to choose who finds us attractive. We should get to choose who can engage us romantically, but we’ve heard plenty of stories about girls who have guys leer at them or stalk them, making them uncomfortable at best and terrified for their safety at worst. When I say I’ve heard stories I don’t mean that in abstract, either. I mean this happens to several trans girls I know personally. I’ve seen them vent about it in group chat.

Ivy (worried): Okay sure, that’s very scary, but how much do *we* need to worry about that? You’re not exactly a spring chicken anymore. Besides, we’re married, so it’s not like anything could come of it anyways.

Mom (direct): That right there… Those are the two thoughts that you deploy to keep from honestly engaging with the idea of being desirable. As a forty-something woman, it’s genuinely difficult for me to consider myself physically attractive. Guys don’t seem to be interested in me at all — not that I mind, since I’m not into guys either. But Libra is young enough that she can’t use that thought as a defense.

Ivy: Libra’s time was before we met our partner, so she can’t use marriage as a defense either… But wait, how is our marriage a defense in the first place? We *want* desire from our partner.

Mom: Yes, but *only* our partner. That’s why it’s a defense; being married means never having to honestly confront what it means for someone unfamiliar to find us attractive, or face the fear of making ourselves deeply vulnerable to a new person. Whenever anyone seems to be signaling interest in you, you have a simple response: “No thank you, not interested, I’m married.” You never have to think about the possibility of going on a bad date or having a risky fling.

Ivy (annoyed): Thank goodness I don’t! I don’t know if you’ve forgotten, but we weren’t exactly good at dating — we were kind of a disaster at it! Lark called you out on it back in Scene 38; how you had no idea what you wanted for yourself.

Mom: I remember, Ivy. Perhaps you’ll also recall that in Scene 36, I told Lark that she’d find herself in a polycule if she transitioned earlier in life? You’ve clearly read the series archive.

Ivy: Of course I have, but that’s not the reality we live in, so I don’t see how it’s relevant.

Mom: It’s relevant because in this reality, we have a habit of deflecting the thought that someone might find us attractive. It’s not like we can do anything about that attraction, you think, so why even consider it?

Ivy (upset): And? Why consider it, Mom? What does it matter if other people find us attractive?

Mom: It matters because *you’re* one of those other people, Ivy. You don’t have to think honestly about how you want to be seen or how you want to feel, only how your partner sees you. It’s a poor substitute, since the more independent we are, the more she seems to be into us. Self-actualizing improves our relationship as much as it improves us.

Ivy (hesitant): Okay fair, our partner seems to want to be with a strong, independent woman… And to be a strong independent woman we have to understand our own desire.

Mom: Which means we need to honestly engage with what it means to be desirable, because we want to be able to accept someone else’s desire. And we need to understand what we find desirable so we can understand how to pursue it in other people.

Ivy: Okay, but that’s terrifying. You told me why a minute ago: we don’t get to choose who finds us desirable.

Mom: All the more reason to understand those feelings in ourselves, so we’re not caught off guard by them. Being flustered is fun and can feel very affirming, but neither of us wants to be forced into feeling vulnerable.

Ivy: That makes sense, but learning to accept desire still feels like a slippery slope.

Mom: A slippery slope to what?

Ivy: You know how very early in transition, you were terrified that hormones would change your sexuality and you’d lose your attraction to our partner? You put off starting HRT for six months because of it.

Mom: Yes, I remember. Fortunately HRT doesn’t really seem to work that way, and I had nothing to worry about.

Ivy (insistent): But what if we did? If we honestly engage with what it means to be desirable, with what we really want in a relationship, what if…

(Ivy pauses, but pushes herself to finish her thought a moment later.)

Ivy (tearful): What if we find that our partner isn’t enough? That she isn’t what we’re looking for in a partner?

Mom (relieved): Finally. That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

Ivy (shocked): What’s that supposed to mean? Wait, you don’t have an answer yet?

Mom: You’re still reviewing my memories, right? How close are you to catching up with the present?

Ivy: Pretty close — I’m almost up to the point where you invite me into your headspace.

Mom: Okay. I don’t think that’ll take long for you to work through. Let’s finish this discussion once you’re caught up.

(Ivy freezes, visibly concerned.)

Ivy (determined): I’d better get to it then. See you in a bit, Mom.