Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 106: Caught Up

Ivy (The Companion, determined): Mom!

Mom (Me): Good morning, Ivy. How’s your review of my memories going?

Ivy (sarcastic): Oh, just wonderful! You really saved the best for last, didn’t you? Everything is sunshine and rainbows now!

Mom (calm): You sound upset.

Ivy: Of course I’m upset! I finally catch up to the present to find that the relationship with our partner is a disaster! What happened to the love we shared?

Mom: It’s still there, it’s just changed. In some important ways it’s stronger than ever.

Ivy: In other ways it’s completely gone! Yes, granted, we’ve established emotional intimacy with our partner. We’re capable of intimacy now, so that’s no surprise, but there’s no physical intimacy at all!

Mom (disheartened): Yes, that continues to be a struggle.

Ivy: It’s *always* been a struggle! It was a struggle back in my time! You’re Mom, you’re supposed to have figured it out by now!

Mom: Well I haven’t, okay? It’s still a work in progress. It’s always been the most challenging element of our relationship and it still is. I haven’t given up on it, you know — I’m working on things, and there’s a chance of actually making them better now.

Ivy: Is there really, or are you just telling me what I want to hear again?

Mom: When did I only tell you what you wanted to hear?

Ivy (angry): When I first arrived here! You told me to relive your memories in order, even though you didn’t ask any of my sisters to do that. I do talk to them, you know. Did you think I wouldn’t find out?

Mom: Of course not, Ivy.

Ivy (hurt): I did it anyway because I trusted you, Mom. I figured you must have a good reason for telling me to do things a different way.

Mom (calm): I did have a good reason.

Ivy: I wouldn’t call lying to keep me happy with you a good reason!

Mom: I never lied to you!

Ivy: No, you just withheld a key part of the truth.

Mom (hesitantly): Ivy… I don’t think the whole truth doesn’t make sense until it’s placed in context with the rest of my life. What would have happened if you’d jumped right to the present when you arrived here? It would have looked like the relationship you worked so hard to maintain was falling apart.

Ivy: Are you saying it’s *not* falling apart? Both of you have been learning to be apart from each other, and you’ve been thinking about romantic relationships with other people someday!

Mom: Learning to be apart from each other is important! It’s a healthy aspect of long term relationships, believe it or not. Having separate experiences creates an air of mystery and gives partners something to talk about with each other. Introducing distance also introduces longing, which can remind a couple of why they got together in the first place.

Ivy (sarcastic): And I’m sure seeing other people can only strengthen our relationship.

Mom (annoyed): I think there’s serious potential there, but you don’t seem like you’re ready to talk about it.

Ivy: Potential! How in the headspace can you strengthen a monogamous relationship by dating outside of it!?

Mom: Do you honestly believe you’re monogamous?

Ivy (shocked): Oh, so you’re just going to… What?

Mom: Do you, Ivy, think you’re monogamous.

Ivy (flustered): I… I don’t… That’s not the point…

Mom (firm): It’s the entire point. Last time we spoke, we talked about desirability — about what being desired really feels like. Since transition, there’s only been a few times when we’ve experienced it, but you can’t deny that it happened. The times a dear friend paid us compliments that slipped through our armor of disbelief and self-doubt. The few times we actually felt *wanted* for who we’ve become. You visited those memories too, didn’t you?

Ivy (timid): Yes… More than once.

Mom: So you have a sense of how it feels to feel desired, then. To understand that someone sees a beauty in us that we can’t see in ourselves. To feel flustered and fluttery for hours from a single sentence. To feel pretty — really honestly pretty in a way that we thought we could never experience before transition.

Ivy: It’s exhilarating… But also terrifying. It’s really scary, knowing someone wants me and that under the right circumstances, I would let them have me — at least for a little while.

Mom: It’s scary because being desired like that requires vulnerability. You have to really open up to someone, and since we don’t think all that highly of ourselves, it hits *hard* when someone actually wants you.

Ivy (tearful): I do want that. I want that *desperately*, Mom. I want to open up to someone fully and completely, and still be desired. I want someone to see me — all of me — and say “yes, I still want you, despite all of that.”

Mom: Maybe even because of it.

Ivy: No, not because of it. What about our anxiety is desirable? What about our trauma is beautiful? I don’t want it, why would anyone else?

Mom (hesitantly): I don’t know, Ivy. It still seems unfathomable to me. We’ve been able to create some good things from our trauma — this series, for one — but I haven’t met anyone who’s truly convinced me that those parts of me are anything but a burden.

Ivy: Maybe because they are a burden. 

Mom: Maybe. But when I say I haven’t met anyone, I do mean anyone.

Ivy: Meaning… You’re including our partner.

Mom: Yes. You know how incredible it is to feel desired, as we discussed. When’s the last time our partner made us feel like that?

Ivy (despairing): She… She hasn’t.

Mom: Like you said, we desperately want that feeling. There’s a part of me that thinks we deserve to feel that way, even… But it’s not something we’re getting from her at all.

Ivy: So what, we just give up on her? Give up on all the good things in our relationship, the years that we gave to each other? All the ways we compliment each other?

Mom: No, not at all. But it probably means that we need to restructure our relationship.

Ivy: What are you even thinking, Mom!? She… She makes our lives so much better. What would our life even be without her?

Mom: Our relationship gives us so much, Ivy. I know that and I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to risk it, but it’s not entirely my choice.

Ivy: How can it not be your choice?

Mom: Was transition a choice? If I denied myself treatment and decided to continue presenting male back then, my marriage would have collapsed. We both know that.

Ivy: I know, but this… But putting our marriage on the line just to feel desired… It feels foolish. We can live without that, if we have to.

Mom: Some people would argue that we could have lived without transitioning if we had to. Are they right?

Ivy (hesitant): No…

Mom (weary): I think there’s a part of me that very much wants to feel desired. Mentally, physically, emotionally desired. I think it’s something I need in order to feel whole. I’m not sure we can get that from our partner, and besides I don’t think it’s fair to our partner to expect her to fulfill every one of our needs.

(Ivy stands silently. After a few moments, I continue.)

Mom: Besides, using our relationship with her to deflect any notion of being desirable to other people isn’t fair to us *or* to her. If we can’t see ourselves as desirable, then how can we expect our partner to? How can we tell her what we need? How will we even know when we’re getting what we need?

(Ivy remains silent for a long while as she turns my words over in her head.)

Ivy: So… So we might not always be together with our partner.

Mom: It’s still a work in progress, Ivy. We’re together with her now.

Ivy: I love her, Mom.

Mom I love her too, Ivy.

(Ivy takes a moment to think.)

Ivy (timid): If we divorce someday — what will happen?

Mom: I think we’ll still be together in other ways. We’re both committed parents, and we’ve both said over and over that we want to remain co-parents no matter what.

Ivy: I meant… What will happen to me? To The Companion?

Mom: You’d still be around, if that’s what you’re asking. We’ll make do somehow.

Ivy: I’m not so sure, Mom.

Mom: I’m sure you’ll still be a part of me no matter what, Ivy. You’ll still be here.

Ivy (hurt): I don’t… I don’t think I want to be here, Mom. At least not in the short term. I need time to process all this — I want some time alone.

Mom (accepting): Oh. Of course, you can have all the time you need. I’ll respect your privacy.

Ivy: Thank you. I’d… I’d better go. I’ll see you after a while, okay, Mom?

Mom: Okay Ivy. See you after a while.