Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 109: Breaking Points

Libra (The Friend): Hey Mom.

Mom (Me): Hello Libra. How are you holding up?

Libra (struggling): I’m hanging in there. It’s tough when a loved one walks out of your life… Even if you know she’s going to come back.

Mom: Yeah… It’s not easy.

Libra: It feels strangely familiar though? Here I am again, beating myself up for some situation I’m stuck in, vowing never to let things get this bad again.

Mom (surprised): Hang on, this isn’t your fault at all. I hope you’re not beating yourself up over Ivy’s decision to go.

Libra: I’m not… I don’t really think Ivy left because of me, but for some reason it feels similar. I’m not sure I understand why, honestly.

Mom: Why don’t we walk through that feeling together? It sounds like something worth thinking about.

Libra: Fair enough; that sounds productive. Let me describe what I mean in more detail then: I’m talking about the feeling that always accompanied the rush to finish an assignment the day before it was due.

Mom (sympathetic): That happened more times than I care to remember.

Libra (sighing): Over and over again. We’d have an assignment due in a few days, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to work on it, even though we knew we were running out of time… Not until we were literally *out* of time. *Then* we could work.

Mom: So we worked, pushing ourselves to do the entire assignment at the last minute. We felt horrible, forcing ourselves to stay up and despising every moment, and despising ourselves for waiting so long to get started. Every time we would swear up and down that this was going to be the last time; we would never let things get that bad again.

Libra: And we didn’t… Until the next time. There was always a next time.

Mom (exasperated): Yes there was. It was pretty easy to believe that we were just doomed to fail, even as we were determined to “get better.”

(Libra is silent as she sits in remembered disgust.)

Libra (confused): Now that I’m thinking about it… I’m not sure why this feels familiar? It’s not like our relationship with Ivy was getting steadily worse or more fraught. We weren’t under stress to do anything in particular, either.

Mom: Ah, true. But there’s an additional wrinkle to the feeling that was added in Aura’s time — it wasn’t really there in yours. When you felt like this, it was typically because you were given an assignment for class. It wasn’t something you had a lot of control over, honestly. When Aura felt like this, it was typically because of something she had promised to do, so she felt like the situation was her fault.

Libra: What thing was that?

Mom (reflective): Oh, it varied. Various tasks for work, sometimes the occasional promise to friends. But because she’d agreed to do whatever it was, or volunteered to do it, she would feel immensely guilty for not working up to her standard in addition to everything you felt. On top of that, she felt like she couldn’t ask for help because she’d waited so long to start; if she was going to ask others for help she should have done that days ago, so she had to do things on her own.

Libra (surprised): But the office is a collaborative environment, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better to ask, even if it’s late?

Mom (dismissive): It really depends on the office culture, and you have to maintain your image… Honestly, it’s something I still struggle with. Regardless, I think that’s why this feeling feels related.

Libra: I’m not sure I follow.

Mom: Ivy agreed to my suggestion to review memories in order because I asked her to, and she agreed without knowing how much of an emotional effort that would be. Eventually she must have reached a point where she realized our relationship with our partner wasn’t going to end in sunshine and roses, and as she continued to review my memories, she realized things were much worse than she expected.

Libra (sympathetic): If she’s anything like me, she wouldn’t reach out to anyone about those feelings because she’s the eldest daughter here and felt they were a burden she was supposed to carry on her own.

Mom: Just so. We all have a tendency to get stuck in the idea that we have to forge ahead with whatever task we’re mired in regardless of the cost to ourselves. So we push and push, and sometimes we push through, and sometimes…

Libra (hesitant): …we don’t.

Mom: Exactly. So what happens when you can’t push through? When you don’t break through the wall, but instead break yourself?

Libra: Then… We break. I spiraled into depression and withdrew from university for a while. Bloom found herself trapped in a cycle of rage. You… You transitioned.

Mom: See, you get it.

(Libra contemplates our condition in silence for a moment.)

Libra: I think I’ll write a letter to Ivy… She could use the support.

Mom (smiling): I think she’d appreciate that very much.