Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 111: Crisis Control

Mom (Me): Good morning, Bloom.

Bloom (The Survivor): Hey Mom.

Mom: Are you feeling okay? You seem a little… Deflated.

Bloom: “Deflated” sounds about right. I’ve been thinking a lot about Ivy.

Mom: Your sisters have too — I’ve spoken with everyone but you at this point.

Bloom: I guess it’s my turn then… Can I ask you something?

Mom: Of course, sweetheart.

Bloom: We’ve always been pretty good at handling ourselves in challenging situations, haven’t we? Whenever I had a test at school or was otherwise under pressure, I excelled. My head would clear and shift into high gear, and I’d do well.

Mom: That’s true — it’s how we survived most of our classes. We’d have middling-to-poor marks because we didn’t turn in homework, but we’d ace our tests and end up with a decent grade.

Bloom: Yeah. It’s something we’ve always been able to count on.… I guess that applies to relationships too.

Mom: What do you mean?

Bloom: Well, when your partner really needs you, or when you realize you need to do something *right now* in order to save the relationship, you’ve always been able to do it.

Mom: I suppose so. It feels just as you describe, too; my head would clear and my brain would shift into high gear. Or rather, Ivy’s did.

Bloom: I’m pretty sure yours does too. Those kinds of relationship crises aren’t only products of Ivy’s time; they’re something you still deal with.

Mom (embarrassed): I think Ivy *wishes* they were only products of her time. She was pretty upset when she realized I haven’t resolved them yet.

Bloom: I don’t really think she was upset at you… I think she feels disappointed in herself. She really thought she’d be able to solve those problems. Not only did she *not* solve them, you’re still dealing with them today

Mom: Isn’t that kind of validating, in a way? Of course she couldn’t fix our relationship; it’s a truly difficult thing to do.

Bloom (hesitant): I don’t think she sees it that way though… I think she feels like it was her responsibility, and now she feels like a failure for not resolving those problems.

Mom (sighing): We’re pretty good at finding ways to feel like a failure, aren’t we.

Bloom: But that’s okay, right? We’re working on it. Ivy will be okay too, and she’ll come back to us when she’s ready.

Mom (smiling faintly): I’m glad you’re so confident.

Bloom: I think that’s what I would do, and we’re literally the same person, so…

Mom: You are and you aren’t, but I agree with you. I think this is something about us that’s remained rather consistent as we age.

Bloom: Just like how we can keep a cool head in a crisis.

(Bloom smiles for a moment, but soon returns to her sullen, hurt look.)

Mom: Something else is bothering you though.

Bloom: Yeah… How we are when we’re *not* in a crisis. When we’re faced with a serious situation and a clear goal, we act effectively and decisively. But when we aren’t…

Mom: That’s a lot harder, yes. We have to decide on our own goals, and sometimes we have trouble prioritizing tasks, and even when we know what to do and how, we can’t bring ourselves to get started

Bloom: Exactly. When we don’t have a clear direction, things get a lot harder for us. Sometimes we set our to accomplish something and end up doing nothing at all. Sometimes we start, only to realize we’ve spent a bunch of time doing something useless.

Mom (struggling): Those things does happen sometimes, yes. I think I’m better at managing my focus than I used to be — I’m still writing this story, and it’s over 100 scenes long at this point. That kind of focus was literally unthinkable before transition.

Bloom: Granted, you’re better at managing your energy than my sisters or I were. But there’s still a lot of work to be done… Just like there is with your relationship to your partner.

Mom (confused): I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at.

Bloom: I mean when times got tough in your relationship, you managed to buckle down and fix what needed fixing. You resolved the crises and solved the problems. You rescued your relationship several times over.

Mom (cautious): But…

Bloom: But when those problems aren’t an urgent crises, they’re much more difficult to work on. You struggle to find the focus to solve them, so they Those fester, and get worse. You and your partner have trouble connecting to each other. You both feel more and more drained. You both edge closer to burnout.

Mom (distressed): We do, yes. It’s a struggle, and it’s not one that either of us knows how to solve yet. We’re not giving up though. We both have our own therapists and we’re working in couples therapy, trying to find new ways to approach those issues. In a way this is just another crisis — a crisis with a very different shape compared with crises we’ve faced in the past, but a crisis all the same. I’m confident that we can find a solution.

Bloom: And then what?

Mom: What do you mean?

Bloom (tearful): What if there isn’t anything else? What if you put in all this effort to stop struggling with each other and you don’t know how live without crises? When you’re not working towards some problem together, what if the two of you don’t work at all?

(I’m silent for several moments as I feel tears start to fill my eyes. One of them pushes past my eyelid and slides slowly down my cheek.)

Mom (quietly): I don’t know. I don’t know what happens then.

Bloom: I mean… Is there anything between you two aside from crisis management?

Mom (determined): There is. I know there is. Sure, we were both very different people when we first started dating, but we genuinely enjoy each other’s company sometimes. We enjoy solving jigsaw puzzles together and having new experiences together. I enjoy watching her play cozy video games; she likes going to shows with me. There *is* chemistry between us, and I know we can find it again.

Bloom (unconvinced): But how much chemistry? Is all the effort you’re putting into this really worth it?

Mom (exasperated): I don’t know, but this is what we have. There are a *lot* of great things in both of our lives that are tied to being together, so I think it’s worth trying to figure this out.

Bloom: I hope you’re right, Mom.

Mom (sighing): I hope I’m right too.