Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 117: Digging For Desire

Lark (The Dreamer): Hey Mom.

Mom (Me): Good morning, Lark.

Lark: How’re you doing today?

Mom: I’m doing alright… I’ve been thinking about things.

Lark: Oh? What about?

Mom (snarky): Right now I’m thinking about how you seem to keep coming by to check on me instead of the other way around.

Lark (smiling): It does seem like a bit of a reversal, but things have changed around here, haven’t they?

Mom (skeptical): Have they changed that much? I invited you all here to help you process your pasts — my past. That’s still my goal, here.

Lark: It isn’t your only goal though, is it? With Bloom and Libra, you *have* helped them process their pasts. They don’t really feel the dysphoria that drove them into anxiety spirals anymore. With Aura, you’re learning to work closer with her, since you still have a technical job you’re holding down… And to be honest, Ivy’s past is still your unresolved present.

Mom (uneasy): That’s… That’s true. Ivy even stepped away from us for a bit to process that on her own.

Lark: Just so. We’re *all* your present, in a way — all of us represent different ways of thinking that are still with you. Building personalities around those mindsets makes it easier to contextualize and process your past.

Mom: You’re talking about plurality.

Lark: I do. Recognizing that we’re median plural and accepting that plurality helps all of us process rather than hurts us was a big step in allowing your daughters to help you work through your feelings. So… Here I am, helping you process your feelings.

Mom: I suppose that makes sense. What about your past though?

Lark (confused): What do you mean?

Mom: You explained how I helped Bloom, Libra, Aura, and Ivy, but not you. What about your past?

Lark: I’m not like them, am I? As The Dreamer, what past do I have to delve into?

Mom (pensive): I… Hmm. What about past dreams? Things that I used to dream about but don’t anymore for some reason.

Lark: Like being a girl?

Mom (unsure): I guess we can start there, but I feel like we’ve resolved any tension there…

Lark (direct): We resolved that tension because you transitioned. That’s not a dream anymore; it’s your reality. I’ve always held onto the desires that you couldn’t fulfill, keeping them fresh in your subconscious mind so you don’t quite lose sight of them.

Mom: Okay, so what have you been holding onto recently?

Lark (hesitant): Do you think you’re ready to see them?

Mom (surprised): Do you think I’m not?

Lark: Mom, you’ve always been a dreamer, as long as we can remember. Your dreams are keeping a lot of difficult desires safe. If you knew how to access them safely and knew how to act on them, you wouldn’t have to replay them over and over in your head.

Mom: I suppose you have a point there…

Lark: Remember how your partner used to complain that you lack desire altogether? It’s like you couldn’t access any of your desires at all.

Mom: That’s true, but I feel like things have gotten better since then. The big desire that was crowding out everything else — transition — has been resolved. I’m much more emotionally open. I’m much more honest with myself now.

Lark (nitpicky): *Somewhat* more honest I’ll give you… But I still think you have trouble understanding what you really want. You’re still learning how to want things — still convincing yourself that it’s even *okay* to want things.

Mom (annoyed): You make it sound like I never do anything for myself at all. I have goals of my own, you know.

Lark (focused): You do, but processing them isn’t so simple… Here let me ask you a question. Why are you doing this?

Mom: Having this conversation?

Lark: Writing this series. This conversation will be Scene 117. You’ve been publishing these scenes regularly for over a year. Why? What are you getting out of this? What are you trying to accomplish?

Mom (reluctant): Lark, you know why.

Lark: Indulge me.

Mom: Fine. I’m trying to process my past. I’m threading all of my past selves together into one unified history, a history that culminates in myself: an unbroken chain of experience and meaning.

Lark (skeptical): Are you? I feel like you’ve mostly accomplished that… Bloom and Libra don’t need your help very often anymore, do they? They’ve internalized their transness, they fit in well with the family — you’re not trying to convince yourself that they’re a necessary element of your past anymore. That part’s done.

Mom: Granted, I suppose… But this fiction is still a very useful framework for processing my current stressors. As you pointed out, Ivy’s past is my unresolved present. I’m still growing from thinking through these scenes and writing them out.

Lark: I can’t argue with that, but that’s still essentially therapeutic journaling. You could just write your thoughts out without refining them into scenes. You don’t have to frame them as dialogue, or publish them… In fact, most people don’t. Why do you?

Mom (passionate): Writing is a really meaningful and fulfilling creative outlet for me. Besides, I want to improve my craft. Publishing these scenes regularly gives me a lot of practice, and I think I’ve been steadily improving. As for why I publish at all… This stuff could help someone, you know?

Lark (critical): I know; I remember when you said that the first time. “If my writing helps even a single person, then it was worth it.” You know you’ve helped some people; they’ve told you as much… Months and months ago. You’ve fulfilled that dream too, so I don’t think you’re being honest with your motivation anymore.

Mom (hesitant): I still want to help people. As far as I can tell you’re right; most people don’t publish their journals like this. Doesn’t that make my work valuable? I want to leave a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak. I hatched because I saw myself mirrored in someone else’s history — there’s always a chance someone will see themselves in mine and recognize something within themselves that they couldn’t clearly see before.

Lark (pointed): Stop dodging the question, Mom. These are all justifications — they’re not untrue, but they’re not the reason why you’re still doing this. They’re not the reason why you push yourself to keep writing, to stay up late finishing these scenes even though you can set their publishing schedule to whatever you want. You’re not driven purely by altruism and you know it. If you want to understand your desire, you have to face it honestly… So what do you *really* want?

Mom (timid): I told you already… I’m searching for meaning.

Lark: What meaning? What does it matter?

Mom (tearful): It matters! I want my writing to mean something! I want people to care that I’ve written it. I… I want to be respected, to be acknowledged for my expertise. Maybe even sought out for it.

Lark (persistent): Why, Mom? *Why?*

Mom (desperate): Because I want my *life* to mean something! I want to open my heart to people and have them embrace me for who I am. To tell me that they’re glad I’m with them and who love me for who I am.

Lark: You mean aside from your family, I suppose? Your child certainly loves you that way, even when it doesn’t seem like it. You have friends that love you too.

Mom (crying): I know I do, I know you’re right, but I want more. I want broader validation. I want to be celebrated.

Lark: And yet…

Mom (hurt): And yet there’s a part of me that’s ashamed that I think that way. Wanting to be respected and celebrated feels selfish. I have no idea how many people I’ve reached with my work, and I have no idea how many people it would take for me to feel satisfied — or if it’ll *ever* feel like enough.

Lark: You feel like your personal growth should be enough to motivate you.

Mom (angry): Shouldn’t it be!? Aren’t I worth working towards? Don’t I matter to myself?

(I take a moment to sigh and let the tension out, gathering myself up before I continue.)

Mom (tired): I don’t know why personal growth isn’t enough to motivate me but it isn’t. I want to be looked up to for my creative work.

Lark (gentle): There. I think you’ve honestly identified your desire. Was that so hard?

Mom (upset): Yes! I had to wrench out my heart to say all that! I broke down in tears! I feel intense guilt over wanting external validation of my work. How am I supposed to deal with that? How do I square my guilt with this apparent ambition?

Lark: That’s a good question, Mom.

Mom (shocked): A good question!? You put me through all that and you don’t have any insight for me?

Lark (hurt): I… This is different. I’m not like you, Mom. When you were processing your past with Bloom or Libra, you always had new insight to share. Those were events that you’d processed long before you wrote those scenes; truths you’d also unearthed and refined. You weren’t developing wisdom on the spot, you were sharing what you’d learned in order to build continuity between them and you.

Mom (upset): I know how it worked, I was there.

Lark (persistent): What I’m saying is things *can’t* work like that here. You’re trying to process your present; none of us have answers to your questions yet. As one of your daughters, I can help you think about your issues in new ways; I can help you explore the mental space, but I can’t give you insight you don’t already have.

Mom (calmer): So you can help me focus on my desires, help me frame them in a new light… But you can’t help me act on them, or fulfill them.

Lark (tearful): If I could, you would have transitioned a lot sooner, I think.

Mom (sighing): Oh Lark.

(I step forward and pull Lark into a hug as her tears turn to little sobs. I rub her back gently as she cries into my shoulder.)

Mom: I’m glad you’re helping me work through my desires, Lark. I appreciate you so much.

Lark (teary-eyed): Thanks Mom. I love you too.