They say that the reason she is not doing well is not because of the testosterone or the mastectomy but because I am not trying hard enough to have a better relationship with her.
I don’t know what that means anymore. She decided 2 years ago that I was evil. Now anything I say, anything I do, any text I send, any question, any emoji, just confirms for her that I am being “manipulative”. It reassures her that her online and real life friends are right when they tell her not to trust me and that if I am “being nice” it’s because I’m trying to get her to change.
She believes these things. But she must also be confused. There must be some inner dissonance between these beliefs and the 18 years we spent together. We were close and then, suddenly, one day, she said “you’re going to kick me out if I tell you this”, followed by, “I am trans”. That’s how it happened. And in that moment, she was lured away from me by the false beliefs of others. Anything I said simply confirmed for her that I could not be trusted. Anything I said became a threat.
So I am damned either way. I can carry on with my life, try to salvage what’s left, hang on to my other child, or I can pretend and pretend and post fake “likes” of her scar photos, like her glitter moms do. I could act out pride and happiness with my child’s medically facilitated self-harm. I could try to win her back by putting on a performance. Apparently.
So they want me to pretend. To use male pronouns, even when she’s not around, even around my partner. He has been recruited; she has recruited allies within our family, like the Stazi, the thought-police. Even though he says he disagrees with all this, he believes that it’s still up to me. That I could make this all better, I could stop her from cutting her arms and her face and turn her into a happier person if I would just give in, surrender.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a mother giving in. This is a fundamental truth. Only my dead body is able to give in. So do they all want me dead? Perhaps.
I tried to surrender once, way back. I told her I was glad that she was feeling better (which is what she claimed, after starting testosterone). Then she told me that if anything stopped her from getting a mastectomy she would kill herself. (What surgeon on this planet uses that as an indication for surgery?)
Deep down, I know that no matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, no amount of pretending will improve our relationship. She is on male hormones and other psych meds. She is shut down emotionally, she has made her escape using pharmaceutical tools. It is a losing game to try to “win” her approval, to try to get her to admit to others that I am not evil. Because that would unravel everything. Then the world she knows would truly stop making sense. She would accuse me of pretending. She would play the thought-police. She needs me to be the enemy.
I get all that. I could take all of that. What I can’t take is OTHER PEOPLE, like doctors and therapists and my husband telling me I am not trying hard enough to be her mother and that is the root of all our troubles. It always comes back to the mother.
There must be a script somewhere for all of them with all their rules and guiding phrases. And I am the only one refusing to read it or unable to memorize the lines.
I wake up every morning sick, my heart racing, wondering how to get through another day of Failing as a Mother. That’s my role. That’s the only one I can’t pretend.