WARNING: The follow entry may contain triggering material.
The arising of the Animus, while it had brought about a drastic internal change, wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was exactly the push needed, just not in the direction that anybody predicted. Maybe it was entirely the wrong change. Sometimes, I’m sure, I learn the wrong lesson from life.
Escaping my older sister, let’s name her Miasma, when I didn’t have a job or savings or any plan beyond “I can’t live like this anymore”…this did have its difficulties, more difficult than staying, but there was nothing for it. Miasma wouldn’t budge, and I wouldn’t endure a living death. I sought refuge with my godmother until said godmother tried to reunite us, at which point I ran off to Alpha’s place, then the estranged extended family discovered that Alpha (and I) lived in the same neighborhood. Alpha kicked me out. The extended family took me in until they found out what I was really like, at which point it was clear that I didn’t fit in (although I’d known that from the get-go,) but instead of spitting me out my uncle…began…to…chew…and basically eat my soul.
Well, I had invaded his home.
So, again without a steady job or anything saved up, I left. Well, I’d taken for granted that there were no safe spaces that I could afford. I mean literal safe spaces, as in rooms in buildings that keep out unpleasant weather and thieves. There would be bedspaces for rent, but I would never be sure of my roommates, and my only skill was writing website content, so the laptop had to be kept safe.
As it turned out, there was a boarding house down the street that rented out rooms in a bundle package with water and electricity. It cost as much as I could make freelance writing, in a good month.
The first few months were not good months. My mother’s friend who got my foot in the door for my first job, let’s name her Auntie J.J., she lent me some money to start off. She was also one of my psychic mentors and believed that everybody who makes it to her reading room is destined for her to help. Alpha and I reunited, I’d like to say reconciled, and she bought me all my meals when I’d had a bad week … until we fell out again.
I didn’t want to ask Auntie J.J. for more cash. My godmother, when we reconciled, didn’t have any to give. Alpha had thrown me what I believed to be a valid criticism that I was really only using people if I kept going back to the extended family for dinner.
Captain Foxglove vehemently disagreed with Alpha, but he isn’t real. So, I starved.
While I had no plan, I certainly had an appalling sense of entitlement for the standards of living that I would keep up for myself, at my godmother’s cost and those of her family, even at Miasma’s cost when there was still a possibility of reconciliation, at my godfather’s cost, at the cost of a mutual friend of Miasma’s and mine (I’d say three mutual friends, but I feel like the other two owe me therapy bills), at Alpha’s cost, at Auntie J.J.’s cost, and definitely at the cost of the extended family.
At the worst of Miasma, when we still lived together, I thought, I’d rather live out on the street. But that’s not what I did. I’d invaded other people’s homes instead, with hopes that I could build myself up enough to leave and return the favor some day, but never with a plan.
At the same time, when our mother was still alive, I’d had a messed-up hierarchy of needs and a sense of frugality that bordered on the ascetic. I’d go dutifully along to vacations in foreign places, set my opinion aside while clothes shopping, and I had a soft and springy bed to lie depressed in—but I didn’t feel worthy of the food on my plate.
So, I starved myself back when food was available. It was part inferiority complex, part hunger strike. When my family found out, they figured that it was just a matter of forcing me to eat, and not that it was being forced to do most things that set off a need to control something, that my attempt to transcend the need for food became that avenue and forcing me on that too just made it so much worse.
Still, I could cheat. I’d eat things that I cooked myself, because the effort I put into cooking made me feel like I was allowed to eat the final product. I’d eat at Miasma’s friend’s places, because they hadn’t complained about what a burden it was to raise me like my mother did. The rest of the time, every spoonful would be like a round of arm-wrestling with myself. It would be a match between the hunger that I’d taught myself not to feel, and my shame and anxiety of being attacked just for eating. The match would be tense. The side that was for my continued survival, rarely ever won.
My uncle knew this. During a lecture about how I had to get myself together and forgive Miasma because living out on the streets was not worse than living with her, because I didn’t know what it was like to starve—he stopped and backtracked, saying that maybe I did know what it was like to starve, but that I didn’t know what it was like to starve…
I understood. Starvation due to poverty wasn’t the same starvation as a hunger strike, a spiritual fast, a vanity diet, or an emotional drive towards self-destruction.
So, I starved this time because I couldn’t afford food, quite literally having nothing of worth on hand to offer for it; not simply feeling that I was unworthy of it, or keeping to some stop-gap effort to regain personal sovereignty.
This was when The Shadow appeared.