In Which ‘How Dare You’ is an Honest Question

The following entry may contain triggering material.
I got this deer-patterned, silver-glitter covered, pocket notebook because it reminded me of the Darren (who I spell Darene but pronounce the same.) A thought occurred to me that this could be my liary, a diary for lies. I’d originally gotten the idea from Catherine MacCoun’s On Becoming an Alchemist, in the chapter dedicated to the procedure of Separation and encounters with threshold guardians, or Adversaries. Should a questant continue to have an Adversary turn them away from the threshold, the advice went:

keep a “falsehood journal.” Each night, just before going to bed, record in this journal every single lie you’ve told since you woke up. Include the little white ones meant to spare others’ feelings or grease the wheels (…) and pay special attention to the lies you have told yourself. Don’t attempt to rationalize or excuse them and don’t castigate yourself about them either. Simply write them down. If you’re thorough, you won’t need to persist long with the exercise. It provokes a very swift response.

Every falsehood I personally clear gets me further away from the humiliation of discovering that I wasn’t the product of cutting-edge reproductive technology but a common bastard all along, a lifetime of abuse and gaslighting from the home I ran away from fourish/fiveish years ago, and that geis I broke. I’d figured out the heartwrenching joy of getting the truth out, long before I got the notebook. If I’ve been obnoxious, destructive, or a bore about it—I’ve told you what’s behind me.

Oh, I still found something to write in it. Access to the university library without a student identification card was easy enough if I claimed alumne status. The security guard didn’t get in trouble for waving me through…I hope…but when I wanted to reserve or check out a book, and explained the truth to the librarians in the attempt, it was hardly encouraging that they didn’t know what to do with an independent researcher, unaffiliated with any organization, who’d been schooled abroad, and dropped out before even starting a higher education. After some hollering back and forth, because it was a very large library and it wouldn’t do for them to crowd in one section (but, hollering! in a library! from librarians! what’s sacred anymore?) they charged me an affordable fee and informed me that their library was usually only open to non-student researchers two days a week. So now I know better.

As it turned out, or at least what I felt nudged toward when I tried to write that in…the Darrenesque called for an omission lie more—at least from me, at this instance, a specific one, I think.

I’m not getting better.

I’m clinically insane, mentally ill. I ran away from the so-called support system that was a constant trigger for the worst of it, but was the only even nominal support system I’d have. I work contracts: freelance writing and illustration, or managing a merchandise table, or working a ticket booth for events. I don’t have the education, the skills, to find sustainable work that will keep myself off the streets. I loathe depending on connections so far into my twenties, but that’s what I’ve been doing, and each of those have only lasted for as long as each connection didn’t know—

I’m never going to be okay.

Leaving my abusive birth family didn’t free me, it’s ruined me—and I will not go back, because I’m insane. And unintelligently much happier in the ruins compared to living with rich abusers. And I refuse to. My life depends on organization and regularity that I evidently couldn’t develop if my life depended on it, ignoring overwhelming pains that hardly anyone else believes even exists or concerns them (unless I trouble some specialist of a frivolous and expensive field of medicine), working through fatigue and lack of clarity with a determination that I never have because I just want to end it all, all the time.

Nobody I lean on is a temporary crutch, because I’m not healing, I’m doomed. By now that initial loathing has melted into normalcy.

Whether I take you down with me or not, I’m doomed.

Don’t write it, the Darrenesque seemed to say, as my head lanced with the pain and distress of all those realizations, and my pen hovered over a blank page. Say it aloud. To someone who it’d change everything to hear it.

Dare you.

Double dare you.

Double-deer dare you—

“I’m not getting better,” I told my roommate, whose family paid for my plane ticket to and from their home in the south this summer, who’d themself been covering for the rent and bills and groceries five out of ten months this year, and nine out of twelve months last year (and now that I look at that, I guess I’m getting incrementally better, at a glacial pace, but that’s no good,) on a salary not meant to support more than one person and that they juggle with taking a Master’s degree and general health complications—most recently, psychiatric.

“That’s okay,” they replied.

The ensuing conversation was more elaborate and private than that. Certainly the situation is complicated by said roommate’s sympathy to mental illness (they’d been more of the attitude that “you don’t need meds I’m not buying for you unlike food we need, you just need bootstraps,” until this month) as well as some potential political stability. (Not instability, instability is fine for a region within a volcanic range and on a fault line and in a typhoon belt.) (Seriously, though, roomie’s moving to Canada if this gets worse oh hey wouldja look at that it’s getting worse; I am not going with them, I’m a tropical creature who’s heard horrifying legends of hailstones, and besides I wasn’t invited.)

At least, I can end on my own response to my roommate’s response: “Wait, what?”