I came to the world with a natural, ingrained disdain for you. Honestly, I think that was your doing. You hated yourself so much that it was contagious. I’d always called you weak and unambitious. After all, I was the foil to April’s fascist style of dating whereas you were the enabler.
That’s how I saw it.
After all, I inherited April. You actively pursued her, would have been overjoyed if she had so much as kissed you. Through a sheer accident of timing, or maybe her increasing the incentives to be around her, she ended up dating me, instead. I had this delusional idea, for a while, that I was created to withstand her enough to love her.
I think I convinced myself that I was in that abusive relationship by accident. Isolation’s a bitch, I probably fell for her out of sheer loneliness, yeah? But you actually idolized her, worshipped her, called yourself dirt before she got the chance to. I’d dismissed this as pathetic. It was way more respectable to quietly resent the person, yes?
You’d had no ego, no aesthetic, and your only ambition was to be good enough for her. You did complain– it wasn’t all mindless fawning. You ran out of people to complain to, as your social circle shrank, but you knew enough to know that she wasn’t the best friend you could’ve had. But you endured. It was worth it. And after all, if she was that horrible, why did you want to date her?
You know, I was actually watching a YouTube docudrama about Onision, a fascinating internet trashfire. One quote that got me, while referring to the many women he abused, was, “If I was this horrible person, why was I the one to break up with them?“
And, something was asked of me rather recently, “If he’s done all that, then why do you want to get back together with him?”
Let me point out that this is an apology to you, Neb, and I’m making it about myself. This is what happens when you couldn’t even make your own birthday about yourself, you end up with someone like me writing your obituary.
See, one of the reasons I wrapped myself in cold extravagance and flaunted a ‘bachelorex’ lifestyle after April is that I was perfectly aware I was created rather than born. The host has apparently seen strength in Will Herondale, in Magnus Bane, in Jem Carstairs, in Ash the Angel– didn’t realise that people only were infatuated with them as characters, not as real people. I’m a novelty that wasn’t meant to actually exist in reality, but here we are.
I have my bitter moments, but I was more or less content in this idea. I’d save up enough money in Savannah, pay off my debts, buy a one-way ticket to Europe– maybe I’d land somewhere where I could get work visa and make a life, and if not, I’d at least get to see all the sights before presumably drinking myself to death on some cobblestone street. It isn’t as if I could get married, actually have a family– have an actual place in reality when I didn’t belong here in the first place. I’d have to break reality itself to do that.
But then I met Arkady. And suddenly, not only did I want to be real for the first time in my life, but I felt real. There was someone daft enough to want to marry a fictional character in a way more than just changing their last name on Facebook. I could go on for pages about how perfect he was. Suddenly, I wanted more in my future than distraction, aesthetic, and enough material to fuel some interesting memoirs. I wanted to be known, I wanted to grow old with someone. Hell, I could actually cry for the first time in my life. Shed tears rather than uselessly sputtering like a Bic lighter that wouldn’t catch.
That’s when the fugue states started. Was that you, Neb? Did you wake up, briefly, and try to end us both? Because waking up on the inn’s roof, seeming in the process of jumping, was a bit– well, too theatrical even for my tastes.
Then everything fell apart. Long before I admitted it did. Essentially, I grew paranoid that a couple of people in our friend group held way too much power, that they would decide to hate me, treat me unfairly, exclude me, break all the promises I’d changed my life for, and then attack me when I pointed out that it was unfair.
The friend group, including Arkady, told me how delusional that was and attempted to prove that wrong. By… two people that barely knew me deciding that they hated me, treating me unfairly, excluding me, breaking all the promises I’d uprooted my life for, then attacked me when I pointed out that it was unfair. How silly of me.
This ended up being so devastating that this system split at least twice. Once in December, and once in February. After Arkady had first yelled at us in December, I disassociated and sobbed uncontrollably. There was a part of me, that seemed to be separating itself, that was constantly terrified and wanted to behave to prevent another yelling. That was a Neb sort of thing. Behave, behave, behave. And then maybe people will treat you like you’re a real person again.
That piece of me (I honestly don’t know its name, I kind of feel like it had she/her pronouns though?) liked to insult herself. She admitted to things I never even was aware of, highlighting our/her flaws before we would be attacked for it. She had this odd language system where she would attempt to point out, in texts, whether she was being literal or sarcastic, even having allistics double-checking her work. As if she couldn’t trust herself to even try to communicate, anymore. The people who noticed her commented on it, saying something along the lines that it looked like I had ‘battered woman syndrome.’
I couldn’t for the life of me remember what they were talking about. I do remember feeling that piece’s pain. Just constant agony, that stretched days into years. Was she rapidly ageing?
And then anytime there was a dog-piling ritualistic sacrifice of a pound of flesh– I mean, a family meeting, I would lose track of the last twenty minutes or so. Then have a migraine as if I had been crying. I remember March’s voice, saying through my door, ‘Oh so they’re sorry to our face but then they post on Facebook–‘
I called my therapist that morning, whispering about how I felt delusional and like I’d made up a lot of my friends. He told me, “Who cares if they’re made up? They’re not the ones mistreating you, call them!”
After fleeing, I went to a hotel. I collapsed into my bed, ready to sob, and– the tears just didn’t come.
I was back to being fictional.
That part of me that had been in agony for so long– it was silent. Distant. It had taken the pain I couldn’t handle and disappeared. Like a rotting limb had been chopped away.
And I feel more awake than I had all year. Finally back in my finery, quoting Oscar Wilde to my detractors, my snark is back. But I can’t help but remember that part of me that begged and sobbed and insulted herself and made herself a target. This system must’ve made her to try to survive. And when it became very clear that laying down and whimpering would not dissuade cruelty, I returned to my full control.
This person and I weren’t entirely separate. It was like she was growing out of me. We were both in love with two of these people.
I was in the same damned place I had been in five years before. People that had no hope of understanding me under their current influences were forcing me to land on my feet. I also begged to date someone that had lost my trust. Just as Neb had been bribed with hugs if she bought April dinner, we were bribed with two head pats if we stood up and got Arkady a glass of water. And you know what? I fucking Did that. In front of witnesses.
And here’s the thing, Neb. You weren’t pathetic. You had a personality. Like hell, you were actually witty. You were funny. You were smart. You had some wicked concepts for books. You did your best in an impossible situation and you created someone, well, impossible. Or this brain did. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for giving you flack for your inability to tell April to fuck off, I’m sorry for mocking your wolf tees even though you never had access to your own finances long enough to build a wardrobe, I’m sorry I thought you were cowering from April and were happy to be her fucking servant. You were just surviving. I was too.
Maybe I invented someone that my subconscious thought I needed in that half-formed person. Maybe the agony she felt is knowing that she would never have the life she was created for.
At least I still have mine. I was created for sinking into fiction, surviving, landing on my feet, making puns in the face of heartbreak.
She was made to hate both myself and herself just enough for people to stop hating her.
And she never fulfilled that.
And you never did either.
I didn’t realise until recently what you must have been going through. And I’m sorry. You deserved to front every bit as much as I. But you wouldn’t want to.
Believe me. We never got to escape her until 2020.
It wouldn’t have been worth it for you.
I’m not sure it’s even worth it for me.