The Sins of Icarus

Despite my trauma around journals, I’ve seen a new entry in my ‘magic’ one, one that I usually use to infuse the page with elements of my day or… soul… or…

I’m sorry, this journal entry is a lot more scattered than usual. I have a sense of urgency where I feel like I can’t refine this much as I generally do. This blog will probably be all over the place.

Anyway, the point is, Xhaxhollari wrote: “I was the one who typed.”

I wasn’t given permission to take a picture of this. Again, journal trauma. There were repeated phrases, “I was the one who typed. I didn’t know.” It was all haphazard font. At first, I was startled but elated. Who was this? Who feels comfortable enough to use this journal?

There was an X made in pigeon feathers, glued on the page. And one sentence in particular stuck out–

“I believed [April/Kieran] were separate!”

Oh. Well. Now I know what he’s on about.

So, here’s the background. This’ll be explained more in-depth throughout the blog, but this’ll serve as a necessary rundown. April has been mentioned Many times. She’s my abusive ex. She’s the one who’d beaten me, and created many of my introjects. She had a ‘character’ at the time, a naked man with long hair she would draw often. For the sake of this, we’ll call him ‘Kieran.’ She called him a sun god.

April described Kieran as a bit of an alter ego, at first. Then, towards the end of our relationship, she told me that she had a twin in the womb that she had absorbed. The twin was supposed to have had Kieran’s name.

She did, also, have a chapter of gender exploration.

It’d started with her trying to throw off Fedora man. “I’ll just say that I’m trans or something and he’ll leave me alone!” It was stated like a joke. Sort of in the same way that vapid cis women say, ‘I’ll say I have a penis, then he’ll leave me alone!’

Then it would grow into sheer misogyny. “I can’t live with women. They always want to talk and they’re way too sensitive. That’s why I don’t want to be associated with them. Like I like cars, I don’t do that sensitive shit, I might as well just be a boy.”

I sit here and explain to those who don’t know me that I am a non-binary trans-masculine person. At the time, I had not come to terms with it. I was pretty adverse to the idea of gender– it felt like swapping one set of stereotypes for another, and I was vocal about that. I will say, absolutely, I was not as receptive as I should have been. I had gender-critical sentiments that definitely bordered on being transphobic. As a dysphoric and non-enlightened bitter motherfucker, I was fully embracing pronoun change, physical transition, all that– but I hated calling anyone a ‘man’ ‘woman’ ‘boy’ ‘girl’ etc. I was dismissive, I didn’t try to understand, and I was more skeptical than open. That was on me.

If you’ve known me in that era (primarily 2015), and you hate me for it, it’s warranted. I was a dick. All gender had ever done to me at that point was harm, and I had declared a war against it.

IWithin dead man’s land were people who found solace in it. I didn’t see that at the time. I was wrong, and I’ll openly say so.

But here’s where it gets complicated.

I was on my bullshit, certainly, but it didn’t help that what April was claiming was just… baffling nonsense. “I have to tell doctors that I’m transgender– I COULD be like you and just spurn labels and all that, but to even have a hope that my endometriosis will ever be treated, I have to pretend to be transgender!”

When a friend of mine had simply asked April for pronouns, the answer was, “My pronouns are all the gods saying all the pronouns simultaneously.”

I remember excusing myself to the lavatory to laugh hysterically at that.

Some people were under the impression that April was going by he/him. Some people had been told that this was pretend, either for the medical reason mentioned above or as a ‘way to get ahead in the sequential art community.’ “Because all comic artists are men!” I, for example, was told the latter. Yet there were friends of hers convinced that I was willfully misgendering her just to be an ass.

And as I said, my war on gender wasn’t… um… helping that viewpoint.

It seemed to me that she was more or less switching up the rules as a way to correct me and berate me. The pronouns would change not only between friend groups, but between settings. She did the same thing with the pronounciation of anime titles, so this seemed like the same game on another platform.

Eventually, Vex confronted April. I think this was after April punched Koji (my age-sliding alter) in the face for not keeping up with the changes quick enough. Vex is the system protector, and felt that this was being used to further bully me. She accused April of taking the ‘easy way out’ of sexism by claiming falsely claiming to be transgender– sort of like a flawed, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ mentality.

My inworld niece and Vex’s inworld granddaughter, Nox, had recently shed her assigned-male guise and was making the decision to transition. And in her culture, it’s harrowing to come out of the closet, to say the least. Also, I was, in the outer world, becoming close with someone whose initial puberty gave them frequent suicidal spirals. So, we both felt personally affronted by this apparent farce of April’s.

Vex publicly called April out (in the inworld, I suppose?) and April dropped it. April agreed with me that gender was only a label and even mocked members of the trans-masc community. She even sent me to attack a random label-heavy trans guy in the comments of a Facebook post. I think his name was Oliver.

For some reason, I obliged. I regret doing so. Maybe I was happy we were getting along as a couple? It was shitty, either way.

Anyway, the getting along didn’t last. Because of… extreme psychological abuse I’ll eventually cover at length, I broke up with April, sending her a pre-meditated email and blocking her on all accounts, never to see her again.

Or so I thought.

I was licking my wounds and trying to understand my inworld without April, and I had settled on a multiple-dimensions theory.

So, when I was informed by Kaspar about Kieran reaching out to it, someone who hated his transphobic sister, who was a twin– I thought the dimensions shifted. The same way it does when I’ve done something I don’t remember doing, or when my inworld resembled the outer a bit too much. And… You know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So, I reached out to Kieran.

Kaspar arranged for us both to meet. We happened to be in the same city of Savannah.

I was startled, at first, by the resemblance. I’d actually been picturing a cis man, but Kieran looked… quite a bit like his sister. But there were so many differences. He was dressing differently, looking like an eccentric professor dandy rather than a weeb mall goth. He didn’t have a blonde streak and his eyes seemed a bit greener than his sister’s.

Aesthetic goes a long way with me.

Kieran and I got to know each other. We’d usually just meet up, drink, take advantage of the Savannahian downtown. I did like him better than April. Kieran wanted to take advantage of the opulence surrounding us, April had been a homebody. Kieran was openly polyamorous and aromantic. April had been restrictively monogamous and tried to pressure me into marriage. Kieran could have nuanced conversations about the trans masc experience, April basically just said ‘Girls have cooties’ in so many more baffling words. April and Kieran were both chronic liars, blatantly self-serving– but I felt like there was hope for Kieran. I never did feel that with April.

I knew some people thought April and Kieran were the same. I considered them just… ignorant of multi-plane theory. I knew I would’ve looked crazy trying to explain it. Let them think that April had simply transitioned into Kieran. Maybe my breaking up with him did him some good, I would joke.

Also, Kieran got better in bed. He came onto me during a night of drinking and– hell, we teased each other down all the time, it was the very opposite of a loving encounter– and we had sex every few months or so. He had a begging kink and I guess I needed to be degraded. Sometimes, he would initiate. Sometimes, I would.

Then I moved away, to be with Ash and Arkady. I’d told them about April and Kieran, trusted them both with that information.

It was Ash that suggested that perhaps I had manipulated reality in a way that brought Kieran forth to replace April, and that they did reside in the same body. Kieran even confirmed with them that I had moved to Savannah to be with his sister. And hell, when Ash mentioned that, I did seem to remember Kieran speaking about April like I had with Neb. I remember him saying how he’d woken up, like I had, and we’d speculate as to why our predecessors had disappeared. There was also this email from April.

What… interesting wording, that was.

I was starting to think– Hell, maybe I had wished her away from existence. Her brother deserves a living body more. Fuck it.

But… As I spent more time away from Savannah, I would see on Kieran’s profile how April’s sentiments would just kind of… leak out of him. More of his posts seemed to be from her point of view, talking about an ‘ex’ that seemed a lot like me. A warped account, yes, but it still seemed… too familiar.

Arkady and I were having issues already when I’d caught it. It had me on edge. I thought perhaps the physical distance from me had made my trick start to fail.

Then… Arkady told me.

He’d talked to Kieran about my alters. Kieran ended up being April, too.

Ash had even asserted to me that [April] was Kieran’s deadname, and that they had been the same person all along. And that he had spent the better part of the past decade ‘role-playing’ with my alters and I on some sort of RP chat.

I’d heard that DID can lead you back to your abusers.

But I didn’t know how or who that was.

Until earlier this week. Xhaxhollari, perhaps overwhelmed by guilt, finally told me. ‘I was the one who typed.’

I’m going to try to sum up what he told me. He was literally shaking and weeping. I’ve had Audric keep an eye on him since. ‘I had control of the hands. I didn’t think it was a play, but I had typed the words. I had typed how you’d all react. It seemed to be the best way for us two solar systems to communicate. I thought April was the old host of Kieran’s solar system. You were in there. You had no idea I was typing. I thought it was just how people like us communicated.’

‘I feel like I’ve ruined everything.’

I’d seen Arkady’s and Ash’s cruelty since. We were damned from the moment we had independent thoughts. Besides, I try not to get caught up in ‘what ifs.’

Xhax admitted to me, that when I’d sent an email basically saying, “I’m done with you”, he had tweaked it in the email drafts to say, ‘We’ll reconnect in four months.’

He believed Kieran would take that opportunity to take his ‘rightful place’ as host.

Xhaxhollari had even sent April/Kieran a letter, congratulating him on his progress. Without my permission or knowledge.

I remember clearly that Kieran denied that we’d ever had a relationship. But on the rare occasion where he would break character and mention it, Xhax would immediately front with an amnesia barrier. Xhax even told one of my past partners, Julie, that he was going to give me amnesia just so I could be there for Kieran as he became the host.

I remember vaguely that Julie mentioned that Kieran and I had dated. When I responded with confusion, she ran out of the restaurant we were dining in. I always puzzled over that until recently.

I don’t blame Julie. I do blame Kieran. He clearly knew that we thought of him as a different person from my abuser. Why encourage that delusion? Why continue in the chat? Why pretend that it’s all real to him and then call it a mere role-play later when questioned?

Have you ever watched Sherlock? Did you see the finale? Where he finds out that the ‘lost dog’ he had been mourning was actually an entire human child his sister had killed?

“You were upset,” his sister chides him later on. “So, you told yourself a better story.”

I had no one." - Eurus Holmes, The Final Problem | Sherlock holmes bbc,  Sherlock eurus, Sherlock holmes

“I believed him.” Xhaxhollari kept whispering. I’d actually embraced him. I was angry, at first. Cold, even. But this was a creature who had clearly tried and was in pain. “I just wanted to save everyone.”

Unbeknownst to me, I’d been friends with my abuser years after thinking myself free. And the household discovered this, thinking it all my contrived plot to–… Well, what would be the end goal there? Do they even have a theory? And while Xhaxhollari was typing, I was inside the inworld. Dealing with all of it in real time. Witnessing it. Feeling it.

“I just wanted to save everyone.”

We’d both been listening obsessively to a song, ‘Achilles Come Down’ by a Gang of Youths while communicating. Leaning on each other. Trying to lift each other up.

He initially blamed his past mistakes on the fact that he’d believed Kieran, about he and April having been separate people.

I blamed my mistakes on the fact that I believed Arkady and Ash, and the promises they’d made me. Meanwhile, they’d been willing to deliver me and all of my system on a silver platter right back to that sadistic twat.

I resent not having known… That Xhaxhollari’s optimism had allowed Kieran to fool us both until he could strike me when I was down. That I had to find out from Arkady and Ash spitting it at me as if Kieran’s manipulation was my own.

Xhax and I have been co-conning for the past few days. He’s been clingy– not in a bad way. He’s admitted a few things to me. How he thinks he– or maybe a part of him– was Neb at one point. I thought to how he considered himself an Icarus, one who fell by getting too close to the sun. Gods, this brain has a thing for symbolism.

I had a brief instance of thinking this may make me look ‘bad.’ But I was just a traumatized, mentally ill person who has been repeatedly been taken advantage of, usually in the realm of the supernatural and magic.

And gods. If I had ever found out that Arkady, for example, had mistook his old abuser for a friend– I would be horrified at the mind-fuck he’s had to suffer through, and I’d protect him.

Maybe he would have, if he were still here. Instead, I’m blamed for being manipulated. ‘What if I had known beforehand? What if I had never introduced Kieran to them?’ Those questions haunt me, though I know they’re useless. What I know now is that Xhaxhollari had simply tried to keep a lot of us alive– and succeeded.

I will say this, though. Sometimes I feel too fucked up to live. Twice in my life, I’ve been psychologically tortured for months on end. Younger still, physically tortured. I feel too bizarre to live, but Aberle assures me that I’m simply too rare to die. (He Loves Hunter S. Thompson.)

Those who have tormented me could’ve done me a mercy at any time and just killed me. Sometimes I wish they had. And now that I can at last speak out, I might even make them regret that they didn’t.

But only as much as I do.