I seem to have gained a new alter. This one, another non-human alter. It’s a raven. I’ve seen ravens before in the city, but I always had to slip into my inworld just a little bit to see him. He’s a beautiful creature– scale to size.
Arkady was a raven. We always called him that– Ash would tell him stories about ‘the tiniest raven’ as he fell asleep. He was so bird-like. He would tell me that whenever I would see a raven in ‘the other plane’, or the inworld, it was him protecting me.
And now, as someone else wears his face (though Wisely changed his name on social media) makes fun of DID, calling alters “OCs”, I grinned at this silly, quirky raven. It’s just as logical to assume that my brain needed a sign that this clumsy, uneducated brute couldn’t be him, and thus formed the raven as ‘proof.’ But I think it’s him.
Someone else has taken over his body, and he’s sent his soul over, as a raven, to let me know not to lose faith in him. “I always believed in you.” I said as I stroked the magnificent beast’s throat. “I love you So much. Quillby’s missed you!” I admit, I actually got choked up. That series of dry-sobs and face-twistings that constitute as me crying, these days. The raven fluffed and fluttered at the compliments. He even hopped on my head, at one point.
I’ve called him Morgenstern. He fluffs in approval. Whenever I compliment him, he tilts his head back, freezes in mock-confusion, and croaks just as my love did.
It may all just be my mind trying to comfort me. It also could be Him saying, “I’m still here for you.” Whichever it is, I’m grateful. And he’s getting pistachios.
But if my Arkady is still in that body– then I’ll know when he wakes up again. He’ll come find me. He’ll be horrified with what’s happened, and apologise. If whoever is in that body continues to mock trauma, boast his ignorance about a disorder he has, then this little raven by my side is all that’s left of him. And I’ll cherish it with all of my heart while mourning the rest of him.
Avery wasn’t pleased to find out that I had freshly-discovered DID. To be fair, they’d had a couple of bombshells dropped on them in a matter of just a month, via Ash’s bullshit.
“[Avery]! Move in with us! You can live in the attic, we have an entire woods in the backyard and everything!”
then “[Avery]! Small change of plans. We’re actually all moving to Ithaca! Well, [Arkady], [March], and I are all living together. You and Xanthe will have to find somewhere nearby to live.” When I protested the obvious difference between four people splitting three incomes, and two people on one income, [Ash] said to me, “Xanthe, they’re YOUR partner.”
Then the responsibility of breaking any further bad news would fall to me, as Ash couldn’t allow themself to be connected to… well, the things they were responsible for.
“Well,” I said in a strained tone over the phone. “I’m definitely looking for a place here in Rochester. Ithaca is out for them, too. Trying to satisfy your need for your own space while being mindful of my budget– it’ll be tricky, but I’ve beaten worse odds.” I don’t think I was being stupidly optimistic. I think I’ve learned that life tends to throw me curveballs, both negative and positive. And gods knew I was about due for the latter.
That was probably three weeks before the household, who had solemnly agreed not to bring up issues more than two weeks old or even personal discussions before the move out date, tried forcing me into a dogpile about how my alters exist (or don’t) solely to manipulate them. You know, one of whom claims to channel my parents, a deceased romantic partner, and Oscar Wilde’s younger sister.
Well, what do you know? I was in luck. Not necessarily good luck, but it could be considered a sort of luck. It was a two-bedroom flat north of the Kodak building for less than $650 a month. It was the upper floor of a duplex, which definitely reminded me of my early Savannah days.
It was one of those areas that used to be rough, and now was just a little sad. There’s a laundromat I can see outside my window– I’ve never seen a single person in there to do laundry, but there’s always at least two guys out front just… loitering. Definitely a front. I keep trying to work up the courage to ask if I can do laundry over there and keep my mouth shut. I remember very clearly how Arkady asked, ‘Don’t you want to find somewhere a bit… better, for [Avery]?’
I’d stared at him. The answer was Yes, Yes, I did. But his fiancee had fucked me over. And he was agonizingly close to getting the point and strolling past it.
Gods, he’s lucky he’s pretty.
But what other choice did I have? Taking Ash’s advice and calling Avery and telling them, ‘Nevermind on saving you from homeless, die in the woods, I guess?’
Then the next curveball was a two-for-one sale on plot-twists. My household was no longer speaking to me, had launched a smear campaign against me, and I apparently have Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Which is a fascinating fact about the person you’re going to be moving in with.
But hell, it wasn’t as if the symptoms were new. Avery had known my magical world, my dubiously real friends, had even suggested before I had DID years before I’d even met the household. I almost thought this would actually work out. However, the questions and comments they had weren’t exactly encouraging.
“You don’t like, switch during sex, do you? I’ve heard about someone that happened to and it ended up being a Little.” Well, no, that’s definitely never happened before. “Well, there’s a first time for everything.”
I eventually just didn’t want to have sex with them.
“I wish I could just switch and let someone else handle my problems for a bit.” Well, I don’t know how to do that on command. “Well, yeah, your alters are useless.” … Thanks. The good news was that I could definitely keep the boundary they requested about none of my alters contacting them. None of them wanted to.
Their suspicion seemed to come to a head during a few fateful, amnesiac seconds. Avery had this alarming habit of attempting to wake me out of the beginning stages of sleep to pay witness to what ever was causing them anxiety at the time. My bedroom door doesn’t latch.
I learned this while I was changing into my pyjamas. I’d said goodnight, then Avery knocked, swinging the door partially open in an ominous creaking sound. “Xanthe, there’s a bug on the ceilin–” “Okay, goodnight!” I pushed the door closed.
Evidently, something similar had happened again. This time, I was already in bed. I was sleeping. Someone else was not. Avery knocked on the door.
Koji was out.
Koji and I had both had history with childhood sexual abuse. Whenever that door creaked open in the middle of the night, the Boogieman was the more friendly possibility. Plus, being able to escape from uncomfortable conversations, especially with what the household had put me to, was paramount to my feelings of safety.
Koji relayed afterwards to me that he had ‘found himself in my room.’ “I think it was yours. I saw your birds, or the shadow of them, near the side of your room. Someone was coming in, asking about the neighbours– I didn’t know what was happening and I blurted, ‘STOP!’ They said your name, all confused, and I woke back up next to JaK. It was like a weird dream.”
I didn’t know this until I’d asked around afterwards. A couple of nights following the incident, Avery chose to inform me. “Yeah, I knocked on your door the other night to tell you about the downstairs neighbours arguing and you yelled at me.”
This was news to me. “What did I say?”
“You yelled ‘No!’ at me like a child. You sounded like a three-year old and I’d just taken your cookie or something. That’s what you sounded like.” The disdain in their voice was palpable. I’m surprised I didn’t have an active flashback to intermediate school. “You like Pokemon? That’s a BABY thing. You like BABY things? BABY???”
Before I’d known it was the young adult Koji, I was nervous about this prospect. I actually hadn’t known of any young Littles in my mind. A year’s worth of psychological torture and your mind can come up with all kinds of fun new tricks! I had since discovered that Story was only 12 years old at the max, of course. But otherwise, I’d assumed my system was child-free, aside from NPCs.
Plus, Avery hated kids. Every comment about the situation was pregnant with the dread-filled expectation that they would come home to me in a diaper, colouring on the walls, yelling, “DON’T SHAME MY SWITCHING.”
They’d even decided for me that I had an ‘abused child alter’ among my ‘useless’ cast, referring to it as plainly as reporting the food stock in the fridge.
All of this disdain toward Littles seemed speculative, granted. But was really more telling was how they’d reacted to the fact that they’d triggered me into a switch.
It wasn’t the only issue we’d had, as a couple, but certainly one of the main ones. The usual rubbish of my freezing being seen as ‘apathy.’ Sure. But then a fellow system witnessed the following:
Well. Avery’s out. In every sense of the word. Out of my house, out of my heart, out of my life. I have never fallen out of love with someone faster. That is unforgivable, even to my compliant-to-a-fault ass. We’d had a beautiful story, in the past. And now, that’s all they were to me. And also, GODS, that is not my Arkady. He’s being fascinatingly, steadfastly idiotic about a disorder he has. Calling alters OCs and seeming personally betrayed that I mixed up who an item belonged to after a party. It made me feel embarrassed for him, and horrified for the more reasonable– and familiar– parts of his system.
Avery did the wise thing and fled my house when I was at work, one evening. I came home and, after checking every room for a suicide note, I breathed a sigh of relief. No more.
No more walking on eggshells, no more of my abusers being given information about me, no more new relationships, no more roommates, no risk of my whereabouts being tracked back to April. Just myself and my healing– and making sure that no system’s ever made a cult to this modern Final Fantasy House ever again.
Not all singlets are like this– not by a long shot. I’ve seen them go above and beyond to understand their fragmented partner/friend/family member. But this is just one of the many examples of what can happen when discovering that you’re part of a system when romantically involved with someone who isn’t.
I wouldn’t be living alone. Not really. I mean, hell, I got a nice study out of the deal, at least.
But I will be living in peace. And I’m so excited to finally start to heal.
This isn’t the end of this.
A COWARD using a warrior’s name? A disgrace. [redacted] would feel sick to know you’ve stolen his name in order to continue your childish mockings of a sibling from afar. Make no mistake, [redacted] and I would quarrel. His cruelty could seem to know no bounds, but do, for he has more honour than you’ll ever have. You’re a worm compared to him, and I’m revolted to see you using it.
(That was definitely Kajmir. It didn’t sign its name, but this is Xanthe, doing so for it.)