“I Think I Might Have DID.” August of 2020 (XZ and XII)

[TW: suicidal ideation, brief mention of drugging and sexual assault, feelings of general madness, homelessness, ableism, drama, stalking, cult mentality, everything complicated that comes with learning you’re basically multiple people, fugue state.]

Dissociative Identity Disorder, formally known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Sybil. Tyler Durden. Norman Bates. DissociaDID.

I’d seen brief other examples on Facebook. Someone by the name of Sinclair Cuthalion talked of their system, most recently of two alters named Bunny and Alistair. I remember raising my eyebrows, scrolling through my phone, seeing the selfies of these alters, thinking, ‘Jesus, those actually look like different fucking people.’ Even if this was some odd coping mechanism, it was– unsettlingly convincing.

I also remember being keenly amused, as Sinclair had been AJ’s crush. AJ was profoundly ableist when it came to mental illness, not able to empathize with anything past autism and anxiety. Not even depression could be spared, for anyone with depression reminded AJ of ill-maintained litter boxes. (Not kidding.) They’d posted before, saying how they didn’t want to be near anyone mentally ill, because these poor souls existing reminded AJ of people that would yell on buses and trigger them.

I’d chastised AJ on this a couple of times. “You realise you’re dating someone who probably has NPD, right? That’s Cluster B and pretty goddamned stigmatized.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think you’re one of the bad ones,” AJ had said. “One of the malignant ones. You’re one of the good narcissists!”

… Okay.

That being said, I’d privately found it hilarious that AJ’s premier Portland crush had recently come out as having multiple goddamned personalities on Facebook. Even better that AJ themself had been pretty ‘no comment’ since the announcement, other than a dismissive, “Well, I’ve never seen him switch in front of me!”

I’d spent some years, thinking the disorder didn’t exist. I think I’d read one-off article that claimed that the therapist who’d treated Sybil simply made it up. And it was something that seemed so outlandish to me that I just believed it. Or my brain desperately wanted me to think that the disorder itself wasn’t real.

Because if it was, that might just explain too much, wouldn’t it?

I had looked it up before, in relation to Nebula’s life versus mine. It wasn’t exactly normal not to really remember the first nineteen years of one’s physical life. Or, to you know, obliterate every part of your past identity, including your birthday.

But all of those examples had different alters constantly switching, trading places for days on end, but never just– one long period and then nothing. Two people, maybe more, had been in this body, but as far as I knew, never at the same time.

And someone else fronting in my body? That’d never happened. Well, I was sure Xhaxhollari had tried, but he clearly couldn’t have been that good at it if I realised within the first few months. And yeah, I’d missed large chunks of my memory before, but alcohol and depression could explain that. Maybe I had like an odd version of it, where I could only speak to my alters rather than them front for me.

I certainly had never switched before, I reasoned. I’d have remembered if I had. I mean, unless one counts channelling–

Xanthe, you poor hapless idiot.

Anyway, the above text from Dumptruck had sent me on a research rabbithole. It was a good alternative from drinking, writing, and– well, spiralling. It was only my first evening in the hotel that I decided to call Kaspar; my beloved that may or may not actually exist, by most standards.

“Well, I’m certainly glad to hear from you again.” Kaspar’s voice was hoarse at the other end of the line. I was surprised that it took Kaspar only half a ring to answer. Calling Marie’s phone tended to allow for at least three rings of hand-off time.

I checked my phone. ‘Kaspar Blythe Dusek’ was the name in my glowing screen, looking for all the world like any other number that I would dial. “I’m… glad to hear your voice.” I’d almost been avoiding this call. At this point, I was aware that I had made an attempt on my life and thought I’d just kicked myself out of the inworld for a couple of months. That could happen; just as external trauma can chase you back into the inworld, so can you get yourself front-locked if you fuck yourself up too badly in the internal. I didn’t know I’d died. Not like I was succeeding at much lately in general. But it was still awkward to say, ‘Hey, sorry I missed a few dates with you, I tried to snuff it, probably should’ve called first, eh?’

“I must confess, I heard your voice before you’d heard mine. I watched that stream of yours.” I took a deep breath before Kaspar continued. “You owe me a talk.”

I did have to explain much of what led up to that, which entailed admitting to Kaspar how bad things had truly gotten. How much I had been keeping from them. Which was agonising, as Arkady had left no room to be defended. Not that I didn’t try.

I sat in my hotel room chair, looking out the window. I could see the corner of Strong hospital, maybe even the glow of the windows from the ward wherein I’d been committed for a measly 12 hours. I kept speaking in circles, losing track of whatever tangent I was on. I kept trying to blame Vali and Zara, but Kaspar was asking more pointed questions about Arkady and Rowan.

“No, no. It’s–… A fucked up situation, yeah, but if I could get them to see that I never actually lied to them– Like, they think it’s all some sort of manipulation on my part. I think I may just be crazy.” That’s sort of what I’d thought– that this was a misunderstanding that had blown up in the worst way, and not my dreams being shattered by years of serial manipulation.

That’s what led to the discussion of the stream and some of its more dubious details. “What was all this about someone by the name of Marko being connected with me in some way?”

Face-claiming: is when a system or alter, knowingly or unknowingly, sees someone outside of the system who looks similar to them and begins thinking or claiming that is them. Being as the Facebook model in question looked like this, I–… yeah.

“You’d always spoken like you had some account to look after my Facebook on. I figured you’d had a burner. There’s a model I follow on Facebook called Marko Litva who I thought looked remarkably like you. Well, some photos looked like you, and others looked like someone else… If that makes sense. I figured that was your burner that you might have shared with an old friend or something. I’d even expressed the theory to [Arkady] and he agreed that a couple of pictures had different faces, I mean, I brought it up to Apollo and he even confirmed, which– You know, why not? And–” I realised I was rambling.

“Oh. No. I have a couple of contacts keeping an eye on your profile.” Kaspar’s tone was slightly airy, as if something in what I was saying snagged a thread of their attention but they couldn’t figure out how. “It’s how I watched the stream.”

I sipped my wine. I’d splurged on a Bota box just down the street and it made me feel… clearer. My focus still wasn’t perfect, but I’d caught on to the fact that being drunk kept me significantly more grounded. “Who was the number I called? On the stream, that I thought was one of your partners?”

“I’m not quite certain, I’m afraid.” Kaspar offered no other explanation than that. This meant that this vexed Kaspar to a troublesome degree. I’m glad I wasn’t alone in that, at least.

I took a deep breath, spending upwards of fifteen seconds trying to figure out how I was going to word this next bit. “Kaspar, that– confusion… may have happened because you might be an alter.”

“I might be a– what?” They sounded so casually confused that I wasn’t sure if this were just a language barrier or what.

“An alter. Like… a multiple personality. Look, Rowan pointed out, yesterday as they were yelling at me, is that part of the reason they didn’t believe you actually existed was that you’re perfect for me. And no offense, but you rather are–”

I cut off when I heard the brief huff of a sigh. “Xanthe, we’ve been over this. I spent the entire first year of our courtship convincing you that I existed… It’s– absurd for you to tell me that I don’t exist when I perch in my own study, in my manor, that I earned with my own lifetime– with parents and grandparents all leading up to me. With partners, that all have their own careers, their own lives, their families. In a nation thousands of miles away, with its own language, history, and customs.”

“I know, I know. But consider, we also know vampires. We’ve seen our mutual friend turn into a dragon. I’ve fought gods and won.” I crossed and uncrossed my legs in the armchair. Arkady worked over at Strong hospital, in a coffee stand. It was starting to bother me to look at it. “Look, in order to have DID, your mind has to be so irrevocably broken as a child that it’s always desperately running away from trauma. And my ass could never put down a book for more than five minutes. It’s not… unfeasible that I fell so deeply into escapism that my meticulous world-building had been happening constantly and subconsciously for nigh on twenty years now.” Gods. Twenty years. Twenty fucking years.

An actual picture of my view in those days, featuring my trusty wine thermos.

Kaspar was silent for a while. “I’ve… wondered the same about you, I’ll have you know. Whether you’re my alter.”

I tilted my head to one side, then another. “Okay, I like your theory better.” We both chuckled at that. “But yeah, that was Rowan’s main theory. That my brain created you as the ideal partner.”

“Well, isn’t that flattering. Or not, considering their taste in partners.”

I couldn’t tell whether to smile or wince. That jab clearly was meant for Vali and Arkady. “It was an odd time when we started talking. It was right around when I’d met AJ and was constantly under threat of losing them. They even disappeared that year, remember?”

“Oh, I do hope they’re not the mental basis of me, Zeitstück! That really would be too much to bear!” Their voice was that frivolous sort of dramatic, but I could tell Kaspar found the notion revolting.

“Be nice.” I cautioned them. “They’ll be living with me soon.”

“I’ll be nothing but polite, should I meet them in person.” I didn’t bother to tell them that, well, they probably can’t, considering. It wasn’t long after that that I brought up that AJ had recommended me to read the book, Soulless, back around the time I met Kaspar. There’s a character in there called Lord Akeldama. Flamboyant, blonde, frivolous, aggressively polyamorous, foppish, had a manor, a plump calico–

Lord Akeldama. In retrospect, it was painfully obvious.

“And keep in mind, I met you precisely when I was struggling with my polyamorous feelings, my abusive partner, and trying to figure out my gender. You came into my life at such the perfect moment… Can you sort of see how this might be the case?” They at least murmured an agreement to that. What they don’t tell you about DID is that you occasionally have to explain to your alters that you might have DID. That’s fun. “Look, this doesn’t need to change anything for the other side. Think of it like we always have, like it’s two dimensions. It just… translates differently than we thought.” And we at least agreed on that.

It was towards the end of the call when they told me, “Xanthe, I know you and a will to live have never had the most stable relationship but–” I was already wincing. “A call next time, would be nice.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, meaning it. “Well, that would’ve been a goodbye call. And… I don’t want to say goodbye to you.”

I should’ve called them on video. Seen their face. Hell, this was all apparently happening in my goddamned head, shouldn’t I just be able to think really hard and they’ll just appear?

This is how it works, right? Why would DID make me still believe we were on the phone? They’re IN MY GODDAMNED HEAD, WHY CAN’T I JUST–

“Well. I do believe we’re even, my Lord Henry,” Kaspar said, their voice hoarse.

Unfortunately, I did, in fact, forget some necessities in my desperate flight away from the house. One of those being work shoes. Another being my bicycle. I’d texted Rowan that I needed my things back. Oddly, they were… somewhat civil during the first few days. “Are you somewhere safe? Just so you know, I’m feeding your birds.” They loved being seen as the least like the perpetrator in any situation.

Even though I’d paid for groceries that I never received, or that by ‘feeding my birds,’ they meant that they’d let my two budgies run free in my tiny room and blame me for the bird droppings everywhere. But still, going anywhere near Crosman Terrace made me want to be sick. I’d put out a Facebook post along those lines and codename ‘Dumptruck’ was happy to help, thank gods.

I’d briefly met Dumptruck twice. Once at my New Year’s party and another time in March, when our hot water heater was out and Dumptruck kindly offered his home for a hot shower for me. He’d given me the tour of his home and all of his pets– it was something that I appreciated at the time but more or less floated through. He was much like nearly everyone in Rochester; I barely knew him but at least appreciated him reaching out.

The plan was to meet up with him– I forget if it was his house, or some agreed-upon public space. “No, I really wanted to talk with you about what you were saying. See, my roommate has DID. Diagnosed and everything. And there was a lot of things you talked about that really sounded familiar.”

It was one of the more profound days of my life. If only I could’ve stayed conscious through all of it. I was unaware that I was damaged enough that Xhax was essentially holding my consciousness up like a short kid at a concert during my (rather infrequent) sober hours.

“So, that ‘Gaslamp’ thing you were talking about? It’s actually a lesser-known symptom of DID. A traumatised mind tries to find patterns all around it to protect itself, right? So, it can lead to some paranoia. My roommate fixates on a certain number and sometimes, if they see it on too many receipts, their brain just kind of goes into that cycle. And it was an abuser that acted this way to you before, right? It just makes sense that your brain would get stuck on that. And you being in a house so deep into magic, why wouldn’t you think it was a curse?” Halle-fucking-julah, THANK you. That was one thing I loved about Dumptruck, just immediately. He was one of the most psychologically perceptive people I’d ever met. Still is, for the record.

I explained Gaslamp and how Vali and Kirr– Well, Apollo, I guess, had reminded me of each other. I rambled quite a bit. It was actually a short walk between Dumptruck’s house and the Crosman Terrace house, but we got– a bit lost. The dissociated being led by the distracted. The walk ended up twice as long. “Unknowingly being a system is rough. And two systems in the same household where one didn’t even know it? I can’t even imagine.”

“[Arkady] told you he was a system?” I asked. I hadn’t really seen any Facebook posts he’s had on it. I thought that discovery had just been within the household.

“Oh. Yeah, like. Years ago,” Dumptruck said, casually.

I remember actually stopping in my tracks and staring at him. “He… was figuring out he had it a few months ago. During the Trisha Peytas/DissociaDID drama.”

Dumptruck gave me a knowing look and didn’t hold the sass. “Oh, yeah, that happens. My roommate even made an entire powerpoint presentation on DID for class and their brain just deleted it. DID doesn’t like you knowing it’s there. It’s the ‘Don’t Fucking Look At Me’ disorder. It will break your brain to keep from being discovered.”

What the actual fuck. My mind floated around that general horror beyond my sober comprehension before finding a somewhat related subject. “Rowan actually has DID, too. Well, had. They said they integrated.”

The look Dumptruck gave was deeply amused with just a vague college try at politeness. It was like the man had one worn filter and had to scrub each opinion against it a few times before it came out even somewhat neutral. “Well. I’m sure they think that,” he said with smile that was trying its hardest not to be wry.

It was a little after that when I dropped off of general consciousness. Xhax was left behind for a while, trying to clarify. “How are alters able to interact?” “Is it possible to see the alters and physically interact in the internal?” “What are the limits of the internal?” “What does it mean to be host?” “Does the host have to be the original? Or can it be– what was that word you used– a fictive?” I somewhat suspect those last couple were preparing for the rather strong possibility that he may have to replace my glitchy ass as host.

There was one humourous part I only found out about later, for I was almost completely out of it at the point where Dumptruck asked Xhaxhollari, “Am I talking to Xanthe now?”

In just this brief interaction, Xhaxhollari discovered that he liked Dumptruck and goddamnit, my damaged ass wasn’t going to make a liar out of him. His consciousness, for lack of a better word, shook mine awake, giving me enough retained audio feedback in order for me to answer, “Yes, you are!”

Then I fucked off again as soon as Pinnacle Hill’s radio towers came into view.


Myself, in room 309 at the Collegetown hotel.

Xanthe, sober, could last for a little more than 15 full minutes without me having to fill in the gaps. Even more worrying, Thysia was occasionally still poking her head out and fawning every now and again. Thysia, who simultaneously was supposedly made up by Xanthe and had been channelled by Rowan.

Gods. What a mess.

Dumptruck (which, I stress, is a codename suggested by the man himself) and I arrived at Crosman. All three former roommates– Vali, Rowan, and Arkady, were sitting on the porch. It wasn’t as if they didn’t know when we were coming; Dumptruck had kept in touch. All three were gathered at the outdoor table, with Vali and Arkady vaping at my general direction, chins raised. They were clearly talking about us, smug as if we had come to the wrong neighborhood or something.

I opted to stay across the street, watching as Dumptruck crossed the road. There was nothing to discern from the interaction and Dumptruck went from the group to myself, my work shoes and bicycle in-hand. It was like a damned drug deal.

I thanked Dumptruck and road the bike to the hotel. It would be only the day after when I would realize that I never did grab a charger needed for our MP3 player. Xanthe had actually been listening to Youtube Music more often, cycling in the songs, ‘Icarus’ by Bastille, ‘Dynasty’ by MIIA, and ‘Come With Me Now’ by the KONGOS, for reasons I suspected were sheer relatability of the lyrics.

“Look who’s digging their own grave”
That is what they all say; you’ll drink yourself to death”

“A scar I can’t reverse
And the more it heals, the worse it hurts
Gave you every piece of me, no wonder it’s missing.”

“Confused what I thought with something I felt
Confuse what I feel with something that’s real
I tried to sell my soul last night
Funny, he wouldn’t even take a bite.”

I had to actually text Rowan and make arrangements to ride over and grab the charger after work. Xanthe wasn’t fronting at all that day. I don’t even think they noticed the day passed them and, in general, Rowan is apt to trigger me much less than if I were Xanthe.

Rowan swore they would be home alone and I knew them to be markedly ineffective without a crowd to cheer them on.

I remembered that Mahogany, a co-worker of mine, was late in relieving me for my morning shift, which happened often. I appreciated this familiar annoyance, this re-introduction into normality. I rode my bike back to the scene of the crime.

Rowan did, in fact, let me in. We made small-talk, somehow. I think I went into customer-service mode and Rowan simply hated to be seen as ‘the bad guy,’ which led to an incredibly sterilized conversation. “Where are you staying?”

“I’d rather not say, if that’s alright,” I said tightly. I’d already told the hotel not to give my room number to anyone that asked.

I tried, with no success, to find the charger I needed. Likely because the micro-USB was a perfect fit for Vali’s and Arkady’s vape pens and neither were particularly abashed about breaking into Xanthe’s room. Cute. The birds were hopelessly out of reach on the curtain rod above; I couldn’t have put them in their cage if I’d spent an hour there, which I had no intention of doing. Rowan questioned me leaving empty-handed, as if I were planting a bomb in my ten-minute walkthrough. “Didn’t find it?”

“No,” I admitted. “But there’s a Walgreens near me that probably has one.”

“So, you’re at Collegetown.” It was a statement, not a question. I looked at Rowan, who was crossing their arms in the hallway. “That took, like, two seconds to figure out,” they said pointedly.

I raised my eyebrows. Not a good look, to be bragging about knowing where to find me. I shrugged in response and made my leave not long after.

It was later that day when ‘Phoebe’ contacted Xanthe. This, much like Dumptruck’s intervention, was a godsend. She would confirm that Kirra had, in fact, catfished people throughout high school on a constant basis, including Phoebe herself.

Which you can read about here, as this blog is already threatening to get lengthy.


Catfishing by itself can have devastating effects, but if you’re messing with the precarious reality of someone with a dissociative disorder… The implications of this, Xanthe would latch onto later as a lifeline, but for now, they were starting to accept that maybe, just maybe that this wasn’t all their fault. That they’d been taken advantage of.

Xanthe was speaking more openly on Facebook now about their DID. Which most were supportive over.


I’m not certain who censored this originally, but that is Xanthe’s profile posting, with Aberle being mentioned within it. Dumptruck quickly told Vali that this was an incredibly shitty thing to do and he wisely deleted it sometime after.

One of the luckier things about this hotel stay was that people, seeing Xanthe’s distress online, had actually donated money. One of these were a local system themself, empathizing and willing to give where they could. Another absurdly kind donation was from none other than one of Apollo’s old (former) friends from high school that we hardly kept up with. Kelsey F—-, who offered hardly an explanation, donated $500. Which, as we were paying damn-near full-price due to extending, helped more than she could have ever guessed. I couldn’t tell if this were some sort of empathy for being a part of Apollo’s manipulations or if it was simply a random act of charity. I’ve been nervous to ask ever since, but I did thank Kelsey profusely.

When it came down to it, it wasn’t money that became the issue.

RIT students were moving into their dorms that very same month, many of them needing to quarantine for a minimum of two weeks beforehand. We were essentially going to be kicked out during the weekend for lack of availability. Meanwhile, Arkady’s grasp on hospitality supply and demand had him thinking it would be no problem to get a hotel at $35 a night for two full weeks.

We did, however, reserve for the following Monday, for the 50% off Friends and Family rate. The parents moving the kids in would be checking out, at least.

No one ever tells you how odd it is, staying at a nice hotel when you know you’re going to be sleeping on the street the very next night. My surroundings reinforced the disconnect of the fact that I was about to spend a minimum of 30 hours steeply in the territory of SOL. Xanthe was writing even more on that particular day, as if preparing for if the elements, of all things, would be the end of them after all.

Considering the inworld’s elemental religion, the irony would have been crushing.

“See, that’s one of the Chaos gods. Hydro, the God of Water. That’s who this one is based off of. But there are eight of them. Water, Fire, Earth, Air, Lightning, Mind, Night, Spectrum.” [Shadow] counted them off his fingers. “Those are the eight Chaos gods of the eight elements.”

It was August 8th, 2020.

When check-out time came, we left our bags with the front desk. Xanthe, as they normally did when they were stressed, put their headphones in, put their MP3 player on shuffle. And they started walking.


The picture above is from another day. On the day described, I was trying to conserve my phone battery and took no pictures, but the set-up was pretty much exact.

I’d ended up at The Spirit Room, that night. It was Arkady that first brought me there, but it seemed immune to the sting of nostalgia. Due to the pandemic, seating inside the bar was limited, but they’d taken the time to drag out the rugs, antique chairs, and even a whole tent.

I allowed myself a glass of prosecco. You know, for morale. It also cost less than any of their standard cocktails. I had my bag with me with my Kindle. I could survive 24-48 hours without a bed or four walls, but without a book? Impossible.

I also had one of their heavenly fried chicken sandwiches, which decidedly puts a Chik-Fil-A out of business with each one made. Then a tea.

I honestly wished I could live permanently within that moment of time. The temperatures were hovering at about the mid-seventies, I had a cup of tea in my hand, a book that I hardly wanted to end, belly full. One of the bartenders– I won’t name her, but she works there to this day, came out and asked me if I was thinking about having another, eyeing my empty champagne goblet.

“Ah, no. I wish.” I must’ve said it with such a mournful tone that prompted her to respond.

“Oh, no, are you heading home?”

Home. The word felt like a punch in the gut. I had no home. I had apartment that I’d be moving into, yeah. But it wasn’t a home. I moved here in search of a home. And I’d come up empty. “Oh, I– Truth is, I don’t really have a place to go. I mean, I have a lease that starts in less than two weeks, I’m not homeless, but–” I’d never been so goddamned homeless in my life.

“Oh, shoot, I’m sorry, friendo!” she said. “Here, let me get you another glass!” When I opened my mouth to protest, she said, “It’s okay, you’ll be back again in better times!”

And she did give me another glass. I would’ve cried, if I could’ve. In Bojack Horseman, when his mum dies, he gets a free churro. And here I was, my life ruined, and I was getting free prosecco. I stayed there until close, when she asked me what my favourite spirit was (bourbon) and did a bloody shot with me.

But all good things must come to an end. For me, mostly far too soon. The place closed at 10pm by quarantine’s rule and I had to take my leave.

Listening to music, especially while on the move, has always been one of the easiest ways to zone out and check on the inworld. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was almost immediately zapped to– a void.

It was an all-white expanse. No wind, no sound, no visible surface that I was standing on. I was almost afraid that by discovering the truth about my world had caused the entire foundation of it to crash. The concept started to make me panic before I heard a familiar voice. “Like the place you trapped me in?”


In all my research, her presence seemed to make more sense to me. She was a– what was it? Prosecutor? Persecutor. “I mean, can you really blame me? Given our last encounter and all.”

Chandra was in front of me, sort of. I recognised her small frame in the silhouette that was her. A single point of shadow in the white, as if the luminosity of the surroundings just didn’t apply to her. “I was trying to warn you. To make you see the truth in the only way I knew.”

I blinked. “Okay, I’m not quite sure how to explain this to you, but raping someone isn’t the most ideal way of convincing them to your side of the story.” I pointed this out with only a dry tone. Sexual assault is traumatic, obviously, but with all that’d happened in the past few months, it seemed like a bloody sidenote in my life. Of the worst things that had happened to me since January, that actually didn’t break the top five.

Chandra didn’t seem bothered. “You’ve let lesser people do more.”

Well. Yeah. Fair.

“I don’t blame you for a spotty memory, considering, but you and I made a deal,” she said.

“Was it before or after you roofie’d me?” See, I kind of thought that was a point worth circling back to, for whatever reason.

She didn’t even seem to mind that I was outright mocking her. “I told you that you would end up homeless. You told me that your beloved would never let that happen. You’d promised.”


So, in Chaotics lore, since betrayal was a sin (Hello, trauma!), promises are binding. If you break a promise and you’re not forgiven, you stand a pretty big chance at just kind of dissolving into elemental goo and/or dust. It actually almost happened to Calisto, at one point. It does have the advantage of holding someone’s life in your hands if they break a promise to you, which is probably how my twisted psyche wished the world would work.

I vaguely remembered the conversation. It was one of the many times that she’d randomly showed up to thrash me around and give me life advice. I generally avoided making promises, but as blindly loyal as I was to Arkady, I could see myself topping this all off by betting on him with my goddamned soul.

“Fuck,” I said, simply. Here’s the thing about the inworld. Even knowing, as I do, that this is just part of my subconscious, everything seems so real that I forget things can’t hurt me. Like in dreams. “Well. I’ve lived a–…” Good? Long? “–a life.”

Chandra had the audacity to look amused. The rest of the encounter is honestly pretty hazy. She offered forgiveness (therefore my life) in exchange for her freedom. The bribe was kind of low to begin with, considering, but she somehow managed to convince me that her freedom would not bring harm to any of my ‘allies.’

In fact, she promised. “I’d never lied to you before,” she boasted.

And. You know. What the hell. My life is basically over anyway.

I let her go.

I came to again in front of the Water Street Music Hall. I had a pretty good guess as to why my feet carried me there.

Funk N Waffles. Arkady had worked there as the barista/bartender and enjoyed it immensely. The place closed just before I was due to move. But of course, back when Arkady had worked at Funk N Waffles, times were great and the future seemed– well, there was a future, for one thing. I used to daydream about flying up to Rochester and surprising him at work. “Hi, have you ever been here at Waffles befo–” His automatic workplace greeting would be cut off by a dumbstruck look of confusion, shock, then elation. Then he’d probably suck at the rest of his shift, which I would try not to be flattered by.

That never did end up happening.

Just as he was hired there shortly before we began dating, the place had closed only months before Rowan had met Vali and set a lot of this in motion. I stood there now, as if pleading for the long-gone restaurant to take me back in time. As if it had only stayed open and I wouldn’t be going through this Hell.

I called Affinity House that night. It was essentially a sort of mental health getaway, if one needed away from their roommates. Couldn’t imagine why. I’m sure there were other reasons to get away from one’s home, but that was the only one I could think of. Anyway, for up to five days, you could have a room and basically 24/7 access to people that were essentially paid to let you vent and keep an eye on you. But it wasn’t for homeless people– they’ll make that very clear.

The man on the phone was rude, already exasperated as per the hour I was calling. I told him about my current mental health crisis, then he mentioned something about needing to call me back tomorrow. Then I let it slip that I was between a hotel and my apartment, that I may not be able to charge up my phone to answer. Then he shortly replied that this program, “wasn’t for homeless people,” and hung up.


I faded out again. When I was next aware, I was walking in my future neighbourhood, near the football stadium. My sense of direction wasn’t the best in this city. I somehow didn’t feel at all tired. I was vaguely aware of passing a few parks. It was an aimless, meandering pace. I was, after all, just trying to pass the time.

And time did pass. I found some sort of trail, north of my future apartment. It was wooded and dark. I could barely even see in front of my nose, but at least if I’d had some sort of visible mental breakdown, I wouldn’t have the cops called on me. It was funny; I used to fear that my fugue states might get me lost. Now, I was trying for it. As if I were trying to get just as lost outside as I was within.

Gods, that’s cliché.

I was standing in front of somewhere called Seneca Zoo, just off the Genessee River Trails. It was closed, obviously. I was only staring at the gate. My phone was dead. I had a charger in my bag, but it obviously wasn’t going to do me much good out here.

By dawn, I was just beyond the fence of the Irondequoit Cemetery. I must’ve stopped somewhere to rest, because the next location in my memory was the golf course just down the street, now bathed in afternoon sun. My feet were screaming in pain, but it didn’t seem like it was my problem. I tried swallowing, but my throat seemed out of saliva. It was hot, about mid-eighties that day.

I could actually smell water. I don’t know if this was dehydration or if all of my senses were firing at wild card levels of intensity. I walked towards it.

I was walking along the Thames. Not as per usual. My inworld definitely afforded me fast-travel to its approximation to far away places, but this was the first instance wherein I’d appeared to have gone back in time. The stench was nauseating. I could see horses and carriages up on the bridge above. It seemed just a brief time I was there, in this little pocket of time and space that seemed to be from my novella of origin. I could even hear on the air, “Before his fairytale even began, he was lost in the Thames with the souls of the damned.”

It was early evening, suddenly. I could tell by the distant headlights that I was ‘back.’ Huh. Neat trick, brain. Do it again.

It did not. At least, not that day.

White Lady’s Castle, as I looked up later. I’d probably been attracted to the stone walls that lined the beachside. I spent a long time wandering around the length of the beach. My skin felt hot. The cooling air was actually making me shiver pretty violently. What’s the worst that could happen? I pass out and some stranger calls 911 and suddenly I’m in air conditioning with an IV? Or I pass out and get mugged. Or worse.

But much like the Chandra situation, I felt like I was beyond it. Like when you slap a benumbed limb just to see what it’ll take to wake it up. And besides, it wouldn’t be a suicide. Not technically, not in any way they could prove. With AJ on the way, that would just be a dick move. This way, I’d be just another victim of circumstance.

I comforted myself with the thought that my immediate death after Rowan kicked me out would make them look terribly, optics-considering.

I walked east for a while, then turned around and doubled back after about two hours, when I’d run into an impassable meeting of highway and water. Not even the moon was out.

It was approximately five or six in the morning when I came across an RTS bus stop, just near Lake Ontario Beach Park. I sat down near the sign. My legs felt an odd sort of tingly but my head was blissfully blank, able to just take in the vague sense of my surroundings. Eventually, a bus came– ‘To Downtown’, the lights advertised. I did, in fact, had enough money for bus fare. I was shivering violently, so much that it felt like my bones ached from just that alone.

While I was sitting, I realised my socks felt weird. Oddly stiff, even considering the grime. I’d later on realised, with a cringe, that I’d actually walked my feet thoroughly bloody and just didn’t fucking notice. But first, I had to wait until check-in time.

The bus brought me to the Transit Centre, which I was more than familiar with. The next one brought me to the area my hotel was in. Walking to the Starbucks, I remember, was absurdly painful. Wasn’t there a scene in the original Little Mermaid like this? When her tail was split and she danced on the beach, how it felt like she had been forced to walk on knives?

My knees felt funny, as if there were only about two positions they could be in and the rest were just glided over. Like the hinges on an old laptop.

I bought myself an iced chai latte when I should’ve bought myself a water. The chai didn’t even taste right. Somehow, it tasted like toothpaste. Then it immediately made me nauseated. Next thing I knew, I was on the bathroom floor after having dry-heaved a while. Xhaxhollari was buzzing in my ear. “Water, Zeitstück. Water!”

I felt too weak to move, at first. Then I gradually dug out ice cubes with a straw, ate them. Then eventually got to emptying my drink and filling it with water from the sink. I had to only sip it before my stomach calmed down. Then I sat on the restroom floor for a long time, just shivering and sipping water. Occasionally, someone would try the doorknob, but at least there were two stalls. At least, thinking back, I hope there were two.

Within about three hours, I checked back into the hotel. I vaguely thought of a shower, but by the time I finally made it into bed, I was instantly out. I slept for fourteen hours.


“I’ve heard that sometimes during sex, people with DID will switch and it’ll be a Little,” AJ said, about as supportive as usual. “You’re not going to switch on me during sex, are you?”

I leaned back in the hotel armchair. I shouldn’t have been drinking, particularly as my urine was dark enough to almost be considered brown. But, you know. Why the fuck not? “AJ. We’ve had sex,” I reminded them. “I don’t even think I have Littles.”

I do. At the time, I had one eight year old and one age-slider at the time, but I definitely wasn’t aware of that.

“Well, I did go ahead and ask Rowan and them what exactly you did, since they’re being really cagey about it on Facebook. Like they just keep calling you manipulative and everything, but won’t actually name any words or actions?” My stomach was tightening at the fact they were still talking, but it wasn’t a boundary I had up yet. I was somewhat hoping that AJ may even act as a bridge of understanding between the fractured parties. Plus, Rowan had experience with getting on disability and that was advice AJ likely needed. “I tried to ask like, how you were as a roommate, if you ever went crazy and got violent or anything. Because that’s something I do need to know.”

“Yeah?” I reached further than my wine container and grasped my water glass. My mouth had suddenly gone dry.

“They refused to get specific. I kept asking. Then finally Vali was like, ‘Well, one time, they left an egg out.'”

I laughed, then coughed. More than a year after the ‘I See Bone’ incident and his antics never failed to inspire a healthy dose of schadenfreude, dissociative two-day fugue walk be damned. “Gods, if I had the energy, I might be tempted to leave a single egg out on the Crosman Terrace porch.”

AJ and I agreed and swapped ideas about our egg-based revenge. I remember this part cheered me up a great deal. AJ’s a treacherous little snake, certainly, but all of my partners had always been witty. But I do remember them asking me, “Hey, when I move in, you’re not going to be switching like all the time, are you? Because when I agreed to move in with you, I agreed to move in with you. Just you.”

I chewed on my lip. I felt bad. My thoughts were more concerned about their point of view, how AJ found out about their partner’s multiple goddamned personalities right when they were due to share a house with them. Imagine, feeling guilty about the fact that childhood trauma had irrevocably broken my psyche, like the resulting damage, harmless on its own, was an inconvenience. Too much of a curveball for my partner to want to comprehend. Poor fucking them. “I don’t think any of them actually front, beyond messaging and things. There’s never been any proof of, you know, someone else using my body.” I said, choosing to ignore several ‘Well, technically’ situations as I said this. I wasn’t lying, just thoroughly in denial. “I don’t think anyone else can even front.”

I swear to gods, I’m not even off the phone for long when my Snapchat dings.

One of my coworkers.

See, I’d mostly hidden my recent statuses from coworkers and people related to the body. Too many questions, too far out of their scope of comfort. My coworker was replying to a Snap I’d posted.

Only problem– I hadn’t posted a Snap.

“Hey, Xanthe. It looks like you’re really going through it. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Or something of the sort. It was in reply to a selfie of me– at least, my face– that was posted, no context, that I never took. I quickly deleted the story, but mates, I was sunburned. My hair was hurting for a brush. It was even at an unflattering angle, showing off everything I hated about my jawline and neck area.

My narcissistic ass would have never. I mean, even with a gun to my head, I would’ve needed to have been convinced to post that picture.

I had chills. Anyone just getting used to the concept of their DID will tell you that it feels like being haunted, even possessed. And something had listened to me saying that I didn’t think anything else could front.

And they decided to prove me the fuck wrong.