How Fandom Hindered My Healing.
Triggering material ahead: 🌻 means the following is safe to read.
Picture yourself has an eleven year old. What was going on in your life? We’re you worried about school, dealing with middle school kid drama, and watching Saddle Club during sleep overs? Did you worry about the opposite sex? Or were you more worried because you leaned towards people who share your gender?
I don’t know, I’m actually asking.
When I was eleven years old I was worried about whether or not my father was going to sexually assault me, or if my step-mother was? Maybe I would watch my step-sister kill an animal in front of me and then beat me for getting all of her mothers attention. Or would my older step-sister take pity on me and let me sleep in her bed only to get curious and touch me. Then we’d all go to the local buffet they’d threaten me until I ate three plates of food.
At the tail end of my eleventh year on earth I had just moved to a new school. I got my first taste of the internet then too. It came with our cable plan, and hey we had a computer.
I had been on computers before, at my grandmother’s house! This was cool, I could play my favorite game- StarDoll- at home now! This was awesome!
I don’t know how it exactly happened, some how on YouTube I had stumbled upon anime. To be more specific, AirGear. If you don’t know what AirGear is it’s probably for the best. Let’s just say it’s not a show an eleven year old should be watching.
I was sucked in very quickly, I wanted to see pictures, read stories, everything!
I should in passing mention that my interest in all thing sexual lead me along some fairly dark paths. This comes into play later.
In comes my most used website of my teen years (aside from limewire) Fanfiction.net, a website I’m sure many people my age and older are familiar with.
At this point in my life I knew something was different about me. Other kids had seemed to grow out of their imaginary friends. I felt I was weird and different because I still had mine. I had always had mine.
I wanted to get rid of my imaginary friends. I didn’t want my peers to ostracize me even more than they already were! I was the weird kid who sucked their thumb in class and wrote their name has different names. I was the kid who could only get along with the weird smelly farmer kid who had the same kind of mindset about life and death.
My brain saw me getting into fandom has the perfect opportunity to bring me closer to my ‘imaginary’ friends.
It started with a fanfic, not an AirGear one, no. One about a video game, with strong men. Nice men. Men who loved each other while still maintaining their fighting spirit. Goofy boys who fought monsters, or who were monsters.
Evil men especially caught my attention. Not evil in the way I had known to be true, but evil in a fantastical way. Men with charisma and humor, who didn’t mind if their life was crap.
Though I had never seen or played any of these games, heck I didn’t even know they were games until I got to high school. The stories of these boys made sense to me. They loved each other.
There seemed to be an equal power balance, and that was what all sex (and things in general) at my life had been missing. I barley knew I was a girl. I was so dissociated from my private parts that I pretended I didn’t have any.
I wasn’t a person.
These men gave me power though. They showed me that I could be tough and still take abuse. I could come out on the other side with some romantic lover who would love me forever. I would ride off into the sunset and be happy.
My first written fanfic was a self insert. I was this cool spunky girl-thing that was friends with all the cool guys. They all lived in these dorm rooms sectioned off into their specific video game. Their bunk mates were all their lovers and we all partied and had a good time.
They protected me.
Even if it was just from the random evils I would make up, all of which were oddly similar to things I had experienced in my life. They would come and save the day and then we would have fun.
I got bored of writing that story very quickly, the main reason for my boredom was the fact that these characters seemed to be popping up in my brain.
I must have been the luckiest girl-thing on the planet! My heroes lived inside a place I could visit whenever I wanted. I didn’t need to write down the stupid story, I could have that in real life… kind of.
I could hang out in a Dunkin Doughnuts with Sephiroth and not have to write it on my stupid laptop.
Wow! I totally don’t care if by age twelve my peers were long done with imaginary friends, these were video game characters. Totally different!
Not that anyone in my dying mill town knew who they were…
Different though, it was different!
These people got me through the harassment my peers where giving me. When a teacher would call me stupid for not understanding something, they would tell me my strengths.
When I was taken out of that school in the eighth grade, they made me feel like I wasn’t a failure. They helped me do my homework with my math tutor. They kept me company as I walked around the graveyard next to the library where I met my tutor.
They were my friends.
When I made it into high school, they supported me. They were my escape for so long.
I was a high school drop out, on the run from the abusers who still haunted me, I had a sister who was disabled. I moved eight times in three years. Two different domestic violence shelters.
Through all of this, these characters stayed with me. When I didn’t have internet, I still had them in my head.
Once I got settled, I started having emotional issues. Every time I would get even a little stressed I would black out. I would ‘wake up’ and things would be so different. I woke up in the psych ward many times.
Going on Tumblr and seeing pictures, or trying to read fanfics would make these characters so sad. It would make me so unbelievably sad that I could barely stand it any more.
I left everything to do with fandom anything.
When I got diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder while in a group home for mentally ill young adults, everything clicked. These weren’t just fictional characters, these were parts of me. They were real.
I wanted to find out everything about this- about me!
I turned to my old friend Tumblr. I say friend, but I mean bitter enemy. Tumblr gave me information, whether it was good or bad your mileage may vary. It taught me that these characters that I had in my head (most of which had gone dormant, I had maybe 5–9 around while I was at the group home) were fictives and that they were valid. Awesome!
Not so awesome is that the systems on Tumblr gave me a ‘guide’ on how we were supposed to act. How we were supposed to feel.
Fandom hurt us, a lot. The ‘pairings’ we had ourselves in now were being called abusive. Was these relationships that we had also abusive? We had been in them for so long, we were all so connected even the ones who weren’t here anymore.
Fandom really hurt. I (Adam) had always had a problem seeing the character I was connected with in pictures. We were now being called abusive, and now we were being told we had to like canon. Then we get told that having too many fictives is fake.
So are we fake, abusive, or just wrong? Why didn’t we connect with our cannons? Why did seeing anyone else with these names hurt so damn much?
Remembering things helped us. We had all been around for way longer than we had even known of these characters. We weren’t these characters.
I’m not saying anyone who thinks they’re a fictive isn’t a fictive.
Being called abusive for believing we were these characters and for being in relationships that were ‘popular ships’ hurt us. Fandom isn’t a nice place for mentally ill people. Fandom isn’t a place for victims.
Fandom ruined any chance of me ever enjoying these games again. I can’t see ads with them in it. I can’t stand to see anyone talking about them, about us.
No. Not us. But also yes us.
Fandom messed with our healing. When we tried to talk to another system, tired to get close to one, they abused us using our fandom. They abused us in other ways, but that’s another story for another day.
We blacked out for the entire length of one of the games movies. When we came to, we were sick to our stomach for days.
We tried to watch a let’s play, but the gamer talking about us made us feel dirty.
Fandom made us feel dirty.
It made us think we had to stay in those ‘parings’. That we couldn’t branch out. It made us feel like we had to branch out.
Fandom made us feel like we had to follow these rules that weren’t true and that made our healing go stagnant.
Now, we’re okay with fandom pictures. Barely. Sometimes it’s funny, but after about ten minutes that sick feeling in our stomach comes back again. If it comes up just random it hurts and we force ourselves to dive into it just to see what people are saying. What do they think now.
Then of course we have identity issues for the next week, but hey we’re getting better!
We’ve learned to love ourselves for just being ourselves. We’ve changed our names mainly because of the abusive ex, and the fear of people calling us fake for a ‘system full of fictives’ which doesn’t make sense anyway. We’re happy with our own happiness that we find.