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CN abusive relationship dynamics, confronting an abuser
The convenience store clerk leaned on his elbow, idly spinning a yo-yo, eyes glazed. The yo-yo released five yo-yos of its own at the end of each spin, a show he seemed to find uninteresting. Outside, a disorienting array of neon lights clashed with the setting suns, lurid blue and green against the pinkish sky. A woman in a pencil skirt, deep blue blouse, black bowtie, and black peep-toe heels strode into the store, and the electronic bell of the glass door’s movement snapped him to attention. As he opened his mouth in rehearsed greeting, she arrived at his counter, raised a small wallet-like pad of paper, and cut him off before his first word.
“Dr. Karen Almirola, Rollaven District Sanitation Inspector, third class, first degree, matalovu cor Dundalita, I need to see your storeroom, please,” she recited in one breath. The paper corroborated her details
“We’re not due for our next inspection for another three eclipse cycles,” he protested. After a moment’s realization, he added, “and that’s not the next callsign.”
“Look, friend,” the woman answered, leaning forward a bit and letting her dense brown curls hang over the counter, “there’s something going on in that room, and I need to inspect it for your safety and that of the whole Rollaven District, maybe even the rest of the planet. You can make your little scene about the gamma scrats you haven’t been keeping down like you told your boss you would, or you can let me in and deal with the thing before it gets you first.”
It is with quivering delight that I accept your nomination for president of the United States of America. As my heaving mass pulsates in the sky above you, know that it is exactly 50 of your Earth feet tall, and know that I am prepared to alter the amount of my dimensional overreach that I divert into this timeline in order to be much, much larger, with or without the service of additional, smaller lesbians and a trench coat.
My social circle has been remarkably supportive of the traumas and challenges I’ve faced over the past year. A few of its members, however, haven’t yet grasped the nature of the rift that has emerged between me and my parents. They keep telling me to watch how viscerally I criticize them and to intersperse my rage with acknowledgement that the people who raised me are doing “the best they can” to wrap their heads around my situation. At their worst, they tell me not to “air the family’s dirty laundry,” failing to grasp that one of the foremost weapons against their particular secrecy-based abuse dynamic is the cleansing light of day.
Every time I hear those phrases, my mind flits back to the worst nightmare I ever had, in June 2015. This was around when my parents first started losing their minds over seeing my long hair and painted nails over webcam, and sent the first of an onslaught of Emails that stabbed directly at what I was going through. I was terrified that, in their bigotry, they would do something extreme. They threatened to cut off my financial support if I breathed too loudly in their direction; what “punishment” would they impose for joining what my culture regards as its most outré abomination? What would I face if I ever again put myself at their mercy by sleeping under their roof, as I did for two weeks every year?
Those are the fears they tell me to put aside when they plead for reconciliation.
Those are the fears I dreamed about that night.
Those are the fears I wept about that morning.
Content note for oneiric horror, kidnapping, and emotional trauma.
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Below the fold…
Below the fold…
Anyone who has played Dungeons and Dragons with me knows that my favorite themes and monsters always tie back to the aberrant. The D&D category of “aberrations” is where the particularly bizarre composite creatures, the monsters with mind-control powers, and monsters that manipulate the forms of others tend to be. Here reside the giant paralytic tentacle-caterpillars, formless multiple-minded masses with the ability to attack through moveable portals, and mounds of flesh that constantly shriek alien curses from their thousands of mouths. It is difficult to beat their thematic potential and stage presence, even with such iconic creatures as manticores and sphinxes. Fantasy adventurers who encounter an aberration don’t get to dismiss it as “we fought a dragon”—they always require a description.
In recent years, these strange creatures became not just strange for its own sake, which is good enough, but strange in a cosmic sense. Recent editions of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as dozens of other fantasy properties, draw on the fictional universes created by H. P. Lovecraft to provide background for their aberrations. Once upon a time, many of these aberrant creatures simply were, but now, most of them are implicitly or explicitly tied to a distant dimension whose laws bear no resemblance to those of the rest of the cosmos; owe fealty to alien masters that wish to unmake the universe; break the minds of those who attempt to understand them; or otherwise unsubtly nod to the antics of Lovecraft’s creations.
Lovecraft’s fiction first appealed to me as an atheist. Lovecraft had no fondness for religion, and few of the religious characters and themes in his fiction say anything good about any variety of it. Deeper than that, though, the central conceit of Lovecraft’s world is that the underlying nature of reality is far beyond humankind. Lovecraft’s world is not for us. Earth is a blip in a teeming cosmos; life on earth is the youthful dalliance of an insignificant planet. A full description of Lovecraft’s universe begins eons before the emergence of humankind and proceeds for millions of years after the last human is forgotten. Humans are a footnote, tiny against the cosmic impact of creatures such as the Elder Things and the Great Race of Yith, and still smaller against the power of beings like Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Hastur, and Azathoth. These beings command forces utterly beyond the physics known to Lovecraft’s humans, reshaping life into new servile forms and manipulating hidden dimensions of space. To all of these creatures, humanity is a diversion at best, and a distraction at worst; our irrelevance to them is as the irrelevance of seaside huts to a tsunami, or, sometimes, as deer to a hunter. Learning that the commanding forces of the cosmos have no affection or regard for humanity and would no more consider us in their actions or goals as an earthquake does is the final straw that undoes the sanity of numerous Lovecraft protagonists, the truth that fills his stories with their supposed horror.
I always found the thought…comforting.