In 1995, I went to CTY for the second time, and met pyrogenic, among others. This was the cue for some serious "Hello, it's adolescence!" personal changes, not the least of which involved my high school best friend That Idiot Shawn. My body chemistry was already a loaded gun: depression, nasty, had waved and said hello in 1994. After 1997, my personal timeline gets a lot vague, and it's a struggle to track down dates. But I graduated high school in May, 1998. I spent a carefree summer hanging out with Shawn. I went into college in the fall of 1998. Shawn met his eventual ex-wife that winter, and they were engaged in the early bits of 1999. To say that I went "ballistic" would be kind. Imagine an 18-year-old girl doing her best to emulate Aral Vorkosigan after his first wife's death, except without the alcohol. (Alcohol probably would have sedated me most effectively, which would have been a good thing.) In July of 1999, I got a job where BJ worked. In August of 1999, Shawn got married. I spent the fall and winter alternately playing fun and happy depressive-in-energetic-mode games and being relieved that I was done with the whole affair. I hung out with BJ a lot, and if I hadn't been so determined we weren't dating, we probably would have been dating. On March 15, 2000, I got together with BJ. We were engaged immediately, though we held off on announcing this until April 1st, 2001. In May of 2000, we moved in together. Shortly thereafter, BJ decided that he was going off to college in Arizona come fall. In September of 2000, I quit my job and we moved to Phoenix at the end of October 2000, just in time for the start of the Fall 2000 tri at DeVry. Hello, Sis. Hello, that shaggy guy who was reading Scott Cunningham's Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner far too early in the morning in the cafeteria.
By that timeline, prior to moving to Arizona, the last baseline instance of happy/healthy Lunatic was June-August 1995, at CTY. Summer 1997 was decent, the school year of 1997-1998 was decent but odd, and summer 1998 was decent but scary. I don't count those so much as healthy times because they were in the near-direct influence of Shawn, who is actively bad for me in large doses. (The best dose of Shawn for me is often nearly homeopathic in size.)
By the time I got to Arizona, I very much didn't like myself. I was unwarrantably cranky, hostile, violent, obnoxious, resentful, depressive, passive-aggressive, and agreed 100% with those nasty little "Husbands suck because ________" / "can't live with 'em, can't get away with shooting them" / "I hate men enough to be a lesbian if only I didn't like cock" forwarded e-mails. (People like tygerr were not hated because they were enough not like "men" to be practically honorary women. And River. And ... you see how these things work, yeah?)
My home life was not good. Smoking roommates are not good for the girl with lung problems and allergies. I felt that I was in a religiously hostile environment, because my then-fiance was a pontificating ass and the Elder Roommate was just plain clueless, and I wasn't in a position to attempt to educate someone ten years my senior who had a smarter-than-thou attitude to boot.
I was a mess.
In none-too-short order, I picked up the idea that this guy was a good friend to have. As we spent more time together, I discovered that above and beyond me chilling out and being happy around friends, I was pulling my usual stunt of turning chameleon: I was being a person he could be friends with while I was around him.
Ordinarily, my chameleon abilities give me distinct pause. I don't always want to be the kind of person who should be friends with the kind of people I'm spending time with, if I'm spending time with shady or seedy people, witness the effects on me around Shawn. But. "The only way out is up." I ordinarily didn't like myself at all. I would have avoided myself if I'd ever met my exact clone with a duplicate of my personality. But I liked myself around Darkside. The feeling was novel. I embraced it. "Last time your heart broke, it didn't heal straight. So I'm breaking it again."
I couldn't be around him 24/7, as much as I would have wanted to. I decided that I had to start changing my personality, to consciously be that same person all the time, no matter what, instead of just in his company. So I commenced. Little by little, I changed. He helped me and guided me, pointed out when I was making changes that were damaging me, and observed with pleasure the process of me growing a mind of my own and the spine to go with it.
He could have guided me into becoming his shadow, as I'd become Shawn's, as I'd become BJ's. And he may well have. But what he desired in a shadow was a strong, independent woman. There are not many to whom I'd throw over all authority to make decisions for me. He's taken the authority over me that I gave to him, and handed it right back to me, to do with myself as I Will.