Brick Upside the Head
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Several times now, I've had people ask me what it was like for me when i finally realized what I was. Every time I've had to answer this question, I've had to make a distinction between when I *realized* what I was and when I finally *accepted* it.
You see, I'm amazingly stubborn. Ask anyone that knows me. And while I realized what I was quite early on and was happily using my abilities on other people, I managed to mentally fence-sit over accepting it for many years. Being raised Catholic certainly didn't help me any, and honestly *wanting* to believe in Catholicism and be a good Catholic helped me even less.
I tried really hard throughout my adolescence to be a good Catholic and pretend that I couldn't do the things that i did. But I generally still did them. I tried to convince myself I was delusional -- and honestly, it would have been easier if that was the case. Accepting all of this as real -- well, you've got to really look at reality in a whole new light when you do that and also accept that all the rules you've been taught from childhood upward aren't exactly as set in stone as most people would like to believe that they are.
So for me, accepting my nature was a struggle, and it was a struggle because it was a little scary. I'm a very independent person, and vampirism means that I have to rely on others for something very vital to me -- vitality itself. I hate asking for it, I hate needing it, I hate the fact that I have no choice. I don't like taking it from others, even when they're totally willing. The way I was raised, I should be able to do everything for myself. But here I am, a very fundamental part of me making it so that I need other people. I didn't want to accept that. And of course none of that pride issue even begins to cover the fact that it makes it absolutely impossible to have a normal life. I have needs, sensations and experiences that separate me so far from the norm of this society that I sometimes can't even relate. It's not an easy thing.
So I had to come to accept my nature by bits and pieces. The real defining moment -- the experience that finally hit me upside the head like a metaphysical brick -- happened my senior year at college.
In 1994 and 1995, I fasted for a period of about eight months in an attempt to determine if there were any way I could wean myself from taking the life energy of others. I'm not going to say this was a good idea -- I'll just point out that I've already described myself as amazingly stubborn. Anyway, this rather masochistic experiment culminated with my collapse in English class one afternoon at college. I was hospitalized, and the arrhythmia and other difficulties I was experiencing were enough to inspire the doctors to suggest that I go on a waiting list for a heart transplant.
Unhappy with the prognosis I was being offered, I left the hospital and fed that night from my partner. The next day, all symptoms were gone and I was able to swim and work-out for 45 minutes at the college rec-center, when a week before I was getting winded going up a flight of five stairs.
That experience about settled it for me. I knew then and there that there was no turning back. If you could have seen the looks on the doctors' faces -- or the looks of my professors as I was being taken to the hospital -- it would have left you shaken. I know it really shook me. What happened when I collapsed did not baffle the physicians -- they were baffled that I hadn't collapsed before then. All of the tests they ran indicated that I shouldn't have been out of bed let alone walking around a large campus. My heart was really screwed up, skipping practically every other beat and sometimes so caught up in arrhythmia that it might as well not have been working at all. And all of that concern over my health, all of the scary projections they were making -- all of it was gone the minute I chose to break my fast and feed.
It was a little defeat for me, really, to acknowledge that I could not walk away from it -- that this was something I *had* to do, now and for the rest of my life, like a diabetic must eventually come to terms with the constant necessity of insulin shots. But it really drove the reality of it home for me. It told me loud and clear -- this is what I am, and I might as well just accept it and get on with my life.