(TW: Mentions of Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors)
So, I got asked a question yesterday by one of my Alpha readers for Transistor that threw me for a loop. To give a bit of context, Naomi is the main character of Transistor, and due to a mistake made by her doctors, she ends up with an AI living in her head. The question was:
“Do you think that there are times when Naomi freaks out about having another person living in her head? I think that, if it were me, I would find it both really cool and terrifying. Never having a thought that is just my own. How do you feel about it?”
At the time, I answered “Maybe a little bit” because at first, she is a little freaked out. A random voice starts telling her what to do and she doesn’t know where it’s coming from, so yeah, at first, she’s a bit worried she’s going crazy. But the reason the question threw me for a look is because it never occurred to me, after that first flush of “WTF?”, that having someone share your head would be scary.
I’ve been thinking about it for a while though because the truth is, it probably should scare the shit out of me. The thing is it doesn’t. As I’ve said before, I actually find the idea really appealing, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. The more I think about it, the more I realize it has to do with how I experience my autism, my transness and my mental illness.
All three of these aspects of my life have been incredibly isolating. The autism because even though I am high functioning* I still often have difficulties in social situations and forming lasting and meaningful friendships and social connections. I do have several really close friendships, but they are relationships I felt into without really understanding how. The mental illness because depression is just, by its very nature, isolating. It’s hard to make friends when you can’t get out of bed, and you’re struggling to find a reason not to kill yourself.
With the transness, the isolation is a bit harder to explain, but the way I put it when asked to describe it recently is this. My whole life, up until I transition, people called me by my dead name, but that person never actually existed. I was never that person. I was always Molly. He was just a person sized puppet that I carried. I was forced to pick him up every morning and carry around on my back. I caried him around, and everybody talked to him, interacted with him, and pretended I didn’t exist, and it was every bit as humiliating and dehumanizing as it sounds. But the thing is I spent decades of my life hoping no one would notice Molly because I expected if anyone realized Molly existed, I would lose everything. My friends, my family, my home, my job.
Read that again. I spent decades of my life terrified that people would realize the real me existed, because I was terrified they would reject me if they ever saw the real me.
So the idea of a friend that is always with me, who would never reject me or leave me, who really, truly understood every dark, hidden little corner of who I am, has a lot of appeal. And maybe that has creeped into my writing, because I can’t picture Naomi freaking out over the other person living in her head. They might not get along all the time, but at the end of the day, I think Naomi actually likes having them there, because it’s an absolute guarantee that she will never be alone.
(*Yes, I know that people don’t like the turn, but until there is a better way to describe it, it’s what we’re stuck with.)