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Question: Recovery


August 9, 2016 by Lyn

Jregli, of Space and Time, asks: *deep breath* What’s it like to be freed from ownership? To know that it will end and you don’t have to live like that anymore?

Shiva answers:

I always knew it would end. Well, not always, but I had just realized I was in way over my head when someone told me – one of the First Cohorts, a pity he’s married – that the oaths and bonds that we make in the school only last until we graduate. Which meant that Ty could only hold me until he graduated, or until I did (Would it surprise anyone to learn that I started gunning for early graduation the minute I learned that?).

But that would have been three years. And at seventeen, I thought that was pretty close to forever.

(I’m lucky, I guess. If I’d gotten caught like that out in the world, as an “adult,” it would have been forever.)

But that was early October. By August, I had a tiny little baby – Eryk – and the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome ever, except Ty hadn’t kidnapped me, really, he’d just seduced me and done his ham-handed variation on being a boyfriend-slash-Keeper.

I don’t know if it would have been easier or worse if he’d been abusive. Maybe I’ll talk about it with some of the other girls, some day, when we’re out of here and the raw has worn off. Or boys, I suppose. Aggie’s pretty rough on her Kept. I imagine it can’t be easy, belonging to the Thorne Girls, either.

I’m wandering off topic, I’m sorry, Jregli. The thing is, being Kept, if you’re what we are here, Ellehemaei, if does things to your head. You have to obey, you really do, and more than that, you get connected to your Keeper. Even if they’re a douche, ah, a jerk. Even, I’ve heard, if they abuse you.

I’m grateful that Ty never abused me. I think, in the long run, he’s more grateful than I am. I don’t think he’d still have the hand that he used to hit me, if he tried that.

It’s good to have friends.

But, when Ty “freed” me, oh, gods, I almost didn’t let him. I’m not insane, I swear, although I might have been a little nuts then. I just couldn’t stand the thought of living without him. I’d planned my whole future around him – me, him, Eryk, a passel of little cat-satyr babies. And all of a sudden… he was, what, bored? He’s never been very clear on the details and, until I saw her doing the same thing all over again with Niki, it never occurred to me to pin her down and get some answers.

Now, I might, if only to save Jamian some grief.

I was devastated. I cried for a week. I probably would have cried longer, but I had a baby to take care of, and I couldn’t just fall into a hole and die, as much as I wanted to.

But then my brain started working again. The connection the bond created was gone, but there was still affection – and there was a lot more exasperation. I started thinking about the way I’d acted, and the things I’d done, and, well, I spent a couple more weeks castigating myself. (“How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Beating Myself Up”).

After all that – well, it’s like an addiction, I suppose. When you get past the withdrawal symptoms, when you get past realizing what a moron you were, drunk and strung out, then you re-define yourself. Not Shiva the slave anymore. Shiva the grown-up. Shiva the Alpha.

It wasn’t easy. It was, as a matter of fact, pretty much the opposite of easy. It was a long, hard climb to make myself over into a new person, a person I wanted to be – and it had been such an easy freefall down to the bottom, too. But now, now I can stand confident and proud, and know who I really am.


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