We think you’ll come back to today’s story.
We Were Bunnies
[Mystery] [Slice of Life] • 5,231 words
Fluttershy asks Twilight what happens after death. Or if there is anything that occurs before life. The answer, it turns out, is complicated.
FROM THE CURATORS: As we read through this fic, we found the things we appreciated about it multiplying like … well, bunnies. “I was just continually surprised at every turn this story made,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “What starts with a fairly common but ultimately limitless philosophical question bends around Fluttershy’s inability to express herself easily, diving into the realms of dreams and finally landing with a surprising connection to another pony.” AugieDog agreed: “I really enjoyed the long, odd meander from the question that starts the story to the largely unrelated answer that ends it.” And that journey inspired FanOfMostEverything to say, “This is a fascinating piece both metaphysically and metafictionally.”
The core of that was an exemplary look at Fluttershy’s character and her friendships. “The rest of the cast dragging Fluttershy through the process of discovery is also a plus for me because of the way it illuminates so nicely how the six of them fit together,” AugieDog said. “The idea of ‘not wanting to be a bother’ is so fundamental to some of us that it can easily override every other consideration, so the moment when Rarity tells Fluttershy that the others are already getting together at Twilight’s to talk about all this just made me grin.” FanOfMostEverything agreed: “The way she has to have plot developments dragged out of her makes perfect sense from a character and cultural standpoint. It’s also a great way to preserve the mystery.” But Fluttershy was far from the only highlight, AugieDog said: “The others are equally well-voiced throughout.”
And along the way there were plenty of details to appreciate. Horizon praised “moments of brilliance” such as “the ‘somepony’ distinction and the bit about tea and dinner and breakfast.” FanOfMostEverything appreciated how neatly everything wrapped up: “The conclusion is satisfying and matches the hints we’re given.” And the story kept its greatest strengths front and center. “No one writes emotionally vulnerable characters like Heartshine,” Present Perfect said. “This is the best Fluttershy I’ve ever read.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Heartshine discusses rainbow-pilling, British surliness, and equine Johari windows.
Give us the standard biography.
What does a standard biography even mean?
I binge-read about 8 other RCL bios (and then made sure to note the stories involved!) to make sure I was doing this right. Not that being a compulsive people-pleaser is part of my being or anything, but! I had no idea what to do, or what you or readers would expect. That, and this sort of thing requires me to talk about myself, and a partially Catholic upbringing has made it nigh-impossible to talk about myself without being at least a little self-deprecating.
I suppose it’s good to know that I spent a total of 17 days in foster care as an infant before joining my adoptive family. I’m fairly certain this makes me a changeling. Not like a fun changeling from one of the White Wolf games where your soul gets tattered and partially bound to the hedge, with True Fae hunters looking to get it back. Instead it just kinda made me a weirdo that has trust issues and developed a difficulty forming attachments with humans. Because back in the late 80s, we didn’t worry about things like attachment issues, big-T traumas that affect babies, and other indicators of probable poor mental health as an adult.
I’m sure that’s not affected me in the slightest, and is totally not why many of my characters have issues with their mothers. Heck off, Freud, back in the parlour lamp with ye!
To be honest, I grew up in rural Michigan in a dark time known as the 90s, and what I remember the most was loving books. Books were the best thing. Books gave you stories! Stories got you out of the world you lived in, and into other worlds where things were far more interesting and magical and cool stuff happened every day! Books let you create imaginary friends that you could always play with! I may have had a bit of a flair for escapism as a child, up to the point that my parents ended up bringing me to a child psychologist for fear that I was so into my make-believe worlds that I couldn’t tell fact from fiction. What they learned was that I was a clever, precocious child with ADHD, selective mutism, and an extremely active imagination.
My parents promptly decided to ignore this information and continue on as normal.
I remember learning to read in first grade. That was a lot of fun because I went from reading the three-words-a-page books to the Boxcar Children in the span of about a month. By second grade, I’d read all of the Boxcar Children. Then my mother made the mistake of introducing me to science fiction, and I proceeded to, in the period of a year, get banned from checking out sci-fi books for 6 months. This was a dark time for young Heartshine, because life without spaceships was almost not worth living. But it also introduced her to Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, so everything turned out okay in the end.
Honestly, ever since people told me in 2nd grade that I could write using little stapled newsprint and construction paper ‘notebooks’ that Mrs. Uthe kept in the classroom for some reason, I was writing. Usually my own, weird fantasies about Star Trek, Star Wars, or being Captain Janeway’s daughter. I had very specific goals as a 2nd grader, and Star Trek: Voyager probably was a bad influence on me. But that bit of writing led my teachers to recommend that I enter Young Authors competitions — I was invited to at least three of them. I mostly remember those because I had to go to this college campus about 30 minutes from my house on a Saturday, and it felt like I was going back to school. On a freaking Saturday. So basically it was the worst and zero fun.
Luckily, we had a massive creative writing unit that involved writing a book of poems in 8th grade, which, uh, probably kept me from reenacting scenes from Better Off Dead cause I had some sort of outlet for the stuff I was dealing with at home. I could use writing as an escape! A way to get away. A way to process things like feelings which, normally, are confusing and like to rub themselves on your face in all sorts of uncomfortable ways.
In high school, I discovered fanfiction.net. This … may have been a bad influence on my life, and taught me several things about LGBT relationships that required … correcting as an adult. Still, it let me write a bit of very bad Star Trek and Gundam fanfiction. Which let me practice writing poetry and fiction, which I continued to do in college.
I started off as a music major, switched to English, then accidentally took a psychology class and ended up with a major in psychology. Still not sure how that happened. I mean … no, I do know, it’s because humans are fascinating creatures and figuring out how they tick has always been interesting to me. And I’d always been the friend who was a listener growing up, so I might as well get paid for it, right? It also helped that listening was kind of an innate talent of mine, so … psychology it was.
Though I did minor in English, and held the distinction of being the only non-English major to get published in the Aquinas College Sampler. I’m very proud of the poem I got published because my poetry teacher hated it. Largely because it was a confessional poem, and she was a New Formalist. Didn’t stop her from making me rewrite the damned thing about 20 different times, shaving words here, swapping them there, adding commas and periods for artistic flair. I loved Dr. Peterson, but good goddesses, Miriam … 20 times?!
Since then, I got my master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and have been working as a therapist/social worker in various places throughout the US, but mostly Michigan and Oregon (where I live now). I discovered ponies in late 2010 and have been slowly trying to figure out how technicolor equines have taken over my life. But it’s not the worst thing I’ve gotten into, and it’s cheaper than alcoholism. So there’s that!
How did you come up with your handle/pen name?
So, because I’d never been part of a big internet fan community like MLP before, I had no idea what an ‘OC’ was. So when I joined the Brony Fleet in Star Trek Online in February of 2011, everyone pushed me to make an OC. I’d watched the show enough to realise the power of having a special talent, so I made Heartshine. Which … honestly involved this long and complicated idea of creating a pony whose special talent was basically being a therapist but not, and so she came to be. She eventually grew on me, and so when I discovered Fimfiction, she was my go-to OC and made a cute screen name. People also seemed to like Heartshine, despite my rather eye-searing selection of colours for her. Poor thing.
Who’s your favorite pony?
Uh, it’s kind of a tie between Scootaloo and Fluttershy. I got introduced to ponies during winter break of 2010-11 when, upon signing on to play Starcraft II with some friends of mine, I discovered the boys all had cute pony avatars. They then proceeded to peer pressure me by chanting ‘find a pony!’ for about 20 minutes before I finally googled MLP. Fluttershy was the first pony I saw, and I went ‘oh my gosh she is darling must protecc!’ After that, I started looking things up about the ponies, discovered I’d accidentally picked the horse that fit my personality to a T, freaked my friends out because I then started looking more deeply into the show, and, uh … that’s how I rainbow-pilled myself into MLP.
Honestly, I love Fluttershy because it’s easy to empathize with her and, from a writing perspective, she is a lot of fun to write. She’s an introvert, and I have a love for writing character study pieces, and there’s nopony better to sit down and try to figure out what’s going on inside their head. Well written, Fluttershy goes from a wallflower to a fascinatingly deep individual. It’s a lot of fun to play with ideas of what is going on in their headspace’s secret world — she likely doesn’t share it with many people.
I ended up writing a blogpost titled ‘Garden of Words,’ which, while largely autobiographical, sort of gets at how I believe Fluttershy looks at the world. Obviously she’s had a very different life but the idea of looking at the world through a quiet lens feels familiar. That’s why I enjoy writing her.
Scootaloo, however, fell very firmly into my heart because “Call of the Cutie” was the last episode available when I first found ponies. Oh, I binge-watched that one, too …
Honestly, Scootaloo is who I want to be when I grow up. We’ll ignore the fact that I’m 31 and theoretically have my life together, but … idk. I loved that she was this plucky pegasus that came out of nowhere to be friends with Applebloom. She refused to give up, refused to give in to bullies, and her insecurities could be easily defeated by her accepting the love of her friends. I ended up naming a new Star Trek Online alt ‘Scootaloo,’ and led the Guardians of Equestria for about three years as her. I kinda got more attached to her as time went on.
What’s your favorite episode?
“Sleepless in Ponyville,” hands down. This was the first Scootaloo episode. I waited three seasons for it, and I was crying my eyes out at the end of it because the Aesop in it affected my life in a huge way. At the time, I was struggling with who I was as a person. I needed to make the step to come out to my family.
Anyone who is part of the LGBT+ community knows that coming out is terrifying. At the time, I’d been mulling this over for literally months: how to do it, what to say, what to do, and … then, “Sleepless in Ponyville” came out. And, in a very silly, childish sort of way, it reminded me that maybe I needed to face my fears and not just sit there and be a ball of stress and anxiety over it. There are so many other things to be a ball of stress and anxiety over! This one was at least conquerable! So I came out to my folks and continued on with my life from there.
The sad part is, I can’t watch the episode without getting really emotional about it, but it’s honestly my favorite.
What do you get from the show?
At various points in my life, hope, inspiration, and above all, friends. Honestly, the last one probably helped a lot with the first two.
I was … not in a good place when I found ponies. I was in the middle of grad school, enjoying the depths of a severe episode of depression that was compounded by panic disorder, and I was trying to get into a career where you have to be sane enough to help other people with their own problems. Clearly, I was being a stellar example of that.
MLP was this … bright and happy point that kept me going. When studying was hard, when I wanted to die from stress and, well, the depression, I reminded myself that there was a new episode on Saturday. I would never miss that. The Grand Galloping Gala was coming up, and the girls were so excited to go and I was excited for them!
Ponies gave me a support group when I was coming out. It gave me a group of people who, if needed, could be my created family if my actual family rejected me for coming out. Now, that didn’t happen, but it was a genuine fear of mine for a time.
Now? Eight years later? It gives me hope. It’s not the same show. The fandom isn’t the same, but there are pieces of it that help me try to build little communities of my own. We can’t all live in Ponyville or Equestria, but I like to think that MLP has pushed me to try to bring a bit of Equestria to Earth. It’s not easy, and a lot of people don’t want that, but … it gives me something to strive for when I’m helping someone through a dark place in their life. And I help people through dark places in their life a lot as a crisis worker. So having a bit of a light really, really helps when times are tough all around.
I’m not sure how successful I’ve been at being a light myself, and I often worry that I’m not doing enough. But I’d like to think that by making friends and trying to be a little bit more bold with applying the lessons the show has, we’re that much closer to creating our own little community at the end of a rainbow.
What do you want from life?
Not gonna lie, I kinda was gonna pull a MrNumbers and ask my mom. Or, moms, as it is, since I’m in contact with my birth mother as well as my adoptive mom. Then I realized that neither of them knew what I wanted out of my life, so I asked my roommate, Bubbles.
Bubbles is wise, he would know!
Well, he ended up giving me this: “A 6’5” Amazonian lesbian girlfriend to give you head pats and feed you raspberries when you are sad.” Which, uh, while accurate, isn’t exactly what I think you were expecting when you asked what I wanted from life.
To do something that makes it so I’m not easily forgotten. God, that sounds incredibly emo. And like Lyra from Background Pony. Skirts, you’ve ruined me! Never mind that I was an emo kid in high school. Black clothes, composition notebook, listening to the early Jimmy Eat World albums before Jimmy Eat World was cool.
I spent a lot of time as a kid being the quiet friend who was there when you needed them, but … wasn’t useful at any other time. I spent a lot of time basically feeling I was only worth anything if I could do something for someone. I can feel my therapist glaring at me from here, and probably several other friends who’ve tried their damnedest to beat that out of me, but ideas that ingrained in your psyche are very, very, very difficult to extirpate at times. Even if you don’t want them there.
I know my job as a crisis worker probably doesn’t help that complex. Still, I am very good at swanning in from the void to help someone in need, to get their shattered pieces back together enough for them to make it to their next therapy appointment. And in those moments, I’m not important. Who is important is the person who is hurting, and I always want to make sure that I’m doing the best for them because they deserve the best. Even if they don’t feel they do at times.
As a therapist, I find myself carrying many hurts that aren’t mine, but have left an impact on me. The biggest hope for my life is that I’ve carried enough people’s hurts for them to see a tomorrow that might not have been otherwise. And I’d like to think I’m managing to do that.
Why do you write?
A variety of reasons, really. Because I have a story burning a hole in my head and it needs out. Because something happened and I need a medium to process it. Or sometimes, because I just want to.
A lot of it has to do with emotional processing, though. Confessional non-fiction and poetry have always been excellent mediums for that; I’ve reserved fiction for the ‘stories burning my head’ and ‘because’ times. Not that there’s anything bad about writing fiction that also processes emotions. Honestly, back when I was doing traditional, i.e. sit in the office in slightly uncomfortable chairs doing tell-me-about-your-mom therapy, I’d encourage writing and journaling. I found that masking things in metaphor let me talk about what I couldn’t in a safe way. Or I’d just find a way to describe something horrible that happened in a beautiful way. Somehow that helps me process things better.
My job is S T R E S S F U L, which means sometimes I need that outlet. Other times, it’s … a compulsion to tell stories and escape into another world for a while. Honestly, getting to spend time in Equestria is kind of nice. Even if it’s Fallout: Equestria. It puts things both into perspective, and puts me out of the world I’m living in for long enough for me to come back, recollect myself, and face the problems that I or someone else are trying to solve.
I often write blogs about writing and mental illness and some of them take on a confessional quality that’s at points soothing and horrifying because it forces me to share pieces of myself that I’m not usually comfortable sharing. Which, I guess, I kinda did with this interview so there’s some actual character growth, maybe? But, jokes aside, I also write to inform. To see the world through another person’s eyes, and in some ways, to teach. A lot of the blogs I’ve written provide nuggets of psychology aimed at writers — psychology isn’t writers’ forte, usually. They see the mind and emotions as this weird thing that therapists deal with, when really we all deal with it every day. I just have a different perspective on it than other people.
In my pursuit of informing others, I have also developed this habit that drives my editors nuts. I like to put at least one new word that I’ve recently learned in every chapter. This has occasionally led to Bro yelling at me over discord asking (now, imagine this in a clipped, Manchester, England accent, please): “Why, on god’s green earth, did you choose to use ‘pulchritudinous’ in a piece about horse feelings?” However, I think it’s worth it. It keeps Bro on his toes, and I think he enjoys learning new words, too. He just feels better if he’s surly about it. It’s a British thing.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
Read. First and foremost, read, and read a lot. There’s probably someone a lot more famous than I will ever be that said that, and I probably stole it from him, but honestly it’s a great bit of advice. Reading a lot gives us exposure to new ideas, new ways of writing, and new ways of thinking about how people process things. Humans don’t exactly have an omni-consciousness to play with — we’re stuck with our own limited perspectives and what we can extrapolate from what we know of other people’s emotions.
So, I like to think that reading is super helpful in getting ideas from others. And stealing the good ones. Peter S. Beagle wrote The Last Unicorn, and that story changed my life because of how it forced me to look at descriptions. That we can make descriptions precise when we need to, but imprecise and vague to create atmosphere. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby introduced me to the idea of an unreliable narrator, and that has permanently impacted how I write my characters when writing in the first person. It struck me that — despite growing up in a strict house that really doesn’t teach you discipline but instead how to lie well, fast-talk, and look busy — I’d never considered that you could lie to your readers. Which is awesome! I can lie to my readers! Unlimited power is at my fingertips!
Ahem, anyways, the other bit of advice I often have is before you fret about making dialogue believable, listen to how people talk. And I mean it: listen. Listening to how people carry on conversations, how those conversations flow, and how people will often not use proper grammar when talking can really help make a particularly spicy dialogue section shine.
I will be the first to admit that I am often rubbish at describing a scene because my brain tends to focus more firmly on what is going on between the two characters. My editor, RoMS, at one point during the edits of We Were Bunnies noted that he thought Fluttershy and Twilight’s conversation took place in Golden Oaks Library, not the Friendship Castle, and I had to comment “in which Twilight and Fluttershy speak in a formless void that may resemble a hallway.” Which … sounds Night Vale-y and cool, but wasn’t what I was going for. I was so focused on the characters interacting that I’d forgotten that the readers might want a few visual cues about the scene.
I often get asked for writing advice, and a lot of it is usually related to mental illness. Which makes sense, as it’s my specialty. However, my advice is simple: “When in doubt, ask.” Bad Horse wrote many blogs about taking on challenging topics, and how often what is required is a sensitive ear and a willingness to look stuff up. If you don’t know, research. Seriously, it’s pretty easy to find stories from people whose lives are not like yours. It just takes a little effort to listen to them to improve yourself as a writer.
After the initial “silly miscommunication,” what inspired We Were Bunnies?
So Krickis’ avatar is always a bunny or a wolpertinger or a jackalope, so, yeah, I kind of assumed that her title series (which I learned was Who We Become) was We Were Bunnies. From there, I had pulled an 18-hour shift at work with 5 crisis calls in that span of time, hadn’t slept in about 27 hours, and the idea that Fluttershy was a bunny in a past life kinda … spiraled out of control.
Honestly, a lot of things inspired We Were Bunnies. I think my first exposure to the concept of reincarnation was from The X-Files of all things. There’s an episode titled “The Field Where I Died,” which dealt with Mulder possibly having been a Civil War soldier in a past life. That episode stuck with me as out of the ordinary for the “monster of the week” kind of show, and honestly kickstarted a series of deep thinking sessions upon how I thought the universe worked. Having been raised in a very religious household, the idea that maybe, just maybe, other people believed things that weren’t what I was raised on was awesome, and it made me want to look up stuff about it.
I ended up doing several research projects on Buddhism and past lives in high school. The idea that we could carry over pieces of ourselves after death has always fascinated me. So, hearing stories about how the Dalai Lama is a Avalokiteśvara, part of a line of people who are the incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, struck a chord with me in high school. It led me to look more closely into it, which, of course, led me to look into stories of, and cases for, reincarnation.
I also really enjoyed the idea of people being connected and soulmates after the death of their original selves. The hopeless romantic in me was like “yeah, but what if…?” and then the part of me that enjoys shipping took over from there.
Honestly, the biggest inspiration is probably hopeless romanticism and a love for the concept that we are all connected on a far deeper, more metaphysical level than we can truly understand. And I think we need our friends to figure that out sometimes.
Why is it so important to the story that Fluttershy needs her friends to push her every step of the way toward solving the central mystery?
I’d like to think that our friends force us to grow. Even when we’re not sure we can. I know in my personal life, I have made decisions that were good for me at the urgings of my friends. And … admittedly, sometimes I think the fact that our friends see parts of ourselves that we can’t see can help them help us.
I was introduced to the concept of the Johari Window early on in my studies of psychology. It was a fascinating and horrifying idea to me. I liked the parts about things that were known by me and others, or unknown to others but known by me, but I hated the idea that there were things about me that others knew but I didn’t. Because like, despite how awkward, anxious, and frequently confused I am during social interactions with normal people, I have this odd bit of egocentrism that says “no, I know myself best.” And … honestly? I don’t. I just like to tell myself that, so I can sleep at night.
I like to think that Fluttershy’s Johari Window of what she knows about herself that others don’t is far larger than what her friends suspect, but not nearly as large as the things that her friends know about her that she doesn’t know. That, and … social anxiety does weird things to a person. Or pony, in this case.
Social anxiety tells you that no matter what you do, you’re going to be wrong and someone is gonna get hurt. You hope it’s not you, but it’s probably going to have to be (to paraphrase a beautifully painful Mountain Goats song). As a consequence, there’s this recurring feeling of decision paralysis that makes it harder than hell to actually get your butt moving toward an action. It is the little talked-about ‘freeze’ response that also exists along with the well-known fight or flight. And ‘freeze,’ combined with social anxiety and perhaps a bit of selective mutism, can make life freaking difficult.
That’s … kind of what I was thinking when I was writing Fluttershy, and why it was important for her to have her friends support her. She knew something was wrong, but at the same time, was having a very hard time being able to make a decision for herself. She ultimately does, and then immediately wants to back out of said decision, but without her friends … she probably wouldn’t’ve pushed herself to actually confront her fears.
Well, maybe she would have. It just would have taken a reincarnation. Or five.
Were you surprised at how well Buddhism and My Little Pony fit together?
Mmm, yes and no? For me, the style of therapy I used could best be described as the child of Zen Buddhism and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy if they had a particularly interesting drunken one-night stand. As a result, even if I’m not Buddhist, there are many things about it that are appealing. Finding ways to merge it over into MLP was fairly simple.
I mean, I also say that in retrospect, I was constantly making sure that what I was using was accurate. Like I was wikipedia-ing, ebuddha-ing, or whatever to make sure that I was getting how reincarnation worked correctly, as opposed to, well, writing it badly. I also made sure to drop repeated mentions of the numbers 4 and 8, which are references to the Eightfold Path to Enlightenment, as well as the Four Noble Truths —itself referenced in the title of the book Fluttershy pokes at — and the Four Marks of Buddha’s teachings. I think like a whole two readers caught that. So that was probably a case of me thinking myself clever but actually making such an obscure reference that no one caught on to it.
Beyond that, I honestly didn’t think about how well the idea of reincarnation and Buddhist practice fit with MLP. It seemed to! Or at least it worked well enough that people enjoyed the story. So while integrating Buddhism wasn’t the intention of We Were Bunnies, it was a happy accident, it seems.
What drew you so strongly to “Fallout: Equestria – Project Horizons” that you sought out Somber’s permission to write a sequel?
Oh, sweet Baby Luna on the Moon. Um … well … a lot of sunken cost fallacy, countless hours dealing with someone whose editing skills were my polar opposite, and hating the end of Horizons. I formally joined up with Somber’s editing team around chapter 62, I think, but I had been pre-reading for PH since around … 30? I know at least 33. Or whatever chapter Somber wrote that he then came to me on Canternet’s IRC and went “Heartshine, you’re a therapist. I think I broke my character. How do I fix her?” I spent 4 hours giving him an in-depth explanation of several types of therapy for trauma, which he promptly ignored and went with batponies as the solution to all of Blackjack’s problems.
I was minorly perturbed by this, and have not held a grudge for nearly 5 years, I swear. I also don’t constantly roast him about it whenever we do panels together. I also didn’t think of giving the answer of ‘you the writer have to want to fix them.’ I kinda regret that a little. It would have saved me 4 hours.
Honestly, though, I felt that Blackjack got shafted hard at the end of PH, and after having worked with her for so long, I wanted to see her heal. Then I wanted to create a character that was fun to write, could meet BJ at a level most therapists couldn’t, and, uh … made some utterly terrible decisions from there. Which is why I’ve been writing Speak, which is … well, Slice of Life set in the Wasteland. Or as a reader once told me: “Fallout: Equestria – Ponies Cry a Lot but Try to Get Better.”
Speak has been my way to get into the controversial community that I enjoy in an untraditional way, away from the kill-’em-all Wasteland adventures. I wanted to do a character study. Everyone thought that was nuts, that it wouldn’t do well, even with the Horizons tag. But Somber said “hey, go for it. I’m not putting BJ through therapy,” and things went from there.
I quickly realized I wasn’t writing about Blackjack. She was a character, sure, but … this was Threnody’s story. It was my story, and … something I could use to write Fallout: Equestria, but also add more Equestria to Fallout. One thing that always bugged me about FO:E and PH were their … lack of “Friendship is Magic” aspect. That the element of friendship is triumphing despite the darkness in the world. That … left a sour taste in my mouth, and so I created Threnody as a way to explore that. To … find that friendship, because without friends, recovery from trauma is hard.
No really, it is. I’ve worked as a trauma therapist for a good portion of my career, and one of the most difficult things to cope with when someone has experienced a big-T trauma is the emotional distance they feel from other people. There’s a sense that people feel like they aren’t fully human (or pony, if you’re writing about smol equines). It can force a wedge between you and the people that can help you get better. One of the group therapy modalities I would run in my own clinical practice is Seeking Safety, and part of that is working to find safe people and friends to go to. Because without a support group, you kind of end up as an agoraphobic, half-feral wreck of a person who doesn’t get out much and freaks out at loud noises (totally not speaking from personal experience here, nope!) Not that you can’t be that without trauma but like, trauma doesn’t help that.
But … I also wanted to tell a story about how things can get better. That there’s stuff in life that can wear you down, beat you up, leave you bruised and broken, but you can get through it. It may take work, it’s gonna hurt like hell, and there will be moments where you’ll feel like you can’t do it. But getting through the points where you feel like you’re struggling with a human (or equine) version of Sudden Oak Death can make you that much stronger in the end. You just really need your friends to make it through the process. And that … no one is immune to needing to hear that from time to time. Least of all an angsty 14-year-old pegasus who has “must save everyone” complexes.
Come to think of it, I should probably read that last sentence to myself aloud and maybe try to follow its advice on occasion.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t honor my friends who help me edit my stories. Bronode, RoMS, Firimil, Gara The Author, Rose Quill, and yes, even Nethlarion (the poor Russian who I am probably driving to alcoholism because he decided to translate Speak) have all been hugely instrumental in making me who I am today, as well as my stories. Somber, Kkat, and Volrathxp all sort of gave me a fun world to play with. And I’ll always be grateful to my roommate, Bubblegum, for keeping me sane. Or mostly sane, I suppose. I was always kind of a disaster human before he met me, and I don’t expect that to change much.
Much like the rest of the Mane 6 in We Were Bunnies, the folks listed above will often push me to be … better than I am. And I try to nudge them as gently as possible in turn. Pushing seems too mean.
But honestly, this fandom has given me a lot of really close friends, many more than I’ve listed here, who I wouldn’t trade for the world, and have been supported by me and have been supports for me when times have been … hard. Which sounds kind of like the magic of friendship to me.