Behind The Mask

In the modern age, society’s pre-conceived ideas about what we are make the Mundane quick to jump to the conclusion that we are monsters as depicted in  fiction, or just plain crazy without hearing-out or understanding the true nature of our condition – and thus we are condemned to a life in which we either have to conceal half our lives, constantly lying to cover it up – or else we are doomed to spend it alone…

Even those of us who may consider ourselves extroverted, out-going and social in a Dayside capacity, may find themselves suffering a sense of being alone against the world as we are forced to hide an important part of our being from those whom we love and hold close. Even in our own South African community there are those that fear losing the right to see their children, those who have been disowned by their families, and those who fear telling their lovers for fear they may leave them.

Fiction is quick to depict the vampire as a solitary creature. From Dracula to Nosferatu – and of course, Anne Rice’s characters described in her Vampire Chronicles. While these beings are described as existing in seclusion without any real relationships of any sort, albeit aside from that of their own kind, one must remember that these stories are always told with the vampire’s need for love being the focal point of the story too. Whether the vampire is chasing after the love of a mortal woman, and is more often than not portrayed as a monster for pursuing these actions – or whether it is a newly-turned vampire desperately trying to hold on to their mortal family who inevitably flees from him in fear and repulsion – these vampires are merely seeking what is vital to every human being: love and companionship, and yet it is society’s lack of tolerance that forces them to live alone.

What Mundanes do not realize upon discovering that their lover, child, brother, friend, co-worker is Vampyre, is that nothing about them has changed – only the knowledge of what that Mundane knows about that person has changed.

Ultimately, everything in what we experience in our lives contributes to the make-up of the person we are, and in loving us, even without the knowing what we are, our families and friends love our Vampyre side too, for without it we would not be that same person.

On the other side of the coin, we too must accept that society is not quite ready for us – but understand too, that to hide this from our closest companions is detrimental to our own emotional well-being, and most likely the relationships we may hold with them. I am not at all suggesting that one should get up on stage and announce their vampyrism to the world – I can assure you that will only end badly – but consider letting your loved ones in, because sometimes they may just surprise you.

Recently, my boyfriend, known now by the Nightside name of Aleister Allan Poe, accidentally stumbled across the fact that I was a sang Vampyre. In that moment, I truly believed our relationship was over, and went as far as to start making arrangements to leave immediately. He reacted with anger and disgust, feeling betrayed that I had kept this side of myself from him our entire relationship (“You might as well have been sleeping with other people”, he had snarled in my general direction) and was repulsed by the fact that I drank blood from others. At that point he was unable to see past the monster, to the fact that I was just doing what I needed to get by.

And thus there were periods of long, deathly silence. He flung accusations about me putting his health at risk with the dangers of blood-borne diseases, while I desperately tried to explain the lengths we go to to ensure that we and our donors, are kept safe – but my arguments only fell on deaf ears as he raged on about how my feeding off Rose was not helping her as a cutter. As we argued, my heart broke all the more, for I could not foresee it turning out well. He wanted to run from something he knew very little about. He wanted me to choose between him and being what I was, which is simply not a choice at all.

After hours that felt like centuries through the many tears, I sought desperately for a final decision on his part – he had to either accept it or he had to end it and let me leave, for by that point all I wanted was to run and disappear, start over somewhere new, anonymous and seemingly normal.

“Are you leaving me?”, I had asked through sobs. He nodded, and for the first time in our whole relationship, he too broke down and cried with me. I lay curled up beside him and he hugged me, telling me that he loved me and that he did not want to leave me but he did not understand this. I begged him to give me a chance to show him the reality of my vampyrism, to invite him into the world I had excluded him from, so that he may then come to a decision about it based on experience and not assumption, and he agreed that he would grant me that much.

We stayed up late that night talking about it in depth, about my whole life in the shadows. He still thought the idea was very far out there, and called me a nut for being apart of it – and I laughed knowing that it would take time until he would fully accept that it was real. I was the happiest person in the world, knowing that he was at least trying, making the effort and relieved that we could speak about it openly, because in that moment it became apart of his everyday life too.

I asked him to write a small piece for this article a few days ago, which reads as follows:

I am writing this only two days after discovering that my girlfriend, of a year and a half, is a sanguinarian Vampyre.

Aura and I met at the beginning of 2010. We connected immediately on more than a few levels and the further we got into our relationship – and the deeper the commitment –  it became lesson after lesson in acceptance. There were violent outbursts,  periods of deep depression and self-destructive behavior. On discovering the truth about Aura’s sanguinarian lifestyle my first emotion was a natural and obvious one: anger. Anger that she had kept this from me for our entire relationship. Anger that somehow she had put my well being at risk. Not to mention her own. I felt like I had only had half of this amazing person, and the other (possibly the genuine half) was dwelling in a world I had been totally excluded from.

I realize now in retrospect that she tried to tell me about this part of her, albeit in a very vague and cryptic fashion, and I brushed it off without a second thought. I have come to realize what a burden this must have been for her, as well as others who have to keep this from the people they love. I feel much closer to her, and Rose her donor, than I ever had before.

We are living in a time where tolerance is necessity. We are running up one side of the see-saw and are balancing in the middle, able to leap forward to enlightenment, or slip back to chaos. The three members of the Vampyre Community that I have had contact with are a few of the brightest, most enlightened people I have ever had the pleasure talking to, and I support them wholeheartedly.

I have found strength to accept the things I can not change.”

In the passed week since the whole ordeal took place, he has shown keen interest our kind and our community, constantly chatting to both Sanguine and Psychic Vampyres, taking in their experiences and making the effort to understand, but at the same time also challenging our ideas and questioning our ways so that he may come to a suitable conclusion that makes sense to him, while still being respectful of the fact that we are what we are and we are not going to change.

I feel that if my “normal” Mundane boyfriend is willing to accept that I am a Vampyre – then others around me would too, out of love. Perhaps that is the only way we will gain acceptance in society, by working on one person’s understanding at a time, rather than trying to change the collective perception of the masses, and in time we may proudly declare to the world that we are Vampyres – and not be viewed as a group of crazies playing pretend. I eagerly look forward to that day.

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