Dear Critical Role Cast,
Vox Machina helped me transition thought the hardest few years
of my life. Chronic, debilitating migraines slowly took away my active pastimes,
my community, eventually my career. Bad medications caused my mental health to plummet
and nearly killed me. My grandmother started dying of cancer. Critical Role was
an escape when I literally couldn’t pick myself up off the floor. An escape
into other people’s pain and struggle at a time when that heaviness was all
that made sense to me.
But it was not a narrative that privilege individual angst,
nor did it wallow in that strife. It has always been a story about overcoming
the darkness of the world with your friends. Laughing at the darkness for being
terrible and pulling you through when you fall. The melody of joy and hope played
over the symphony of discord. It’s about life being far from okay, and people
being far from okay, and making it through anyway, all together or not at all.
It’s not mistake that such a narrative, told by such deeply
caring and passionate people, would build a strong community. Far from perfect,
maybe, but far better than most. I’m grateful that I had the courage to be part
of that community. The love of Critical Role was the spark to reignite an old
friendship out of touch for many years. An ally I needed in my life now more
than ever, and with her came a new friend and ally. They and other Critters
helped me understand my sexuality for the first time. They gave me a better
word than “broken.” They gave me peace and Pride.
When I felt I had no use and purpose, studying Vox Machina
gave me something to give back to the world through transcription and analysis.
I’ve been an excellent writer my whole life, but plagued by not knowing what to
write about that was worth saying. But this was a chance to say something, add
something to the world I could see was needed. It got me practicing writing,
and it got easier for the first time in my life. It gave me a platform to speak
from, too, and permission to shout into the ether.
My writing has always been poetic, but a very scaring experience
in elementary school took poetry away from me. The poetry Taliesin shared got
me reading poetry again. Poetry helped me brace for the inevitable. I wrote my
first poem for my grandmother’s funeral. I started giving myself permission to
make art. I wrote more poetry to make sense of myself and my pain. My Critter
friends helped me edit it. This week my poems were published.
Last December I decided to put the official patches on a
cheap black denim jacket. From the theme of found family I added the pin my
best friend, my sister, sent back from her travels, ever far away. A way to
keep her with me. I added the pin that symbolized my Ren Faire family. I added
the pin from my grandma’s funeral. I added grandpa’s air force wing as we went
through her things. I added a pin for the friend and former coworker who
rescued me several when I had a break down. today about 15 people and two
nebulous groups are represented. A way to keep all of them with me. A thing I
can physically point to when the brain demons try to tell me I’m unloved.
There are 4 symbolic references to the show on my jacket
today. All of them standing for overcoming, finding family, finding a purpose,
and finding a path unlooked for. A reminder that sometimes what we didn’t want
is what we need to do, and we can find strength and purpose through that.
Through this and making the Magnificent Mess Whitestone Tour Guide hat I
learned I’m far more artistic than I ever game myself credit for, and that art
was something I could make despite the pain. Something that makes me happy. And
that gave me a path forward towards the future for the first time in two years.
I’m far less afraid now than I used to be. Today I’m setting
up my own business to make art. I always thought that was too risky to
consider. The Critical Role community showed me how many queer D&D players
there are out there and that’s given me a well of ideas, and access to people
who can help me make them happen. It’s made me more determined than ever that the
business space, tools, and shop I create has to elevate more than myself. I
want to give other people with debilitating conditions access to help improve
So, thank you, Vox Machina. Thank you, Critical Role. Thank
you, Critters. I may not have been here at all without you. I would never have
been in such a better place without you. It’s been a crazy journey. I’m so glad
I took it with you.