Thank you, Vox Machina

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

their lives.

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.

Take care,
Deramin

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