Meeting the 'Waterfall' | A toxic relationship
Updated: Jun 17
Written by Sage (These are just ramblings.)
When I first fell into the forest, I had a shadow attached to me. It was the shadow who saved me from dying but somehow hated my existence.
I had no idea what this forest was but I knew that it was evil. No one who fell into the forest ever came back - we never knew where they went.
I woke up on the floor on the forest covered in ice and mud, my hair frozen up in some weird 'chicken butt' shape and my skin practically white. The rope that had been used to kill me was still tied around my neck. I grabbed at it, pulling the end where the rope had been cut, and the loop around my neck tightened. Somehow I couldn't feel it.
I knew I must be dead. I had to be. How would any of this be possible? Maybe I was lying on the ground somewhere dying and these were my last thoughts? That would be sad because the last thing my brain would cook up would be a scary forest full of lord knows what, a demon staring out at me from my shadow, and an undead form that looked gross and unkempt. However, if these were my last thoughts then I'd want to make the best of them and not weep on the ground.
The shadow was whispering things to me as I got up. It was like intrusive negative thoughts. Judging me, hating me, showering me with anger and resentment - I tried to ignore it all as I stumbled and steadiest myself on a tree. I could feel the shadow moving through my body as it traveled up and a weird shadow-person figure appeared at my side. It was attached to me but for a moment it looked like someone, a very blurry yet tar-like figure, hanging off my shoulder. A white face formed out of the blackness with two slits for eyes and an impossibly wide smile.
I could hear it out loud, yet also in my head. It was so angry. It hated me SO much. Why was I saddled with this? Had I known the pain I'd be in, I would have just chosen actual death (if those last few moments before the rope cut were real and not another crazy way of my brain coping with death).
It was just us two for a while. We walked and talked, though most of it was just negative ranting coming from my parasitic 'friend'. Then one day I heard something else, it sounded like someone crying.
We pushed aside some tree branches and bushes to find a waterfall in a clearing in the woods. It was a marble statue in the shape of a woman from the shoulder up, though she appeared to be crumbling into the dirt. Her eyes were pure white with marble hair that had great volume, I supposed it was supposed to look like curly hair. In the middle of her chest though was a gaping hole. It looked icy and black and that was where the water was pouring out from. I mused that it looked like she was sobbing straight from her heart.
She moaned and cursed, her head was rolling around on her shoulders as she whined. That was when I noticed the hands. On either side of the pond that she created with her crying heart were two giant hands - it appeared the rest of her was either embedded in the mud or had crumbled away like the rest of her appeared to. The hands and wrists moved around as though she was in pain. Perhaps she was. She was so upset and my heart ached for hers.
"Miss. Are you alright?" I asked in a hushed tone, dipping my head a bit into my shoulders to try and not appear threatening.
"OH. Oh. Come here please. PLEASE. I'm so alone. Please. I've lost everything! I'm so alone!" She wailed.
That was when I made, what I feel, to be the biggest mistake of my life. I continued off into the clearing and sat at the foot of her pond, vowing to help this poor woman. Had I known the years of pain - the years of stagnation - that I'd endure, I would have not been so adamant in staying to try and 'fix' her.
I stayed with her. Years. Enduring her stories of how many people were cruel to her, how wronged she was by the world, how noble and caring she was, I felt like I had found someone I could relate to. It was a relief from the demon whose existence seemed to be to make mine miserable. She lured me in with stories of her greatness.
What I hadn't known back then is not everyone is truthful. Some people exaggerate. Some people will make up stories almost completely to make themselves look GRAND compared to what actually happened or even rewrite history completely to make themselves feel better about themselves.
But I didn't know that, and I stayed with her as the shadow adored the negativity that sometimes poured out of her. At some point, it enjoyed her company more than me. It sometimes would take me over, seeing through my eyes and me a helpless bystander as it asked her questions and talked over how unfair the world was and how amazing she was. Which seemed odd at first because I had never known the shadow to be positive. But that's when it began.
That's when, after everything had been talked about, after all the stories were seemingly told - she decided to add one more to her list. It started small. A comment here and there about how I would lie about helping her - to get me to do more things like try to put her back together or to tend to the garden of weeds that lived along her pond.
Sometimes I wanted to leave to get some supplies - I wanted to make her things to bring joy to her - but leaving made her upset. If I didn't get her anything it made her upset. Sometimes I began to think I was going crazy, and the shadow agreed. I was so crazy and this woman was so brilliant, I was dumb to leave her.
The small comments here and there of her frustration towards me began to grow. The stories that she had once told me, she began to repeat again and again. She just loved talking about how others hurt her but she could never move on and seemingly did not want to heal. I often talked with her about healing but both her and the shadow would start ranting at me. I would have yelling in my head in addition to the screaming from her as water poured from her heart.
Once I went to clean her pond, and when I placed all the leaves and gross things that had collected in there on the shore I went to get out.
It was like the pond froze over, and I fell backwards into the pond. It wasn't frozen. Oh no. No no. Was I really crazy? I looked back at the Waterfall who seemed angry at me. Really. Angry. I felt fear for the first time around her and went to get out again. I stood up, only to feel something around my neck and wrists and waist. I was chained. The shadow, projecting itself into my own real shadow onto the pond's shore began cackling at me from the dry safety of land.
I was forced to my knees. I tried to get up again but she began screaming of HOW I did the tasks she asked me to do wrong. My god, I did everything wrong didn't I? How could I be so wrong? What was wrong with me? I wanted to leave to badly. But maybe this was punishment for whatever I did wrong to be sent to this place - maybe this was punishment for not treating her right. She certainly was giving me an endless list of grievances and connecting them with the stories of people who had hurt her in the past. Oh no now I was hurting her. God damn it, what was wrong with me.
No no no. Stop yelling please. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'll change. I'll be better.
I can be whoever you need me to be.
I don't know how long I was chained and puppeteered by her around her pond doing - what in my mind was exactly what I had done earlier but now was harder because of her chains.
Then I was released. I could have left then for good. I don't know why I didn't. I wanted to prove I was better. I had listened to her. I had been there for her. She had listened to me as well when I needed to vent - we were FRIENDS, correct?!
Maybe it was just a bad day for her. I thought.
I fed this cycle and did not leave, like I said, for years. I kept going back. Though now I wish I hadn't. Things continued to happen - her outbursts got worse and worse. Yet I stayed and hoped she was alright and that I would see her better sometime soon and she would see all the effort I was putting in.
I don't know WHEN I began to hate her. I don't know when I began to grow spiteful. But it did begin, and I STILL did not leave. There were so many things she had done to me that I rather would not recall and yet I did not leave. The shadow always said I deserved every bit of hate and spite she gave back to me.