Friendships soured. Familial ties broken. Lovers lost. Over and over, people would either slowly fade away or they’d ghost completely. People have walked into my life, stayed for a short while, then vanish just as quickly as they had arrived. He or she ghosted. Why? This was something I always used to ask myself in college—when I was newly into my twenties—why do people abandon me? I’d ponder this for many more minutes than I should have, but when my mind enters a rabbit hole—like Alice’s descent into Wonderland—I keep going and searching, but I search for answers that never come.
Why do people leave? How could someone say “hi” and light up when they see me one day and ignore me the next? No. No, it couldn’t be me, because mom and dad say I’m “lovely,” and “bright,” and “pretty.” So, it couldn’t be me. It must be them. Yes! It’s them, nothing is wrong with me. I’m perfect! Right? But, naturally for me at that time, I’d second-guess their words and my own. I’d look in the mirror and think, maybe mom and dad are wrong. Maybe I’m not so lovely, so bright or so pretty. Maybe I’m just average. They probably only say that because they’re my parents. These thoughts of mine would enter into a vicious circle. Not a cycle. Edgar Cayce says that a cycle denotes that growth has occurred, and I was stagnant at that age—neither maturing nor regressing. So, a circle is much more befitting.4 I eventually experienced growth, but that took some time; however, I found that I was still meeting people that would—quite frankly—treat me like a doormat. He or she would enter my head, my heart, or enter some appendage of theirs into my body, only to wipe their feet and leave footprints staining my back as they exited my life. I didn’t know my worth and constantly questioned my value to other people (I’ll admit that I still do this, but far less frequently); what I learned was that if I didn’t see value in myself, neither would anyone else.
In college, I majored in chemistry and I was mixing volatile chemicals on a daily, so I knew that “like dissolves like.” I knew that non-polar substances dissolve non-polar substances and polar dissolved polar ones. Despite the many times that this principle was beaten into my head, it wasn’t a concept that I could seem to apply to my social life. It wasn’t until after a wretched, emotionally abusive relationship that I realized I had found the answer to my question: why do people leave me? People left me because, had I been in their shoes, I’d have left me, too. I didn’t love myself, so I how could I expect others to do the same? Humans are intuitive creatures and we can smell the stench of desperation, loneliness, or the alluring odors of horniness and happiness from far away. I had heard of the Law of Attraction (which I’ll delve in to later), but hadn’t thought much of it a few years back. I finally decided to research it one day and it transformed my life.
Black Sheep Down the Rabbit Hole
A couple of weeks ago, I went to my local library and picked up the graphic novel Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. I went in looking for some other book, but I came out with this one instead. It piqued my interest because the cover was both creepy and captivating. I grew curious and my brain itched to find out more about it—it’s the same feeling I get when I see a pretty girl—a sense of urgency to explore. I began to read it as soon as I got home and it wasn’t long until I noticed similarities between myself—my old self—to Anya, the protagonist or antagonist (depending on how you look at it) in this story.
Anya and her family, which consists of her mother and younger brother, Sasha, are Russian immigrants living in the United States. Anya is an outcast—she has one close friend named Siobhan, she isn’t popular, she’s longing for Sean, a taken boy, and in her eyes she’s not so beautiful. I immediately connected with her character because I was one of the few Blacks in a predominantly White school—a black sheep like Anya. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t feel pretty, and I certainly wasn’t popular. No boyfriend either. Anya longed to be liked by the popular girls and lusted after by the cute boys, but what she didn’t realize is that since she thought so little of herself, people intuitively sensed that and were repelled by it. She wasn’t exactly the nicest person either, especially towards the people who seemed to care the most for her—Siobhan and her family. I was the same way. Starting arguments with my sister, disrespecting my parents, and shutting myself in my room—another facet of my vicious circle.
Anya decides to skip school one day and she finds herself in the woods. Her venturing into the woods alone is representative of the beginning of self-discovery. In order to discover one’s truth, I believe it’s necessary (in most cases) to be either physically or mentally alone. The quietness of the woods represents the dissolution of social barriers and constructs, old thoughts and feelings, debilitating habits, and toxic relationships. Anya walks deeper into the woods—unknowingly seeking out her truth—and falls into a deep, dark, grimy hole; the deepness of the hole symbolizing the ample amount of work she has to do on herself.
Moment-to-moment (M2M) panels overlay a full-page panel to show her plunge into the hole. M2M panels are used heavily throughout this work; these types of panels are used to break down a single action into several panels to evoke emotion and to emphasize said singular action.2 The action of Anya’s descent into the hole is broken into five panels and I get a better understanding of the emotions she felt before and during her plummet. When put together, these panels mark the beginning of her journey to face the truth about herself. Brosgol does this deliberately to trap me, a mere onlooker, in Anya’s journey with her. I’m instantly unable to simply be a bystander to the events in this story.
Anya hits rock bottom (literally and figuratively), but sadly—unlike Alice—she finds no rabbits. Instead, she lights her match (she’s a smoker) and sees a skeleton lying next to her. Moments later, a ghost escapes from the small skeletal figure and greets her; the ghost is pleasantly excited because it hasn’t seen another human in years. Anya is petrified—understandably so—and attempts to look for a way out—a way out from learning her truth because the truth is scary. Anya is initially very rude to the ghost, who later reveals that her name is Emily. A few hours pass and Anya is finally rescued by a man who had wandered through the woods; however, Emily is sad to see her go, as she can’t follow her because she can only travel so far from her bones. I found this incredibly meaningful because it shows that this ghost—Anya’s mirror—isn’t too keen on letting her leave her truth behind.
After Anya’s escape from the hole, she returns home and continues her life. One day while Anya is looking at herself in the school’s bathroom mirror—noticeably displeased with her figure—Emily pokes her head up from behind one of the stall doors.
These panels are powerful because it becomes very clear that Emily will act as a reflection of Anya’s truth as the story progresses. Anya is, once again, very rude to Emily. Anya is angered and shocked as to how the ghost was able to follow her until Anya finds Emily’s pinky finger bone in her backpack. Her pinky bone creates a bond of sorts between the two characters.
The story progresses and Anya and Emily eventually befriend one another. Emily helps Anya cheat on tests (she can shrink down to the size of Anya’s ear) and she even helps Anya spy on Sean, but eventually Emily becomes obsessed with Anya’s love life. Emily wants Sean to realize that it’s Anya he loves instead of Elizabeth—his blonde, long-legged, large-breasted bombshell of a girlfriend. She tells Anya, “I think that Sean boy could really like you! You’re much more interesting than that Elizabeth girl.”1 Emily confides in Anya and tells her a tale about a lover she had lost and it becomes apparent that Emily is living vicariously through Anya’s love life. Unfortunately, Emily’s self-serving nature begins to rear its ugly head, just as Anya’s opportunistic ways had when she decided to keep Emily because she could help her pass her exams. Their symbiotic relationship stood out to me. When Emily becomes more invested in urging Anya to help cause a rift in Sean and Elizabeth’s relationship, she grows irritated of her and eventually decides not to take her to school, much to Emily’s chagrin. Emily is also upset because she feels that without her help, Anya would still be “that weird girl who fell on her ass in gym.”1 Near the end of the story, Anya tells her that it’s quite the opposite. She says to Emily, “You’re the one that needs me. You need me to go to school, and dress up, and chase boys because you never got to.”
Anya no longer wants her as a friend and threatens to throw her pinky bone back into the hole (which would sever their bond). Emily attempts to bargain with Anya and insists that she give her to one of her friends instead; however, Anya retorts, “I wouldn’t wish you on my enemies.” Emily explodes and tells Anya, “You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever met.” Emily finally exclaims that, “You’re just like me.” Of course, Anya doesn’t see herself in Emily, yet as a reader, their similarities are rather conspicuous. Like dissolves like.
According to the Mindvalley Blog, The Law of Attraction (LoA) is a universal principle, which states that:
Things within our universe have a tendency to migrate toward other like things. We’re using the word “things” here because this law encompasses thoughts, feelings, people, objects and everything else in our universe.3
Maya Marcotte, a psychic medium and the creator of the Maya Marcotte channel on YouTube describes the LoA as follows: “What you most want to be or don’t want to be, you already are.” The latter definition is much more concise; however, to me, both definitions mean that who you want to be or what you want to possess is already yours because anything you believe to be good or bad, you’ve already judged as so, which creates its manifestation as such in your life. All traits and energies are mirrored in some form or another. Anya was selfish, rude, and domineering to a fault, in turn, the universe led her to Emily—a woman who possesses the same abhorrent qualities. While I believe in free will (to an extent), I also believe that the universe puts people in situations to help them better understand themselves. While it wasn’t ideal for me (or anyone) to be in bad relationships, my auras led me to fall in to them to teach me a lesson. Anya and I were presented with our mirror images in order to incite personal changes within us. It wasn’t until I realized that I had bad qualities and was far from perfect that I noticed changes in the people surrounding me. When I became more confident in my beauty and my intelligence I attracted people that were—in my eyes—exceptionally beautiful and brilliant. When I was nicer, it was reciprocated. I’m now in a loving, healthy relationship and I know that the LoA had a major part in helping me find a partner who cares for and respects me. When I became more affectionate and healthy-minded, the universe gave it back to me in the form of my boyfriend and new friends.
A Broken Mirror Sparks the Transformation of “Circle to Cycle”
As the story comes to a close, Anya confesses to Emily that she does see some aspects of herself within Emily, but notes that she would never truly hurt anyone. She drops Emily’s pinky finger bone back into the hole, which is poignant because it symbolizes Anya’s departure from her negative traits. Emily falls into the hole—which is indicative of her lack of change and her inability to grow. Emily cries before and (presumably during) her descent and her bones shatter. Anya’s mirror is broken and she can finally be free and move on to continue working on herself and mend relationships with her friends and family. Anya soon stops smoking and even heads a civil service project to get the hole filled, which shows her good-natured heart and her desire to put her past self behind her and keep it there.
- Brosgol, Vera. Anya’s Ghost. New York: First Second, 2011. Print.
- McCloud, Scott. Making Comics. New York: Harper, 2007. Print.
- “The Complete Law Of Attraction Guide: How To Manifest Your Dream Life – Mindvalley Blog.” Mindvalley Blog. N.p., 2018. Web. Jan. 2018.
- Thurston, Mark A, and Christopher Fazel. The Edgar Cayce Handbook For Creating Your Future. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Print.