Reviews for Metanoia
symphorophilia chapter 1 . 3/15/2021
dawn, im speechless. completely and totally.

okay, lets be real here, start from the beginning - ive seen parts of this already, and ive been fortunate enough to know about this project since its conception, back when we were in the midst of discussing headcanons and victory aus and cel, in general - how tragic she was for all of her self-delusion, her internalized ableism and crushing despondency. cel was not meant for the games; yes, her reasons for volunteering were so personal, but so limited in terms of scope and so flawed in terms of her decision making capability. cel chose the games when she had everything to lose; her vision was failing her and she feared the thought of being disabled, losing her so-called strength that she'd so long defined through her work ethic and her ableness. but she had people who loved her, perople who cared for her, people who were willing to take care of her. she had opportunities aplenty, even in light of her vision impairment, and means of remediating her concerns/managing her symptoms through the course of her life in four, so long as she was willing to accept the help.

and because of this, this beautifully crafted and amazing story, this iteration of cel we never got to see in centrifuge because she spent the whole story lost to herself away from four, we truly are able to see just how debilitating her fatal flaw was. cel fucked herself over to spare her own pride the humiliation of admitting defeat or asking for assistance. and to what ends? as daria herself asked, is death really better than blindness? blinded, cel could still live a full life, could still be with the people she cares for and could still do work she is impassioned by. she doesn't need to give up everything to maintain an image of strength through battle, but her stubbornness and rigidity left it in DWD so tjat she could see no other way. and despite being a cel lives! fic, metanoia doesnt fix that conception of cel in the least - it buulds on it, expands on it and paints a picture of a girl who may not have volunteered, but was no less troubled even for her inability to do so. we still have a cel who is accusatory, who internalizes social conceptions of validity and strength and dismisses emotions on principle because she thinks they make her weak. we still have a cel who is so hypocritical in her treatment of daria - wanting to support but not wanting to accept aid in return - because she thinks that doing so will make her lesser even though it wont in the least. we still have a cel who is terrible at communicating, who is overtly critical of both herself and others, and who works off this code of values she keeps in her mind that she refuses to change.

and in part we can understand her reluctance. change is hard. acquiescing to a new state of normal is hard. being open about your feelings - particularly your vulnerabilities - is immensely difficult, and its so much easier to want to carry the weight of problems on your own shoulders rather than, as cel would say, "burden others with them." the tragedy of cel is that it is just so easy to empathize with her, so easy to understand where she's coming from because what disabled person, what neurodivergent person, what person who sees themselves as socially deviant or outside the "norm" hasnt had this experience? at one point or another we've all been cel. the headspace she's in is not an easy one to break free from - something you illustrate beautifully in the first few sections of this story. cel relents. she doesnt volunteer. she tells daria about her condition and about her concerns. then she regrets it. she gets angry, withdraws. then she gets bitter and lashes out. she decides she should have volunteered anyway, even when its too late to think about doing so, and she casts aside the outreach of her parents when they voice opposition, choosing instead to focus on the cutting words of her trainers (top of the academy, why wouldnt you volunteer, youre a waste) instead of the positive reinforcement from her loved ones. she is stuck, for awhile, in this cycle - of acceptance and denial, of convincing herself she can make things work and letting her tempestousness get the better of her whenever she experiences something that could be deemed a failure. and it hurts to see her cycling like this, and know shes in pain, and know that theres nothing to be done for her if she refuses to speak or allow it - ie, daria's perspective.

but then in the midst of all this turmoil and angst there's also beauty. its a beauty she didnt get in centrifuge, a beauty she wouldnt find if she survived the games. she has daria. she has time on her side, enough to rework her present and plan out a new future, and a large enough support network to really keep herself afloat so long as she uses it. because cel perdanez is loved. she always had a choice when it came to volunteering, and choosing to /not/ is the best thing she could have done. thats illustrated through her life - her beachside walks with daria, kissing under the stars, running through the sand and dancing in the waves. its in those kisses that she shares with her fiancee between the moments of pain - the gentle touches and reassurance and support that is given without condition, even though cel thinks there should be conditions (im blind, im broken, why do you stay when i'm only going to burden you, why do you insist on helping me when the pain of this illmess is my cross to bear, not yours? why do you love me when im /weak,/ when i wont be able to do what i have fir so long, wont be /able/)... and even though she pushes daria away, over and over again, daria's love enables her to persist, to try and chip away at cel's icy outer layers and get to the heart of why she's so distressed. because she wants the support in their relationship to be mutual. she cares about cel, she loves cel - this girl who has stuck with her through so many low points, who has supported her through her own struggles with trauma and abuse and the pain of an eating disorder not well managed. daria knows what its like to struggle and its the very reason she remains so insistent on being a supporter, so insistent on taking care of cel because "its what you would do for me (isnt it?)"

theyre a horrible match for a lot of reasons, but in an odd sort of way, daria's innate understanding of struggle is what makes her the best partner cel could have right now. because she knows what its like to be trapped in a situation that you have no control over, she knows what its like to deal with insecurity and frustration and self-loathing and tense atmospheres and striving to be /perfect/ even though perfection is unattainable. she may mot have the same conceptions of strength and weakness or self-actualization or struggle or trauma that cel does, she may not even understand her all that well in how they think and process emotions and sorrows, but she can empathize with her, and she knows enough to be proactive in letting cel know that she shouldnt blame herself for what shes going through (a lesson cel taught her actually, and isnt that poetic?) and even though its not easy in the least at times, it is undoubtedly daria's encouragement and steadfastness that bring cel back to herself (protective, grounded, responsie, loving in her own way) instead of allowing her to slip away (as she does in the games, becoming prideful, haughty, overcritical, demanding and stringent in her attitudes.)

and because of all of that - the nurture she is given, and the process of refinding herself - cel starts to build a life. she finds a job - and a respectable one, too, with the coast guard, being out on the water through the days, away from four and the typicalities of societal expectation. she finds a new perspective - with alithyia at the bar, toasting to the kids "too good for the academy," not mourning her "inability to follow through" as a career so much as celebrating it. she finds genuine intimacy - with daria, through their kisses and the gestures of care, cooking for her, setting baths for her, going for walls together and sitting together in the tub, and talking through the realities of their situations; daria lays out just how much cel gave to her, how significantly she supported her, and thats what breaks through to cel, because this is daria, who has suffered through so much shame and hatred over her own body, and she knows what its like to struggle with feeling out of place in your own skin, and shes right here, trusting cel, and doesnt that mean cel can trust her too?

so cel comes to terms with it. she lets her thoughts unroil and she starts making an effort to dispel the negativity within herself - all the internalized ableism that has for so long defined her, the values instilled in her by society and by the academy. she is blind but she is not weak, she is not flawed. she is whole, and she is capable, and she is competent. but most of all she is loved. daria's there, still. daria's with her. they're going to get married. things will be okay. she has a life worth living. she can be happy. she can be successful. she can be -

and then it shatters.

all it takes is one moment to undo months, even years of progress; thats something i kmow full well after years of therapy and studying psychology and dealing with trauma. all it takes is one conversation, one action, one tiny little thing to bring thr world crashing down. and thats exactly what happens here, when cel is effectively dismissed from her job. why? because of her blindness. there's no other reason behind it, no other point. youre blind, her boss says, so you must be a liability. i cant trust you to do what needs to be done because your body is flawed, that flaw is a limitation of your being, you cant separate yourself from it. and in that instant every bit of that toxicity and negative thinking that cel and daria worked so hard to undo together snaps back in full force. with cel, it's even more scarring than it would be for anyone else, because this is a girl who defines herself by her work, by her ability to work. her successes in labor are things that improve herself worth, and her failures in the same sphere are the things which drag her low, break her, bury her. and if that wasnt enough to shatter all semblance of peace for her, daria's own peace is shattered soonafter - by the altercation between cel and her father, the father who abused her, who molested her, who tore apart her ability to feel comfortable in her body or whole as a person. its one thing after another, two traumas and turmoils compounded on each other, and its nearly a breaking point for them both.

scratch that nearly. it is.

cel doesnt have anyone to trust but daria - her own parents ruined her career, her chance at normalcy, she cant trust them, not really, even if their actions were born from love not attempts at ruining her. and daria doesnt have anyone she feels she can trust but cel, with the figure of her father looming over her shoulder, casting shadows over a life that was, for a few moments, blissful sunshine. but while daria's still able to open up, try to rely on cel and communicate with her, cel's not good at facing her problems for what they are. she lashes our, uses blame to cover up her fears and her pain. and thats what she does here. she chooses venom, as you so eloquently put it. she pushes daria away, runs her off, breaks the trust that was so difficult to cultivate in the first place and says exactly what daria thinks about herself aloud - and although we both know cel is projecting, it doesnt lessen the gravity of her words.

i dont know how much i have left in me to say, but i wanted to take a moment to pull this one section - the section i think most poignantly describes cel and this story as a whole:

《Did Daria leave her to drown? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Daria was Cel's escape, too. She threw herself into Daria's problems so she could run away from her own. Focusing on Daria meant suppressing the pain of her sight. It meant letting herself live again. Focusing on Daria had helped Cel, because then Cel could shoulder both their burdens for her: there was no need for Daria to suffocate. Yet what good came from that? Because Cel wanted to stand alone, because she wanted to bear her own misery alone, because she wanted to bear Daria's pain alone— she'd pushed everyone away.

Her family. Her friends. Her fiancee.

For what?

For her independence?

For her life?

For what?

Because it certainly wasn't for them.

Her next words are bitter as it is wistful; as painful as it is regretful.

"No. I let myself."》

like dawn, holy fuck. this encapsulates absolutely everything we've discussed about cel, all her tragedy and the tragedy of celdaria as a pairing, two girls who tried so hard to love one another and stick by each other through better and worse and yet couldnt quite manage because cel has always been too reactionary and unwilling to reevaluate herself - and you just brought her to the point of realization so beautifully and so poetically. and it doesnt magically make everything right, even though we almost want it to, because life doesnt work that way. theres realization and then theres time. theres always time. and cel and daria know that they cant be together because they arent ready yet; they cannot be what the other needs, no matter how desperately they want to, and that doesnt mean that the love isnt still there because it is, it so clearly is. it just means that something had to give, at least for a time. and it did, and it has. its not easy to let go, but what else is there to be done? this is ultimately the best ending cel could have had - the ending where she sees her flaws, accepts them, and realizes she has to figure out how to actually overcome them instead of shoving her own feelings aside and tamping down her emotions. daria choosing to go is the wake-up call she needed - and deserved. because at the end of the day, even if she didnt volunteer, cel is still cel. still problematic and flawed and with a distorted image of herself and ideals that dont reflect reality.

she needs time to work on herself. she and daria both need time to heal.

and hopefully they'll get that.

anyway dawn i loved this fic just like i knew i would and i love you. thank you so much for writing and sharing this art with us, queen - youre absolutely amazing and i am just so blessed to know you and be able to witness your art and your skill with writing firsthand! i hope this review finds you well this morning. tjinking of you :)
ladyqueerfoot chapter 1 . 3/14/2021
Ah... the story that I fucking broke my phone over and squealed like a bitch over on VC... Hello, I have heard much about you.

Seriously, ever since I knew you were doing this project Dawn, I was very fucking excited because well, I love Cel, I love Daria, and I love you and your writing. It was a given that I'd love this to the extent that I did, because I really did find this fic to be fucking amazing.

So we have Cel, who's so fucking consumed by her internalized ableism, unable to swallow her pride for just a moment, and it leads to all of this. Yes, the Cel we saw in Centrifuge was unable to do the same, but it feels different here. This iteration of Cel is just as broken as the last, but she spirals in a different way. This poor girl, is just so fucking trapped in this version of herself, this pipe dream of going into the arena that she thinks will fucking fix everything, and then that doesn't happen. Instead, Cel is left alone to deal with her disability, well, alone with Daria, and it slowly breaks her, god I adore Cel as tragic and as dumb of a bitch as she is. Just, the little nuances here and there, the way she needs help reading, but is too stubborn to admit it. The way she doesn't let Daria save her, when she's been saving Daria for two years now, and then shit hits the fan. It really hurt.

Because Daria is so sweet and precious and just deserves the world, but Cel can't see her true intentions because she's quite literally blinded by her sense of pride. She felt like she needed to take care of Daria, quite literally be her savior, because she wasn't able to save herself. And then Daria wants to return the favor but Cel won't let her. Truly, so devastating, just punched me in the gut.

The ending was devastating, but I understood it too. They did need a break, I agree 100%, and I do sincerely believe that this is just a break, especially because there's a second part to this masterpiece. They both need some time for self discovery, reflection, Cel as she deals with her blindness and Daria with her father. It'll be interesting to see how they heal in the next part. The part where Cel was worried she'd forget what Daria's face looked like wrecked me.

As much as this did hurt me, since I felt for Cel throughout, there were some parts of this that just genuinely made me all soft and mushy on the inside. We've been knew that I'm a hopeless romantic, and all the little details of them bathing together and the walks on the beaches and the kisses just made me feel so lonely, even though the two of them were quite toxic by the end. There's just this sense of intimacy in your writing that I never tire of and it lends itself well to all the tender romantic bits of writing.

You really understand Cel inside and out and your characterization felt like I was speaking to an old friend, like I knew who Cel was completely, and she just seemed so familiar to me, granted this could be because I do in fact know her, but still she felt fresh and new, and just so natural with your tone and style of writing.

God, I am just so blessed to know somebody as talented as you, Dawn. The way everything blended together so naturally and your sentence structure was simple yet complex at the same time and just I had tears in my eyes at some points because it's just so beautiful.

I know you kept repeating things like "I hope it lives up to your expectations," whenever I expressed my hype for the story, and it's safe to say you somehow shattered them. The way this was structured was so brilliant, all the flashbacks and the dialogue and the natural tone shifts and just the way it was almost a series of tableaux following Cel as she deals with this part of her that she can't erase.

Excellent work, as always. Thank you for writing.