Are there any characters/plot lines in KH that really speak to you personally or just think are good lessons altogether?
I like Riku.
I know I’ve spoken about this once before, but I have a thing called borderline personality disorder, a mental illness characterized partly by this very specific brand of black-and-white thinking where you kind of idolize people in your life. You know, they’re perfect. They’re amazing. They’re wonderful. The sun rises and sets by them. They’re all that matters, and you know the universe is good and kind and full of grace because they’re in it, and every second of attention they give you is more of a blessing than you could possibly hope to articulate. Until they do something that triggers the other half of your black-and-white thinking, something that causes your brain to “split” on them.
And it could be something totally innocent, totally trivial, totally meaningless in the long run. As a matter of fact, it usually is. But your brain just flips a switch, and, all of a sudden, you hate them, and they’re terrible, and they were only ever pretending to like you, weren’t they? They’ve betrayed you. They’ve abandoned you. They’ve replaced you. They want you to die, don’t they?
It’s about this extreme fear of abandonment. If you have any internal sense of self at all, it’s broken and fragmented, and your emotions are intense but also impermanent, so you can flip from one extreme to another very, very quickly, which can make your relationships very unstable. It’s also very strongly associated with binging, self-destructive behavior, self-harm, etc.
And that’s what I think of when I think of Riku and his relationships with Kairi and Sora.
There was a time when I actually thought Riku was kind of poorly written because, in Kingdom Hearts 1, he turns on Sora so quickly, seemingly for almost no logical or rational reason, convincing himself that Sora’s totally abandoned him over the course of less than one full scene.
But now I kind of appreciate that. I relate.
I also relate to his journey in Chain of Memories. That sense of “I’ve made so many mistakes, and I’ve done so many things wrong, and I don’t know if I can ever truly stop being that terrible fucking person I used to be.”
Over the course of the game, Riku learns these lessons about embracing his own darkness – looking it in the eye, frankly and honestly, and working with it instead of running from it, and, to me, that kind of reads like a parallel to the journey to understand the symptoms of your own chronic illness. You can’t necessarily stop them or fully control them, but you can be aware of them, anticipate them, compensate for them, understand why they’re happening, catch yourself doing or feeling or saying certain things, and head them off before they go too far. You can develop coping techniques when you understand exactly what you’re coping with.
And then, even after realizing that, even after learning those lessons, Riku backslides. Because life isn’t just one linear progression from problem to solution. You never just fix something once. Chronic issues are chronic.
And I like that.
I like that we have someone who struggles with the same intrusive thoughts over and over. Someone whose insecurities come back. And sometimes he handles them better than he did before, but sometimes he doesn’t.
I like that.
I like that he goes through these long periods of extreme depression but that he always comes back around. I like that even when he’s at his lowest, he’s loved by his friends.
like that, even with that being the case, his friends still call him on
his shit when it’s called for.
I like that he spent so long not even being able to look at himself. I like the little touch of him reinventing himself with a haircut when he starts feeling better.
I like a lot about Riku.
This is already a really long post, so I won’t ramble on much more, but let me also just say, really quickly, that I also love Roxas, Xion, and Namine for reasons sort of generally along the same lines.
- Mod A.
Seconding most of that. My experience isn’t exactly the same, but I can relate.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health for as long as I can remember. At least ten years if I had to estimate. I’m not sure if I have BPD, as I’m not entirely clear on what the symptoms are, but I sure as hell project my shitty self-esteem onto others.
One thing I’ve learned is that progress isn’t linear. You’ll trip. You’ll fall. You’ll scream and cry. You’ll question whether you even deserve to be happy. Why should you even hang out with those guys? They don’t really like you. You’re inferior. My mind constantly rushes back and forth on things like that.
And that’s why, for the longest time, I’ve always really liked Riku. He made mistakes. He’s hard on himself. He ends up isolating himself out of guilt. It’s hard to feel better about yourself when you’re constantly told that you suck. He comes to accept himself for what he is. And that’s a lesson that can apply to a lot of people. Maybe you don’t identify with your biological sex. Maybe you don’t like the opposite sex like you’re “supposed to”. It’s a good lesson.
It’s not enough though. You can accept yourself and make progress but still have troubles and slip back into old habits. People tend to generalize and assume that once recovery starts it should be smooth sailing. It’s not. Riku’s time in Days is a pretty good example of that.
In some ways I’m better than I used to be, and there’s a lot of reasons for that, but it’s also worse in many regards.
Also, in-general, I like what the writers were going for with Terra and Eraqus’ relationship. It just wasn’t executed particularly well. The parallel between Terra/Eraqus and Riku/Ansem is so so so so important.
- Mod S.
> I’m not sure if I have BPD, as I’m not entirely clear on what the symptoms are
Meet me at the place. I’ll hook you up with some diagnostic materials.
- Mod A.