Tag Archives: Childhood

Standing Up For Yourself is Pretty Cool

Depression is nice in a way because it forces you down to a very basic level. You sleep, you eat, and you exist because nothing seems fun or exciting to do. Even video games, one of my most basic hobbies, falls aside when I’m depressed. Like what’s the point? Despite this sounding awful, it is nice starting with a clean slate. When the depression wanes you get to decide what you actually want to do with your time. After a while video games and blogging start to sound appealing — sure that ever-present nihilism is still there, but it’s in the background — and you might as well do a few random things you find enjoyable even if they are ‘pointless’. Sometimes you have to play the game of life knowing well that is, in fact, just a game.

Depression also makes me really irritable and unwilling to put up with anyone’s shit. It’s the same as before — life is a total game — and with this outlook of ‘nothing really fucking matters’ it becomes a lot easier to tell people exactly how you feel. If someone is being stupid or a dipshit or an asshole there is no barrier to telling them off. Being nice is one of those social games we play in some vague way to keep people on our good side, network, and have opportunities and friendships in the future, but it’s all a game and sometimes you don’t want to fuck around with playing games, let alone bullshit social games. I still try to not be a dick about it, but it’s easier to speak my mind being somewhat depressed.

My mom came over last weekend while I was in one of my moods. Not angry, not looking for a fight, but ready to be as open with people as I could be. She was upset that the kids weren’t around (I’ve long since learned to not wait around for my mom) and that kind of set the tone for the day. She was going to be bitching a lot and I didn’t have any patience to deal with it.

Anyways, she’s been upset that we haven’t let her take the grandkids. She used to take them on Sundays but the pandemic ruined that. My wife is also very protective and a borderline germaphobe which doesn’t help my mom’s situation at all. Last Sunday she made another one of her pleas to let her take the kids. She gave me the whole spiel: she’s depressed, she’s lonely, she wants to take the kids, they’re like all she lives for, etc., and why wouldn’t we let her take them? I asked if she had her COVID vaccine yet. “No, I’ve been sick and I have IBS and I work a lot and…”

I said, “And what does any of that have to do with you getting a vaccine? If you get the vaccine I’d be much more willing to argue in your favor. If you get vaccinated why couldn’t you take the kids?”

The conversation moved on and wandered around until she mentioned something about getting a lawyer. I was shocked; surely I didn’t hear her threaten us with a lawyer. I ignored it. She brought up the lawyer topic again, but this time I was paying attention. “I might have to get another job and get a lawyer. I don’t want to but I miss the grandkids and we’ll see what the judge has to say about that…”

Excuse me? What?! Non-depressed me would probably let this slide — it’s surely a bluff so who cares, let her say whatever she wants — but depressed and irritable me couldn’t resist. It was such a stupid threat anyways, grandparents don’t have any legal rights to force visitation on the parents/grandkids, and if there’s one thing I find hard to resist it’s telling people when they’re wrong. What did she expect the courts to do for her? Sure, if there were abuse issues with the grandkids, lawyering up is a smart and good thing to do, but we’re good parents. So…huh?

“You know you have no legal rights to actually see the kids, right? Getting a lawyer won’t do anything.”

She must’ve misunderstood what I meant by “legal rights” here, seemingly interpreting it as me saying she “…no rights to see the kids, at all, so please fuck off mom. You’ll never see them again.” She did what she does when an argument doesn’t go her way and stormed off crying. She walked to her car, said some mean stuff to me that I don’t think I’ll mention here, and angrily drove off.

I sat on the steps outside and vaped. I was kinda shaking — that didn’t go as planned — but oh well. I took that detached view that I’ve been trying to hold onto lately when anyone is angry or depressed or upset. Their feelings are their feelings and I can’t blame myself for how someone feels. As long as I wasn’t an improper asshole that caused it by being an improper asshole that is.

A strange feeling to feel at the time: guilt. I made her cry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything? Maybe she was right when she told me to “grow some balls?” But wait, I did show that I ‘grew some balls’ by telling her how stupid her idea was, didn’t I? Ugh, nothing made sense, and I felt terrible for what happened. Logically when I thought about it I felt okay about it. I finally stood up for myself and felt good about it, but subconsciously I felt like shit. I felt guilty. I felt like an asshole. Is that normal?

I did a Google search of “feeling bad when asserting yourself” and that was fun. Apparently that’s totally normal when you’re used to putting everyone else’s needs in front of your own. It makes sense too; if you constantly care about other people’s feelings you’d naturally feel selfish and dickish if you suddenly put yourself above someone else. Huh, cool, that’s a fun thing I learned that day. And where does that come from? Probably something from childhood, probably something caused by my mom always playing the victim that I feel responsible for, but that thought chain was getting a bit too deep and uncomfortable so I shut it off. I haven’t thought about it since.

I’m a chill, passive person who doesn’t really have any strong wants or needs. I’m fantastic at worrying about everyone else’s moods and feelings while disregarding my own. Despite this it felt immensely good to stand up to my mom, even if I didn’t really stand up too much at all. I didn’t have to. Let her get a lawyer and see how that works out. That’s an old-me outlook. I’m proud I told her how dumb the idea was and how I didn’t cave and cater to her as she stormed off angrily. I thought long and hard if I was an asshole that day. Did I speak my mind? Yes. Did I stand up for myself somewhat? Yes. Did I do it in an unkind/unprofessional/cruel way that might’ve not been necessary? No. Did I overreact at all? No. Am I writing this so I feel better about what happened? Maybe. Did I do anything really wrong to upset my mom as much as she was? No. Was this her overreaction? Yes, probably. Pulling myself out of my guilt logically worked wonders even if it did take some effort. I really think I did what I needed and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all. Sure there’s a mental battle about it, but I think it’s a good sign of progress.

One thing I’ve seemed to learn in life is that people like those who stand up for themselves. Everyone seems to think they like wishy-washy people that don’t have strong convictions or who always agree with you, but the people with the strongest convictions seem to be the most well-liked people out there. Not assholes mind you, just calm and reasonable people that actually believe and stand for something. They might tell you off if you deserve it or say something stupid, but they do it in a respectful way that doesn’t hint at them trying to cover up their own insecurities. Maybe you know the sort of people I’m talking about.

Two days after that, I saw my mom while visiting my dad. I acted chill and calm — I didn’t have any animosity towards her — only to be totally surprised by her. She said, “Here, give me a hug. I’m sorry about what I said Sunday, I just miss the kids and…” Huh, imagine that. I said a flat, “Eh, don’t worry about it, it’s not a big deal,” and we hugged. I still haven’t heard from her since, no text, no call, nothing, but an apology after I finally called her on her bullshit was the last thing I expected. But that’s what happens I guess. You put your foot down, show you’re worthy of respect, and people start to respect you. That’s fucking insane, who would’ve thought?, at least to me. I can’t believe I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post about this but that’s how mind-blowing the little idea of being assertive is to me. I think it’s a great start and am going to try to stand up for myself a bit more in the future. And of course not be a pompous asshole in the process.

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Christmas (and The Holidays) Sucks

Hi everyone, Merry Christmas! Well, not quite I suppose. How about Merry Christmas Eve? Maybe that’ll work since we still have a day to go.

Our family used to open presents on Christmas Eve and this day feels more like the real Christmas than the day itself. We’d go out as a family — my immediate family as well as three or four aunts/uncles along with our Grandma and Grandpa — to those shitty family restaurants that only old people seem to visit regularly. We’d have a room to the side of the main dining area to ourselves and it would soon be filled with cigarette smoke (smoking inside was legal then; what quaint times). Our eyes would burn from the toxic atmosphere, not that we knew how toxic it actually was. We’d eat our pasta with tears in our eyes, excited to finish the dinner formalities to get on with the important part of the evening, at least that’s how it was for us kids.

From there on we’d head over to Grandma and Grandpa’s to open gifts. Cigarette smoke once again filled the air, our eyes watered, and us kids would escape to the bathroom or the bedrooms to get a reprieve from the burning in our eyes. We opened our gifts from youngest to oldest; I was second after my sister. I took great pride in sorting the gifts into piles for everyone, moving them with purpose from under the Christmas tree to the piles I placed them in. As time went on I fell back a couple of ranks as my cousin had kids, but didn’t pay it much mind. The adults would sit around quietly, making small-talk and alcohol-fueled jokes as they made sure the fuel for their jokes didn’t leave their systems. It was usually wine, the ‘classy drink’ (except for Uncle Tom who only drinks Budweisers) but sometimes bottles of stronger stuff made an appearance. We didn’t notice them much in our childhood excitement over our presents.

After our gifts were opened we’d start playing with them. One year I received a Nerf bow-and-arrow and took to sniping the Christmas cards dangling from the wooden ceiling beam separating the kitchen from the living room. For some reason Grandma and Grandpa hung their slew of Christmas cards from that beam and they made perfect targets. I was maybe seven, eight, or maybe nine and this was one of the few Christmases I actually remember. And maybe one of the last that I actually enjoyed.

There was no grand Christmas tragedy, no family falling-out, nothing to steal the childish joy of Christmas from me except the passage of time itself. I got older. I became jaded. I became cynical. I lost the naivety that is the definition of childhood itself. I didn’t care about the presents as much. There wasn’t anything exciting about opening gifts. Toys weren’t fun and I could only be mildly excited about a new video game or a music CD. Christmas turned into a way to get things I needed without buying them myself. Socks, new boots, new pants and clothes; these are the things I apathetically found myself asking for year after year.

And for some reason the season holds a sense of loss for me. It’s a dull sense of loss, once again no one passed away that instantly changed the quality of Christmas, but there’s that bitter undercurrent of inevitable change and loss. The cards aren’t hung up anymore, and their numbers have dwindled over the years. Us ex-kids would sit around, drink, and wonder where all of the magic went. We didn’t go out to eat or over to Grandma’s anymore. With each branch of the family expanding, most have broken off into their own manageable sections of families, holed-up in their own homes doing their own things, making their own traditions, living their own lives. To their kids this probably feels like the Christmases at Grandma’s did to me, and the inevitably of these breaking apart in decades is…I’m not sure of the right word here. Bittersweet? That still doesn’t feel like the right word though.

Does everyone eventually lose the childish joy of Christmas? I don’t think so. One of our kids, nearly 17-years-old, still has the joy of the season like a kid would. There is zero cynicism to how she feels about the holidays so there’s at least one person immune. Whether she or I am the exception, I don’t know.

Part of my apathy from the holidays is surely due to a few life choices I’ve made. A death-blow to Holiday spirits always seems to be working retail. I almost view it as an unwritten law of the universe that once you work retail you instantly lose your love for the holidays. The Holidays mean greedy people trying to find gifts for people they’re obligated to shop for: hundreds of people shopping, dealing with traffic, hunger, lines, and the other miserable denizens trying to fulfill their societal duty to buy shit. No one seems to like it, but it’s expected so we all play along. No one wants to be the guy who doesn’t buy their family gifts out of “principle” or some other high-minded bullshit.

I worked at Sam’s Club for a few years in the produce department — not in any way directly related to Christmas shopping — and the amount of people, and shit, I had to deal with at this time of year still increased. My hatred narrowed to those making their bullshit holiday meals and involved some self-pity for why I had to deal with them in the first place. Is this person really asking me about our cranberry stock? The endless looping of Christmas music didn’t help either; it’s is a form of torture that slowly kills your soul. I’m certain any fellow retail workers would share stories with me like war veterans share with each other. I was never happier at work than I would be on December 26th when the crowds of demanding assholes magically retreated from whence they came, where that happened to be.

And now? UPS and moving packages. I’m no longer relegated to the fringe sort of hell in a produce department during the holidays, I am in the shit. Our hub apparently sorts through 400,000 packages per night. While I personally interact with a tiny fraction of these packages watching the entire process is mind-blowing. 40 airplanes land and vomit their guts of cardboard and junk into the building. Through typical human grunt work these boxes are given over to miles of rubber belts and metal chutes which some massive computer programming commands, that which I’m not near capable of understanding. After that more human grunts load the packages into giant aluminum cans to be loaded into the planes. And the planes leave, delivering these 400,000 packages across the country within four or five hours after they arrived, finely sorted to deliver their cargo to wherever it needs to go. There are hundreds of extra cars in the parking lot along with hundreds, maybe thousands, of seasonal employees that are clueless to anything work-related or common sense-related. It’s all a window into how massive the holidays are and how large the machine I’m a cog in actually is. There is no doubt the importance of this time of year to our society as a whole. Sure, you buy a few hundred dollars worth of presents each year, but seeing them all en masse is both impressive and depressing at the same time. It’s the total power and wonder of capitalism with an undercurrent of excess, waste, and pointlessness. You really have to fight off severe nihilism working at UPS this time of year and it’s much easier to blindly work than to think too hard about the state of things.

I sound like a teenager who has just figured this out. No — I have nothing to crusade against — and am only writing some thoughts that have ceased to be pointed and acute years ago, but here they are. I view the whole holiday season with only one real response now: Meh? This might be the most saddening thing. Christmas has eroded from pure childhood joy, into to teenage angst at the ‘capitalism of it all,’ and now to a passive indifference to everything: I don’t care anymore. Really. About Christmas, and celebrations, and family gatherings, and whatever other bullshit we do during this time of year. And if you do care, I hope you have a Happy Holidays, Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice, or whatever it is that you celebrate. And I mean that sincerely. Hold onto joy and happiness and love and kinship in whatever way and form you find it, and please have no qualms about doing so. As for me, well, I seem to be a dead soul to all the celebrations around me. Don’t mourn me though. I’ll manage this hellish time of year somehow and will be back writing my bullshit soon enough. But please enjoy this time of year: do it for me.

My Sister’s Parents Suck

It’s 8:46 a.m. — about three hours before I naturally wake up — and here I am typing a quick blog post before I start on my “adventure.” It’s not going to be an enjoyable adventure and I didn’t get much sleep dreading the waking up early (a terrible form of anxiety to have) and the drive to Davenport, Iowa. To tell the truth I don’t even know how long it’ll take me to get there. 90 miles I think? An hour and a half about? I don’t know. There isn’t much of plan here. Leave by 9:30 or 10 a.m.? Who knows. Earlier is always better.

This mission, should I choose to accept it (I did), is to help my sister move out from her house — the house her cheating wife has somehow taken command of — into her new apartment. The entire thing is a mess and I feel so bad for her I can’t even explain in. Even worse is the fact that this situation has sort of happened before year ago. In fact, my sister seems to have “a type” of person she’s attracted too: dominating, strong-willed, controlling, selfish, and let’s say “bitchy” (as hard as “bitchy” is to quantify). As everyone knows, you can’t help being attracted to “a type” and her’s is a terrible type indeed.

I suppose there were signs of this not ending well. Without much of the family knowing she was in a relationship, they told us about a courthouse wedding a week prior to their marriage. Holy shit, my sister is getting married?! Wow, okay. We were supportive though — what they want to do is what they want to do so who cares — and it was a quaint and peaceful little wedding, if a bit of a surprise. Her wife seemed nice then but looking back maybe my intuition was trying to tell me something, although I still can’t put a finger on it. Maybe I’m just trying to pretend like I knew all along.

I think what really tipped me off was when I helped the two of them move out of my dad’s house years ago. I was drunk (you have to drink when you help people move) and far into the evening they started arguing about something. Her wife seemed really dominating and controlling while my sister was passive and appeasing to her demands. My reaction was one of utter depression — something I thought was pure and unadulterated love seemed cruel — but I attributed this to me being drunk and making too much out of a one-time scenario. Even though I brushed it off at the time, apparently I saw some cracks that now seem obvious.

8:57 now, and let’s move forward. Her current wife (soon to be ex-wife) has found a new girlfriend and has been cheating on her. She (the soon-to-be-ex-wife) doesn’t even live in their home anymore but is taking charge of the situation and kicking my sister out. Like true fashion with our family, she is being passive and compliant trying to not make much of a fuss in this trying time and only wants to move on to another part of her life, and quickly. Everything is shit for her. Her life is basically falling apart. She doesn’t know what to do. Hell, she probably had COVID a few months ago by displaying nearly every symptom despite getting a negative test result which her wife then blamed her for being lazy by not working. I’m ranting again. Her wife turned out to be a total bitch which seems surprisingly like her last girlfriend was. Total bitches are my sister’s type, and she seems powerless to change it.

She did have one really nice and cool girlfriend, but “something was lacking” in their relationship. Perhaps she wasn’t bitchy and controlling enough to be my sister’s type. That’s my working theory at least and damn if I’m not positive I’m correct.

Why is she this way? Why am I the way I am? Our Goddamn Parents Again, another thing I’m sure of. We were raised in the same household and went through the same shit only staggered by five years, and it formed us without us knowing. I’ve ranted about that stuff here. The only differences between her and I are ourselves, our uniqueness, which I think explains the differences in how we processed our childhood. Same experiences, slightly different outcomes based on us being individuals. Luckily I ended up with a severe thirst for acceptance and social approval and not picking partners that are totally awful people. We do both have a lack of confidence and self-esteem if that makes you guys feel a little better.

Let me digress for a bit, mostly because I’m running out of time and I have a point I need to make. My wife and her daughter (my step-daughter to make it clear) had quite a falling out last night. The step-kid, who recently turned 18 a week ago, said my wife was “mentally abusive” and that turned into a big fight apparently. I was at work thankfully so only heard about it without experiencing the mess, but walked into the fallout after work. This was curious because my wife is notably not mentally abusive and everyone else in the house agrees with this. If anything I feel she is too lenient on the kids. What was going on to where the oldest kid felt “mentally abused”?

After hours of playing Dark Souls and mulling over what to do about the situation I realized that Oldest Step-Kid is like me in many ways. I love to write out my problems so had (well, told her sister to tell her) her write out how she felt. It was a mess, a mess of truthfulness from her point-of-view, but a mess nonetheless. Apparently she has taken this “parents fucked me up irreparably” view (like me) only cranked it to the max. Everything wrong with her is due to her mom and her dad and how they fucked her up. There is no ownership of the problem I guess. She’s the victim of life and she can’t help how awful she feels at her situation. It was depressing to read due to how much blame she was dishing out but how there was no talk of how she’s dealing with it or trying to deal with it.

It’s nice to see a path your going down to the extreme. I’ve been “blaming” my parents for a few months now on this blog, but it was never my intention to play the victim. I’m becoming a very proactive person who only wants to do things to help themself and the people around me. Be a big fucking shining beacon of hope to anyone struggling with mental health issues. If I can work through my shit, anyone can. And to fix any problem you need to first understand the problem, but the entire goal is fixing the problem and not placing blame. Blame, or more precisely finding the cause, is the initial step to solving the problem. If some dickhead drunk driver hits your car you can be mad and you can blame him for it, but it’s still up to you to deal with it. It’s up to you to take your new information (my car is fucked because Jim-Bob had too many PBRs) and figure out how to move forward (So, do I sue the shit out of Jim-Bob? Buy a junker car? Ride my bike to work?).

There’s a lot going on here that I don’t have time to really elaborate on, and I hope you appreciate all the curious things here. My sister and I being different in many ways but similar given our upbringings. My insecurities versus her attraction to “bitchy” women. How stubborn you are to changing “your type” even if you know they’re toxic. How if you take the parental blame too far you take away any empowerment you have. How you still need to take responsibility for how you respond in life. How one person might see their childhood as “mentally abusive” while their siblings are perfectly happy with theirs.

And at 9:21 a.m. and with way too much on my mind I close off this blog post and head to Davenport, Iowa to help my sister move out of her own home.

My Parents Suck: Part 2! of ?

This is part of a totally impromptu series about my fucking meltdown and self-discovery process. These are all very uplifting posts as you can imagine. If you want to read more, here’s one about my parents, here’s one about depression, and here are two about therapy!

This is also the fourth post in four days (Technically not because WordPress is on eastern time, so I think I’m like 15 minutes too late. Technically… NEVERMIND!) which is a new record for me. I’m not trying to do marathon posting here and find myself just going with the flow.

I hate to be the person that blames their parents for everything. To recap the last post about my parents: I had a normal family, normal childhood, normal everything, at least that’s how I thought of it at the time. My parents weren’t blatantly abusive, either emotional or physical, and everything seemed okay. While I acknowledge that everyone is formed by their parents, with mine being rather “typical” that I myself should be rather typical too. Maybe I did inherent or learn some negative traits along the way, but since they didn’t beat/molest/degrade me day after day I shouldn’t have much to worry about, especially when you consider other people who are raised in totally hellish homes, starving, being beaten daily, and whatever other punishments they end up dealing with as a child. Others are terribly scarred and I’m not. Right?

Well, apparently fucking not. I’ve grown into the realization that my parents, more specifically my mom, have totally fucked me up unknowingly. And even after you realize this, what do you even do about it?

Firstly, my problems. I’m a terribly needy and insecure person. I’ve written a bunch of posts on how terrified I am of writing and being seen as a bad writer to the point that I don’t write/post out of fear of rejection. I have to force myself to write, post, and to share with others which I’m thankfully making progress on three or four years later. I’m terrified to show myself or to open up out of fear of rejection. I overthink everything socially and the clearest example I can think of is my unusual text message anxiety. I will receive a text and will be paralyzed by anxiety for literal hours trying to figure out what I’m supposed to say as a reply. The perfect reply, nothing too needy, anxious, serious, or overemotional. Overthinking and overweighing every course of action from a simple text message. It always gets worse the longer I procrastinate too; after two or three hours I think it might be too late to even respond. I’ll look like an ass, I’ll look like I don’t care, I’ll look like I don’t appreciate the other person. It’s bad.

It’s even worse if I’m the one doing the messaging in the first place. “Should I even send this message? What if it’s too weird? What if I look too needy?” If I don’t get a reply within a few minutes my mind zooms off into anxiety orbit where I’m certain that I’m just bothering the recipient. It’s unconscious too; I logically know the other person might be busy, tired, or just not wanting to respond at the time. I do it myself. A friend will text me about a video game and if I’m not in the mood to talk about games I’ll ignore it. I don’t hate him of course, this is just how I am, but I cannot reverse this outlook and see people as not being totally evil and against me in every sort of way. Any reply not instantly received is a personal attack against me: a sure sign I’m hated by them and a complete bother to their otherwise idyllic day.

Just apply the text message anxiety to every other aspect of life and you should get the idea what it’s like to reside inside my head. Talking to people: anxiety. Having friends: anxiety. Facial expressions: anxiety. Everything is overthought and fraught with fear.

I’m also terribly needy. When I bond with a person I worry that I tend to smother them and use them as an emotional crutch. Usually this backfires to where they’re pushed away (which makes me need them even more) and even if they’re not I still overexamine, overweigh, and overworry about every interaction we have. There is a constant fear of not if but when they will abandon me, finally see me as the problem I am, and cast me away never to be bothered by me again. Even if they don’t, the fear and anxiety of it is ever present which undermines any true friendship. So I sit in my own little bubble alone for fear of not wanting to bother others, because obviously I am the problem. It’s all about me in some twisted and illogical way that even I know is crazy. But I can’t help it. It takes a conscious effort to get over these thoughts, and by that time I’m usually so mentally exhausted that I can’t socialize, which leads to more anxiety about people seeing me ‘in a mood’ which then pushes people away which makes me worry that I’m pushing them away by overanalyzing everything and being quiet.

In general my life is one of anxiety and self-hatred, which I’ve only recently realized. This constant feeling that I’m a problem, I’m a bother, and that I’m better off keeping to myself.

Why? I asked my sister if she’s this way, having some tiny and vague idea that if this parental-inflicted we’d share the same undermining traits. Sure enough, she’s the same way. She seems to function better than I do, but people are sometimes good at hiding. Her logic was this: “I don’t think we got the right kind of attention when we were younger. She’s (our mother) always been involved in her own life. I always kind of felt like we were just another problem for her to deal with.” Fuck. My mental gears started quickly turning, speeding towards some obvious conclusion.

The therapist seemed to be hunting around for some deep parental cause to some of my problems, hell, maybe even all of them. She asked if there was a time where I was really proud of something and showed my parents only to be met with lukewarm or no reaction at all. I couldn’t recall a specific time because it was so long ago, but I didn’t doubt it happened all the time. Maybe this tipped me off towards a search towards childhood and how I might have been crippled from my parents. But mom. Yes, mom. She wasn’t very loving. She didn’t let us feel secure. We felt like another list of problems to deal with. And if you grow up in a home feeling like a constant bother or problem is it any surprise you carry this into adulthood? It all made sense. I’m insecure, unconfident, and always need attention. I need someone to constantly be supporting me because I didn’t get this love and support from my mom. And is it any surprise I always want females to comfort me? Hmm? For some reason having close guy friends doesn’t cut it — it doesn’t feel right — I always want a female to support me. It’s like I’m constantly searching for motherly support, trying to obtain what I was lacking in my childhood.

Texting people, talking to people, being part of a group, the yearning to be included, I always feel like a problem. The odd man out. The one not really part of anything. The problem, the hassle, the person to be dealt with out of obligation of social niceness more than anything else. I’m never an asset, someone important to be included for their unique gifts, but always included out of self-pity. Someone who needs to tag along just because and not because anyone really wants me around. And it’s wrong, it’s all wrong, but it’s how I feel. Why? My goddamn mom. Really? While never beating me or really cutting me down was never loving or supportive and this damages you permanently just like any other form of neglect. As a child I was just another problem to be dealt with and here I am as an adult feeling the exact same way. I’m surprised I didn’t connect the dots earlier. And so is the struggle of knowing yourself.

I don’t think my father is guilt-free either, and in fact I think he might be the same as I am. I was in a mood yesterday when he came to visit; I didn’t say anything to him out of depression and an inability to interact; I just felt tired and withdrawn. Of course a few hours later he goes full-on Jeremy-Mode and asks me — over text, obviously — if I was mad at him or if he did something wrong to upset me and for me to just tell him and that he wouldn’t visit anymore. Being really pathetic and mopy about how I was acting and making it sound if it was totally because of him for some reason. It was pathetic but I’d do the same thing; assuming I was the real problem, the center of everyone’s negative moods and shitty lives, the cause for it all. And why is he that way? Did his own mother not love or support him enough as a child like my mother did? No, she didn’t: she passed away when he was 13…

I don’t want to blame my parents or to shift guilt away from me, to remove my own ability to act here, because it seems to diminish my own power. I don’t want a pity party or sympathy or anything — I don’t hate my parents — but I am frustrated that I am this way. Obviously there is no ‘redo’ button to fix things — I can’t go back into my childhood and change anything — it’s just something to deal with. I think it is freeing in a way to actually be aware of where your problems came from. It gives you a path forward I guess. It’s also nice knowing that maybe the way you are isn’t just the way you are but because of some external cause. I’m not fucked up by default, I’m fucked up for something outside myself.

So now what? How do you fix this? I don’t know. Changing who you are is a fundamental pain in the ass. Kids are super impressionable when they’re young and everyone toughens and hardens as they age to where it’s nearly impossible to change who you are. But as the therapist said, I’m not stuck as I am. People are fluid and you can learn to change and deal with who you are. The first step is always figuring out what the hell the problem is in the first place, so maybe that tiny little puzzle piece has finally found its place which is nice, but now what? Do I just practice forcing myself out of this point of view over and over again until the neurons in my head realign and make other connections? I think so. I don’t know any other way to change my outlook other than practice.

My Parents Suck

I think the primary challenge to the new blogger (at least one as anxious as myself) is getting over the fear that someone they know — friends, family, or coworkers — might read their writings and judge them, perhaps harshly. Anyone who has blogged for more than a few months knows this is an unfounded fear: most people don’t actually give two shits about what you’ve written let alone recalling the fact that you’ve been writing in the first place. I recall my cousin asking me about this blog a year or so ago: “So you’ve have, uh, what’s it called? A blog? And you write? That’s really cool. I haven’t actually read any of it yet though…” Yeah. No shit. No one in the family does and I’ve stopped worrying about them reading it a long time ago. I feel like I can bash them all I want and no one would ever know.

This post will be a little different though if you read the title again. My parents do “follow” this blog on Facebook even though I don’t think they’ve read a single thing I’ve written. Ever. It seems fitting for the topic at hand, doesn’t it? Despite not reading anything I’ve written, I think them seeing a big, fat, blue and white banner saying MY PARENTS SUCK might get them to change their minds, if only temporarily. I’m not going to post this on Facebook. I’m not scared they’ll read this, I’m just worried that if I write this in the frame of mind that they could read it I might not be as open as I would be otherwise. And if they do read it? Who cares? It might do them good to read it and especially so if I wrote it as blatantly truthful as possible because I thought that they wouldn’t read it. So this will just be a secret between myself and those who find it themselves.

I don’t think kids realize how much their parents affect them growing up. I’ve always felt separate and unique from everyone else and being a child was no different. I’ve always felt like myself and never considered that my family/parents where shaping me as a person. Obviously being around parents/guardians as an impressionable kid will change you, it just never felt like it at the time. As a child you also have no outside perspective as to how other parents really are. All you are aware of your narrow personal situation are are hopelessly ignorant of other families. You don’t realize that other families can and are horribly fucked up or immensely better than yours unless you have knowledge of them. In short, being raised in a fucked up home can easily lead you to think the situation is normal. You grow up inevitably altered and perhaps even damaged without even being aware of it. It’s scary.

As an adult I’ve grown to appreciate how many flaws probably stem from the damage my parents inflicted, usually unintentional damage. And I want to stress that we (my sister and I) didn’t not have a bad upbringing with a capital B. No one was molested, abused, or tortured. We never starved. We never suffered. But I think this made it harder for me to accept the damage; by not having a Bad upbringing how much damage could’ve been done? It doesn’t take a dramatic event to mold you though. The small and nearly imperceptible hits you take daily slowly bend and form you even if you’re unaware of it.

The Mom

My mom was crazy. Unhinged. Angry. Depressed. Memories are vague from my childhood but she would always be yelling at us. Tell us how ungrateful we were and how we didn’t do anything to help out around the house. Her anger was always relegated to yelling and despite constant threats to “beat our asses” she was rarely violent. We’d usually laugh it off because she was never a threat. A dog with a fearful bark but no bite. My dad and her would scream and fight at each other and I vaguely recall her grabbing knives a few times, but usually would just throw random shit at him. He never seemed to do anything bad to her, but I later come to understand what I had missed with age; my dad wasn’t a saint.

She was very selfish and self-centered. Everyone had to cater to her. She is still this way although she has improved immensely over the years. But she is still a fucked up person. You always need to do the work, or to have an understanding of her unique situation; she always needs to be catered towards. If she owes you money, for example, you need to drive to her house and get it yourself. And you need to be grateful that she even paid you back the money! “I hope you’re happy” she has said to me a few times upon paying me money for our mutual phone bill. Yes, I’m serious. She also “borrowed” $200 from me once and upon nagging her for a payment, she wondered why I didn’t want to help her out and wasn’t grateful for her raising me. It wasn’t the point, I said, a loan was a loan and you can’t just change the terms of what was agreed upon. I still don’t have my $200 either…ANYWAYS…

Apparently she struggled with mental illness and depression the entire time we were kids (and still does), but it always seemed like an excuse. She’d endlessly bitch, yell, complain, and scream at us and justify doing so with her depression. If you tried to argue any opposing point of view about anything she’d usually break down crying, play the victim, and talk about her depression. Always on the attack until you attack her and then she is the victim. And endless “woe is me” story. You literally cannot tell her she’s wrong in a firm way without her being a victim. Considering the previous paragraph, depression always seemed a way for her to make anything instantly about herself. She was the one hurting, no one else understood this, and to hell with anyone else suffering: it was her that needed the most help.

The Dad

My dad was much more “normal” I guess, but his demons and flaws were just not as obvious to us kids. I remember writing a paper in fifth-grade calling him “my hero” and also remember my mom being ultra-pissed that I wrote it. “He’s not a hero, you don’t know the bad things he’s done.” I attributed it to her being mean and pissy (like always) but surprisingly she was onto something. Dad is fucked up, and maybe even more so than our mom. We just didn’t know it really. Mom was openly fucked up whereas dad wasn’t.

He sometimes would drink and would become mean and violent. He’d throw shoes at us. Always the loving father sober he would be transformed by a few drinks into a total asshole. He told us many times “I never wanted you guys anyways” or something along those lines. When we’d get upset by it he’d claim that “drinking made him tell the truth.” It’s one of those things you don’t think sticks with you, but apparently when you write a blog post about it decades later it still hurts. LIke, shit, that was really mean. I was really hurt by it. Luckily he didn’t drink that much, maybe once a month if I could guess. But when he did drink things weren’t good.

That was a classic sign of my dad’s flaws: being too hidden to be honest with himself or others. He’s still that way too, maybe even more so. Passive-aggressive as anyone could ever be. He never directly insulted you or had an opinion as most of his actual opinions and thoughts were hidden behind jokes where he could say what was on his mind and laugh it off if challenged or questioned. Anything emotional was hidden. I’m assuming this is why he’d be a dick when drunk. Everything came flooding out and you couldn’t really blame him because he kept packing baggage deep within himself. And this is why my mom would be immensely mad at him; he would say smart-ass “joking” remarks that were very incendiary towards her, and her being fucking crazy in the first place would totally lose it. He’d pick at her, subtly insult and provoke her and all of this went right over the heads of the short and ignorant children that we were. Dad wasn’t evil, but as mom was well aware he wasn’t a saint either.

I’m certain my dad’s emotional immaturity stems from his mom’s — our grandma — death from stroke when he was twelve. I assume he was faced with some serious emotional shit and coped by just stuffing it deep inside and ignoring it. He had a slew of brothers and sisters and being one of the oldest required him to grow up quickly and act as a parental figure. As I’m talking about myself being fucked up by my childhood situation, you also have to realize my dad is also fucked up from his childhood situation. You can’t blame him I guess. I guess you can’t blame anyone really. It’s one big giant chain of fucked up people raising fucked up kids. And so on.

And Myself

And now onto myself. How am I fucked up? That’s hard to answer because knowing yourself is hard to do, at least it is for me. I struggle with depression, maybe some genetic holdover from my mom. I don’t know. And my depression is usually hidden, tucked away, and kept quiet possibly due to my mom’s bombastic treatment of the subject. Remember depression was her go-to, catch-all reasons for everything. It didn’t feel like serious depression even if it really was. It seemed like something she’d bring up to win arguments or to get us to do things. She never tried to get help (that I recall), making it seem even more trivial. I guess I’m totally opposed to this. I see depression as a serious thing, so don’t want to bring it up to strangers and coworkers every day or to play the victim all the time. In a way I probably keep it too hidden and end up being more like my dad. Shit.

Most of what I learned through my mom was an opposite reaction to her. She was open about mental illness to a degree that trivialized it; I keep it hidden because it’s a serious subject to me. My mom would also yell and act generally crazy while I try to remain calm and logical. She was/is also terrible with managing money, and as a response I ended up being super talented at managing money; this still leads me and her to arguing like the examples above. I do have her mouth, as you can fucking tell from my writings, but otherwise she taught me who not to be and it probably worked out for the best honestly.

As for my dad? I think I have the same “opposite action” thing going on from him, especially lately now that I’ve realized the ways he is flawed. As stated my dad avoids problems by not acknowledging them. He recently had a pulmonary embolism where his breathing became worse and worse over a few weeks. A few weeks. Just avoid the problem until it goes away, right? He’s also terribly overweight but doesn’t seem to care about it, not enough to change his habits at least. He’s also diabetic but doesn’t give two shits about insulin and checking his blood sugar as well as he should. It’s the same emotionally: closed off and not acknowledging any issues whatsoever. So as a reply to this I’ve been trying to be much more open and receptive of my problems. Realize the problem, make a plan to solve the problem, fix the problem. It’s easy and the hardest part is realizing the problem in the first place.

On a more visceral level I think I’m so terrified, anxious, and frightened because of my upbring. Once again our parents arguing was never an obvious problem at the time, but something seems to have been carried into adulthood from the fights. One scenario really stands out. A few years ago my dad moved in with my mom to help her pay for her house (yes they are divorced and yes they did move back in for financial reasons and no it did not work well at all) mostly because she’s bad with money. They somehow got into a yelling argument just like they did decades ago and something deep inside me appeared. A visceral terror and fear of people arguing. The precipice right before a simple disagreement turned into full-fledged yelling, and possible knife-grabbing and waving and object tossing affair. I felt panic and on-edge and tears creeping around inside my eyelids but adult me was able to choke the feelings back down, but in the moment I felt like I was instantly teleported back into my eight or ten-year-old body feeling as helpless and terrified as a child me would feel. When you have those memories from childhood hidden deep down inside you where you’re not even aware of them, is it that hard to imagine that they might also be the source of anxiety and fear that seem to haunt me daily?

I also have very strong beliefs about my upbringing and my inability to persevere in the face of difficulty. I totally blame them for how I am with this aspect of my personality. I had very good grades as a kid. I was smart. I was the kid the teachers would “want an entire classroom of!” or some bullshit like that. I didn’t have to try hard to succeed at school or anything academic. My entire life in school was one of ease — no effort, no motivation, no difficulty — and I’d be rewarded anyways. They also kept telling me how smart and talented I was and how I could do anything I wanted to do if I just applied myself! Bullshit. This is my biggest regret about my childhood and what I blame my parents for the most: I didn’t learn how to persevere.

I know they were trying to be supportive to their kids (maybe as a reply to their own parents’ lack of support?) but that’s how you scar them and cripple them as adults. Before this blogging ordeal I never tried anything difficult that was outside of my comfort zone and in some ways I think I enjoy blogging so much because of the challenge to persevere in the face of zero obvious progress. I never experienced failing over and over until I succeeded because I never had to do that as a child. By endlessly encouraging me as a child they crippled my ability to weather defeat and learn perseverance. I learned that I didn’t need to take chances. I’m a softy. I can’t take rejection or failure. I can’t hear criticisms. And damn is it a struggle to unlearn things you’ve had beaten into you for literal decades.

This was a really long and rambly post that probably didn’t offer any readers anything in return, but I wanted to vent a bit. How have your parents (or other adults) fucked you up? Did they do it in small and subtle ways like mine did despite having an average childhood? Do you have strange personality quirks that you’re not sure where they came from? Did you have a good childhood and your parents actually didn’t cause you much harm? Are you a well-off and well-rounded adult? Or did you have a childhood from hell where all you learned to do was be beaten and insulted day after day? Where your adulthood is mostly a struggle to live and deal with all the trauma inflicted upon you?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all.

Goofing Around (In Video Games) Sucks

In my last post I mentioned that I 100%ed Super Mario 64. This is a heavily nostalgic game for me and countless others and while it hasn’t aged magnificently over the years it still remains a classic. It retains its charm and is still an enjoyable game to play if you can look past the shitty grafix from the late 90s. But I realized something upon completing the game that I didn’t realize before: Mario 64 is a really short game. Surely part of this is due to me having played it before, but I don’t think this has much to do with why it feels so short. It’s been so long since I played Mario 64 to completion I had almost forgotten where most of the stars were and had to “rediscover them” even if I had a vague hint of a memory where the star was. (I still remember the Turok master cheat code though: nthgthdgdcrtdtrk. Looks like something out of a Lovecraft story.) So while the game was easier than it was when I first played it, it wasn’t just a feat in repetition; I really had to discover the game all over again.

I found myself wondering how, as a kid, I was able to pour so much time into this game as I did. I was able to knock out all 120 stars within a week as an adult, and even if I had played the game before, I assume a new player could still beat the game quickly. It’s just not a long or complicated game. How did my childhood-self find this game so massive and consuming that I could literally play it for hours after school, day-after-day for months on end? Bowser had his ass kicked and I had all 120 stars, so what was I doing endlessly playing the game?

Outside of a few other minor things (being a bored kid, no internet, etc.), I assume it was because I dicked around in the game. I should explain that a bit more. This means that outside of the actual game-dictated challenges I would find other bullshit challenges to set for myself. It was total immersion in the world where you’re just playing around and having fun with the game itself. Grabbing the stars is what you’re supposed to do but dicking around is ignoring what you’re supposed to do to do random bullshit. Somehow kid-me excelled at this while adult-me is pretty terrible at it.

Bob-omb Battlefield

The first level, the iconic Bob-omb Battlefield, had a turtle whose shell you could ride like a skateboard. It was fun as hell to grab his shell and challenge yourself to do stupid shit with it: could you surf up to the top of the mountain without hitting anything and losing his shell? Could you use the shell to race Koopa the Quick? You could also grab the Wing Cap, jump into cannons, and fly around for the hell of it. Each level offered so much to do but only if you’re creative enough to play around with the game. This was even better if you had friends to play with. You could all take turns having races to the top of the Bob-omb mountain, or see who could get Baby Penguin to his mom is the fastest time possible (or who could drop him off the cliff in the most cruel/hilarious way). Your imagination was the only limit to the fun you could have in Mario 64 as well as any other game.

Shell surfin’. I crashed a few seconds after this attempting to make it to the top of the mountain.

Something changed because now I don’t have the time or patience to fuck around in video games. I don’t know if it’s adulthood itself or aspects of adulthood like having a job and a tighter schedule that changed things, but I find myself being very “goal oriented” when I play video games. It does take all the fun out of them too. I view the game as just that: a game. Games are now just a big and sometimes complex puzzle: you figure out what you need to do to achieve a goal and you do that. Find key, go to the next room. Kill enemies, get to the end of the level. Find enough moons to fight Bowser. Etc. It’s basic problem solving now: discover problem, research the problem, conquer the problem. Complete the quest and beat the game. And then onto the next game. It’s depressing.

Flyin’.

As I was writing this post, the word playing popped into my head. Dicking around in video games, as I’ve been explaining it, sounds a lot like playing. Kids will grab toys and play with them not for a purpose but just because. I even looked up the definition of the word play and guess what it is?

Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

-The Damn Dictionary

So, fuck, it’s not that adult-me is overly goal-oriented or that kid-me was better at making up random shit to do, kid me was better at playing while adult me fucking sucks at it. Making this even worse is that when adult-me is “playing” video games, I’m probably not actually playing them. I’m always chasing a set of goals or in-game challenges and am not playing for the pure enjoyment or recreation of it. Or my personal enjoyment and recreation while playing a video game is in beating the game and not playing the game. Holy fuck, I didn’t think there’d be an epiphany in this post, but there it is. Kid-me played video games and adult-me beats video games.

This entire post reflects back on the last post about 100%ing Nintendo games. In that post I argued that Nintendo is kinda badass by not giving you any real rewards for going above-and-beyond in your video gaming duties. They rely on your own self-motivation to accomplish all of the extra bullshit you need to 100% one of their games. They’re going to give you the shit to do but not reward you for it. This post is sort of the same thing: to properly play a video game you also need to go outside of what the game itself gives you for goals/accomplishments and find your own way towards fun. This is the essence of playing — doing something for your own enjoyment with zero practical reason to motivate you — and is a huge reason why I enjoyed video games and could pour hours into them as a kid. I was playing and not simply trying to chase goals. As adult gamers we might become overly “goal-oriented” and miss the whole reason for playing a game: to have fun! But to have fun you need to be creative and do something for the sake of doing it, just like 100% video games entails. So the next time I play a video game I’m going to try to sit back, relax, and actually enjoy the experience instead of checking off a list of items that the game wants me to do. Being an adult is kinda shitty in case you didn’t know that yet.