Yes, I’m well aware that there wasn’t a part one yet, but I’m getting around to it. Or probably not.
I’m in the woods right now. Yes. In the fucking woods. A park to be exact, a park about three miles away from my home. Or used to be home. I don’t really know what’s going on. But it’s 11:18 p.m. and I have my laptop tethering off my phone’s data via a USB cable; thanks to Corona, Verizon is giving everyone free mobile hotspots and tethering meaning I can live in the woods like a homeless man and still have the internet, blogs, YouTube and whatever else I want in the comfort of my candle-lit tent. Hell, I could even play Flight Simulator if I wanted to right now. Or Kerbal Space Program. I might be able to get a small TV and my PlayStation 4 and play Dark Souls, not that I’ll go that far. It really helps the strangeness of being in the woods having these comforts I’m used to. And boy do I need comfort right now.
All of this trash is powered by my solar panel, battery, and inverter setup. I’m really proud of myself that I was able to pull this off as successfully as I did. Tonight is only the second night and the battery is still holding strong at 12.3 Volts. It was also cloudy today so despite that it seems to be doing fine.
As for why I’m in the woods, well, it’s going to get bleak here very quickly. I was drunk yesterday and decided to tell my wife that I had feelings for another female. Yeah. Stupid. Pointless. Reckless. It’s something that’s been fermenting in my head for a few months, and I can say it does feel good to get it off my chest and be totally honest with your partner, but besides that, it’s terrible. I just nuked my marriage, my wife isn’t even talking to me or texting me back, and I hope we can work through it. It sounds cliche to even mention, but yes, you don’t realize what you have and appreciate it until it’s gone. And I’m hurting and appreciating all of it so much that my heart is breaking. It’s only been 24-hours since I saw our two kids, a four- and five-year-old, and all I want to do is hug them and give them a kiss. I miss them so much already and who knows how long I’ll be in the woods.
I asked if she wanted me to move out or stay and she said it was up to me. I ran away like a coward, maybe making the wrong choice again, but I didn’t want to be a scummy reminder of how shitty I was by lurking around the house. No, it’s better if I just remove myself from everyone’s lives and do them all a favor. I grabbed the tent, sleeping bag, my backpack, a solar panel, a battery, the inverter, and my laptop and set out around midnight. And…and I don’t remember much else. Birds chirping in the morning — my new neighbors — and the wind, and the light rain, and the crickets, and the slight chill in the air. It’s actually peaceful if I didn’t have this terrible dread over me and it’s a feeling I just can’t seem to shake.
So this is night two. I’m feeling slightly better from earlier today. I’m having a beer and taking it easy. Writing. Trying to reflect and make sense of this mess called life. Wondering how I can get my wife back, if I can get her back: maybe I’ve wasted all the trust she had left. To be clear I didn’t cheat, and I don’t intend to, not that this makes the situation much better. I’m a douche, just not that big of a douche.
That’s it. All of the vague threads I’ve been hinting at and dealing with the past few months all kinda lead here. The big realization. The main problem I need to confront and deal with. The pinnacle of all my deep personal flaws that have been around since childhood. The seeking approval and love from others, probably because my mom was so absent emotionally. Not that I put blame on her, just trying to understand why I am the way I am. And I search for it still. And when I find a certain type of person, I get attached. It’s not love, not real love; it’s a parasitic attachment and some twisted leftover of childhood that I want to kill. I want to make peace with my problems and move forwards. If you guys like raw and honest blog posts, good. This place is about to get a lot darker and more depressing than it has ever been.
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What to say about my weekend? Yes, it’s Friday — the weekend was literally like 5 days ago (or tomorrow) — but I’m still thinking about it. Processing it. Trying to figure out what it all meant. Not that it really means anything, but how do I think about it in a way to extract meaning, personal meaning, for myself?
I had quite a bit of emotional conflict on Route 2 between Rockford (where I live) and Sterling/Rock Falls where my wife and I would get on interstate 88 to continue on to Davenport, Iowa. I love helping people and I was on my way to help my sister move out of her soon-to-be-ex-wife’s home, but I didn’t feel good about it at all. Sure I was helping, but in this situation I didn’t want to help at all. The greater good in the world wasn’t being served by this and I hoped and wished that this never actually occurred. Why couldn’t they just work out? Why couldn’t she find True Love and just Be Happy?
I was sleep deprived and feeling really anxious about life in general. Total discomfort in the first twenty minutes of the two-hour drive. I wanted the day to be over, the adventure to be over, but it was just starting. I was on my way to help my sister move, and then I’d have to pull off another two-hour drive to get back home.
And what is it with adventure anyways? I always think I want adventure, some grand quest to go on, but whenever I find myself outside of my usual routine and comfort zone I become really uncomfortable. Maybe one of my values is daily routine where I have a safe zone to operate in, comfort, and even if I gripe about being bored, maybe boredom is where I truly belong. Maybe I’m not the adventuring sort after all.
I forced myself to slip into some faux-Buddhist mindset where I was accepting of the present. All discomfort comes from either focusing on the past or looking forward to the future, and I was totally looking forward to the future. I wanted to be home, to be bored, to play Dark Souls, to do nothing with my day, to be a total loser/failure, and outside of this I felt uncomfortable. I just wanted the day to be over, I thought at 10:30 a.m., barely a quarter of the way to Davenport. But I summoned some sort of acceptance of the situation, some semblance of comfort that, yes, this too shall pass. Before I knew it I’d be back at home with The Mission Accomplished and able to feel comfortable and safe. The present is hopelessly temporary and while this is bittersweet in regards to happiness it offers immense benefit when it comes to uncomfortable situations. I pressed on with the drive and tried not to think about the long day ahead of me.
Time passes in a strange way when you’re driving. It seems like time doesn’t move at all, but before you know it you’ve driven hundreds of miles over countless hours and you find yourself in the future. You’ve arrived. Through days and weeks and seemingly years of driving with time at a standstill it jumps forward and you find yourself there in the future which is the present.
She had all of her at her apartment and ready to be unloaded. It would be an easy assignment hauling her stuff up two floors which contrasted nicely with moving my mother’s literal truckloads of shit three times in two years. This wouldn’t be difficult at all. So we set out hauling boxes and furniture the short way up to her new apartment.
When that was done, we went and picked up a few tables from a local family. They were nice enough, and there isn’t much to say about that. Then we went to Target, my sister being focused on trying to figure out all the tiny and forgettable items that are essential to living on your own. Things you forget about until you notice you don’t have them. Trash bags, trash cans, toilet paper, brooms, soap, mops, and other items like that.
And then that was over. I agreed to take my sister’s cat from the house as she could only have one cat at the apartment. One issue here: we’d have to go back to her old house where her ex-wife/current-wife/whatever you want to call her and that sent my anxiety into overdrive. I hate awkward situations and I don’t know anything much more awkward than that. And it got worse! We turned the corner on the street the house was on, and her ex-wife’s girlfriend and two kids were also there. I started nervously laughing and saying, “Oh nooo, oh noo! Oh geez…Awkward. This is going to be so awkward,” as some form to cope with the situation.
I hopped out of the moving van and walked behind the van to procrastinate a few more seconds before the inevitable awkward encounter that was about to take place. And…and probably because I was terribly nervous I don’t remember much.
My sister went inside the house while her wife was kinda a bitch about finally getting her shit and moving out. Her new girlfriend stood awkwardly outside while her kids acted stupid and loud like all kids do, totally aware of how fucked up the situation actually was. The ignorance of childhood: how everything is perfectly normal and fine. Nothing is strange, unusual or horrible. Just another day: mom moving in with some new girl she met and is in love with. No thoughts about how my sister’s life has been totally fucked up, her spirits crushed, and how everything is falling apart for her. Who is this girl who is sulking around, what is her story? I feel bad for those two children.
Everything was mostly civil besides the hositility my sister’s ex showed towards her. She was going to charge my sister for everyday that she was still there despite legally not being able to do so: they both legally own the house and are still married. And how if my sister didn’t give the keys to her she’d charge her until she gave the keys back, once again with no legal ability or leverage to do so. Just trying to kick my passive sister around some more. Just being a dick for some reason that isn’t clear to myself or my sister or my wife.
And those were some bad vibes to deal with. Seriously. I don’t understand how you can love someone, get married, buy a home, spend years together, and act so cold towards them. Let’s be clear here too: my sister did not cheat. She didn’t do anything obviously wrong. Her wife found someone else and is the one who fucked up. She is the cheater. Look, I understand people’s feelings can change and that maybe you can fall out of love with someone, but there seems like there still should be some decency or appreciation of the other person to not treat them worse than you’d treat a stranger. I think that’s what I struggle with the most here, how someone can disregard another human being in such a dramatic manner. No kindness, no honor, no love, no appreciation, just a total coldness that you’d treat a stray dog with.
On the way home I struggled with these thoughts. My wife demonized the ex as being a total selfish bitch, or other perfectly fine things to call someone who had done these things. But something still seemed off to me. I really think people act in ways they think are correct and that no one is evil for the sake of being evil. Selfish maybe, but not evil. In everyone’s mind I think they’re always trying to do the right thing for them and even if people do get stepped on, they’re still trying to do good or something. Despite her action, my sister’s ex, in her mind, seriously thinks she’s doing the right thing for herself. But what are those reasons? I tried to frame the situation in her mind and it still didn’t make sense. My sister hilariously pointed out this new girl isn’t even pretty or attractive, and as mean and as senseless as that is, she isn’t wrong. She’s maybe like a 2 or 3/10, seriously. I saw her in person so…! She apparently deals drugs too, so make whatever you’d like of that information. I’m all for the “entrepreneurial drive” or whatever, but drug dealing still seems, I don’t know, scummy? Dishonorable? She wasn’t dressed well either: tight, ill-fitting black pants that didn’t benefit her at all and a grey hoodie that said PINK on the front of it. Or something. She seems “trashy,” as harshly stereotypical as I’m being. Basically, she doesn’t appear to be “a catch” at least not as much as I view my sister to be. She works a full-time union job at UPS, doesn’t blow money, is nice and understanding — perhaps I’m biased — but my sister is in general a good person. I don’t see what is good about this new girl. Maybe she has the best personality or sense of humor ever, but I doubt it. If anything this new relationship seems like it’s doomed from the start, and the tiny bit of me that loves schadenfreude is pretty excited about stalking these two on Facebook over the next few years.
And that was my Saturday. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t bad either. It was nice to help a loved one escape a bad situation. To help them move on. I went home and had eight beers to process everything, and I just now came to some conclusion that isn’t much of a conclusion at all: the world is a fucked up place and sometimes you can’t make sense out of a damn thing, and oh why do I try to make sense out of everything? More bad vibes about how some things don’t make sense and I’ll forever be ignorant about life.
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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.
A few days ago I became legitimately depressed while playing Stardew Valley. It was both kinda funny and sad at how awful I felt over the game; I didn’t know whether I should laugh about it or feel depressed by being depressed by a video game, let alone Stardew Valley. This incident also shined some light on my own personality and the lack of self confidence I have in life. This post will probably be deeper than you might expect from a Stardew Valley inspired post, but here goes.
Here’s where I give a shitty overview of the game in case people don’t know what I’m talking about: Stardew Valley is a game where you farm stuff and live in a tiny village. You can talk to, befriend, and even marry some of the residents in the town. I don’t know how important all of that is to the main story of the game, but the game does stress the aspect of community, which freshens it up from being only a farming simulator. Anyway, it’s also a cutesy, 2D top down, “kiddie game” as one of my friends described it. This almost makes the incident worse because as stated it’s a kids game: It shouldn’t punch me right in the feels, especially as directly as it did.
There’s a community dance (The Flower Dance) that happens in the forest around day 25. It’s an optional thing to do so whatever, no big deal. I went to the dance because I’m trying to be the friendly new guy in town who is trying his damndest to fit in and be accepted in the community. I should also say that up to this point in the game I’ve been a very diligent and socially-isolated farmer: I’m toiling away in my fields every single day either chopping wood for fertilizer, planting/harvesting/watering the crops, or running into town to buy more seeds. While some people might be fucking around socializing in town all day, I’m trying to turn my farm into the most fantastic farm ever and give the community something to be proud of. Because fuck the JoJa Corporation and Capitalism in general. I’m all about seizing the means of production, even if I haven’t told Mayor Lewis any of my intentions yet…
So Jeremy who is the new resident of Stardew Valley — let’s call him in-game Jeremy — shows up to the dance and starts talking to people. Some of the townsfolk he sort of knowns, and others appear to be new faces. Mayor Lewis allows in-game Jeremy to decide when the dance should actually start (since the game sort of revolves around in-game Jeremy for some terrible reason. Unbeknownst to in-game Jeremy he is, in fact, the player character. The story literally revolves around him). After talking to most of the people, in-game Jeremy realizes that he can ask people to dance with him. Oh shit! He accidentally discovered this when he asked the emo gothic guy to dance with him. Luckily he said no but it was still awkward. (“Hey bro, you want to dance with me? No homo tho, I just think those skinny jeans look really good on you. Your ass is…wow.”) In-game Jeremy then proceeds to confidently ask the females, being picky at first but then growing desperate and asking anyone — even the trashy, alcoholic Pam but you can’t actually ask her — if they would like to dance. They usually replied with something like this:
“Oh! Oh! I’m sorry…I, er…have plans to ask someone else.”
“I’m flattered! But…no.”
“That’s flattering…but I’m gonna have to say no. Sorry.”
“I’ll be honest. I don’t want to dance with you.”
Holy fuck game, thanks for the hefty dose of rejection. So in-game Jeremy, with no one to dance with, finally walks up to Mayor Lewis and gives him the go-ahead to start the dance. In game Jeremy wants to just get the stupid-ass dance over with so he can head back home and go to sleep. He’s sick of these people, their rejection, and their unappreciation of him, his hard work, and his farm.
After the dance in-game Jeremy goes to his house and goes to bed. It’s night and there’s nothing to do. He almost thought about watering the crops before bed, but fuck the plants too, they can wait. In the morning, in-game Jeremy stares at the crops and doesn’t actually want to do any work, but he sure as fuck isn’t going to town today to socialize with those assholes. He doesn’t want to work on the crops but there’s nothing else to do with his life so he begrudgingly gets to work. Watering. Weeding. Planting. Harvesting. Urgh. Not that anyone appreciates it. “Fuck this place,” In-game Jeremy says as he toils in the fields the day after the dance.
A few days later, still feeling shitty but not quite as shitty, in-game Jeremy realizes that it’s Emily’s birthday, and that he should give her a gift. Maybe a flower? After he picks a few flowers and heads into town he stops and thinks, “Is she even going to like this? She probably won’t even give a shit if I give her a gift or not. If anything it’ll be the wrong gift and she’ll hate me.” In-game Jeremy goes up to the “shipping bin” where you place products your farm has created, and chucks the flowers into that. Emily has no idea in-game Jeremy was even going to give her a gift and goes about her day knowing nothing of the conflict that occured in in-game Jeremy’s head or the gift that she almost received. In-game Jeremy continues to sulk and overthink things as he tends to his garden daily. “Pretty sure all those fuckers hate me,” he thinks to himself.
The next day in-game Jeremy finally drags his ass into town. He ran into Haley, a young and beautiful blonde lady who lives in town. He tries talking to her, just to say “Hi” or “How’s your day going?” The game informed in-game Jeremy that:
“HALEY IS IGNORING YOU“
Jesus Christ, Stardew Valley is depressing as fuck.
In-game Jeremy then stops into Pierre’s store to find some rope for a noose, but sadly Pierre doesn’t sell rope. Not that in-game Jeremy has unlocked the noose-crafting recipe anyways. In-game Jeremy, as depressed as he is, is hopelessly stuck in the world with no way to escape.
While I was trying to strike a clear difference between me — IRL Jeremy — and my avatar in-game (in-game Jeremy) I found it kinda difficult to do in practice. When you play a game that is as absorbing as Stardew you kinda become the player character and this is a good thing. (“This game really makes you feel like Spiderman!”) While in-game Jeremy felt like shit over being rejected by everyone in town, it also became difficult for IRL Jeremy to also not feel rejected, even if there was no reason to feel that way. While IRL Jeremy was laughing at the brutal and consistent nature of in-game Jeremy’s rejection something inside was also being stirred around. The vague shadow of repressed memories, fears of total social rejection, and loneliness from high school/college swam at the corners of my IRL consciousness. What if everyone I know actually hates me? What do people say about me when I’m not around? Am I really as awkward as I think I am? Does anyone actually appreciate me? It was kinda scary. Faced with the “fun, kid-friendly” story and graphics of Stardew Valley, it almost seemed surreal in a way. This game was making me feel like shit about my own life and had me questioning all my real relationships and my worth in the world.
I also felt bitter and angry towards the damn in-game townsfolk; these people aren’t even real and I was pissed at them! Logically it made sense that no one wanted to dance with in-game Jeremy because he was the new guy in town who has only been around for 25 days (or like 2.5 months if you take Stardew time in terms of a year) and who wasn’t being social at all and made zero effort to interact with anyone. The townsfolk basically saw in-game Jeremy as a recluse farmer who never talks to people but then shows up and creepily asks every person available to dance. No shit they said no! If I was a video game NPC like these people I’d also say no too! In-game Jeremy — you socially-inept idiot — you have to make actual effort in relationships for them to work. And if that isn’t hitting things a bit close for IRL Jeremy as well. I found myself questioning how much effort I put into friendships and if I expect other people to do all the work. Or do I just show up and expect people to like me when I do nothing likeable at all? Do I show enough interest in other people? Or am I self-centered asshole that metaphorically is a recluse farmer who tends his fields all day? Once again I wasn’t expecting goddamn life lessons from Stardew but here we are.
I’m complaining here but you have to give the game credit: usually people play video games just to kill time, to have fun, or to escape the real world for a little bit. To feel some progress in a game world to counteract the utter difficulty and lack of progress in the real world. It’s a rare game that somehow acts as a mirror and puts yourself up there on display for you to analyze, especially if said game is usually viewed as a “kids game.” This allows you to lower your defenses and to be vulnerable without you being aware that it’s happening, and not realizing that you’re about to get utterly punched in the feels so aggressively that it resonates with your actual self. Stardew Valley made in-game Jeremy feel like a loser who would never properly fit in with the townsfolk even if he really wanted to, and that made IRL Jeremy also feel the same way, constantly searching for approval, community, and appreciation. The depressive mood didn’t last for long, maybe twenty minutes or so, but it was twenty minutes that I was not prepared for at all. It was an eye-opening experience that I wasn’t at all ready for. Fuck you Stardew Valley for being such a good game.