Tag Archives: Self-Discovery

The DSM-V Sucks: Self-Diagnosis?

I’m sure a bunch of people are the same as me. You think you’re fucked up in the head and start Googling what the hell your problem is. Do I have chronic depression? Am I bipolar? For fuck sake, do I have borderline personality disorder? This inevitably leads to the Wikipedia page of said symptom which also inevitably leads to you reading something like “[disorder] is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a personality disorder” and if you obsessively do this enough you’ll notice every psychological issue in the world’s Wikipedia entry mentions the DSM-V, whatever the fuck that is.

But Wikipedia is full of links so if you obsessively read psychological issues you’ll also inevitably click the DSM link and already know what it is. If you don’t, it’s the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic Manual for mental issues. Were talking anxiety, depression, substance abuse, mental disorders, and anything else you can think of. I see it as like a Bible of disorders/mental issues and also seemed like a book that would be a good reference to have on hand. I’m a huge fan of general use reference books such as this and it has the same appeal to me that a good set of socket wrenches or a multimeter has; you never know when you’ll need it!

Having the DSM-V is a dangerous thing though. It’s almost like an IRL Necronomicon as much as it’s the psychologist’s Bible where you have a bunch of dangerous information at your grasp that you’re probably too uneducated to properly use. Myself included because I have no fucking clue how a psychologist would actually use the damn thing. Do they reference it? Do they need to follow the clear steps for diagnoses or is it like a guideline? And what the hell are all the codes for?

Luckily I’m not too much of a dumbass to know that you’re not suppose to diagnose yourself or others with your own Amazon copy of the DSM-V. I’m not a trained psychologist or anything so know I can’t use the book to pretend to be one. But it’s a fucking pandora’s box of mental disorders and it’s impossible to read anything and not have the temptation to diagnose other people or especially yourself! It’s like the mental equivalent of looking up physical symptoms on WebMD. “Oh, I have a cough, shortness of breath, and…holy shit! I could have cancer? Fuck. Me.

(Fun Fact of Funness: Amazon obviously has copies of the DSM-V, but since it’s a textbook you’re going to be price-gouged like you’d expect. I originally found copies for over $100 which I wasn’t going to buy. But somehow, for some reason, I found this copy of it. Sure, it says “unknown binding” which sounds risky, but fuck, it’s a legit book! I was worried it would be loose-leaf pages or something, maybe a .pdf on a mini-SD card, but no, it’s a real soft-cover textbook. So if you want to buy your own copy of this book for 30% the cost of the “real”(hard-cover) version, click that fucking link. No I don’t get money for recommending this, it’s just such a good deal to be nearly unbelievable.)

Sadly I’m smart enough to buy it, think I know the proper use of it, believe I won’t misuse it, and whoops, pandora’s box is open and I’m wondering what disorders I and everyone else around me has.

Personality Disorders and Such

The DSM lists ten personality disorders. It’s tempting to think everyone has a disorder, but the whole idea behind a disorder is that it isn’t normal and is a hindrance to some degree in everyday life. Personality disorders aren’t like your zodiac sign or you Meier/Briggs personality type; you might not have one at all.

(Note about things being ‘normal.’ There is some controversy as to what a disorder is because it’s based off some nebulous idea of “normalcy.” Who’s to say what’s normal and what isn’t? Obviously some disorders are more ‘crazy’ than others, but where would you draw the line between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’? What seperates a disorder from a person simply being unique?)

That’s the first problem to solve: do I even have a personality disorder? To me, something seems off, but I’m not a psychologist and I only know myself so it’s impossible to gauge whether or not I’m ‘normal’ or if I have a disorder. Like I said, it’s not a good idea to diagnose yourself, but just for shits and giggles I wanted to take an educated guess at what disorders I could have.

There are ten personality disorders in the DSM-V. Just to rattle off a few: borderline, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, antisocial, dependent, avoidant, and let’s not forget everyone’s favorite disorder narcissistic personality disorder!

It’s interesting to discover that I show signs of nearly all the ten disorders. None seem clear enough that I can label myself with one but each one has traits that seem fitting. I have the selfishness of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, but seem to lack the lack of empathy and powerful ego that is characteristic of the disorder. Everyone has a little bit of paranoia floating around in their minds, and the same is true for me, but this probably doesn’t mean I have paranoid personality disorder. The mood swings I seem to have sound terrifyingly similar to borderline disorder, but lack the angry outbursts and unstable relationships that categorize those with borderline. I can’t make my own decisions very well, and this sounds like someone who could have dependent personality disorder, but probably not because I don’t fit the rest of the traits. Oh, and the need to be in control like those with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (not to be confused with the stock OCD), but once more I lack the rest of the symptoms or traits to actually be diagnosed with it.

Around this time I’m starting to feel even more fucked up, wondering if I’m a borderline/narcissist/antisocial and a few other terrifying ones. You can have more than one disorder! Strangely, I’m also wondering if I don’t have any actual disorders and, holy hell, what if I’m normal! Somehow that seems worse in a way. Like none of the drama that plays out in my mind is special or notable because it’s just typical life bullshit that everyone experiences and that maybe I’m blowing it all out of proportion. And this sounds like something a narcissist would say…

Then I stumbled upon one of the lesser known and “boring” personality disorders: avoidant personality disorder. I’d never heard of it before. But reading the traits gave me that horrible sinking feeling that things were a bit too truthful and were hitting a bit close to home. Sure, I read about narcissistic personality disorder and found a few things that sounded like me, but the rest were a stretch. But APD? Holy fuck. I seemed to have nearly all the traits of that disorder. These people avoid others unless they’re certain they are liked. These people are very insecure and have fragile egos and don’t take criticism well. They’re needy and always searching for approval  I read towards the end of the section and then shut the book. My adventure of reading about personality disorders was taking a turn for the worst. Here I was reading about disorders and fantasizing about what it would be like to have them, wondering what people I know (if any) might have them, but reading about APD took me out of mild curiosity into serious self-introspection. It was like I was reading a person critique about my personality. I stopped reading, laughed, closed the book, and said, “Oh, wow. That’s enough of the DSM for tonight. Yikes…”

I’ll probably write about possibly having avoidant personality disorder sometime soon because there’s a lot to unpack here. It sounds so close to who I am and how I feel and it’s like another layer of the proverbial onion has been exposed. But until then, maybe use some caution when you bust open your own personal copy of the DSM-V for ‘casual reading’ purposes. Things can get a bit dark and too real when you least expect it. But still it’s a good reference to have on hand and I highly recommend it.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems 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 also sometimes post stories.

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Vacation 2020 Sucks: Pissing it All Away

I’m roughly halfway through my yearly vacation. This year I took all my vacation time in a solid three-week block and do not return to work until August 3rd. I could also take a fourth week off until like August 10th but I’ll probably work that week because I have the option to work it; it’s basically an extra paycheck for free so why not? But the current three weeks? Those are mandatory and I have zero choice but to not work. This sounds great but…well, I’ve written about that struggle before.

To recap: I’m lazy, unmotivated, and too unstructured to do anything on my own volition. I didn’t enjoy school but it gave me something to do and added some structure to my day. The same is true with work — I don’t like it because it’s something I have to do — but without it I just can’t get myself focused, hyped up, or motivated to do a damn thing. I require work for some structure and purpose and I feel aimless and lost without it.

People usually tell me to “relax” on my vacation, but I think relaxing is something I’ve never gotten the hang of in life. I hate sitting around. I hate doing nothing. Fishing? I hate fishing and never understood it because it seems to me you sit around and wait for something to happen. I hate sunbathing and never understood how my mom could sit outside for hours in a day relaxing. Or the drunkards that sit on the porch relaxing with a few drinks. I can never do any of these things for extended periods of time because I just get bored and antsy.

(Fun fact: I complained to my therapist about my ‘vacation dread/anxiety’ and she laughed and said something like, “Wow, first-world problems, huh?” I immediately felt like an ass. Yes, I was complaining about how hard life was since I couldn’t work for three weeks and that does seem like a ridiculous thing to complain about. But I’m going to complain more here.)

Despite complaining about being bored and my inability to relax, I’m a week and a half into my vacation — about the halfway mark — and what have I done? Nothing. I’ve pissed it all away. Before my vacation I promised myself I’d make it worthwhile. I’d go on bike rides, go to parks, hike, write tons of shit, read, figure out how to be genuinely happy, find a career I really want to pursue, meditate, eat better, look for another job, be a flight instructor — basically figure things out in a big way — and what have I actually done? Nothing. Nothing at all. This is only my second blog post despite being on vacation for as long as I have. A blog post takes an hour or two at most but I’ve never gotten around to it, so you know damn well I haven’t done anything ‘big’. And fuck relaxing.

In fact I totally spiraled into alcoholism the first week of vacation. I literally drank everyday from Friday to Sunday and I mean the next Sunday and not the one immediately after Friday. It was a 10 day drinking spree of like 12 or 15 beers every night. I’d wake up the next day, stay sober until about 3-5 p.m. and do it all over again. It’s no surprise I didn’t do anything that first week. Once again I wasn’t relaxing during this either.

This week is looking slightly better because I realized if I’m trying to figure shit out drinking wasn’t going to cut it, in fact drinking seems like one of those big things I should be figuring out. Drinking is a great motivator sometimes but after a multi-day binge you find all motivation to do even the smallest thing disappears. I found myself procrastinating texting someone, going outside to look at a comet through binoculars, or paying my credit cards on my phone; little things that’d only take a minute to do I couldn’t drag myself to do, and I didn’t even listen to music while driving somewhere. I didn’t have the motivation to decide on what to listen to! It was a bad time. Not a bad-depressing time, but bad-blah time. Bad-bland. Bad-“is this what I’m doing for vacation?”

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This is one of the more notable parts of my vacation thus far.

I haven’t drank since Monday last night (but I did go three days sober before that…) and am already feeling more motivated. Hell, here’s this post which is something, and I even went on a 14-mile bike ride yesterday. I’ve posted like three things on Instagram too! I still feel like I’m nowhere near having anything ‘figured out’ by the time I return to work but it seems like I’m finally off to a good start. Sadly it’s taken half my vacation to reach this point. Baby steps, right?

Here’s another post you guys might be interested in: Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be A Drunkard. Maybe I should read it myself?

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.

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Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Personal Flaws or Personal Strengths?

I see my therapist every two weeks now. It happened by accident a few months ago when she was off on vacation but we’ve kept to a biweekly schedule since. I think this is the plan all along, although I’m still new to all of this stuff. It makes sense if they think you’re improving that they ween you off of their support. As you grow stronger you don’t need them anymore and can function all on your own.

(Fun Fact: ‘biweekly’ can mean either twice a week, or every two weeks. I guess rely on context clues to figure out which one is being implied!)

I was surprised when I was able to stick to this biweekly schedule after the past two weeks. When I was picked up by the cops and hauled to talk to a counselor two weeks ago, they suggested I make an appointment with my therapist to help me work through my current predicament. I agreed to this but mostly so I could get the hell out of there. Not like they had any leverage over me once I left. After I hauled my camping supplies back home and started to drink heavily, I did think about scheduling another appointment. But no. Something in me was stubborn and wanted to face reality and my problems on my own, even if I was limping along in life with alcoholism. Maybe that says something good about my mindset; even in the depths of feeling like total shit I still had confidence that I’d get through it and I could talk to the therapist about it in a week and a half. That’s what I did and I saw her last Friday.

The thing I like most about therapy is how she doesn’t bark commands at me or tell me exactly what I’m doing wrong. It’s easier to get people to listen to you if you feel like they’re learning shit on their own. This is why arguing on social media never works; calling someone out on their flaws, even if true, won’t make them very receptive to your views or opinions. The therapist does this wonderfully and I wish everyone would someone adopt this technique. She guides me along and kinda hints at solutions but never tells me exactly what I’m doing wrong. She allows me to realize things on my own which really helps a person interalize their realizations.

This post is about one of these realization friday. Something about one of my flaws. About how I’m never happy and at peace. This is most relevant with relationships in this case, but it applies everywhere. I’m not happy at work; I think I can be happier elsewhere. I’m not happy writing because I think I could do a better job at it. Take this blog and my views over the past few months for another perfect example. One of my goals this year was to have 1,000 monthly views which I finally cracked last month. I think I ended with 1,200 or so. I was happy for a few days but then it disappeared. I did it, sure, but now what should I do? This month has over 2,000 views already, and think about that. I doubled my goal for this year and how do I feel about it? Perfectly fucking blah. I’m so happy and thankful, but I know it’s a temporary feeling. Those two writing awards I received years ago in college? Cool at the time, but so what? I haven’t won any awards recently so it seems silly to still feel good about them. Oooo, I finally got my commercial pilot’s license last July? Same thing as always; I felt good for a few days and then stressed out and wondered what my next step should be. As soon as I achieve something the happiness wanes and I need to do something else. I’m seriously never happy.

Now that I think of it, a friend at work asked a question that most people seemed to find very enlightening to think about. It went something like this. “Imagine you are 50. You’ve made all the money you’ve wanted to make. You’re happily married or in whatever situation you hope to be in. You’re drinking your favorite beverage on the porch in your dream home watching the sun either set or rise, whatever. Life is perfect. You’ve made it. What music are you listening to? What are you feeling at the time? What are your current thoughts?” I think there was more to it but this was a month ago so I forgotten about the details. The general gist should be fine.

The few people I heard answer the question actually answered it. I kinda frowned thinking about it and when asked said the premise was totally off for me. I knew I’d never have that singular moment where life was totally complete, finished, and I was content and happy. If I was in this spot I’d still be antsy always looking for some other project or goal to work towards. I’ve basically accepted this fact about myself: I’ll never be happy because I need goals to chase and such. Or maybe since I’m never satisfied I need goals to chase. I don’t know which one drives the other really, which one is the carrot and which one is the horse.

Enter the therapist appointment. I don’t know if she said anything, but I’m sure she did, and I came to the realization that, hey, wait, what if this major flaw of mine is a good thing? Something bothers me when I see people totally stagnant in life with no goals, dreams, or hobbies. I wonder if this bothers them. Do people really sit around and enjoy the weather? Do others really rest, relax, and chill? Really? You can even view it in a darker way as well. Think of hopeless alcoholics who drink daily working a job they hate and they just exist in that environment for literal decades. Does this bother them? And does it bother them enough where they want to change it? For some people this answer is certainly “no,” and this is frightening to me. It sounds like someone whose soul is dead and they’re only physically alive. Honestly, this was myself last week, but it wore me down. Something seemed off. Something within me didn’t like the entire affair. I was giving in to being lazy, giving into my current situation, giving up on life, and content with just existing as a drunkard with no dreams or goals. And I don’t want to be that way.

This flaw I have about always needing something else, if viewed correctly, or as the therapist mentioned “directed,” it’s an amazing gift to have. It keeps me from giving into the dreariness of life, or the blandness of not moving forward. It manifests in negative ways in relationships obviously, but knowing my tendencies could help me redirect the energy into a positive way. What I always thought was a flaw — maybe I just had to learn to be happy with where I am — also can manifest as a drive for more that if used right is an amazing gift that many others might not have. Sure this causes me a great deal of suffering, but so what?

Usually we view our traits as totally positives or totally negatives with little thought about the contexts we apply to them. Being “giving” is usually viewed as a good trait, but it can also be a flaw. If you’re so giving to others that you gladly give money away to bums at the expense of yourself or your family, this is bad. “Greedy” sounds bad, but it might also allow you to save money and have a large safety net of cash on hand. This might be old information for those wiser than myself, but I’m pretty happy I stumbled upon this little gem. So think about the traits you have, whether positive or negative, and try to see them from a slightly less biased perspective. Many of the negative ones might be awesome traits that can be used to benefit yourself and others. One of my flaws, always needing more, might be a blessing in disguise that I only thought was a flaw. It’s all on how you view and use your traits I guess.

Now the question is how to use this apparent gift of mine? Well, I have this blog post to show for my efforts. That’s a start…

Living in the Woods Sucks (Part Two of One)

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.

Home for now…

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.

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 which I deactivated and the link doesn’t go anywhere now. Check back later though!

Self-Hatred Sucks: How to Move Forward?

The past week and a half has sucked. My mood and motivation has cratered. I didn’t write my Morrowind story last weekend. I tried and only wrote on singular uninspired sentence: “And in the doorway stood an average Argonian.” Poignant, huh? I haven’t wrote anything for this week either. I’ve been silent on this blog despite writing two drafts that I didn’t think were good enough to post. I wrote another short story but didn’t think that was good enough to post either. There’re two other story ideas floating around in my head as well, but nothing that I feel is good enough to even start writing. I bought an entire 1.5 Litre bottle of vodka last Sunday — a mistake to be sure — because I was hell-bent on having vodka/juice cocktails and that’s the only bottle they had in stock. Four days of drunkenness ensued. “But don’t you only drink on Sunday? Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are not Sunday!” Yeah. I know. I’m a fuckup in multiple areas of life.

But when a friend at work was shitting on herself about eating a quart of icecream on the first day of her diet I promptly pointed out, “No one is perfect, everyone fucks up. Just acknowledge you goofed up and get back to your goals when you can.” It’s easy to tell other people that than believe it yourself. I do believe it, I just don’t think it applies to me. I actually am a fuckup.

At least I think I am. I know I’m not, but I can’t stop from viewing myself that way. People occasionally like to toss out the line that “everything happens for a reason” and I usually have a dim view of it. I take it meaning something like there is someone or something actually in control of everything forcing us to places so we can learn and grow. If anything I think people are just very flexible and can deal with anything that happens to them. If you’re happy, you feel good and get shit done, and if you’re depressed you introspect and naturally try to “learn” something from your shitty mood so it wasn’t for naught. Even if I’m not a big fan of the hard “everything happens for a reason” outlook, it does seem to be partly true. Even if depressive moods are shitty, they give you a prime opportunity to examine why the hell you even feel that way in the first place.

I’ve known for awhile that I’m a stupidly insecure person. I always feel like I’m “not enough” or “a problem” or whatever other negative adjective/adverbs I like to use for myself. I’m constantly over analyzing the smallest and most insignificant social cues always searching for signs that I’m either appreciated and loved or really despised and hated. I also have zero self-esteem and confidence. Like myself not being good enough, the things I do are also not good enough. The shit I write? Good, but not great; there’s always someone more creative, more descriptive, or more whatever. I’m constantly measuring my own self-worth against others. And others are always better than myself. Logically it’s wrong — you weigh yourself against the best you see in others while shit on yourself for your worst aspects — but that doesn’t stop it from occurring. I’m always searching for approval that I’m worth something, that my work is worth something, that my life is worth something, and am constantly searching and asking others to approve of me. My happiness is always based on the opinions of others — how I’m perceived — and I have nothing to offer myself.

I did the writing exercises that I was procrastinating for two weeks from the book It Didn’t Start With You. I was dreading them greatly because I realized before I started (from just thinking about the topics) that there would be some uncomfortable shit to uncover; just the though of working on them nearly gave me a crisis. And I wasn’t wrong. I suppose I did learn something though: I hate myself. It’s like the knot that ties everything together, all of these individual strands of self-esteem issues, self-confidence issues, and my constant seeking of social approval all stem from the fact that I really, truly, and deeply despise myself. That’s where it all comes from. I want others to appreciate me because I don’t appreciate myself. The people I hate and the traits I despise: they’re all projected aspects of myself that I hate. I hate people like me. I hate people that do the same things I do. It’s like a key puzzle piece has found it’s home.

Knowing you hate yourself makes you hate yourself more in a way. I’ve hated myself for most of my life and only in tiny flashes here or there do I actually feel happy and comfortable with myself. But if I haven’t learned to truly love myself over the past thirty years, how am I supposed to learn now? People are hopelessly stubborn and unwilling to change. Take my dad for example. Overweight and diabetic with severe sciatica and sky-rocketing blood sugar. His life is literally in danger yet he still tells me about the potato chips he bought from the store and hasn’t made any serious effort to lower his weight. His bones and joints are literally wearing away from the weight he totes around yet he cannot change his habits to literally save his life. How the fuck am I supposed to learn to love myself if he can’t learn to eat better and exercise?

It’s a form of helplessness that has many layers. I don’t like myself. I don’t want to be this way. But I am. But I am unwilling to change this fact. I’ll always feel this way. And what do I do about it? How do I move forward? Given the realization I think, “So now what?”

Frustrated I asked my therapist this question, “What do you do? Do I try my hardest to change myself or just give in and accept who I am?” She gave the typically vague answers that I had to really think about on my own to make sense of. I don’t even recall what she said exactly. I think the answer is probably somewhere in the middle, like most things are. You probably can’t wage a war against yourself desperately trying to change who you are at the core level. I’m a quiet and reserved person and I doubt no matter how hard I try I could ever become outgoing and talkative; the shyness is at the core of who I am. But by acknowledging the traits you have you can learn to deal with them. Just because you are shy doesn’t mean you can’t talk to people, you only have to make a dedicated effort to work with yourself, acknowledge you’re shy, that you’d like to say something, and do what you must do. So maybe the way forward is acknowledging that I do fundamentally hate myself and trying to work with that fact. Not force myself to love me, but work on not hating myself as much.

Maybe I do have something to offer the world, or maybe I don’t need to offer the world anything in the first place. Maybe I shouldn’t hate on myself quite as much. Maybe whatever I do try to do I have a good chance at succeeding. My computer is currently being powered by solar power, as well as the WiFi router. Isn’t that something to be proud of myself for? Isn’t that something that I don’t need to tell people about and have them clap their hands over how proud they are for me? And isn’t it something that after binge drinking for four days I’ve realized I fucked up and am only going to drink on Sundays again? Can’t I feel better about myself that despite not writing for a week or two I’m finally creating this post? Can’t I feel better about this blog and how I actually got off my ass and did something when I could’ve sat around and did nothing the past five years? Despite my slow progress in nearly every aspect of life, can’t I feel good about making progress at all?

I feel somewhat better now. Not confident in any way, but feeling like I should just get off my ass and do what I want/need to do and stop moping around so much. “Is this thought useful to have?” The therapist said I should try to notice things without an emotional attachment to them; if someone says or does something maybe acknowledge it without any connotation that it is somehow “bad” or “good” and that makes some sense. I don’t know why I put that there because it doesn’t seem related to this post at all, but maybe someone can get something from it. Or maybe that’s what the entire post was about in some vague way. Fuck if I know. I’m ignorant about nearly everything, especially this entire “self-growth” bullshit, but let’s not pretend that’s good or bad. Being ignorant (“bad”) is the first step towards learning something new (“good”), and maybe that’s something to be proud of. To close with that bullshit explanation that I’m skeptical of from earlier: EvErYtHiNg HaPpEnS fOr A rEaSoN.

“It Didn’t Start With You” Is Depressing

Upon the recommendation from a friend, I’ve been reading the book It Didn’t Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn. And if the subtitle doesn’t give you enough information about how depressing this book has the potential to be then I don’t know what will. Just from the title I knew I was getting myself into some shit with the book, and a few chapters in I don’t seem to be wrong with that assumption.

I wrote here about some ‘breakthrough’ I had where I realized how my mom’s lack of love while I was growing up most likely fucked me up in a way that I wasn’t even aware of for 98% of my life. I thought I had a normal childhood — as average as anyone else’s — but no; tiny scars are still scars and are they even tiny when you have nothing to compare them to? I’d realized that I always feel lacking, like I always have something to prove, as if my self-worth is based on the approval of others. It seems my entire motivation in life is to gain approval from others; I’m a directionless mess until I have someone to seek approval from. This is the wrong mindset to have — you need to get happiness and approval from yourself — but I seem to be unable to change it. Only making a few tiny steps in progress here or there but never seeming to actually get anywhere. It’s like I’m trying to do a marathon but am crawling. Ten feet done and 138,000 more to go. I’m getting nowhere.

Anyways, I thought this book would go along similar lines, and it has been, if not to a more extreme degree than I imagined. The basis of the book in the first two or three chapters seems to be that hardly any of us know how much shit we actually inherit from our fucked up families. Making matters even bleaker is the author’s insistence that it isn’t only how we are raised that fucks us up (obviously being raised in an abusive home is going to fuck you up) but how things transmit from generation to generation through DNA and genetics. Once again don’t take this to mean that if you have a family history of cancer that, duh, you might get cancer; it’s much more subtle than that. Depression, stress, anxiety, and substance abuse all seemed to be transmitted to offspring somehow even if there isn’t a direct genetic reason for it doing so.

In the first few chapters Wolynn talks about studies on mice and stress in offspring. Baby mice were removed from their parents which caused depression in them, but most surprisingly, their own children — the grandchildren of the original mice — also suffered from stress and depression. Even though the third generation of mice weren’t separated from their parents, because their parents were traumatized this transmitted to them. The author also talks about how grandchildren of Holocaust survivors also seem to suffer from greater stress and anxiety than others. Despite not suffering themselves, or their parents suffering, somehow their bodies and genes “remember” the hell their grandparents went through to where they also suffer negative consequences.

And this is depressing as fuck.

We all like to think of ourselves as unique and separate individual beings not affected by anything but our own life and experiences. Sure you might’ve had a shitty childhood, but you’re still you and have free will, so you can always break the negative traits with sheer might, right? It doesn’t seem so. Even if your childhood was great, you could still be fucked up somehow from your grandparents shitty lives and upbringings. Plus there are four grandparents; more chance to get something fucked up given to you. And it almost seems inevitable.

Reading these first few chapters my mental state took a nosedive. Not trying to be the victim, I did keep thinking, “I didn’t ask for any of this. Why me? Why did my family have to fuck me up in this way?” It’s not so much feeling sorry for myself and more like feeling totally stuck with no actual ability to fix anything. It’s like being dealt a shitty hand in poker or something; sure you might be able to find a winning hand, but the smart bet is to give up and fold. Hope for something better to be dealt to you in the future. Except in life we’re only dealt a single hand and I’ll let you guys think about what “folding your hand” in life might mean.

I’m sure the book will take a more uplifting turn midway as most books do: there isn’t any point in explaining a problem unless the author has a solution. It’d be a poor self-help book if it didn’t give you a way to, well, help yourself. I think it’s the same with every problem. You first need to discover the problem before you can fix it. Trying to be positive here, the human brain is a magnificent piece of machinery even if it is flawed in countless ways. Think of learning a new language or learning an instrument. With each practice session your brain connects new neurons and pathways that allow you to really learn a new skill through physically changing the structure of your brain and how it works. I’m pretty sure the same thing is true with Big Problems like depression and anxiety. Maybe if you practice facing anxiety and having Happy Thoughts you can rewire your brain to not be as fucked up as it typically is?

I’m only 25% through the book but it is interesting and eye-opening; I’m sure I’ll have more to write about it later. One thing that does bother me is trying to even discover my family history. I only have one living grandparent. Sure I can analyze my parents in depth, but it seems the deeper part of my family history has been more or less erased. Did my grandparents grow up during the Great Depression? Is that why I’m so insecure with how much money I have? Is that why I hoard money for ‘safety’? Am I as detached emotionally as my father? Am I as crazy as my mom? Did she have a shitty upbringing that led her to be angry and detached with my sister and I growing up? Who gave me my fondness for alcohol? And what about my sister? Why does she date very controlling and borderline abusive people? Where did that come from? Even if it’s not me, I still think it could shine some light on our mutual upbringing and give reason to some of my own flaws. More questions than answers. Always more questions than answers…

Streak Day #32 Sucks: A Values Checklist

Sunday, the last day of the WordPress week, and what do I write? I’m feeling some pressure now; I need about 25 more views today (in the remaining eight hours…) to have another record week. I don’t think it’ll happen. And if I pull off about 45 or 50 a day I can crack that 1,000 views in a month goal I’ve had. I don’t think that’ll happen either. I didn’t even have much hope for it the past week but the past few days has (once again somehow and I don’t know why) had quite a bit more views than usual, giving me just enough hope to have it totally crushed by Wednesday.

I’m tempted to try to write another “masterpiece” blog post but don’t have it in me. I haven’t made any progress on the Morrowind story this week and finally got around to a rough draft about two hours ago. That must be edited and posted and has priority over any bullshit I want to write here.

So what to write? I don’t know. Let me sit here and think about it. I’ve already talked plenty about this stupid coronavirus and don’t want to do it anymore. Work? Work sucks. I hate being at work but I hate being anywhere else. You trade work for boredom mostly. Any projects at home? Well, I bought a massive 100 Watt solar panel from Amazon that arrived today; not that I can do anything with it because it’s been perpetually cloudy. I think I’ll rig up some extension cords to make the system “plug-and-play” or something like that. I’m just sick of soldering shit, using alligator clips, or whatever else I can conjure up to connect wires. My last panel was a tiny 10 Watt panel; this boi is ten times the power! I can’t wait to get started.

But the Morrowind story hangs over me like these damn clouds in the sky. That’s the goal for today and as much as I want to fuck with this blog, Dark Souls, or my new big boi solar panel, I can’t until that is finished. Or at least finished enough that I can put it together before midnight or before I’m too drunk to edit, whichever comes first. That’s why I’m doing this now, to get it out of the way.

Drinking today means a trip to the store. I need extension cords for my project. I can’t believe I bought a 2 x 4 foot solar panel for $100 so I can charge my phone with solar power. It’s such a simple goal but one that is taking on a life of its own. I’m dreading a trip to the store. Last week was pretty comfy — Meijer was all but deserted — but I’m starting to have anxiety about being around people in public. Who is infected and who isn’t? Has this box of tomatoes been handled by someone with The Disease and by picking up the box I’m going to get myself and my family killed? Every person that drives by or walks by, I wonder if they’re infected or not. Everyone is a hazard, every object outside of the house is a hazard, and if you let yourself think too much about it in a careless way it’s nearly impossible not to feel frightened by the world. Remember I think I’m doing well with the COVID anxiety too. How is everyone else doing if I’m becoming this way?

I suppose there is that paper the therapist gave me from Thursday, something about discovering your values that I haven’t even looked at yet, so maybe I can check that out. Fuck, let’s do it together. I’ll type it out here and if that takes too much effort I’ll take a picture of it.

Exercise: A Values Checklist

Below are some common values. (They are not ‘the right one’; merely common ones.) Please read through the list and write a letter next to each value based on how important it is to you. Of course, some values will be more important in one area of life (e.g. parenting) than in another area (e.g. work) — so this is just to get a general sense of the values that tend to matter to you the most.

  • Acceptance/self-acceptance: to be accepting of myself, others, life, etc.
  • Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively explore novel or stimulating experiences
  • Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want
  • Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, and real; to be true to myself
  • Caring/self-care: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment, etc.
  • Compassion/self-compassion: to act kindly toward myself and others in pain
  • Connection: to engage fully in whatever I’m doing and be fully present with others
  • Contribution and generosity: to contribute, give, help, assist, or share
  • Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others
  • Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty
  • Creativity: to be creative or innovative
  • Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded, and interested; to explore and discover

Okay well this list is forty items long, so I’ll just put the values and omit the explanation. If you need them defined: Google them.

  • Encouragement
  • Engagement
  • Fairness and justice
  • Fitness
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom and independence
  • Friendliness
  • Forgiveness/self-forgiveness
  • Fun and humor
  • Gratitude
  • Honesty
  • Industry
  • Intimacy
  • Kindness
  • Love
  • Mindfulness
  • Order
  • Persistence
  • Respect/self-respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety and protection
  • Sexuality
  • Skillfulness
  • Supportiveness
  • Trust
  • Other:________
  • Other:________

Apparently the list is from Russ Harris at this website right here. So I didn’t steal it, okay?

Hopefully you guys got something out of that. It sure does seem like something you really need to sit down and think about that’s for sure.

So as I was typing that, I realized all sound really good and I think I hold nearly everything as a value somewhat. There aren’t any that I noped away from: everything sounds great! Maybe fairness and justice can get the axe: life simply isn’t fair. I think we should strive for fairness but claiming something is unfair doesn’t mean shit. Anyways, this only complicates the matter. I think it’d be easier to ask what values you don’t hold than to ask what values you do hold. Trim the paper until you’re left with a shape that is actually you, in a way.

Basically on Thursday the therapist said that maybe if I had a clear value system it might be easier to define my actions, to uphold my values in a way that gives my life some integrity and meaning. Not that I don’t have integrity or am a total heathen, I’m just lost and confused to where I’m aimless. She said to give myself some goals to give myself direction, and when asking about what goals I should set because I don’t know what the fuck I want to do she said to figure out my values. What I hold dear in life. The shit that I think is important. So basically values -> goals -> direction, something like that. More layers to the onion, I suppose.

Now my issue is I’m not sure how to live according to values exactly. An obvious one I have is curiosity; I’m always surprised that some people, maybe most people, simply don’t seem to give a shit about anything around them. Is anyone curious? Given the COVID-19 example you’d think maybe a large chunk of the population are reading about viruses, immunity, ventilators, exponential growth, RNA sequences, the flu, or vaccines, but most are probably reading questionable articles from Facebook (and spam-sharing them) about how maybe shoving some herbal supplements up your ass might make you immune to the disease. I don’t know this for a fact — luckily most of my friends don’t seem to be raging dumbfucks — but in the 2020 post-information/disinformation age curiosity and critical thinking in general appear to not be a huge priority to people.

Rant aside, how do I live according to having curiosity as a value? Just be curious? That’s it? I think another value I have is “helping people” or “spreading knowledge” but how the fuck do you help people be curious if they aren’t already? How do I leave by example? And even if I figure this out, how does it apply to a life goal? What job can I get that values curiosity and teaching people? A teacher? Is that what I’m supposed to do? What about that minor dream of being a flight instructor? Well, shit, maybe all of this therapy bullshit does make some sense if you think about it enough.

And that’s enough thinking about it for now. Onto the store, a six/twelve-pack of Claws, and editing that damn Morrowind story. Maybe perseverance is one of my values as well…

Streak Day #30: Untitled

“So, how have you been the past two weeks?”

Perfect. Happy. Depression was a thing of the past. Totally conquered. I had finally discovered myself. A toolkit of ways to fend off the bad vibes and thoughts. Perfectly comfortable in my skin. Cool, confident, and quiet. Problem solved! Problem solved…Problem solved?

Two days ago. Spiraling. Pointlessness. Anxiety. Depression. Dread. More sleeplessness. 5 a.m. with the sun coming up wondering what exactly life is. Benadryl to sleep; a drug to crutch along. Sleep at any cost. Where’s the purpose? The point? What am I meant to do here? Wasn’t I out of the woods? Wasn’t I happy? Weren’t those damn pills magical and finally fixed me?

“Where do you see yourself in the future.”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m floating through life too scared to make any choice.”

“Sometimes it helps to visualize where you want to be in the future. This will give you purpose and something to work towards.”

Every path is miserable, only changing certain pros for cons. More money, less happiness. More possessions, more responsibilities, less freedom. More attachment. More stuff. More freedom, less security. The grass is always greener everywhere else. Not knowing what I’m meant to do. Knowing there is nothing I’m meant to do and it’s up for me to decide. Being unable to decide anything for fear of what misery each path holds. And all paths hold misery; I always make the wrong choice. Is floating such a bad thing? Is pointlessness such a bad thing? Is there anyone that knows what the hell they’re meant to do, even if there is nothing we’re meant to do? Is anyone as blindly confident that they know where to go? Is this another form of blindness? Is blindness happiness?

Five steps forward and six steps backwards. Seven, perhaps. No progress. No sense of empowerment. No moving forward. Self-discovery? No. Self-confusion and self-loss. When I think I find myself it disappears. Too much effort, too much work. The tools in the kit take too much work to use. Constantly being on-edge, looking for the next crisis. Playing chess with your own brain, trying to bring up thoughts as pawns to try to stop yourself from checkmating yourself. And the opponent is so much more motivated than you, the bad vibes are effortless. The chess grandmaster in your head; checkmated in less than ten moves. When are all my pawns gone? When do I run out of motivation to fight? When does it become easier to give in?

Awake after twelve hours of sleep: still tired. Still groggy. Still sleepy. Five cups of coffee, eight cups of coffee: still tired. But shaky. Just enough semblance of being awake to function. Nicotine, caffeine, give me any -ine you can find, maybe I’ll eventually wake up. Constantly shaking and tired. Constantly anxious. Enough awakeness to write low-quality posts. Not enough motivation to work on a story. Writer’s block that never ends. The constant fight towards some goal you don’t even have. And the tiredness. And time always moving forward. And you not moving anywhere at all except towards old age, failing mind, and death. Float along the river until it’s too late to change your course.

And sleeplessness at 5 a.m. once again. Still tired but awake.

“Is it possible that I like being miserable? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. Misery is easier than working to be happy. It takes less effort.”

The comfort of depression. Not caring. Knowing you don’t care. Knowing you’re functioning as a basic animal just staying alive. Food not for enjoyment but so you don’t feel more miserable. Water because your mouth is dry. Work because of bills and money. Write because there is nothing else better to do. Silence around people — you’re a piece of shit and are miserable to be around — why make everyone else miserable by being a piece of shit? Blaming your mood for being a failure. The comfort of depression. The comfort of giving up. Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of zero progress. Thirty years of depression. Of never knowing yourself. Of never knowing anything. Of being totally lost, blind, and stumbling through life. How many more years?

“I woudn’t say this if it wasn’t true: you are making progress. I can see it. You just need to keep discovering yourself and moving forward.”

Values. What are my values? I don’t know. Blank slate once again. I am a nobody. The blank whiteboard waiting to have a purpose. The blank piece of paper waiting for a story, a picture, or spilled ink: waiting for anything.

I’m not cut out for self-discovery. I’m an idiot hiding under a mask of being smart. Maybe I shouldn’t know myself. Maybe I should stay blind to everything. The trivial defines me. Deep down? I don’t know. Why do I do the things I do? No clue. Ram through another wall and find another. The wall is well-constructed this time. Smash through this to find an iron gate. And another taller iron-gate. On and on from one problem to the next.

“Self-discovery is like an onion; it has many layers.”

Infinite layers. The radius never shrinks, the circle never gets smaller. One layer leads to another layer. There is no core. There is no bright and shiny center. So much goddamn effort to peel anything away. Years of grime and dirt that doesn’t make any sense. If it does makes sense you can’t do anything with the sense it does make. One more layer down and onto the next. More confusion than before. More paralysis than before. More dread then before. Why am I this way? I hate myself for being this way. Helplessness knowing I can’t be anything else. This is me, and I hate it.

“Bring yourself to the source — whatever that is — and bask in it. Recharge.”

“Think of the love you hold in other peoples’ lives. Think happy thoughts. Think how you’re part of the whole.”

“Decide where you want to be in the future. It’ll help give you something to work towards.”

“Break a large goal down into smaller goals. Take small steps towards the goals.”

“Decide what your values are.”

“Think, ‘Is this thought useful to have right now?'”

“Maybe set boundaries with yourself in your interactions.”

It’s Friday. March 27th, 2020. 5:09 p.m. Now what? Always: Now What?

Who Am I?

“Well it’s a hard road to ride, when you sit right back and realize what you’re not.”

“Realize” by You Won’t

This is a continuation of this post. In that post, I mentioned I was going through a quiet phase, a phase of introspection trying to find myself, whatever that means. In the post I mentioned the word ‘nothing’ in the context of “This is me: nothing.” It sounds depressing and dismal in a way but the more I think about it the more I feel that it’s the most accurate way to describe myself and maybe even everyone else. Nothing.

I think we all have the urge to define ourselves by labels. I have this blog, so one of the labels I’ve defining myself with is ‘a blogger.’ Sometimes I write stories (or try to) and I’ll label myself as ‘a writer.’ Sometimes I draw/paint and call myself ‘an artist.’ The labels for myself are nearly endless: pilot, musician, guitarist, introvert, type 4 or 5, INTJ, quiet, reserved, thoughtful, emotional, creative, and so on. And others might do the same thing, deriving and adding meaning to their lives by calling themselves by their own unique labels. Another label I define myself with is ‘ignorant’ and ‘stuck in my own head’ so maybe others don’t do this and I’m wrong. I’ll always be the first to admit if I’m wrong. It’s a great way to learn things about life.

These labels aren’t really us though. I guess I’m saying while myself as a person is pretty introverted this actually isn’t who I am fundamentally. A shitty analogy: just because a flower is red does not mean the color red has anything to do with the flower itself; red is just a trait of the flower and not the flower itself. While a true descriptor, it doesn’t say anything definitive or fundamental about it; it’s not the state of being of the flower. I hope that somewhat made sense. Forgive the analogy if it falls short. Add a few other labels to the list perhaps: ‘not-very-good blogger’ or ‘bad at analogies’?

So last week while stuck inside my little bubble, silent, trying to figure out who the fuck I was as a person yielded a surprising lack of information. Once again the word ‘nothing’ comes up. That’s what seemed to be there for me as a person, fundamentally, and it was frustrating. I didn’t stumble upon another label — a more accurate or hidden label, some label that was truer than the rest, more ‘me’ than the rest — I came upon a lack of labels altogether. At the time it was depressing and I was rethinking the entire process; am I this bland of a person who has nothing to define who they are? Was there nothing deep down within my soul that was actually me? As a certain Liturgist podcast episode potently said, “Give me something to rely on.” Give me some aspect of myself that is there and that defines me. Something I can live up to and fall back in if I need to do so. Just give me something that is me.

It’s also interesting to note that in this podcast the thing saying “Give me something to rely on” is Fear.

But I think that might be it, the core ‘me-ness’ and maybe the core ‘you-ness’: nothing. The underlying truth. The realization of yourself, the blank entity that exists as is without any concrete labels to define it. Maybe I don’t have any actual desires, wants, or needs outside of survival. Love, companionship, food, water, shelter, and nicotine are all that I require as a human being. That’s who I am and that’s who you are, maybe minus the nicotine: a glorious nothing without labels that simply exists.

Now I realize that what I’ve written sounds eerily familiar to things I’ve been told/read/listened to many times in the past. I think I’ve hinted at it here on this blog many times. Like this is what everyone has been saying this entire time and I was just too dumb or ignorant to really ‘get it’. Alan Watts, in the first chapter of his book The Wisdom of Insecurity talks about placing water into a box and mailing it to people. It sounds silly, and he acknowledges this, but the chapter partly talks about how defining something might represent the object but isn’t the object itself — people sometimes forget this fact — pointedly stating it by saying, “If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed…To have running water you must let go of it and let it run.” And maybe you can’t package yourself into a ‘bucket’ as a list of words and have that be you. Aspects of you, sure, but not you. Maybe you have to let yourself go, let yourself flow, to really appreciate who you are.

And there’s plenty more. Here’s this text I received in a moment of crisis from a friend months ago:

“When I tell you I love you, I hope you know that it’s you I love. It’s not your exceptional writing. It’s not your witticisms of penchant for the quantitative. It’s Jeremy. With or without any or all of those things.”

And these few lines from The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment by Thaddeus Golas:

“Here are some lines that made me feel good, both in times of emotional turmoil and in meditation: I am nothing, I am empty, I am silent.

Or:

“Anything that really frightens you may contain a clue to enlightenment. It may indicate to you how deeply you are attached to structure, whether mental, physical, or social.”

And I’ll toss out the “You are Safe” podcast episode once more with its:

“Fear says, ‘Give me symbols, give me frozen images, give me something I can rely on. Loving Truth says, ‘Only give me this moment.’

Holy shit, it’s been there all along and I’ve been too stupid to figure it out. But let me not be too hard on myself; let’s go with I wasn’t at the right moment in my life to realize this before, but here I am. I’m scared, scared of not having something fundamental about myself to grasp and hold onto. I put up walls and define myself with words instead of being me, which is nothing. And it’s the Fear that causes me to do these things.

Once again, being ‘nothing’ sounds very negative as it’s a lack of something concrete. But I feel lighter now that I’ve realized it. I have no titles to live up to, nothing to uphold because there is nothing about me that requires upholding. I’m here and that’s about all there is to it.

As every realization I stumble blindly upon, I’m not sure what to do with the new information. There’s always the question of how to move forward. My working idea is that seeing as I am really nothing, I’m open to any and all possibilities. If I am nothing — like a blank canvas that doesn’t have any inherent colors — then I’m free to paint myself however I feel. It’s like a game, you can pretend to play whatever part you’d like to play, as long as you’re aware that you’re playing a game in the first place. I’m free to define myself as an author or a writer or whatever I damn well please as long as I realize I’m the one doing the defining. That it’s all a game. There is no universal me that is an author — just a blank canvas — no potential to live up to. No title to carry around. Maybe I’m an author because I choose to call myself one. I play guitar not because I’m inherently a guitarist, I just feel like calling myself one because I enjoy doing so. And that this power to choose comes from being a Nothing in the first place. By being Nothing you can become Something.

And I even subconsciously ripped that off from Lazy Man’s Guide (un)surprisngly:

“There isn’t anything “wrong” with using negative events to define your ego, as long as you do it consciously, because you want to. The only wrongness in any activity is being withdrawn from awareness of what you are doing. We can play these silly games with a lot more pleasure when we are aware of what we are really doing.”

Quiet Introspection is Awesome

This week I’ve been in a strange mood. The total emotional vomit of the weekend has been replaced by a hollow yet comforting feeling. It feels like I’m myself in my most fundamental way, not trying to search for anything or trying to discover anything, only existing. This is me: nothing.

I don’t recall the last time I’ve really closed up, introspected, kept busy, and was dead to the outside world. It’s strange too, because I’m a huge fan of closing myself away and existing. Maybe that’s part of myself I’d lost in the past few years? My tendency towards “growth” usually forces me outside of my comfort zone into socializing, being open, etc. and maybe this isn’t how I really am. Under the guise of “growth” and “challenging myself” I can ignore the fact that maybe I’m just trying to be something that I am fundamentally not. I’m a quiet, unsociable hermit, so why am I trying to be anything else?

Or maybe it’s just depression. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think my realization on Sunday might’ve spooked me or something. My tendency to rely on others, constantly seek social approval, and wanting to be ‘special’ or ‘part of the in-crowd’ might be another way for myself to play right into my own insecurities. To recap slightly: my mom wasn’t very loving so I think I carried that right into adulthood as insecurity, self-loathing, and a lack of self-esteem. My thinking goes like this; do I feel pressured to socialize to feel accepted? Just in a general way? Even if I don’t want to interact, do I force myself to (once again under the guise of “self-improvement” or “putting myself out there”) be someone disingenuous because of my insecurities?

I don’t know, but I’ve been embracing a “minimalistic” approach to myself lately. I feel naked as a person, totally exposed, to where I don’t even know who I really am as a person. Am I the person who makes silly jokes at work? Am I the person that is quiet and sulks? Am I a reclusive writer? And I bipolar who is very sociable/quiet depending on my mood? Who am I really? I don’t know and I’ve gotten to the point of exhaustion even caring about it. I am who I am. I show up to work and fucking sit in silence. I don’t ignore people — that would be forcing myself in another disingenuous needlessly hostile direction — I just don’t try to force anything. If I have a question, I’ll ask and if someone asks me a question, I’ll answer. No elaborate replies, not big complex stories, no obvious fake smiles or anything. Just me. Or the most basic and genuine me that I can find, whoever that even is.

We have plenty of downtime at my job. Yesterday we had a three hour break. Yes. I sat in our crew van — a normal 15-passenger Chevy Van — and listened to music. Most people were off socializing or sitting in their own tugs (tiny little tractors we use to pull shit around), and I was able to listen to four full albums. Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist, and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, OK Computer, and Moon Shaped Pool.

As a side note, I’ve really been embracing punk music in my current state. There is something so visceral, cold, and fun about punk music, especially the Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra’s lyrics are always cynical, sarcastic, and political. What better way to give up introspection than to blast heavy, fast, loud, violent music with lyrics that don’t give a shit about anything emotional? They contrast wonderfully with all the introspective, emotional, and difficult to listen to music I’ve been playing lately. It’s a form of beautiful escapism and I’ll always have a place in my heart for the Dead Kennedys because of this.

Even after we start loading our airplane we have at least a half-hour of downtime. What do you do with all this time stuck in an airplane? Most people talk — people seem to not be able to escape the need to fucking talk to each other, even if the topics are about the boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible — and obviously I had zero patience or need for it this week. So I sat cross legged in the airplane and stared at whatever object I could find to stare at. Kinda like a loose form of meditation, just accepting that this is me and this is who I am for the next 30 minutes and there was no escape or even purpose to escape. This is Water, I thought.

People on my crew (in general?) can’t seem to stand still or to not talk. One girl walks to the rear of the plane and back, over and over, getting her “daily steps” in or some shit. She’s kinda a health nut so I understand. Another two people can’t seem to stand still — even if they’re not “getting their steps in” they’re still nervously pacing around the plane for some unknown reason. Another few people feel the need to socially interact every moment of their lives. Their conversations are always about the, once again, most boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible; usually the unholy trifecta which is work, weather, and sports. These people constantly roam around going from person to person or group to group trying to find someone, anyone to talk listen to them ramble. And a few people I consider friends stand and talk in a small group of two to four people about whatever topic they’re talking about at the time. No judgement to them because you can tell they’re having a fun, laid-back, mutual discussion about whatever they’re talking about. There isn’t any twisted social reasoning for their talking; they’re just talking like normal healthy human beings do.

And I sit there and stare not wanting to be apart of anything. I don’t have the urge to. It’s not me being anti-social or depressed, I just don’t want to talk. Or to force myself to talk. Or to force myself to be apart of something. I’m aware of my insecurities and don’t want to play into them or worry about them. So I’ll just sit, thank you, and exist as I am for a half hour. I make a point to not appear too sulky or depressive or happy or introspective. Keeping as blank of a stare as possible is part of the loose meditation. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, even with a facial expression.

Sometimes I am curious how this appears to others. “Jeremy this week seems a lot more quiet and reserved than he usually is,” maybe some think, but most likely no one notices or cares; this is how people are. That’s freeing in and of itself. I don’t feel any social stigma for sitting and being withdrawn. I’m doing my own thing and fuck anyone for thinking of it strange or weird, and if it makes me more unique by being totally accepting of myself and my actions, isn’t that what I’ve been after this whole time? The ability to embrace myself, without worry or care, and be appreciated as the naked and raw person that I am deep within?

I’m sure this phase won’t last long. Sunday was me realizing something about myself and wondering what the hell I even do with the realization. A half-week later I’m already embracing myself and reflecting on it all. And I’m sure in a week I’ll be back to socializing for some fucking unknown reason. Sometimes I hate everything being in flux; I kinda like to exist in my current mood for the rest of my life, but that won’t happen. Moods always change into other moods and if there is one thing that is true about life is there is nothing for you to hold onto. You can’t grasp happiness and hold it forever, and as comforting as depression sometimes is, you can’t grasp that either. Something about learning how to surf the waves, “go with the flow,” or some other trite bullshit you’ve heard countless times.