Tag Archives: Self-Discovery

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 The total emotional vomit of the weekend has been replaced by a hollow yet comforting feeling.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.

My Parents Suck: Part 2! of ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therapy Sucks: the Second Session

Note: This is a continuation of this post if you’d like to check that out. And also a continuation (more like “spiritual successor”) of this post. Self-discovery is a fucking pain. Also, three posts in three days? What is wrong with me? Geez. Sometimes when you’re bored and depressed you realize there is nothing else to really do besides write.

“You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it; you have to go through it.”

-Some Guy Named Brian

I’m currently sitting in a park eating Burger King, listening to the Dead Kennedys, and crying for no apparent reason at all. Wondering what the hell my problem is. Do I even have a problem or is this how people are? I don’t know. I hate being a person though. I didn’t sign up for this shit at all but here we are. Feeling totally stuck in life even though I didn’t want to be here. But what other alternative is there? I’m here and I gotta play the game.

I got out of therapy a half hour ago. It was the second appointment and I was terrified of it. The first appointment was nice; I knew I was making the right decision and was feeling empowered by finally taking control of my life and mental health in a meaningful way. I acknowledged I had a problem — depression, anxiety, insecurity, self-esteem issues — and finally took an actual step to solve the problem(s) facing me. I think this is more than most people do. I have no facts or figures to back me up, but I assume the majority of people limp unhappily and unsatisfied through life not giving one true and meaningful thought as to who they are fundamentally as a person. They deny their deep inner issues, tuck them away, and go through life as a zombie; a nearly dead soulless person. Living but slowly wasting away. I don’t want to be that. As miserable as I sometimes am I’m aware that my own happiness should be my top priority. As exhausted as I am I know the only one who will fight for me is myself.

The first appointment was easy. You talk about yourself and everyone likes to talk about themselves. We all feel we’re the protagonists of our story surrounded by relatively meaningless NPCs. The hero is going to the therapist. The hero is talking about his problems. The hero is talking about the struggles he’s facing in his grand adventure which is life. Sure everyone else is a real person, but when you’re stuck in your head it’s easy to forget that fact. I find it easy to talk and never understood how some people hesitate to open up to a therapist. It’s what I’m there for, so why hold back? The whole point of it is to get down to the bare issues and facts; holding back is just postponing the entire purpose of therapy.

Visit number two? Terrible. It’s terrifying to think about how the next therapy appointment will probably get deeper into your soul and your problems than the last. I didn’t feel like opening up. I didn’t feel like fixing the problem anymore. I didn’t want to talk about myself or end up crying on a nice and comfy couch covered in blankets. I was exhausted and didn’t want to deal with anything. As boring as my Saturdays are, I didn’t want to go to therapy. Just, no. Remember all that empowering bullshit I said two paragraphs ago? There was none of that today, only dread.

Somehow we talked for nearly an hour which felt like twenty minutes. I also felt like nothing was accomplished. Like I blabbed on and on and she said some insightful things and nothing was discovered or solved. In fact I feel worse now that I did earlier. Apparently being happy means being proactive in pulling yourself out of depressing and negative thoughts and moods when they arise. I learned a few mental exercises to help drag myself out of the dark places. Think if the negative thought is useful to have in the moment. Is it better served to face the thought later? And maybe make a list of five items to focus on when your mood goes down the drain. Focus on Love, the big universal Love, and friendship and simply how you are existing in the moment. Think of something around you, count something. I know these are good and I’ve used them in the past to some degree successfully, but goddamn am I exhausted. In many ways I don’t want to deal with the negative thoughts, I want them banished. I want to be happy all the time. Can’t that happen? Just put me on some goddamn drugs that make me happy all the time. I don’t want to deal with life, I want to be dead and numb to it all if that’s a possibility.

Therapy seems to bring up 20 questions for every one that it answers. It’s still the second appointment but I feel like I’m getting nowhere, or even worse it feels like I’m making negative progress. Like I’m digging myself deeper into confusion and drifting away from understanding. Where’s the supposed progress? Hilariously, the therapist jokingly called me an “a-hole” when I asked her this question: “When will I start to get somewhere?” “Oh, nothing personal against you,” I said, “I just don’t feel like I’m making any progress.” Just more questions and I don’t want to deal with more questions. Why doesn’t anything make sense? Why do I want things to make sense? Can things please make sense just for once?

I realized I’m a deeply complex person and that I don’t understand a fraction of the shit I do. I don’t make sense. It’s so infuriating and hopeless when you realize you don’t even know or understand yourself. How the hell are you supposed to be happy when all you seem to be is a big, fat, random question mark of a person? There’s plenty of mumbo-jumbo about self-discovering and searching for yourself, but how deep do I go? I thought I was getting to the bottom of things a week or so ago, but now? I feel more lost than before. It’s like I thought my soul was about as deep as a shallow pond or maybe a river, and that I’ve discovered it’s more like the Mariana Trench and I’m totally ill-equipped to explore those depths.

Most infuriating is the fact that if I’m going to get over my problems, I’m going to have to get down there somehow. And it’s so damn exhausting. I have a hard time getting out of bed and five cups of coffee still leaves me barely functioning and able to go about my day. Deep soul searching? Fuck me. That’s a lot of work. I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m totally incapable of it. But really I don’t know what other choice I have. I think I’m to the point where I’m so deep into the self-discovery process that I don’t think I can quit. I can’t wall myself up and be shallow anymore. It’s already there: this realization that I need to discover myself, that I have no choice otherwise, and it’s going to suck and even if I’m so tired, exhausted, and burned out it’s something I have to do now.

As a good friend of mine said: “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.”

And as always thanks for reading another rambly, journalesque blog post.

Depression #4,873 Sucks: A Way Forward?

It’s been a rough week. I think I could fare better with depression if I know when it’ll hit me. It’s always a surprise: one minute I’m fine and then the universe and the people in it do something that starts the ball rolling. A trigger for it. I think I deeply care for people and if that isn’t returned I spiral downward. Maybe it’s safest to not care? That’s a certain way to death, but a walking death where your body is alive but your soul is dead. The only way to live, and to truly live, is to love. Even if that love hurts you, I don’t see any other way forward in life. What’s the other option? To wall yourself off and live without feeling for the rest of your life?

I think I’ve weathered the worst of it and I’m in that strange post-depressive state that I can mostly explain as “exhausted.” I’m like 5% happy, 25% depressed, and 70% exhausted. It’s the realization that you’ve made it through the worst of it but where you don’t want to let your guard down. The next wave could happen at any moment. The next trigger could bring you down. Constantly on edge and terrified of the future. Yet the minutes keep ticking pulling you toward whatever inevitable and terrible/wonderful fate awaits. I’m not ready though. Not yet. Let me relax and type this post in peace.

I totally broke down at work yesterday. I was able to drag myself throughout the entire shift but really wanted to talk to someone. Usually I try not to bother people (in a self-loathing state where you think no one cares about you it’s hard to be proactive and contact someone) but it was becoming so damn bad I just wanted to open up. I had to open up. I’d lose my fucking mind if I didn’t talk to someone. Luckily I was able to talk to a good and much-loved friend of mine. He’s a supervisor which makes it even more special because of the responsibilities he had to shirk to tend to me and my problems. The guy has a ton of things to do at work, meetings to attend, yet he found time to talk to me in a dire time of need. I’m forever grateful to him.

We sat in his car and talked for an hour and a half. I nearly cried a bunch of times. He said a ton of stuff, and vented to me about his own problems, while I rambled and blabbed not knowing what I should open up about or what I should “play cool” about; everything came out though. I didn’t care. Even topics I was very hesitant, shy, and ashamed to talk about came out. He knows me better than any other person in the world knows me.

I didn’t know if I felt better or worse afterwards. There was a ton that was said and a ton of stuff to think about. I did realize one thing though and that’s the entire point of this post: depression is a giant neon sign pointing you towards things you need to pay attention to. It’s literally your soul crying for help. And you need to listen to it.

Something about “listening to yourself” and “figuring out what you really need as a person,” you know the bullshit people always tell you. I always viewed this as a negative; I only seen things I needed to improve upon. Knowing yourself is above all knowing your flaws and weaknesses and improving upon them. The view of myself from the start is negative. My depression is my problem to deal with, and that it’s the primary thing that needs to be dealt with. It isn’t what is causing you problems that is the issue, the issue is depression itself. “Just feel better! It’ll be okay! Maybe you’re overreacting.” That’s what I tell myself. I see my feelings themselves as the problem and not something that is a part of me. It’s hard to explain.

I think what I’m getting at is I treat depression like the problem itself instead of a symptom of something else. This might be a trivial realization, but I’ve never had it stick in my head like it did yesterday. To me it seems so profound, one of those “ah-ha!” moments that is so damn obvious I wonder how I didn’t realize it in the first place.

If you really want to know yourself, you can search inside all you want, but it seems if you ignore yourself long enough something will eventually happen and cause you to spiral into depression. Depression is the souls way of screaming out in protest to something in your life, some immense problem that is tearing you apart. It’s well past dissatisfaction or anxiety or discomfort or unhappiness; it’s the final fucking straw where your soul has had enough with something so antithetical to itself that you feel disgusted as a person. It’s not the depression itself that needs fixing, it’s whatever problem is making you depressed in the first place.

Part of this seems to play back into the self-esteem dribble I was really into a few months ago. One of them was “owning yourself” and being perfectly honest with yourself. I’ve been ignoring the causes of my depression for the longest time, trying to play things cool, trying to “man up” and just be happy, all while ignoring what my soul has been trying to desperately scream to myself. Tell myself the depression is the problem, not the symptom of some soul sickness. Just deal with the depression and not fix it. Maybe that’s why I’m so depressed? I haven’t been acknowledging the stuff deep within my soul, only ignoring it, hiding it behind the facade as best as I can. Limp on day to day, week after week, and just be cool. Don’t be weird. Don’t feel too much. Don’t get attached despite having a heart that loves to get attached to people and craves attention. I’m just fooling myself and lessing my value. I am the way I am, and there isn’t anything to be gained by ignoring it. As my friend said, “You are the only ‘you’ in the world. The only Jeremy that is as perfect as you are.” While I still mostly hate the Jeremy that I am, I’m going to have to learn to love him and give him what he needs, because he is a total dick otherwise.

Note: In desperation I finally called and made a therapist appointment for myself. Yay me. It can’t hurt anything, right?

Introspective Drinking Sucks

A few nights ago I was sitting on the steps outside drinking and was having a great time doing so. I got into my head and realized a few really important things that should’ve been obvious but due to the intricacies and difficulties of actually knowing yourself weren’t that obvious to me until I had a few drinks. I also thought it might be fun to list them as sort of a rough “to-do blog list” for 2020 because each one has quite a bit of baggage to unpack. In total I could probably write about seven blog posts about the topics below, especially the ones involving artistic expression and personal fulfillment, and the ones that struggle to ask, “Who am I? Really?” They are:

  1. I can’t comprehend that people actually care about me. More importantly I don’t know what causes me to be this way.
  2. I don’t know if flying or flight instructing is the correct career choice for me due to the lack of artistic expression.
  3. Artistic careers take a fuckton of effort, way more than I thought. Do I need to go all-in on artistic creation or can I do it as a hobby? To be a writer, do I need to ignore all other jobs/careers and write nonstop or can you forge a job out of a hobby?
  4. I doubt any possible success at an artistic career (like writing/blogging) because I believe I have no talent in it. Even knowing that inherent talent is bullshit — it’s all practice to be good at something — I still can’t get my brain to accept it. It’s the same as people caring about me: I know I have talent but something in my brain won’t accept it. And I don’t know why.
  5. Everything I do makes perfect sense to me for the most part. And everything anyone else does makes sense to them. People don’t act irrationally outside of a few exceptions that are probably like less than 1% of the human race. No one has anything to explain to anyone, and I’m included.

Phew. I don’t even want to elaborate on anything currently because they’re all headache inducing. I also have to state that when I realized these things I had a totally neutral state of mind; there was no depression or happiness or any emotional context to them; it was just me being totally honest with myself. But what I do want to elaborate on here is what got me to realize these things: alcohol.

The introspection that I’d gotten the other night is what mostly drives me to drink. The deep meditative state that you sometimes get. Sadly, and kinda proving my point here, is that this is a rare thing indeed: I’ve only achieved this state one other time while drinking that I can remember. One of the problems with alcohol being shitty is in how uncontrollable it is. I have no idea what mood I’ll be in when I actually get a few drinks in me.

A good example is tonight. My original plan was to have a few drinks and start pounding out blog posts/stories. It’s taken a total of seven drinks to get me to type this with the rest of the night being totally pissed away with me being distracted with random things like YouTube and video games, and this is how drinking always works. Some nights you piss hours away playing Kerbal Space Program. Some nights you set off drinking in a good mood and find yourself with crippling depression thinking about how you could possibly carry on with another day. Some days you get balls-deep into a six-pack and find that ideas come out of nowhere and you start on a marathon session of writing despite being exhausted. Some nights you believe a bike ride and a naked swim in the river is just the thing you need to do. Some days you sit on the porch and have deeply introspective thoughts that lead you to areas of your psyche that you never knew existed. The truth is you never know what you’re going to get and that is shitty indeed.

My Parents Suck

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

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

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

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

The Mom

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

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

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

The Dad

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

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

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

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

And Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Fixing Your) Self-Esteem Sucks

I’ve been trying to churn out a meaningful post about something, anything for the past week. Sure I got out the therapy post, and the bullshit Halloween post, but those seem like more of the low-effort stuff that I try to stay away from. The problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to write about; the problem is that I have too much to write about. I’d say there are about 5-7 topics floating around in my head and they all seem interconnected and interweaved that I can’t write about one without it bleeding into the other topics. One rant would turn into another rant and eventually I fear I’d have a giant, rambly mess about a multitude of things without saying much about anything in particular.

I want to write about anxiety. I want to write about enlightenment. I want to write about impermanence and how I (we?) naturally despise impermanence. I want to write about video games and how they’re a form of avoidance. I want to write about drinking/not drinking. I want to write about depression. The challenge of seeing a therapist. I want to write about love, friendship, loss, and new beginnings. I want to write about life.

I also want to write about self-esteem. And I’m going to try to do that here. It is one of the interwoven topics tied to depression, drinking, and writing but seems to be the most separate topic that I might be able to make progress on. The fact is I’ve already written about self-esteem, but it was mostly in regards to writing. I have no self-esteem in regards to writing, nothing else, or so I thought. But once again things that are terribly obvious to everyone else can be a mystery to yourself as if the safest place to hide is within your own self-ignorance. I did have an idea though. I read through a few of my past posts: the self-esteem post, the Stardew Valley post, and a bunch of other posts pretending to be a detective looking for clue to the true state of my mind. It hit me hard when I realized it: I have zero self-esteem. It’s everywhere in my writings. Shit.

What I realized was that I could take my self-esteem post and slightly change it to be about any situation and it would fit. It accurately described how I felt about life in general if I just changed a few of the subjects. Here, here’s an example tweaked and edited to be about talking to people and making friends. It’s the exact same mindset though. Also note how the second paragraph needed minimal editing because shitting all over yourself is a pretty general thing to do.

Naturally, I started thinking I would fail from the start, which is a big red flag in terms of self-confidence that also should’ve been apparent. Surprisingly, after posting the first few chapters going out of my way to talk to people I had tons of positive feedback. I was shocked. Some people would ask me if they could be in my stories strike up a conversation with me. Others gave feedback in the form of blog/Facebook post likes and comments positive social cues such as laughing, smiling, and appearing at ease. I mean why would people like and comment act like that if they didn’t like the work fundamentally disliked me as a person? Would people really do that to feign support? And one of the best signs of not sucking was when one of my “fans” “friends” (she called herself that. I’d never call people who read my stuff “fans” talked to me a “friend” because I don’t know if they feel that way about me) mentioned to someone else that I was a good writer person. You don’t recommend stuff you hate to other people talk positively about people you hate to other people. Overwhelmed with actual positive feedback, I was set right? Free to write socialize with all the confidence I needed to push through chapter after chapter and finish a book conversation after conversation and have actual friends. It sounded like my plan was a soaring success.

OF FUCKING COURSE NOT! The plan was a miserable failure. What would happen was a wildly successful post conversation would be followed by a not-as-successful post conversation and instantly my brain would conjure up reasons for everything successful to be a fluke to be a lie. Just me getting lucky for some reason or another. No, success was never from actual skill. Failure is my natural state, and anything other than that is an accident. Maybe I just got lucky on the popular posts a few conversations? Maybe people wised up to the fact that I’m not really good at writing and all my chapters are kinda samey really a terrible and boring person and constantly talk about the same stuff. Maybe everyone dropped the facade of liking my stuff me because it was exhausting to do so.

So once you admit you lack self-esteem, then what? It’s not something you can go to the store and buy exactly.

Getting Help With Self-Esteem

Obviously seeing a therapist would probably help, but I’m still slacking with that matter at the moment. (It should be noted that I’d rather write a blog post instead of search for a therapist. It’s pretty fun when something you used to procrastinate doing becomes its own version of procrastinating something else. Productivity right?) Luckily my supervisor is the most intuitive person to ever exist. While struggling with my lack of self-esteem and the fact of it over the weekend, I went into work to be greeted by her handing me a book. The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. Holy shit. Was it that obvious to everyone else? This situation sounds like something that would happen in a story or a movie where one of the characters is going through some shit and another character hands/tells him/her the exact thing they need to assist them in their problem. I’m not making this up either. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me something and is working directly through her. And who am I to gripe about how the universe does its shit? I lack self-esteem not intelligence. I can take the hint.

The introduction to the book stressed the importance of self-esteem and how it underlies everything about mental health. If you have self-esteem issues they’re likely to bleed into other areas and can attribute to anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc. The book, not being too cocky about itself, also stressed that self-esteem isn’t a fix-all solution to every problem; there can be serious mental health issues in people with high self-esteem. Luckily for me, self-esteem does seem to be my main problem. It does seem like the fix-all for me, although I’m weary of falling into that mindset lest it be wrong. Even if it isn’t my main issue, it sure is up there in importance.

So for the past week I’ve made a dedicated effort to read the book, process what the book is saying, and to incorporate it into my life. And it’s been working wonderfully so far! There still does seem to be some underlying depression that exists outside of my self-esteem issues, but it’s far less threatening than how I’ve been feeling in the past month or two.

I was going to continue this post, but I think I should break things up. It’s just a really big topic. I’m writing a blog post here, not a fucking book. My “self-esteem journey” seems like it’ll be an interesting process and a few other posts might sprout out of the journey. Why try to cram it all here? In closing: I have self-esteem issues. These issues might be my main problem that needs to be fixed. I’m going to make a dedicated effort to improve my self-esteem. And you’re welcome to come along for the journey!