Tag Archives: Self-Improvement

Sober January? Sober 2021?

Well let’s give this a try again: sobriety. Despite the wonderful success of Sober September I took up drinking again in October and I’ve drank every day since. Part of this was justified (in the grasping-for-straws way us alcoholics are exceedingly good at); as a UPS worker dealing with the holidays I did whatever I needed to do to survive the season. And survive I did, even if I did have to make excuses to justify the alcoholism. Now that that’s done I don’t really have any excuses for drinking. There’s no drama, nothing to survive, nothing to deal with, only life itself. It’s that boring time of year where nothing happens at work, where life in general is in stasis until the warmer months, and when I wonder if humans have any small genetic and evolutionary tendency for hibernation. It’s the time of year post-Christmas/New Year’s where I just want to disappear until March when I feel like I can live life again. You know, go outside, exercise, get some vitamin D, get my general health in order, and enjoy existing.

Most of what I told my therapist last Friday piggybacks off this post (Adderall Sucks) where I argue that drugs don’t solve a damn thing. She asked why I wanted to stop drinking and I told her that it’s boring. It offers nothing anymore. I’d used to drink to get motivated, write, clean, and do whatever needs to be done — it worked as a general mood enhancer and motivator, and worked well — until now when it doesn’t do a damn thing but make me sleepy. I’m currently 10 beers deep and I don’t feel a damn thing. No motivation, no joy, no nothing, just some vague feeling of obliviousness which detaches me from reality. Like I guess I have to wake up tomorrow and go to work and figure out what my investing accounts are up to but that’s so far away that it’s an abstraction.

Not to say that the next few days won’t be difficult. It’s easy while drinking to notice that alcohol doesn’t do you any good but it’s another thing to be sober for an extended period of time. Booze has a way of working it’s way into your mind where it’s an ever-present solution to anything you encounter in life. Sobriety sounds great now, but what about in a few days when I’m depressed after work and feeling useless, bored, and a failure? That’s when the real challenge hits.

Trying to recall my lessons from Sober-September: Keep Busy. Alcohol has a way of keeping you occupied and in its absence you must have a backup plan to keep yourself distracted. I plan on reading. I plan on writing. I plan on playing video games in an obsessive manner because while useless and wasteful it’s still better than drinking. I’ll have to rely on my hobbies, whatever they are, to keep me occupied and sober, and how is that a bad thing in the long run? You can only improve and get better while working on hobbies.

Luckily I have a good support system. My sister stopped drinking about a week ago and tried to get me on board, but I didn’t want to start sobriety so close to the New Year because it seemed like it’d be a resolution; last year I learned that resolutions fucking suck. Plus, relying on other people doesn’t seem to work either; you’re being sober for them and not yourself. Despite this, having someone in a similar situation (with a similar genetic makeup!) does give you someone to sympathize to. Hell, I’m even thinking of getting a few coworkers to join me in sobriety to extend the goodness and support to others. And Sober September? Setting a time goal only seems to make you do good enough to “win” or “succeed” and then toss it all away. Rereading that post only convinces me that I’m more competitive than I am an alcoholic; I’ll be sober just long enough to prove how I can “win” without doing it for myself. This time I have no window of sobriety and plan on just going with for however long I do.

Let me not ignore my wife here either. While not prone to any substance abuse at all she does seem to somewhat understand the struggle in someone like myself. She’s obviously been wanting me to quit even if she doesn’t personally understand why someone would drink as much and as obsessively as me. She wants me as healthy as possible and despite being ignorant of how alcoholics are seems more than supportive in keeping me as healthy as possible. I’m positive that whatever I go through the next week she’ll be kind and understanding and work through me being grumpy, anxious, bored, combative, and sleep-deprived.

And my readers. Blogging doesn’t seem to have the network-supportive feedback that other forms of media do, but the numbers do hint at some form of quiet support. I check my views daily (probably unhealthily) and I can’t help but notice that my 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard post seems to always show up as one of the most read posts (along with that damn Watermelon one for some reason). It seems contradictory to be an alcoholic and have one of your most viewed posts be a list of reasons to not drink, but here we are. I like to think I’m speaking from a position of total honesty here — no one is perfect and while I know how stupid I’m being I have a total inability to not be stupid — and maybe that dissonance with what I’m saying and what I’m doing has some meaning behind it. If anyone is not perfect it’s me and I’m fully aware of it.

Disjointed rant there, but whoever reads this I’m sure will be supportive of the journey and the struggle. Everyone is in their own shit, dealing with their own unique struggles, and this is mine. So we keep struggling. Keep fighting whatever demons we need to fight. Lose over and over again but keep kicking and screaming in the correct direction. Fighting means you have will and life in you, that you haven’t given up, and that you still have spirit and vitality in you. We still know the way forward towards the dim light at the end of the tunnel. And even if it ends in failure after failure, each step forward is still a step in the direction that we know we need to head towards. I’m certain that we’re all in this struggle together and while the battles are different the war is the same. It’s fucking 2021; let’s kick the shit out of this year together.

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.

Adderall Sucks

Work sucks. It’s boring. There are so many people on my shift and so few airplanes to load/unload. Maybe six flights in/out and 100 people to do the work. I think 50 would be a good number, but 50 is not my current reality: 100 is. I sit. I do nothing. I get antsy. I want to get out and run around because I feel like a hamster trapped in a cage. Untapped energy but a somehow a lack of energy from being so damn bored.

I already wrote about this and don’t want to go over it again, but my boredom is so palpable that I can’t help but stress it one more. This is my hell and it is a hell, let me assure you!

A person at work offered me an Adderall to help get me through these long and sleep-deprived days. I didn’t accept the offer the past few weeks because I know how Adderall affects me. While used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, Adderall is a powerful stimulant; it’s literally pharmaceutical amphetamine! If you don’t have these actual medical issues it’s meant to treat, you get wired and focused on the most random things. If you can channel the motivation, great, if not you’ll spend hours doing whatever the hell you find yourself doing without explanation. I’ve taken it twice in the past, never for any real purpose, and clearly remember how it affected me. The first time I taught myself piano for four hours straight. The second time I wrote the most elaborate physics paper for my class that I’d ever written. And today is number three…

I wrote my blog post about Christmas and am now writing this. Yes, two drafts in a single day. Because I’m in the zone! Because I have shit to say! Because I’m excited and motivated and feel good and let’s just keep on writing! Because I’ve channeled the energy that Adderall has given me! While it’s sad to know this is only temporary, I might as well make the best use out of my time as the situation allows.

But is it temporary? What if I just take Adderall daily and write? Can I get a prescription because I’m a writer with a severe lack of motivation? I bet if I wrote every day like today I’d have a fucking book done in a month or two. This is surely the best idea I’ve ever had.

No. No it’s not. I wasn’t being serious there. That’s a terrible idea. While I am sad that tomorrow I’ll be the same lazy writer that I always am, I’m aware that that is my natural state and there isn’t a good chemical fix that will magically work.

I’ve learned this through my functional alcoholism. Alcohol used to be my Adderall — drink a few drinks and I couldn’t wait to write — but the key thing to notice is the past-tense in that statement. I drink six beers and could care less about writing. I watch YouTube and play video games. The alcohol somehow doesn’t motivate me like it did a few years ago.

There’s always the urge to use substances to fix a problem (at least for me) and it’s a hell of an urge to fight because they work. There’d be no alcoholics if alcohol didn’t do something to fix you up. The stereotype of drinking heavily after a bad day at work, or after heartbreak, are stereotypes because alcohol works. You wake up the next day still aware of the trouble, but it’s more like a smeared chalk-board image of the problem that you can more easily deal with. Drugs work and that’s why people abuse them.

But substances only sidestep the problem and should only be temporary. This is clear in theory but difficult in practice. If it works, why not use it all the time? The catch is it doesn’t always work. You get a tolerance and the magic, whatever it might be, isn’t quite there anymore. This is especially bad with the physically addictive substances because then you’re hooked without any benefit at all. Cigarette smokers get quite a head rush the first time trying nicotine. It quickly goes away. Vodka mellows you out for quite awhile until you find you need more than before and it doesn’t mellow you out quite like it used to. And Adderall? Luckily I’m not addicted to it and never want to be. It’s the same as anything else. Adderall works until it doesn’t and by that time you’re probably moderately addicted and in a big mess when you try to stop.

Alan Watts said something like, ‘Drugs are a tool and nothing more,’ in one of his books, paraphrased obviously. He likened them to any other tool, like binoculars for example. Binoculars are fantastic for looking at far away objects, but if you think they’re so fucking amazing to use all the time you’re missing the point. If some asshole did walk around with binoculars attached to their face they’d run into some issues in life, just like the use-drugs-as-a-solution person does. The analogy goes pretty deep if you’d like to take it there. Binocular-Man, as we’ll call him, will probably have a rough time adapting, but he can do it. I once read a story about a guy who put a contraption on his head that swapped the images between his eyes where his right eye was seeing from the perspective of his left and vice verse. And guess what? After awhile he adapted and could live life normally. Apparently his brain dealt with the image fuckery and got to work doing what all human brains do: adapt. His vision was swapped, his brain adapted, and he was perfectly fine. 

Until he took the damn things off that is. His brain was dealing with more fuckery and despite seeing the normal way his entire life (minus the previous week) he was fucked. The world was fucked. He couldn’t see right. And then eventually his brain realized what was up and adapted back to it’s original state. I shouldn’t have to explain this analogy with reversed-vision-guy and binocular-man because it’s all pretty obvious how this applies here.

That’s my working theory on drug use/abuse. Abusers mistake the tool for the thing that will fix everything about them or their lives, myself included with alcohol. Users are those who can dabble and not become entranced by the drugs. I believe most drugs are useful, even the more esoteric stuff like LSD and DMT for mind and perspective expanding — not to mention painkillers like morphine — but all have limits on their uses. Adderall is great for allowing those with ADHD or narcolepsy to function better, but outside of that it’s also great for (illegally) allowing the sleep-deprived student and the unmotivated writer/blogger at UPS to finally get shit done. It’s really good at this too, let me assure you of that! But with that last example you can see this is quickly getting into the “tool-not-solution” problem from earlier. I have no qualms with the students using this drug to write a paper here and there, but it’s obvious it can go from tool to solution way too easily, once again because it’s so damn effective.

(Note: I talked with a friend about why it’s okay for an ADHD person to use Adderall to solve their issues but not for someone like me, and unmotivated writer, to use Adderall to solve their motivation issues. It seemed to come down to this: what is the best solution possible? ADHD is a brain chemical imbalance so drugs are likely the best way to solve the problem. Me with motivation? No, this isn’t a chemical issue but a ‘mindset issue.’ It’s impossible for the depressed/ADHD/chemically imbalanced person to ‘think their way’ out of their problems, so the only solution is a drug. Sounds like a beautiful explanation doesn’t it?)

To problem with my motivation is, well, a problem with my motivation. It’s a battle against myself. While Adderall is currently fucking kicking my motivation into high gear, it’s not the be-all end-all solution. The Adderall will wear off and I’ll be me, the flawed me, once again as always. The Adderall me can still exist with Adderall or without it. I can write like Stephen King suggests if I drug myself up, or if I just work through my issues with motivation. One is hard, one is easy — both work — but the easy one is dangerously temporary. So what’s the choice? What do I do?

Looks like I’ll sit my ass down tomorrow and try to write something sans-Adderall.

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.

Values Suck

Last session the therapist once again stressed the importance of having personal values. It sounded dumb to me — of course I have values — but when I really try to pinpoint what those values are I don’t have much to say. I’ve already written about values and never really followed through with what I said in that post. I figured I’d get around to it later or something, actually pinpointing the values I actually hold, but I never did.

I always loved math for how clear and simple it is. You just follow the rules. Everyone knows how to add, subtract, multiply and it’s such a beautifully cold and rigorous subject that doesn’t leave any room for interpretation. Values seem totally opposite of this and I find myself struggling to find any real values I have. Do I even have values? Any values? Or am I just a blank slate of absolute nothingness? A strong value system seems so nebulous and undefinable that my brain struggles to process it. In some ways I think my brain is too logically-wired to even grasp the concept of what a value is, like I’m doomed to think in terms of logic, rules, precepts, theories, and postulates with zero ability to be abstract and/or creative.

It’s the same as always: personal growth requires you to go outside of your safe zone to make any progress. As someone as insecure as myself I’ve always struggled with this. It’s easier to sit in my safe zone than to take any risks or make any effort to progress, and the way you get over this problem is to have values to chase after.

An example from a few weeks ago. I said I was working the election, and I had reasons to do so, but was terrified by the newness of the situation and was losing sleep over the anxiety of it all. What did I do? I didn’t go. I cowarded out. I totally bitched out and didn’t go. My wife told me to go, that it’d be good for me and I’d grow as a person, but no. Fuck that. Let me sit in my state of failure. I’ll grow as a person in the future, but for right now let me wallow in cowardice.

And the second example: Friday at work we had training on a piece of equipment I’d operated for over five years. I’m basically one of the few experts at operating this thing, and it should’ve been natural for me to take charge and actually teach my 20 coworkers or so. But I’m terrified of people and talking and once again, like the election I cowarded out. I let my supervisor do the training (who had only operated this piece of equipment once) and said very little, hiding the massive wealth of information in my head out of fear of speaking in front of a group of people.

My point? Strong values seem to be the driving force to get you to actually do something new. Before the election I considered my values something like this: doing something for the greater good, serving a purpose greater than myself, etc. But apparently these weren’t strong enough to get me to go outside my comfort zone. The values weren’t powerful enough to make me grow. And with the whole training thing: isn’t one of my supposed values a love of teaching people and passing on my knowledge? Once again helping the greater good by spreading knowledge? And isn’t that why I want to be a flight instructor in the first place? Apparently, but once again these values aren’t strong enough for me to take risks and head out of my comfort zone even amongst people I work with, feel comfortable around, and ‘understand.’ It’s always easier to hide in cowardice and put personal growth and your values into the indefinite future, something that you’ll eventually get around to but never seem to actually do.

I had an appointment last Friday but my therapist apparently lives with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID. So she’s out and I didn’t get to elaborate on what I feel was a minor breakthrough over the past few weeks and I’m on my own for a month or so. But I’m feeling confident going forward.

One thing she always seems to force me to do is make some sort of goal or mantra for the next few weeks/month. It makes sense — if you give yourself a goal you have something to work towards, some direction — and in her absence and with no direction I think I’ve found something to hold onto, something that I can legitimately call a “value” I hold: Don’t be a fucking coward. I hate when others are cowards, seemingly unable to fix even the most obvious issues in their lives, and I silently scream to myself, “Just do what you need to do! Why are people so scared and terrified of progress and change!” Your feelings towards others have a way of forcing you to look into the mirror though; as much as I hate cowardice in others I have the creeping suspicion that I’m the biggest coward of them all. Cowardice is my way to hide in my safe space and to find comfort rather than be uncomfortable and grow. It’s something I’ve been doing for so long that it seems natural, but now that I think of it I hide in cowardice too much. It’s holding me back. Sure it’s comfortable and safe, but this isn’t the way forward in life.

Take risks, take chances, speak your mind, be true to yourself, whatever that means. Looking back on my life I’ve realized that I’m terribly lucky; any crazy idea I end up with seems to have worked at least slightly. There has been no massive failure or life-changing mess that’s occurred. Looking back I have the ghost of an idea that says, “I’ve got this. What’s my fucking problem?” Have faith in yourself and your intuition. Maybe you’re a damn hero in disguise, someone who can pull off whatever they set their mind too, and maybe I’m one of them if only I’d force myself to get around to doing whatever. There shouldn’t be any fear or terror in life. Sure everything is shit, but if it actually is shit, what’s the big deal about taking risks? Why’s the fear of failure so great when failure in life is everywhere? It’s just another thing you have to deal with, something as passive as the weather and rain, not life-threatening or failure-inducing, but only something you have to deal with.

Going forward I’m not going to be a coward. At least I’ll try not to be one. I’m not going to be scared of life, and if I am I’ll acknowledge it and move through it towards something greater. It might be the first value I’ve ever fully established but it surely won’t be the last. Don’t be a coward. Face life with the bravery and fierceness like Samwise and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings.

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.

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

Lessons from Substance-Free September: Don’t be too Hard on Yourself

I think I want to do a “series” or something about what I learned during Substance-Free September. It probably won’t qualify as a series and will only be two or three posts, but I do hope I can churn them out together and quickly with few distractions.

Not that I will because I’m terribly flawed. Once again I’m going to shit on myself for not being able to write consistently. How hard is it to get the computer out and type? How hard is it to write a post once a week? It’s hard because I want it to be perfect! And perfection is always the enemy of completing something. Nothing is perfect, just fucking write and go with it.

Let me circle this back to the topic at hand: not being too hard on yourself. I excel at being hard on myself almost consistently with regards to everything, and the previous paragraph is a perfect example of it. Or when I gave up on the Morrowind story. Sure, I came to some ‘positive’ conclusion that sometimes you have to throw in the towel to move on, but the entire post is me shitting on myself with the conclusion being some half-assed attempt at not being quite as hard on myself.

I do this all the time too, and not just with writing. Why can’t I stay motivated? Why can’t I keep the house clean? Why does it take me so long to fix a car? Why can’t I just stay sober? Why aren’t I an airline pilot right now? Why did I drag my feet so much in my 20s and even today? Why can’t I do anything right? And why do the things I do right seem to be outweighed by the things I do wrong? I am a perfect example of endless self-loathing.

It can’t be just me either. Countless people certainly do this. We’re all our own worst critics and enemies. No one sets a higher standard than we ourselves do (at least most of the time) and it’s easy to be unnecessarily cruel to yourself.

A good example: I wasn’t completely sober last month. I drank two nights one weekend due to a notably stressful and shitty situation that happened. I felt bad, I felt like shit, but I was able to get my act together and completed the rest of the month sober. It reminds me of when my work buddy said she smoked a few cigarettes: she felt like an utter failure over it but I tried to be positive. “Well, you mess up. Just acknowledge it and move forward!”

It’s strange how we view other people as opposed to how we view ourselves. Other’s problems seem so easy to solve when it’s not us personally experiencing them. Nearly everyone who has some issue going on I find myself thinking of the most obvious (and easy) solution to their problem. They still don’t see it though and the problem somehow makes itself harder to solve if you’re the one going through it. Friend smokes a cigarette on the weekend? No big deal, just realize you fucked up and move on. I drank two days mid-month? Holy fuck I’m an utter failure and why can’t I do anything right and damn I suck. Like that.

I find it helpful to switch the situation and to try to see yourself as someone else, like a form of ‘reversed empathy’ or something. Tell your story to yourself as detached as possible; think of yourself as a coworker or a friend and see how it sounds. If the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t tell this person who fucked up by drinking during a sober month they’re a failure because no one is perfect! Everyone messes up! By being so hard on yourself you’re treating yourself as perfect while everyone else is flawed and forgivable. It’s kinda selfish in a way, being too hard on yourself. Why are you so deserving of high standards and perfection when no one else is? You, like everyone else, should just acknowledge the problem, move forward, and do the best you can. Obviously it’s hard to reflect this upon yourself and really believe it — it’s always a struggle — but eventually maybe you can move forward and not be too hard on yourself.

I think this became apparent to me during September because I didn’t have anything to distract me from my problems. Maybe drinking so much made that the prime problem in my life so when that was gone I noticed the slew of other issues. My lack of writing. My lack of progress in flying. My inability to shop around for a house. My inability to wake up before 2 p.m. and so on. Or maybe the drinking was my way to ignore the problems where they never bothered me. Either way, I’ve been a lot more loving to myself the past few weeks, and much more willing and able to love myself for the flawed person that I am.

I had a therapy appointment October 2nd. Towards the end of the sessions she always asks me what my intentions and goals are moving forward. I sat there and spaced out, thinking as hard as I could for which goal I would chase after during the next month. I couldn’t think of anything. “Uh, I don’t think I have any intentions or goals this next month,” I said. She then mentioned that not having any intentions was itself a valid intention and I went with it. “Oh, okay! Yes. My goal this next month is to have no goals. I’m just going to exist.”

It reminds me of Peter in Office Space. He’s asked what he would do if he had a million dollars as this is supposed to be what you should do for a career. His answer: “Nothing. I would relax, I would sit on my ass all day: I would do nothing.”

“Two chicks at the same time, man!”

Why was that my goal for the month? Because I’m too hard on myself. I’m too goal-oriented. I feel the need to achieve to the detriment of myself. I see myself as perfect (that sounds awful) and that I should hold myself to this standard of perfection to my own detriment. When I’m inevitably not perfect, I feel like a failure, like I let myself down, that I’m flawed in some way. So I’m not going to have any goals or intentions this month because I want to try existing as this flawed person that I am. Not dangle carrots in front of my face in mosty-wasted attempts to ‘move forward’ in life or ‘accomplish’ some undefined goals. That is my goal: nothing, and I’m doing it because I’m trying to not be too hard on myself.

Think of yourself and think about all the ways you’re hard on yourself. Would you treat friends and loved ones the way you treat yourself? Or would you show them kindness and grace and forgive them for their flaws? You’re just another person like anyone else, not special, and are deserving of forgiveness just like anyone else. Don’t be too hard on yourself and be willing to forgive the most fucked up person you know: yourself.

The next part of this series? Lessons from Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

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.

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…

Gratitude is Actually Pretty Cool

First, let me do a quick update on the state of my blog. After my streak last month I haven’t done a damn thing here in April. I think this is only the third or fourth post this month. I was prepared for my views to tank due to my lack of consistent posting, but the universe has decided to totally fuck me over once again and has me on track to maybe reach that mythical goal of 1,000 despite the minimal effort I’ve put into blogging recently. The past 25 days of April I didn’t care — I’d save my effort for another month to reach my goal — but now I find myself wondering if maybe I can pull it off with some desperate posting in the next four or five days. I suddenly give a damn again and I’m upset about it.

I’m proud of this though. I’m proud of myself. As much as I like to shit on myself, I can allow myself to be proud of it. And I’m thankful for those who stumble upon my content and actually read/enjoy it. Which leads me to the actual topic of this post: gratitude.

A friend at work who I consider my impromptu unofficial self-help/self-discovery guru started some fitness plan with a few other coworkers. Luckily I wasn’t included in the actual program because I’m a total slacker, but she was thoughtful enough to email me the .pfds of the program. If I wanted to I could get off my ass and ‘unofficially’ do the entire thing, but once again my motivation was/is shit and I couldn’t pull it off. And I don’t think I want to pull it off either. I have a hard enough time writing blog posts and stories to take on the task of getting my entire life in order. I’m a slacker and I fully admit to it, something about loving yourself despite your flaws.

The program seems to consists of three major aspects of health: eating right, working out, and getting your mindset straight. I’m sure you can imagine which one I put the most emphasis on. I think mental health is the cornerstone for any healthy life because if you feel like shit and are constantly depressed you can’t pull anything else together. You mental state is how you process the world — it is your reality — so even if you have the perfect life depression will make you blind to that fact. And while you can eat healthy or exercise when fighting depression everything is a constant struggle that you must use pure willpower to make any progress. For me at least, mental health always take precedence over anything else.

Not that all aspects of health don’t work together in synergy (God, I hate that word). Exercise as well as healthy eating can help your mental state. I also think everyone is well aware of what the need to improve on with those; sitting on the couch eating cheeseburgers all day is not healthy. Improving your mental state is really vague and hard to work on, a lot harder than not eating cheeseburgers/pizza all day.

I read the ‘gratitude’ .pdf and liked the gist of it. The reasoning behind it seems to be that if you start your day off by making a list and actually thinking about what you’re grateful for you’ll improve your entire outlook for the day. You put your brain into a positive mental state which sows tiny seeds that can grow throughout the day. Not that shitty things still don’t happen, but you’re much more likely to think about your gratitude and hold a positive mindset during these times if you’ve written down something earlier.

I used to sort of do these things on the drive to work. Kinda hype myself up for the day. Tell myself that it’ll be a good day, or look in the mirror and say, “You’ve got this. It’ll be a good day. Stop worrying.” In the bathroom a few days ago at work I looked in the mirror and said, “I look good today. I feel good today. Let’s do this.” Tiny shit like that. Obviously anything as spontaneous as this works somewhat, but not as well as anything with structure would do. This ‘gratitude journal’ seemed like the structure that I needed while having stumbled upon the general idea of ‘the power of positive thought’ earlier. Maybe I’d give it a shot.

So I did, begrudgingly. Listed three things I was grateful for. Listed two ways to make the day better. And came home from work and listed three things that were good during the day. And a singular way to make the next day better. Whatever. Bedtime, hours of Reddit, and eventually sleep as the sun came up. The following day I dragged my ass back to the computer to start day two. This time I made a dedicated .doc file for my journal and wrote the questions down so I could simply copy and paste them into the next day’s entry.

I knew it would work, but damn if it isn’t nice to surprise your persistent inner pessimist that it actually does work. It’s so uplifting after a “bad day” to sit down at the computer and uncover two things that actually were good about it. We fixate on the bad so much that it dictates our entire mood for some reason. Capping the day off by writing down two nice things brings your mind back into positive territory where you can enjoy the fact that good shit does infact happen. Daily, too. Wow, who would’ve thought? Days are always a mixed bag of good and bad, and sometimes the good outweighs the bad and you admit that it was a “good day”, but most of the time we only see the bad. By writing down the good you’re forced to acknowledge it.

And writing down positive things at the start of the day also helps, but in a more subtle way. You start the day by acknowledging the good you have and this uplifts your mood slightly during the day. I’m not going to say it fixes the day for you, but it does add that little edge-up on life that might make the difference between you totally spiraling into anxiety/depression/anger or letting it die and wither away before it really gets a hold on your mental state.

Today was the fourth day I’ve done it, and there’s another nice aspect of it; by plopping down at my computer to write things that I’m grateful for I’m setting myself up to actually write. The hardest part about writing seems to be getting the computer and turning it on, and a gratituide journal takes care of this for you. I didn’t really want to write this post, but I had my computer open and had already typed in the journal, so going to WordPress and actually writing was much easier.

As a challenge to anyone who reads this, what are you grateful for? See if you can list three things that you’re grateful for and see if your mood improves slightly during the day. And at the end of the day, try writing down a few good things about the day. Every day offers gems and it’s only our incessant focusing on the shit that makes us think there are no gems in life: every single day has gems if you care to notice them.

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.

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.”

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.