Anybody that truly knows me, which seems to be a limited few any more, knows a person who rarely holds back their feelings and never holds back opinions in fear of criticism because “Fuck You, thats why.” I always tried to take life lightly and for the most part I was happy with that person. Reflecting now, I don’t know what happened to him. Neither does my wife. We both miss him. Only she truly remembers him any longer. We both know that in comparison to the man I am today, one that has become embittered at so many aspects of life through stress, loneliness and regret, I was at my heart an optimist. Today, the face in the mirror is unrecognizable. The person looking back at me is a stranger whose ideas are filled with the pain of not knowing. The agony of isolation. The torture of regret and the hurt of knowing that I’m responsible for making him or at least clearing the way for his creation.
” Our great war, is a spiritual war. Our great depression, is our lives.” – Tyler Durden: Fight Club
I find myself dealing with the burden and the side affects of getting older. What I once trusted as my memory of time and dates, regresses to the faintest images of some of the most important parts of my life. Even the birth of my children are the faintest echoes of memory. Comprehension has declined and learning new things becomes more difficult as the information fades, adding frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
And childhood. That’s another time, another place and in as much of a real way as possible, another person. I look on my childhood with fondness to some extent. It was different. It was mine. I also look on it with sadness. Consider school. I was the nerd. I was the outcast. I won’t be going to reunions. I don’t feel the need to share my journey with them even if we shared ⅓ of our life. I found my escape in video games. Final Fantasy being the most notable of time spent and as well as having the most impact on my desire to tell stories. The part that still resonates with me to this day. Stories. Characters. Worlds. Heroes. Villains. Sword and Sorcery.
However I’ve shut that time out. I have let that memory die. The only evidence that it existed, the lesser interest in those games. That person being a faded dream of what life was. The thought being in doing so, I let go of something else. Something I’m now finding I need.
“All these times I simply stepped aside, I watched but never really listened, As the whole world passed me by” – Five Finger Death Punch: I apologize
Some of the activities and interests I once found pleasure in have withered and died. Roleplaying, dice throwing, DnD, Vampire, Star Wars. I was introduced to this world just under two decades ago and found the escape Nintendo once gave me. It stayed with me until it became a source of frustration in the last few years. A victim of the depression you might say. I didn’t want to run a campaign. I didn’t want to play in one. I still have next to zero interest, with one exception of running a small space story, but it’s only an idea that spawned from a story I have considered writing.
Many of my close friendships have started with a job or a trade class and ended up being based around a table with character sheets. With my burnout on tabletop role playing, a lot of those friendships are not so close, with the occasional meet and greet, social media or instant messages being the extent of interaction. Over time this, amongst other reasons has led to a severe feeling of loneliness.
The other hobby, the one I still have the passion for. Is the writing. It terrifies me. “Seeds of Aether” is my dream. I thought a career in IT was what I wanted. IT is how I provide and is the basis of my survival in society; nothing more. Writing is my passion. Over two decades it has found a way to be present in almost everything I think and feel. Storytelling. Not just for me but in my communication with the world and even my wife. An early way my wife and I connected was sharing our poetry. Later, it was fan fiction of the game, projecting our love through words and actions of fictional characters.
Along came Azeroth. Life disappeared. Time cruised by. I have divested literally thousands of hours into the leveling characters, dungeons, reputation grinding, mount farming, etc over a decade. Life. Personal growth. Career advancement. Not important. I had to save this world. The real world could wait. From raiding the Molten Core to the Siege of Orgrimmar and even now, the invasion of Argus. And with this time spent, with this time lost, the ever present need to for story pervaded. The outlines of stories for these characters, these Serpents of Dawn took shape adding to my love and increasing my time in not only playing, but reading through the lore for my own stories. Time spent. Time lost.
Compendiums, outlines, drafts, multiple books, multiple stories. Millions of words written. Thousands of scenes to go. In 15 years, writing is the one passion, one desire that has never wavered, never faltered, never fallen.
“I’m never alone, I’m alone all the time” – Bush: Glycerine
Somewhere along the line I became bitter. Resentful. Angry. Distrustful. It’s an aspect that lived just under the surface, never really making itself known that it was the cause of many changes both emotionally and psychologically. It has led to some selfish tendencies. In both life and my relationship. This is an important realization going forward. I think my wife and I are in the same place which is good.
Our history is riddled with adversity to be sure, but we’ve always persevered and overcome. And while we feel we are better for it, some things can leave stains that is not easily clean and can be carried with you. I think we also grew apart due to certain personal aspects of life that we didn’t recognize at the time. There is no lack of affection; just a mutual feeling of distance. In a way I think we feel like we watched the person we fell in love with disappear and in the process, missed the change in ourselves. This is an important realization going forward because we have a starting point and a goal. In rediscovering ourselves, with hopes that we rediscover each other.
“He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me” – Harry Chapin: Cat’s in the Cradle
I was and am cynical. I’ve also become more vocal about this current mental state. Never considering how my depression, my sarcasm, my negativity, would affect my children. Until now. Maybe it’s puberty. Maybe it’s BPD. Maybe it’s depression. But you can see it affecting my oldest.
I’m often reassured that I’m a good father. Anybody that knows me knows I love my kids. I may sometimes be too blunt, or blatantly honest, but that’s bitterness and selfishness coming through even with them. The depression and the anxiety causing me to be short, or less understanding than I should be. I don’t spend the quality time with them that I should.
“I like being alone. At least, I convince myself that I’m better off that way” – Dr. Gregory House: House MD
Depression is a vicious bitch. It doesn’t confront you face to face. It creeps like a virus of the mind, infecting you slowly. You only become aware when it’s too late, after the infection has taken over and locked you out of the control room.
I’m not intending on covering every one of the listed symptoms although you may have noticed some of them are found in the preceding sections. What I want to illustrate is that every single one of these affects me on a daily basis .
Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
What I would like however, is for you to consider looking for help if you find yourself experiencing these. If there is one thing I can confirm is you don’t want to wait too long. The longer you wait, the harder and more painful it becomes.
“I’ll face myself. To cross out what I’ve become” – Linkin Park: What I’ve Done
When I look at these thoughts. When I think about how I feel or react in different situations, or how I see ways I have regressed. The world becomes very real. Before it was just routine, it ended up a prison I made for myself. The place I wallow in the pain I created. And I realize, that for every conflict I don’t face and every problem I ignore, that the person I used to be, the one I thought was dead and gone: the terrified child, scared of getting hit, abused or stuffed in a locker, is still very much in the forefront. Not dead. Not gone. But still handling the controls. Letting me believe this illusion of being the person who doesn’t hold back thoughts or opinions is real. Trying to keep me safe from myself as much as everything else. This is my midlife identity crisis. Trying to keep me safe from myself as much as everything else.
This internal conflict I think is the very essence of my life at this point. It affects my relationship with my wife, my children, the family I’m not near, the friends I let go and the passions that I gave up on. In this situation though, I feel like the merit of self defense has mutated into the flaw of self inflicted pain and misery.
What do you do when you don’t have a map because you don’t know where you are going? How do you decide where you are going when you don’t know what you want? And how do you decide when you want when you don’t know who you are? The puzzle is incomplete and while some of it fits together, there are still pieces missing. Some of them lost, some of them yet to be found. I continue to push forward, even when it sometimes feels like I don’t. Sometimes, curling up on the sofa and forgetting everything else is conducive to forward motion, even if the very idea seems contrary; because there’s always tomorrow. And that’s another day.