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Everything posted by ManGodWhyNo

  1. Post 71: Departures and Arrivals The old Taoist parable of the Farmer and the Army comes to mind: An old farmer and his son were working on their farm and their horse escaped. The son said, "that's terrible, we need that horse." The old farmer said, "we'll see." The next day they find the horse along with 2 other wild horses, which they add to their stock. The son said, "that's great, we can do so much more now!". The old farmer said, "we'll see." While breaking the new horses the son fell off and broke his leg. The son said, "that's awful, how will we live?" The old farmer only said, "we'll see." The next week the army came through to draft soldiers for a battle that was sure to be lost. The son said, "that's amazing, I dodged a bullet!" But the old farmer just said, "we'll see." The Taoists hold that the people are deceived by the twin illusions - no, not good and evil. Victory and defeat. Success and failure. They aren't so distinct from each other as we think. Businesses model themselves after the best and still fail. Politicians do the worst possible thing and still get elected. Sure things evaporate. Sophomore albums suck. Ultimately, what does this mean? Does it mean there's no such thing as success? No. It just means we're wrong to label something at a point in time with certitude. We're often wrong about ourselves. I used to think I was doing everything right. Straight As, stay out of trouble, work hard. I was wrong. I failed hard, because I left out a lot, and my understanding, planning, and wisdom were lacking. Then I thought I was a failure. I was wrong again. My belief held me back for years. Over and over, I repeated this cycle. School, job, girl, art, money, mental health. It's never over, never settled. That was a disturbing thought. But thinking on this story, the farmer is not a fatalistic nihilist who believes he's helpless. He's just wise enough to leave his mind open to possibility. Not in a naive, pollyanna way, or even in a narrowly cynical and over-protective way. Just sitting in the indeterminate area that the Zen refer to: "Those who say something is right or wrong, live in the right or wrong region." Sometimes this is called "Maybe Logic," or perhaps "optimistic nihilism." It's what the fictional Don Juan Matus called "a chance to have a chance." What does this mean for me? Well, looking back on my posts, it's clear that sometimes they're up and sometimes they're down. Sometimes, much of the times, it's really a shifting middle. Peaks and valleys, yes, but things tend to regress to the average. And the longer you live, the more average things feel, the less epic. That's both a blessing and a curse. Easier to live without giant swings of fortune and emotion. Harder to appreciate the things that become routine. Keeping an old friend. Having sex for the the same partner for years. And yet, there is a solution. If I don't really have success with this job, then what should I have? If I don't have a permanent lock on any of the good stuff, what should I have? The answer is, simply: Gratitude. None of this is certain. I've had several dream jobs revealed to be suck-fests. Hot dates become snooze-fests or even icky emotional trainwrecks. Triumphant returns are fizzles. But chance meetings have become epic romance. Estranged family have become allies. Sickness has turned to savvy. Certainty has given way to a tiny flame of hope, love, and gratitude. And a sense of cosmic humor. What else can you have? Life is both meaning-less and meaning-full. Our actions and lives are both specks and epics. So I will have gratitude for body, even as it ages, and I don't know how much I can change it. I will have gratitude for my job, even if I don't know if I'll love it or not. I will have gratitude for my partner, even if I don't don't if will be forever. Out. Positive PS: The secret to being happy is to be in a constant state of detachment, while always arriving. - Waking Life
  2. Post 70: The Rebeginning Accepted that great job and had other offers. Got back with the ex and it's good. Took long vacations and got my chill on. Made it thought the madness and now it's time to evolve, respawn, and grow. Gonna be a software developer. FUCK YEAH. Mindfulness is keeping me centered when everything's moving. Old aches, new aches, old flames, new opportunities. WOW. Good to be alive.
  3. Post 69: Major Update and bug fixes! Wow. What a difference a few months make! I am 30 minutes away from my first job interview. I am in my last graduate class with an almost perfect GPA. I'm back with my ex and it's open if I need it to be. I've got 2 more interviews lined up Friday. It's exciting and scary and exciting. I'm back into performing. I've got 2 new groups and at least 1 is going really really well! I'm at a local maximum for weight. Time for WW again. Have a better relationship with many people in my life. Therapy has really helped. Over time, it makes a huge difference. I hope I can find someone once I leave this job. Scared I'll get laughed out of the industry. So competitive these days. Easy to feel too old, trapped in academia, alone, underqualified. Games are still a problem for me. Look, I know I don't read much of other folks' stuff. I don't expect people to read this. I should probably stop posting this, since this is a public forum.
  4. Post 68: This is the End? It's hard to stay focused when school, girls, stress, politics are on the board. As I've transitioned away from gaming addiction, I've got new habits and pasttimes and time-sucks. I tend to play online dating apps like a game. There's an unhealthy point where the chase is more interesting than the actual meetings, but this could be a confidence issue. Gonna keep going anyway. I skipped a class today, but it's so boring and I've covered the material in other classes. I think I'll get a 4.0 despite my lowered efforts. Speaking of, I do need to get started looking a new steps and job search as soon as possible. Alternating confidence and fear. Alternating pride and burnout. I'll be honest, I think my group is gonna fuck me over in my class - they schedule meetings during the day when I work, and make decisions without me. They are taking my recommendations, but probably not giving me credit. Sigh. That's a lot like real life. I have a date tonight, so of course I have a giant stress zit on my face. Big whitehead like Donny Trumpo. Gross. I hate rosacea so much. I wish my twin had it, but he doesn't. Probably just means my immune system is in fucking shambles. Got 3 decent nights of sleep. Got dates with interesting women. Got caught up and ahead in classes. Got As in all classes. Got money in the bank and a good roof over my head. Got good credentials. Got a chance in this crazy world. Posting more on FB. Nice to be involved a bit. Even a little political, which I've avoided for years. Stirred up stuff a bit. Gotta be careful, it's easy to rev up the tribes. People who are worried about looking stupid in public are def not that way on FB. When to tell my boss I'm going?
  5. Post 67: A night of good sleep is like gold. I have been partying too hard. I go from one extreme to another. Moderation is so difficult. I go from dating one to texting 4 girls. Now, not all of these will develop, but it's clear I like this addiction. It fills my brain and fills my time and makes me feel to be "in the mix." Pro - I am getting better at flirting. That feels good. Con - am I getting better or just striking out more or choosing lower quality women? Pro - I am getting better at dating. Con - Really? I borked that last on and burnt the bridge hard by not doing a proper exit interview. Am I on tilt and just erratic? Pro - I am getting better at not working too hard. Con - Is this really a positive? I know I get dumped on because I'm competent, but long-term, is it setting a lower bar? Pro - I paid my ex thousands of dollars. Con - should I have? Did she know what she was getting into? Could I have lived with myself having mooched off her for my "I'm in a band" years? Think of what I could have done with all that money. con - I still over over 10K in student loans, much less than average but more than I thought. Pro - About to move on to a new job. Con - what job? No applications right now. Haven't even finished my degree. Con - Preparing to leave this job is gonna suck hard. I'm not organized at all. How will the next person know what to do?
  6. Post 66: Significant digits 11 more weeks of graduate school. 3 more weeks in this semester. 2 weeks to get SAP certification. 8 weeks in summer. 2 more classes to take. 15 more class periods, 3 final exams in spring. 2 more books to buy. 6 weeks of vacation to take before leaving. 15/16 As earned in graduate school. 89.4321% is the highest B I've ever earned. 2 years of honor society. 1 nomination to student senate. 1 technical certification. 1 pending. 2 hours of sleep deprivation per night. 20,000. How much more per year I want at my next job. 70000. How much more the mid-career salaries are in my chosen field (I hope). 10. How many years I feel behind my peers. 10. How many years it took for me to get a degree. 2.25. How many years it took for a graduate degree. 0. How many fucks I give about making a 4.0 now. 7. How many years I was with my ex. 6. How many months I was with my next girlfriend. 2. How many women I kissed when I was with my ex. 2. How many women I slept with - without any "problems" since my breakup. 10 - number of angry text messages from angry ex-gf. 0 - number of times we said "I love you." 2 - number of children who aren't mine that she expected me to father after only 5 months. 8 - number of years between first and second dates with a girl on OKCupid. 6 - number of hours the 2nd date lasted. --
  7. Post 65: 50% Fired Dear Readers, what a week! It happened. I resisted an unfair move by management and they gave up on forcing me. And I didn't get fired. This is about as strategic as I ever get. It's really hard for me to resist requests for help, to say no to something I "can" do, and assert what I "won't" do. I don't usually put my interests first. I won't be increasing my workload without a promotion. Huge catharsis, such relief. Very wow. Also, I got a bomb ass haircut that makes me look 28 again. I'm learning to cope with a non-perfectionist strategy. It's not about giving up - that's the wrong frame. It's about choosing where you put your effort. I'm not super organized, but I have a clean home. I'm not a lazy worker, but I don't have to jump at every request equally. I've chosen a client-focused, transparent strategy at my job that prioritizes honesty over obfuscation, outcomes over bureaucracy, equity over punitive enforcement of blanket rules. This works for me, and it works for those I help. Part of quitting games is learning to play new games, like "unfuck your habitat," "Find some good Podcasts and chill," "Spend more time with friends," "Learn to Date," "Become a good friend," "Exercise is good!" There are many approaches to recovering from addiction. AA preaches total abstinence and separation from those who do partake, while MM (Moderation Management) suggests that a non-absolute strategy is effective. Harm-reduction is another technique. I hope it doesn't make me a pariah, but I think there is a safe level of behavior and consumption for a variety of unsavory or problematic activities (including gaming), so long as one is conscious of the trade-offs. I played a little VR last night and got some exercise in the process. It wasn't mindless, and it didn't have a negative impact. Being busy means I have less unstructured time to waste. For instance, I am, for the first time, mostly okay with getting an A and 2 B's in my courses, instead of driving for the 4.0. Why? Good enough for 50% effort is an acceptable tolerance. I'll get an A in programming cuz I like it and I'm good at it, or getting there. B's in marketing and SAP? Fine. I'll still pass the certification exam, that's what my next company will care about. Likewise, I could stay at current job until December and take more programming, but why not finish in the easy summer, even if the courses are somewhat irrelevant? I'm ready to graduate, and that's a huge statement. I should get in shape and be a life coach. Gods know I've got plenty of techniques. Or not. Let's talk about dating and finding a partner. This is going to be super-honest, so don't hate me. These are judgmental statements, both about me and others. But I don't have much of an option to talk about this. I'm overweight, and I exercise sometimes. I could lose 40 or 50 pounds. I can run, do yoga, lift heavy weights, do some pull ups. I am sexually functional and, graduate school and work stress notwithstanding, I look good for 36. I am on a journey of physical, mental, and spiritual climbs. I need someone on this journey. They can be a little ahead or a little behind, but they can't be totally fine or totally lost. My ex of 6 years was mature (older!) and while she had flaws, she wasn't interested on growing that much. It was all on me to catch up to her and conform to her version of success, domestic existence, politeness, and satiation. My recent rebound girlfriend was 20 years behind her, and 10 years behind me in terms of life and career stability, education, financial resources, personal growth, and curiosity. She wanted me to be the captain of our relationship. She would say: "Tell me things." This is cute at first, but at some point I need someone who will tell me things. I need someone who likes to take 10000 steps a day and say 20000 words. "Marriage," Nietzsche wrote, "is mostly talking." The sex should be good. The mental stimulation from an emotionally mature adult is what I crave most. That isn't able-ist! I have issues, mental and otherwise, but I'm honest about them upfront and I am doing more than coping, I am pursuing healing and growth. My exes wanted me to cope with their stalled journeys. That's not fair, and it's not what I need. You don't have to be rich, but you can't be a spendthrift. You don't have to be thin, but you can't be getting fatter. You don't have to be totally sane, but you can't pretend that we don't all need therapy and fluctuate. You don't have to be a genius, but you can't be a pseudo-scientific incurious sheep. You don't have to be an alpha, but you need to believe in incremental growth (GRIT, anyone), and have a basic level of ambition. You don't have to be a baby-eating atheist like me, but you can't be a fundamentalist who believes everything your parents, TV, teachers, congressmen, and facebook friends say. You don't have to be a statistician or a reporter, but you have to resist fake news, propaganda, and manufactured consent. You don't have to vote Bernie, but you can never vote for Trump. You don't have to be childless, but you can't neglect your children or expect me to raise them for you. You don't have to have a Ph.D., but you need to read more than tweets. Boom! There, I said it. And I'll keep saying this. And I'll pay the price in terms of lesser range in dating. I may never find a lifelong mate, which is fine by me. Mrs. Right is actually a series of people for people like me. I learn something with each one. Maybe I'll just stay in school forever and get a Ph.D. and find some weird nerd girl. Okay. Let's talk fitness. 50 extra pounds on a guy who should weigh 200 is NOT equal to 50 extra on a woman who should be 120. One is 42.5% and the other is 20% Same weight overage, but it's 2x as overweight. I understand the factors. I understand binge eating and hunger drives and impulse control and poor food choices and learned behavior and carb cravings and the modern diet and gut bacteria and metabolic rates. I also understand thermodynamics. I date women who, on average, are younger, dumber, poorer, less stable, fatter, and less educated than me. They match me in impulsivity, neuroticism, and SES. They tend to come from broken homes, have suffered a sexual assault, have about a college degree, and have a combination of systematic (accounting and OCD) behaviors and artistic (improv, art, crafts) abilities. They have higher verbal intelligence than average, like irreverent comedy, have a high sex drive, and have a need for stimulation. I need to focus on better educated women who come from poor, working poor, or lower middle class backgrounds. They will probably have children at this point, and it will be helpful if there is the presence and financial support of a co-parent. They have a career and more than 1000 in the bank. They own or rent a home. They are engaged with current events and have their own pursuits. They have room for both planning and spontaneous events. They are non-dogmatic if they believe, and they are able to calm themselves with relaxation and coping strategies. They are self-aware and are improving themselves. They are political. They have healthy sexual habits and can have an orgasm. They don't think porn or masturbation are evil. Fuck it, this is my new OKCupid profile.
  8. Post 64: A Dream Deferred THE GIRL Broke up with my girlfriend over the weekend. It was just too soon to jump into a new life with someone, especially a someone that came with a family full of poorly-educated redstate Trumpers with substance problems, financial crises, and children. The children were the best part - it was the first time I ever felt remotely comfortable with someone else's kids, and it made me think I could be a father.... someday. It was too much, too fast. I thought we were dating and taking it slow, but even though we weren't saying "I love you," and it was mostly on the weekend, there I was, cleaning her house and reading to her kid and helping her fill out job applications. Dating yes, but I was already a husband. I wanted to date. She wanted me to call her everyday on her broken cell phone and drive a conversation that she wouldn't really understand. That's right, and it makes me the BAD GUY, but she wasn't smart enough, or ambitious enough for me. She was a GOOD person. She cared about me. But she was 31 going on 24, she knew nothing about science, politics, and history, and she was a believer in pseudo-science like ghosts and astrology and psychics. She didn't make enough money to support herself, was still married (MARRIED!) to her schizo ex who didn't pay child support, and she was about to be out of her house. This meant that she was going to need money and a place to stay and a major means of emotional support. I couldn't do the first two, and after my own struggles with depression, substances, and a broken, fucked-up family, the last was going to pull me down. I only have so much energy, and right now I'm just trying to keep my head above water, finish school, and not get fired before I get another job. She was on depression meds, which meant that she was where I was in my lonely, confusing 20s. I've dated women on the edge of depression, and I've been the one depressed. It's a burden. I'm in therapy and have been for YEARS. She's just getting started. I'm getting fit and trying to leave my impulsive, trailer-park past behind - she lives in a dirty house, has no friends, has gained 20 pounds, spends erratically, and makes 10 dollars an hour. I'm graduating from business school and looking at moving anywhere in the US. She's going to be looking for Section 8 housing in about 2 months. Look, I voted for Bernie, I came from working poor parents, I grew up in Trump country with a 50% poverty rate and a 40% teen pregnancy rate. I know about privilege and outcomes and the injustices of being a poor single mother in Oklahoma. The motherhood isn't the issue. In Bridges Out of Poverty, Dr. Ruby Payne proposes a short checklist for how to pick a good partner: 1. Must have 1000 dollars in the bank X 2. Must have transportation X 3. Has a degree or credential or post-HS training YES, but isn't using it. I can't be a social worker or a white night or the champion of the poor and the ill. I have to stop picking women on the edges of sanity. Maybe I get off on neurotic, needy, shy, underemployed women. I just can't make a life with one. She really guilt-tripped me about us being together for half a year (true, but we only saw each other on the weekends. She wanted me to feel guilty about meeting her kids, but there was really no way to date her without spending time with them. If we walled off the kids, I would have seen her once a month. I think I've learned my single parent of small children lesson. SCHOOL, or, Train and Pray I worked hard last weekend to get ahead and caught up in my classes and groups. I'm 20 days ahead in programming (lots of practice makes perfect), I lead the group in my SAP class to a win in a simulation and then took initiative to do the group homework first. Marketing is the hardest, my group, which I joined late, is tightly-bonded. They make decisions and have all of their discussions during their other classes, which they share without me. As a result, I'm marginalized. This makes my burden less demanding, but I worry that if I don't contribute enough my grade will suffer. As a result, I send emails and memos with my 2 cents, knowing full well the group has already decided their strategy. Unfortunately, even though I defer to their better business skills, I think they think I just second-guess. I've tried again and again to have them schedule meetings, as I've done with my other successful groups, but they only schedule when I'm unavailable. It feels messy. I feel guilty about not giving 100%, or solving every interpersonal problem. Just like I feel guilty about leaving my job, leaving my now ex-girlfriend, leaving my partner. And I thought I'd left Christian guilt behind. But that's life. You can't please everyone, and I often give more to others than I get in return. Everyone wants me to stay, but what am I getting? Love is good, but is it enough? Helping others is good, but I have no savings! Following your dream and being a performer is good, but I have little professional experience and now I'm a decade behind in having a career. WORK, or, The Long Dark Bureaucracy of the Soul I feel hurt for being manipulated by the fake promotion. Now I'm dragging my feet in taking on the newer duties, hoping to run out the clock and leave before it gets really hard. I feel guilty for not giving 100%, but how many stacks of 100% can you give before there's nothing left? I've made up my mind to de-commit to my organization. I feel guilty for doing the minimum sometimes, but it's clear that I got swept up in a poorly-conceived plan. I have no idea who my supervisor is. I misinterpret orders as suggestions. I ask for clarification and get good feedback and then I get nasty emails and condescension. People decide to stay here or have no options and then they just cover their asses and do their best to keep their job from growing. Unfortunately, this has the opposite effect of serving the actual customers (the kids whose parents send them to college and pay megabucks for the privilege) and disproportionately affects the poor, the naive, the unmentored, non-natives, the strugglers, and non-traditional students who are most likely to run afoul of the byzantine requirements. I'm minimally complying with my new tasks, on minimal training. The funniest part is that they said it wouldn't "appreciably change my job duties."
  9. Post 63: Through the Wormhole My car is full of boxes. Books and games and DVDs and knicknacks. Am I moving? Yes and no. Not to another place - but to another way of living. That's right, Dear Readers, welcome to the Age of Minimalism. As Henry Foster sings, "you can call it what you want." A lot of people get stuck on the name of a thing. Fun FactTM : that's called the nominal (name) fallacy. Knowing something is called "Minimalism" or "ObamaCare" doesn't mean you grok what those things mean. So I'm drawing from places like KonMari and The Minimalists and r/declutter and Unfuck Your Habitat and mental health and chaos theory and feng shui and zen buddhism and Hoarders and even the old Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Why so many inspirations? Cuz I have hoarder genes and I need a lot of help. Harder to change in mid-30s than in early life. Or, paradoxically, easier. Just like an old video game, the same levels get tiresome after a decade or two. Old behaviors just aren't up to date with the new software I'm running. Let's just say, that like many of you on the up-and-down journey of GameQuitting and lifestyle modification and habit formation, it was not a clean install. Looking at the life habits and organization of my former partner and those whose lives "work" for them, I thought it was an unreachable gulf. It's like the "hopeful monster" theory of evolution. Just a regular mouse species hopping along for 100,000 years and then, BLAM! - turn into a bat, wings and everything. I was thinking the wrong way. As the Zen writer of Zen Flesh, Zen Blood, Zen Bones writes, "he who sees things as black and white, lives in the right or wrong region." There is a way to change from A, impossibly, to B. It's an astounding feat we call learning. Not memorizing. Not just training. Behavioral evolution. Incremental, not instant. Very travelling without moving. It's the hardest thing in the world to stop the struggle. Like the Buddha said, "my struggle is to end my struggle." Like fighting an evil doppleganger, my own energy was used against me. I was the one maintaining the status quo. I was the one holding very sticky beliefs like: I am not a clean person. I make everything shitty. (Got this one from the parents) I will never have a nice home. Home is just a place for stuff. Cleaning / organizing is for the upper class. Cleaning is for suckers who are missing out on life. Throwing things away is a waste of money. Unopened books / unused things are full of potential ... a chance to better myself ... hidden value! It takes too much time and energy to keep an apartment, let alone a home. I'll never be able to convince my roommate/partner to make these changes stick. I'm destined to be a "cockroach man." (living in a dirty, infested apartment). I don't have the common sense, discipline, or mental health to have something nice like this. Living in a clean, coherent, stylish way is a construct of Hollywood, or Capitalism, or both. If I become orderly, I'll lose my "edge" to deal with chaos, think outside the box, be transgressive, be funny. Clean living is a sign of "trying too hard", putting on airs, aspiring to live "above my raisings," a symptom of white liberal out-of-touch lifestyle. The talent for disciplined living is either innate or acquired at such an early age that it's too late to start. Cleaning is a form of compensating for an unfuifillng or empty life. It might even be mental illness or OCD. ---- As the Large Orange Dictator might say, these beliefs are FAKE NEWS! It hasn't happened all at once. I have declared surrender, defeat, thrown up my hands many times. The swings of the battlefield are ferocious. In just a week or two, I can totally relapse to a dank, clogged cave. Piles of dirty clothes (and clean?) are the cholesterol of the heart of the modern home? It's iterative, and the results aren't always immediately apparent. Hidden corners are EVERYWHERE, lurking like shadowy Russian ambassadors. When you see them, you forget them. The contact is still treacherous, however, and over time they will destabilize the republic... PUBLISH THE RETURNS! I think my analogy broke itself. I'm happy with the progress I'm making. Some nights I just binge some Netflix. But in the last week I did some really good things. I'm gonna list them: 1. Got off my ex's phone plan. CLOSURE # 1 2. Got off my ex's insurance AND saved money. CLOSURE # 2 3. Made my new relationship FB official! (already had the rebound, this one is "real"). MOVING ON # 1 4. Returned all ex items and retrieved my own. CLOSURE # 3 5. Paid ex all outstanding bills/debts accrued throughout breakup/exfiltration. CLOSURE #4 6. Got new furniture at a great price. My first adult living situation. GROWING UP # 1 7. Listed 40 items for sale to minimize things and maximize profit. ECONOMICS # 1 8. 3 trips to Goodwill and many, many trashbags of baggage decluttered. FENG SHUI++ 9. Broke the retail therapy cycle of books and games and eating out and drinking out. MALADAPTIVE COPING-- 10. Ran twice at the gym, got into a good rhythm. No more hiding behind my surgical wound. PREPOSTERONE! 11. Made an all-time favorite Thai dish at home. Made specialty pancakes at home. Made homemade potato soup... at home. YUMMO! 12. Confronted a scary insurance change-over that made a mountain out of a mole-hill. I ignored it too long. But eventually I got the courage to face reality and the consequences. GROWING UP # 2 13. Bought new clothes, medical supplies, kitchenware, domestic tools as part of a plan instead of in an emergency. GROWING UP # 3 / #Planning 14. Consistently washing, folding, and putting away clothing in appropriate place. # GROWING UP # 4 / #UFYH 15. Told colleagues about my unhappiness with my treatment by management and my intentions to leave. HONESTY // TRUST. 16. Got rid of a ton of furniture, dishes, and "nice" items that I thought I had to have/keep. DE-HOARDING 17. Had some excellent bonding with new girl and her children. Do I have parenting instincts after all? #4EVERSTEPDAD ---- Obviously, a lot to unpack there. I must confess, I've missed writing, yet I'm afraid of what might come out. Gains are tenuous. The world is uncertain. Trump-watching is not a healthy hobby. Midnight cereal is almost always a mistake. Never pre-order. Never, never, pre-order. Looking at you, Sean Murray. Went to the grocery store and didn't cry. Got only 2 hours sleep last night and still here at work, still making small gains, doing little things. Maybe I'm not as smart as my twin. Maybe I am brain-damaged from birth. Maybe I'm just different. Reaching out more. Made some promises to friends and family I have to keep. Always harder when the commitments are tested. Anybody can promise. I just realized that I'm not that good of a friend. Will do better in future. New classes starting. Resisting urge to self-sabotage. Only 4.5 classes left overall. I can do this. One day at a time. Thinking of doing a politics fast again. Harder than games. I look for the "right" article like some people look for a fix. Gotta be a good source. Good headline. Is the resistance just advertising. Are we in Turkey or Russia already and we don't realize that freedom lost and the money and powerful won? I'm tired, but I'm going. Journey of 1000 miles and all that. Out. PS. There's nothing a bowl of pho can't fix.
  10. Post 62: Time Heals (Most) Wounds As the big Orange Man in the sky would say, I have healed stupendously, really terrific, 100%. In May 2016, I had a surgery that was supposed to take a month to heal. Almost 9 months later, the healing is complete. I live in a new apartment, new roommate, new relationship, new (higher) salary (but not as high as it should have gone), new wardrobe, even grew a new beard. One of the hardest pages of my life. Last week was so dark. I was so certain of the inevitability of my own doom. I circled the bowl. A lazy, hazy, panicked spiral. Off the exercise wagon. Off the diet wagon. Off the sleep-hygiene wagon. Avoiding others. Shirking work. I admitted it. It burned like fire. I felt like a madman. Perhaps some part of me always will be. Human consciousness is in beta, after all these millennia. Equanimity is being a bobber that floats back to the surface after being taken under by the currents and snags and giant demon-eyed catfish. I thought it was never going under. In fact, we are always being pulled apart. By entropy, conflicting desires, suffering, divided attention, mistakes, chaos. Even good stress weighs something! I went under for a week. Before, it was a month, six months, a year. I would get fired, lose my relationship, all my money. I lived in manic-depressive tilt for years and years. Substances. Cravings. Impulse control issues. Loneliness. Over-stimulation. Under-stimulation. Doctors discovered I wasn't getting enough protein. In fact, I'm not getting enough spiritual protein. Enough mental protein. These are solvable problems. For now, the bobber is at the surface. I've decluttered half my office but my home and car are a mess. I'm clean shaven but my hair is crazy. I'm healed but still have a bandage and take care. I've got affection and loving but I'm waiting to make it love. Being with a woman is so different with kids involved. I've got a little saved by it's got claims on it. I've lost some weight and gained some. I've gotten some things done but many more remain. I've moved on from my ex but I've still got that phone plan. I've got a new bed but I haven't changed my address. I've got a professional reputation but I just can't seem to help acting like an unprofessional crazy person. I'm not hopeless, but I'm not full of faith and hope. I have hope. Just enough to not drown. That's something. Out.
  11. Entry 13: The Sublime Perfection of Burnout, or, How I Learned to Let Go at Work I love many parts of my job, but over time those parts became less prominent, and it became a never-ending set of chaotic fires to be put out. I was burned out. I sought other options. I ended up staying. Just like a bad relationship, it can be a slog, when all you want is for it to be over. I'm going to leave after December, when I get my Masters degree. I'll only stay as long as it takes to get my next good job offer. That burnout threatened my health, my professional goals, my love life, my family life. But then I realized - there's so much freedom in not being totally responsible for what happens. I'm not in charge of driving the car. Things don't have to be perfect, and I don't have to be paralyzed or worried. I'll just do my small part to make things better and let the rest go. This is wild. I'm a Type A control freak hiding in an underperforming over-achiever slacker. Yeah, it's a paradox. Entry 13B: Everything is Cyclical. I'm stressed. I'm getting things done. I feel like I'm just hanging on. Tired. Sigh.
  12. Entry 12: Equanimity Ein't Easy On a great day, it's easy to be enlightened. When you're flush with cash, it's easy to share. When you're pain-free, it's easy to push it to the next level. When the wind is at your back, it's easy to talk about how balanced you are and how you are surfing the tides of fate, etc. What about today? Let's talk about the mixed bag of reality. Drumpf destroying America? Suck! Great weekend with girlfriend? Rock! Drumpf destroying more America? Suck! New furniture? Rock! Messy apartment? Sore muscles? Sleep deprived? Suck! New bed? Good value? Rock! New bed is actually used lumpy bed? Suck! Got a bonus? Rock! Half of what was promised? Suck! This is the real crux of why equanimity isn't easy. Monday at the bottom of a well. No sunlight, tired, burned out, overwhelmed. Now is precisely the time I can't lose heart. Moments like these are why life balance is a sublime attitude. In fact, it's the foundation of the others - joy, compassion, and loving-kindness. I'm grateful for a great best friend and roommate. Grateful for an amicable ex. Grateful for new love. Grateful for a cheap graduate degree that's done in December. Grateful for the student marchers and all the binders of women who turned out to be heard. Grateful for a job with a lot of autonomy. Grateful that my health problems are getting better. Grateful for a bank account that's above 0 for several years. Grateful for my new beard. Grateful for friends I got to see. Grateful for new adventures in romance. Grateful for delicious food in my town. Grateful for my new wardrobe. Grateful for, yes, my big screen TV. Grateful for imperfect people who are trying. Grateful for kind nurses and effective but odd doctors and for a great therapist. Grateful for learning about professional world. Grateful for options about where to go next. Grateful that local weather is never boring. Grateful for being supported by family and friends. Grateful for health and well-being of same. Grateful for living in a bug-free, low-crime area. Grateful for paid-off car and a decent brain. Grateful that life is worth living. It's not easy street. It's never "over." It's worth living, though. Gonna get back to work now. Grateful for GameQuitters or a small forum that helps in a big way. Out. PS - there are more "good dudes" than "bad dudes."
  13. @hycniejsy, @WorkInProgress, thanks for the support. Good luck in your own trackings and journeys. Entry 11: Honestly, It's just a Slog Today Yep. Feel guilt and confusion over whether to stay on a committee? Check. Ate out a low-quality, hi-cal sandwich, now all gurgly? Check. Made progress? Check. Had progress gainsayed by colleagues. Check. Instituted a program? Check. Had needy colleagues press to rearrange all the work I've done? Check. Avoiding real work now? Check. Such a long week. Sickness, sleep disturbance. Losing heart now. At the meeting this morning I felt so out of place with high-achieving people who will stay at this company forever-ever-EVER. Grateful for the time, but- BUT! My heart isn't in it anymore. It's with my clients, sure. But not going above and beyond for bureaucrats and unit directors who protect their petty fiefdoms and only ask or demand, never give. Grateful to develop as a professional, but- I owe this place no special loyalty. I was literally HUGGED by a manager who lied to my face. I wanted to scream. Ha! I literally just got insulted by the man who hired me. He accused me of not being able to do basic math. He is, of course, not able to, um, read. Sigh. Honestly, it's just a slog today. I give up for the weekend. Out.
  14. @WorkInProgress, what's up with your footer? Are you keeping track of meditation sessions? A personal character sheet? Entry 10: Disappointment and Despair, or, Freedom and Forgiveness. It's hard to disappoint people who we care about, and who count on us. Just resigned from a committee with a 2-year commitment. I was elected by my peers and it could have really made an impact. Part of me was scared to work with very experienced people, part of me was excited to contribute, but it's clear that my future is not here at this company. All the time that I'd spend helping this company that has lied to me and leaned on me and dumped duties on me without a promotion or raise is time I could, I should be helping myself find something better. So, yeah, I believed in this job, it's one of the best jobs I've ever had, and yet if I don't move on, I'll stagnate. If I don't move on, they'll just keep adding to my duties until I burn out. They don't care that I've doubled the size of my unit through recruiting. They don't care about how I nurture and coach colleagues and clients alike. They don't really care that I helped move the bar and take this unit out of the doghouse. I am disappointed that the world is not fair. That I didn't get a Ph.D., that I got off-track early and don't have the career history, the salary, the skills, the respect that other professionals my age get. I am disappointed that jumping around from marginal jobs and having a comedy "career" didn't quite lead to the megabucks I never expected. I am disappointed that white male god complex doesn't give you the powers of a god, that I'm not a superhero, a ninja, a jedi, the chosen one, or the kwisatz haderach. I am a middle-aged underemployed, overeducated white male in a first world country, and I'm disappointed things aren't going to be a cakewalk. I am disappointed that I make rash mistakes and have to apologize. I am disappointed that I am smart and yet so amateur at so many things. I am disappointed in my ability to follow through. I used to wish to be special. Then just normal. Now that I'm so normal, of course... There's a lesson here. I can't do everything at once. I can't be a rockstar to everyone. The truth is, I'm doing well. That intractable and impossible wound? Healing again. That broken heart and divorce? I'm dating again, and it's good love. That family drama? It's blowing over, and I helped make it better. That weight I gained back? Losing it. The mess and hoard I was going to live in? It's clean and decluttered. The depression that haunts me? Treated, managed. Hell, I ran a couple miles even if I was getting sick. My heart didn't even hurt. Yes, I worry that my graduate degree will be undervalued, much like my undergrad. But I'm finishing, and bigly. Yes, my mustache doesn't connect under my nose, but women like my beard. If you kick around the rocks on the desolate shores of despair, you'll find that, in the words of Jeff Goldblum, "life finds a way." I take a long, meditative breath. Maybe I am a ninja after all. I write a romantic text to my new girlfriend. Maybe I'm not an unwanted weirdo after all. I do my programming homework early. Maybe I'm not an idiot with no skills after all. I walk around my clean room. Maybe I'm not destined to be a cockroach man after all. I have the luxury to dream of a next job, a higher quality of life. Maybe I'm not in the loser bracket. I'm not a celebrity, or a genius, but I an live an intelligent life. Maybe I started life with the emotional regulation skills of an angry chihuahua. But that's not where I'll finish, that's not where I am. Maybe I do overstep boundaries, but sometimes I get things done nobody else could figure out. Maybe I'm anxious, but I see dangers and can start planning a defense. Maybe I did screw up, but I've got wisdom and experience now. Here's my own koan - how to be humble and yet special? Humility is really the only way to go. Life is special, but I'm not the star. Maybe I'm just a helper spirit. Maybe a tiny bureaucratic angel. Maybe I'm a guest in your life. Comic relief. Not Hamlet, but Rosencrantz. Minor characters have feelings too. Thinking about this mountain of expectations, I can see how heavy it is to carry these around all the time. What if I could let go of these expectations? Not letting go of standards. Not let go of my dreams. But living with no expectations... It would be easier to be grateful. I'm a long way from absolute zero. I'm a long way from dissolution. Describing my life to my earlier self, isn't this pretty good? My struggles make perfect sense! In fact, I should be proud of where I am. My fears make sense. Totally valid. I forgive myself for not making it big. I forgive myself for not getting a phd by 27. I forgive myself for not knowing how brains work, how privilege works, how the system works. I forgive myself for not having perfect DNA, for making smart mistakes and dumb mistakes. For dating weirdos and for being one. I forgive myself for not doing my best all the time. For being a fat guy. For being unable to resist emotions. For struggling with substances. I forgive myself for making it here. Right now. I've just caught up. I'm only just here now. I forgive myself for being a little crazy. Is the world malevolent or benevolent? Nope. It's just the world. I'm not sure I can play the game for dominance and mega-wealth. I could play it consciously. I can't fix everyone. I can't give everyone a happy ending. But I can choose to be happy now. I can't always change everything. But I can move it an increment, or bear it when things aren't better. I am not going to meet all of the expectations of myself, the world, my lovers, my children. I may not even make it to tomorrow. There's no guarantee. Marinate on that a minute. I don't have a say in what happens. I do have a say about inside my mind. There really is no choice. You start where you are. You've done what you've done. I have a feeling and thinking organ, I have the present. I have a tool for cognition, a body. Catch up to now. Now is where the rock and roll is. Isn't it good to be alive? Even sick, it's good. Even though I'm not rich, isn't it good? Even though I'm not immortal, isn't it good? Even though love isn't perfect, isn't it good? Even if I'm not perfect, isn't it good? Another paradox: how to stay relaxed, calm, and even when everything can be so epic? Another paradox: if life is so epic, how can it be so tedious sometimes? Another paradox: if there are so many paradoxes and dangers, how do I feel so good right now? Out. PS- the sun is shining. Chop wood, send emails.
  15. @WorkInProgress, thanks for the tip. I'll up my morning water - I think the 2 cups of coffee aren't helping the hydration problem, either. Entry 9: Acquiescence and Acceptance Sick for days, so many ways, I'm achin' now, I'm achin' now. Times like these, I need release, please show me how, please show me how... to get right." - The Black Keys, "Tighten Up" Any new habit or purpose is tested. The Universe challenges our intentions. It's nothing personal. Just business. Order and entropy. Equanimity, balancing on the tides of success, failure, fate and chance, is not just a hallmark card. It's not just for the old, the philosophers, the perfect yogis. It's for me. Good news on the healing front. Success. Now, a terrible cold. Setback. I legitimately worry I am immune-compromised. Went to the gym twice last week. Got great sleep. Wonderful dates with new girlfriend. Big projects on time at work. Good nutrition, even meditated once or twice. Almost no gaming. Getting sick again feels like punishment - but that's not true, it's just allergies or sick children touching my desk. Getting well feels like a blessing - it is, but it's the result of adjustments, hope, nutrition, and focus. Every time I feel like I'm winning the war, the universe fires back. Solution? Stop being at war. Acquiescence is the word of the day. I accept radically that existence is precarious and every day a pathogen tries to test me - ah / Every day madness tries to end me - ah I'm a motherfucking starboy. One day it hit me that Zen was a psychological immune system. Thoughts are monitored, questioned, and aberrant ones destroyed, benign ignored, nutritious speedily escorted to vital areas. I like the idea of the little "i" vs. the big "I" of the ego. Cultivating a patient, observing "witness" consciousness. I suppose that since I'm really a colony of millions and trillions of cells and fungus and flora and fauna, I'm never acting alone. I suppose since I'm tied energetically to the rest of the planet and cosmos, that I'm not really separate. It really would be wrong to take too much credit or blame for anything. On the other hand, I think it would be wasteful not to savor this life and to help out while I'm here. My fantasy of simple living: Smaller home, fewer things. It's comfortable, clean, easy to maintain. Simple garden, a few staple crops, a greenhouse. Some chickens. We live outside a town. The air is fresh. We are part of co-ops and get fresh local foods. A rich social life, helping out others with labor, with their children, with big life events, with planting and harvesting. Not anything close to farming, but a life near the dirt. I still have a big screen TV, it's just not the star of my living room. I like the idea of children. I have space and time to flex and think with yoga, meditation. I take long walks with the children. We read books and draw in the evenings. We share our dreams in the mornings. I have lost 50 pounds that I didn't need. It's just dead weight. I am kind to myself, my wife, to others. I correspond with my friends, classmates, mentors. I write profusely. It feels good to unload the brain. I paint for fun. I still work. I choose my jobs carefully. I make 70 or 80 mid career, and I make it go far. Planned vacations. I take surfing lessons on Maui every other year. I don't succumb to workaholism. If I am clever, I can work from home. I am a mentor to the young and a spiritual teacher in my old age, even if I just have one student, myself. I continue to youthen. I embrace the balding-ness. I embrace that time leaves wisdom in its wake. My beard is badass. My breathing is masterful. I laugh every day. I work my way through poetry, philosophy, psychology. I keep learning new words. I learn new moves in the kitchen and in the bedroom. I drink wine and sing songs on the weekends. We have a fire and dance like nerds on clear nights. All around there is the smell of tasty things. Each decade, I have more memories, fewer things. More happiness, fewer regrets. I become a morning person, a day person, a night person. It feels good to be alive. No matter where I go, I will cultivate kindness towards myself. Out. PS- My father had this dream, too. Will I be able to reach it?
  16. Entry 8: Deep Tissue Celebrities often live trivial existences. However, they've got one thing right. Sometimes, you just need a day at the spa. Yep. I'm a man, and I got a massage. Not the sleazy kind. The special, super-yogi kind that pulverizes your fascia and ligaments and rebuilds you a fresh clone of your formerly stressed-out self. I'm floating on a cushion of relaxation, and if I hadn't eat too much at lunch, I'd be at perfection. Oh well. While I'm releasing the tensions and toxins of my physical body, I'm also in the therapy gym, excavating and decluttering the baggage of the past. This isn't even my final form! Now that I am not consumed with games and addictions, there's time to create my adult identity. Late, but who cares? Like Gandalf, I suppose I'll arrive precisely when I mean to. Now that I've got space and some health, it's time to re-commit to physical and spiritual practices that will serve as a platform for the new year and my identity as I enter mid-life. That's right, dear Readers, I'm closer to 40 than 20. Or 30 for that matter. Time to make new mistakes. Do harder things. Take better care. Here's my ideal - maybe unrealistically so - weekday: 6:15 - wake 6:30-7:15 - morning yoga and/or meditation 7:15-7:30 - shower, change, 7:40 - leave for work 5:15 - home from work 5:30-6:30 - unwind, eat, protein 6:30 - 7:30 - digest, watch a show, read 7:30-8:30 - gym or other personal development time Bed by 10. Earlier if desired. This is reasonable. I hate having to get up early but I'm just too tired after the workday. I have to give up that fight. There's just no gas in the tank. Next step - actually get up early and do yoga. Do or do not - there is no try. Out. PS. No matter what happens, you're probably gonna be ok - Louis C.K.
  17. Entry 7: Strength of the Sublime There comes a time when you have to trust yourself. All of us have struggled with ourselves to make changes. Some of you have had to defy the wishes of friends, of partners, of authority, to succeed. That's a huge risk. I made a decision to modify the treatments I was receiving. On their program, I hurt, I couldn't bathe normally, I couldn't move. It wasn't working. They were going to give up and send me to surgery. Again. My 5th surgery for the same thing. I made a decision to trust my experience in the medical field. To trust my body. I've had hopes dashed before. Prematurely thought it was better. Crushing reversals. Just like freaking out too soon, I am prone to early celebration. I remember the twin illusions of Taoism: victory and defeat. Of every thing, ask: "Is that so?" For now, I am 75% healed. The doctor validated my approach. Taking care of myself works. [Huge sigh of relief] Part of my health is avoiding mindless gaming, mindless drinking, mindless screen time. Some people believe that leaders and heroes make the most difference, but a Confucian would say that to change a nation, Start with the person. This is how I will find forgiveness for the past. This is how I can fight for the future. This is how I tie these to the present. Take care of myself. Not in an Ayn Randian, me-first-at-all-costs super-egoism. But a proper priority on self-care, self-compassion, self-loving-kindness. I spent so much time analyzing others, getting outraged, advising others on what to do, finding fault in others. Time to re-focus. It's hard to play defense at work when I sincerely want approval and to be liked. But then I get taken advantage of. It's hard to say no to people. It's hard to know what's drama and what's a genuine problem. What will get better with time and what will get worse and what can't be changed at all? I'm happy, believe it or not. Thriving is about coping with stress - and they don't tell you that higher goals mean more stress to cope and adapt to, not less. I find myself with a frown or in tension and I think: "Equanimity." I will ride these waves. Do I think I am winning? Losing? I am just being and coping. Out. PS- I grew a beard. Watch out, dad.
  18. Thanks, @WorkInProgress - that's a really good site! Entry 6: Sleep and Setbacks Sleep is my new drug. 8 hours. 9 hours. 10 freaking hours. My mind is an entirely different neighborhood. My inner critic is more quiet, the thoughts are more fluid, inner strength more available. Is this what normal feels like? AWESOME NEWS! I didn't game at all the last few days. True, it's been so busy, but also, I've resisted. I put my controllers away. I've even got my roommate on board with gaming reduction. Found new shows to watch, new classes to study for, books to read, and then, just moments of silence. The emptiness is... tough. The emptiness is ... empty. Duh! The emptiness is scary, boring, enraging, depressing. The emptiness is ultimately okay. It's just that coming out of chaos and noise, it's jarring. My comfort zone will grow. Soon, I will be meditating again. BAD NEWS! Not responding to the new treatments. That's 7 months and counting for the surgical wound that won't go away. Gonna start looking for second opinions. This is so hard to bear sometimes. I'm a grown man taking sponge baths cuz I can't get wet. Sigh. I feel gross. Life is mixed like this. Success, failure, forward, back, clarity, confusion, loss, love, heartbreak. I should meditate on this swirling. I would like to leave this endless wheel of ups and downs, or to bear them with equal dignity. A sage who knows this, the Buddha says, can be happy even in the midst of hell. Listening to: Ethereal Pop on Pandora. Mood: Ranged from upbeat to righteous anger to frustration to coping. Outlook: deep breath, cultivate hope. Hold my head high and jaw tight. Everyone knows the real tragedy of January 20, 2017. No need to say it. Thousands of miles away, a madman comes to power. He's not the first, hopefully he won't be the last. Back in my sphere, learning to live again without my ex, in a new place, with a challenging condition. I don't believe in gods, and I will admit that sometimes life is harder without that to lean on. I have to just believe and hope that things will be okay. I have to believe that I can cope and succeed. Word of the day: Equanimity: In Buddhism, equanimity (upekkhā, upekṣhā) is one of the four sublime attitudes and is considered:
  19. Entry 4: Embracing Emptiness It's terrifying to have nothing to do. For me, relaxation anxiety sets in. Panic. I can feel the adrenaline and cortisol juicing through my veins. Preparing for? Danger, what else? The traumas I have suffered have left me with more triggers than a Matrix sequel. As you might have surmised, it's hard to live this way. Always watching the door. Living like a refugee. I want to read, to breathe, to think - my brain resists - No! Not now! Too much! Next to the hypervigilance, everything is boring. The only thing I can do is carve out busywork for my self. That's where games come in. They're a pacifier for an anxious child desperately trying to learn to be an adult. I own maybe 500 games across many platforms, but I don't feel like playing more than a few of them. If I moved my computer from the living room, I wouldn't play hardly at all. But then what would I do with the emptiness? The nothing? The boredom? The silence? The waiting? There is an experience of two feelings at once - two realizations - that is called "satori." One part of me dreads these silences - the other has, at times, cherished them. One feels the long-surpressed emotions bubbling up and is frantically trying to seal them away, avert their impact. The other feels the release of long-held tension, even if it's anger, sadness, grief. I found a zen teaching - in the most Zen of all places on the internet, the Huffington Post. Enlightenment can come from anywhere, the Buddhas might say. I'm going to get to that place of calm. I'm going to learn to live with this not-knowing, the silence, with just myself and my thoughts. To do that, I'm going to need to punch some of my emotions and behaviors IN THE FACE. As I lay awake last night in what has become a ritual of pre-workweek insomnia, I realized that just because my inner warrior is over-tweaked, He should be rehabilitated, given a new mission. Now, he's gonna identify the following emotional states and mental strategies as the real threats. 1. Comparing myself to my twin brother. A highway to depression, for sure. Antidote: I'm my own person. 2. Comparing myself to anyone else. A slippery slope to unhappiness. I have my own life I woke up in and I'm gonna live the shit out of it. 3. Avoidance of problems. A pause is okay. Out of sight, out of mind doesn't work. Antidote: incremental progress, celebrate small victories. 4. Paralysis / Learned Helplessness. I am NOT helpless. Antidote: Notice it, I will talk myself out of the fugue and get back to living. 5. The Tyranny of the Shoulds. Second guessing myself eternally isn't productive. Antidote: Replace with "I want" 6. Self-Pity Spirals. NOPE. Antidote: Cultivating Gratitude 7. Self-hate Spirals. Double NOPE. Antidote: Cultivate self-compassion. 8. Absolute thinking. "I will never..." "I always..." Absolutely wrong. Antidote: Notice and moderate. 9. Boredom: Tricky. 2 options: 1- allow it and savor the emptiness. 2--cultivate nourishing behaviors, even if discipline/practice is hard. 10. Anxiety: Tricky. Investigate it. Cope with the symptoms. Avoid self-medication. Take action. 11. No Direction: Tricky. Review my career plan and current goals. If nothing else, clean my self and unfuck my habitat. If I don't know what to do, I should at least live well in clean, safe, place. --- Entry 5: New Love You guys, I'm in love. I'm in my mid-thirties, so I know when it's real. Of course there's a problem. She's so much like me, I worry - can I handle TWO of me? Educated, underemployed, helping professions, kind, nerdy, from the same kind of dysfunctional white trash mess I come from. Areligious but spiritual. Overweight but comfortable in her body and sexy as hell. Shy but full of inner worlds. Has experienced depression and loss and survived. What's the problem? The chemistry was immediate, like first sight, and don't get me started on the first kiss. Breaking Bad levels of chemistry. Like me, no savings, a lot of college debt, a desire to help others and make more money doing it. The Rat Race starts seeping in. Should I try to marry up? That didn't work out with my last relationship. The class differences, more than anything, pushed us apart. Now that we're in the same class, isn't it hypocritical or just foolish to think the grass is greener? It's not realistic that I'm gonna land a skinny rich neurosurgeon model. I'm always swearing by Assortative Mating. Like goes with like. Here's a fear - do I want to fix her too badly? She's a lot like me 5 years ago. A crappy job, a crappy car. Too much of a fixer-upper? Or am I just comfortable feeling superior? Do I feel superior? Actually, in most of my relationships, I was the one being cared for. I was the child in the relationship. She's a mother of young children, and she loves me - but doesn't want to mother me. I'm going to follow this where it leads. These seem like normal fears. I'm going to watch the next year very closely. So used to inappropriate relationships with inappropriate women that I don't trust something regular and good. I want to be the man that she sees in me - a strong, smart, sexy, lumberjack of a man. And I guess I don't want to change her. I want to help her get a better job in the same arena - which she wants. I want us to lose weight together - which she wants too - and explore the world together. I'm gonna keep it going. What would be red flags? What would be evidence that would disprove the null hypothesis that it's good love and a long-term prospect? 1. Starts asking for money. 2. Pressures me to move in quickly. 3. Starts pushing her children to call me Dad, de-emphasizes the real dad's role. 4. Depression that she doesn't treat or acknowledge. 5. Doesn't keep her job. 6. Any other signs of co-dependency. 7. Controlling behaviors. 8. Neglect or rough treatment of her children. 9. Not respecting my boundaries. 10. Inability to deal with negative emotions, difficult situations like an adult. Whew. This is some serious reflecting. Thanks for being a forum where thoughts can be expressed in a supportive environment. Out. Positive PS: I look good today. Like a sexy lumberjack who solves crimes.
  20. Day 3: The Battle of Boredom Dear Readers, tell me if I'm being too hard on myself - I got a bonus, I'm waiting for school to start, and I'm mostly just goofing off at work. I got the important things done, I could clean, practice, or go back and review files. But I'm mostly just researching and thinking about the future. I'm trying an experiment in "extraordinary boredom." I'm not on my phone. I'm trying to avoid games (at work, even!). I definitely have 'nothing to do' syndrome. I guess the truth is I'm out of easy stuff and I'm down to the things that are hard to do, or that I don't want to do. 1. Fix my car. 2. Clean my car. 3. Clean my office. 4. Practice new job duties 5. Contact clients who've fallen off the radar. 6. Contact friends. 7. Prepare for inclement weather. 8. Purchase my textbook. 9. Document old sessions. 10. Anything else I'm avoiding so well I forgot about it. I suppose if I appealed to my higher self, I'd say either do an easy one or be okay with nothing for a few minutes. It would feel good to resolve most of these. I hate things hanging over my head, but sometimes feel powerless or afraid to do them. Learned helplessness, they call it. Well, I priced my books, that's something. I spend a lot of time thinking about the life I would have had without X difficulty. Lots of ifs and shoulds. Such a trap. Pity party central. I have to live this life now. Many of those things have to do with the future, with self care, habitat hygiene, and social connection. I'm doing another item. Just acknowledging that it's hard, but important is helpful. It will make me feel good to finish. I'm so used to existing in a state of frozen anxiety, where I don't even know why I'm freaking out. Last night I was so restless. I'd be super-tired, then pacing, and I couldn't figure out why - these issues have to be at least part of it. So many fucking lists and things hanging over my head, it keeps me in emergency mode all the time and destroys my relaxation. Paradox: how can I learn to relax when EVERYTHING needs work? EVERYTHING could be better? EVERYTHING is coming at once? I turn to games and mindlessness to cope with this onslaught. The digital battles make me feel like I'm doing something, but it's an illusion. Like drugs, they don't actually improve anything. My roommate used to tease me about Game Quitters - but this week, for the first time, he said he wanted to cut back. A frank admission that while games aren't evil, they do compete for time and attention, energy, resources, focus. I just finished another item. It wasn't so bad. I think I can handle bursts of activity as long as I don't think it'll be a marathon. Jesus, my folks used to have us go for hours and hours. It was brutal, and it didn't matter. The hoard, the junk, the animals, the drama swallowed everything. Now that I'm an adult, I still feel more like a Walking Dead survivor on the move and less of a householder. I still have nothing on my walls. I only exist in the present. Keeping these emergencies unresolved maintains a cloud of drama that allows me to not even consider the future. I want to break free of this cycle, but I don't think I have the strength or skills to handle everything. Honestly, it's why my last relationship failed. I couldn't meet her standards for planning, housekeeping, upkeep, cleaning, behavior. Am I destined to live at the bottom of the quality of life graph? Positive PS: Gonna finish laundry tonight and clean my place. At least that's living my way. Out.
  21. Day 2: True Grit Great to hear from you all, @Cam Adair, @WorkInProgress, @kingstravy. I'm not giving into those beliefs anytime soon. Just identifying them so my Zen targeting mindfulness lasers can blast them like wamprats in Beggar's Canyon. Found something cool to share with you guys as your respawn and rebuild yourselves that really helped me on the domestic front: http://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/ makes the most sense out of all the declutter/minimalist/clean your room type strategies. Had mixed results at the doctor today - my wound (six months now!) is clear of infection, looking better, changing shape, but not getting smaller. Was shocked at the test results - I, an American male, wasn't getting enough protein! I put myself on 2/day shakes, the good stuff from Optimum Nutrition. I guess this is a common problem for people who eat less meat like myself. Tofu and eggs just isn't cutting it. I was below the scale for albumen readings. Total surprise. But maybe not so much- I had noticed more muscle soreness than usual and longer healing times for scratches and cuts. I just thought I was getting old (I am) - but it was a nutrition problem. I have both strong positive and negative motivators now - positive: I need to be healthy to get strong, to have a quality of life, to do yoga, be outside, climb, make love, take care of myself and others. Negative: if I don't heal up in a month they are going to do a skin graft and call it a permanent hole. Going to do everything to avoid that scenario. Here's the grit. I didn't get the golden good news I wanted. I would have avoided the problem, but that's what got me into this mess. I'm taking action. I'm tracking my response, my intake, my moods, my sleep. I'm gonna beat this thing. I'm supposed to make a list of accomplishments as ammunition against my inner critic. Counteracts the limiting beliefs nicely! Recently: Proof of Grit Lost the weight I gained in my divorce Got to 9 hours of sleep a night Learned how to date again Sowed some wild oats and got the rebound out of the way Felt confident enough to turn down sex! Conducted myself honorably and honestly in a world of hookups, ghosting, and deception. Met somebody amazing and chose them consciously Finished 3rd semester of graduate school with 3.95 average Bargained for a raise. Spent the money I would have wasted on games on a new warddrobe Patched my relationship with my brother and held my new nephew in my arms Had a great christmas, choosing thoughtful gifts for others for the first time. Consistently journaled for a week straight. Consistently went to therapy for a year. Joined Weight Watchers and worked the program, losing 20+ pounds. Survived divorce and maintained amicable relationship with ex. Survived on my own with a decent habitat and quality of life. Made new friends. Learned basic Chinese Learned more guitar Survived the Trumpocalypse (ongoing*) Grew a beard! I started up a game and turned it off. I've learned that I use gaming as a crutch in what is known as a "freezing" response. In other words, gaming is just something to do while I am emotionally paralyzed, which is a helplessness/survival mode reaction I learned in my traumatic childhood (and young adulthood). Other "freezing" behaviors are: mindless eating, mindless screen time, mindless dating (can fill a lot of time with low-quality interactions). Had a realization. I always missed reading and the other things I used to do before gaming took over my life. I always assumed I was too manic or unfocused to read, but I see that 1) I had attenuated to "faster" dopamine generators like gaming and 2) I couldn't relax because I was angry and still in grief over the tragic losses I've suffered. Some people don't eat food when they are greiving. Some withdraw from friends. I withdraw from people and also spiritual/mind-nurturing behaviors. I forgive myself for this. I was hurting. Not emo hurting. The kind of soul-hurt from when a cosmic hammer pulverizes your whole universe. I was shattered and I was doing my best to survive. I did survive. But it's time to "unfreeze", to un-pause my life. I remember wishing, probably as so many of you have, that you could just pause your life to unfuck everything, or stop the onslaught of flashing red lights. Gaming-as-life is like the city of Kandor that Superman keeps - it's a miniature, incomplete existence - it was a last-ditch effort to save the people, but at a great cost - and his ongoing inability to restore them is a reminder of his great failure. I have had failures, but I am NOT a failure. I have made mistakes, but I am NOT a mistake. I have lost and been lost, but I am NOT lost. I am going to heal from the complex web of PTSD, religious programming, maladaptive coping, depression, and anxiety into a beautiful swan-ninja. Just watch, ya'll. Out. Postive PS: One of my clients told me I gave him the strength and confidence to keep going. That nourishes my soul. You bet it does.
  22. Day 1: Hope and Healing "Divorce is not for the weak" - a good friend, Dr. "Kiss" I am a survivor. I am on my way to being a "thriver." Yes, I am playing too many games. But I am in my own place now. Handling it. I survived the greatest breakup in my lifetime. I am caring for myself and others. I have met someone new, and taking it slow. It could be love. Optimistically, it will be love. I have survived sickness and stress. I have been lied to and about. My relationships and goals were tested. I survived this. I survived terrible physical pain. I survived embarrassment. I survived erectile dysfunction and bad rebounds and casual flings with sketchy people. I survived WITHOUT INTERNET for a month. Yeah, now it's serious. I survive, and I will thrive. You never know which ManGodWhyNo will show up in these posts. It's clear the optimistic one showed up. I have reasons to be optimistic. My excellent therapist pronounced me "clear" of the bullshit misdiagnoses I've gotten over the years. There's nothing wrong with me. Yes, I had a terrible childhood. Yes, my parents were emotionally unstable narcissists, addicts, and religious Trump-voting nutjob hoarders. I'm not going to live that way. I took a challenge to read 3 books over the holidays. I chose Dune. Epic. Crazy. At times, silly. But complex and interesting. Like myself, flawed but multifaceted. Indulgent but imaginative. I am cultivating hope in the garden of my mind. I prioritize sleep over everything. Diet and sobriety. Ya'll know I'm looking for redemption. I had a lesson over the holidays. I had the worst flu of my life. Nausea, migraine, I could barely walk. It was torture and solitary confinement and family time all in one! I used to think my most valuable possession was my car, my computer. I used to think my job was small and insignificant. My paycheck, laughable. The greatest possession is health. I couldn't unplug from the rat race, the endless self-flagellating comparisons to richer, better, peers and celebs and friends and strangers. But that doesn't matter. I've unplugged from politics. From news. I choose health and local concerns. I no longer want to convince people to believe in Bernie. I want to convince myself to believe in myself. My therapist and I agreed on a challenge - what limiting beliefs are holding me back? Here goes, Dear Readers: 1. I will never have any money 2. I am destined to be alone 3. I will never be a parent 4. I am not normal and will never be. 5. I will never be with someone who really understands me. 6. I don't have a future. 7. Everyone knows what a failure I am. 8. No one wants to know me. 9. I will never get to a healthy weight. 10. I will always live in mediocrity. 11. I will never make it into the professional career of my choice. 12. Everyone thinks I'm crazy. 13. I don't know how to take care of myself. 14. I will never have personal style. 15. I am doomed. 16. I can't have nice things. 17. I only hurt people I care about. 18. I am a monster. 19. I am too damaged to (blank) 20. It's only downhill from here. These are some serious limiting beliefs. I have to fight against them in my darker days. Sometimes lack of sleep will trigger these spirals. Sometimes pain. Sometimes a random article or sentence or even a particularly dark television show. In those moments I say "Boy, my mind is really being critical right now," or "that's a very negative thought." Waking in the subzero cold last week, I forced myself to go to work anyway. "It's really hard to function on days like this, when the cold eats your bones." I can exist with negatives. I can exist imperfectly. I can carve out moments of gratitude and joy even when I am suboptimal, confused, panicking, or just being lazy. It's true. I have been damaged. I have had significant losses. A home. A marriage, basically. Scholarships. A Car. My mind. I survived these. Many of you have survived as well. Like badly written code, maybe you just hacked your way through. Like a poorly written novel, you just put on your plot armor and jumped to the next chapter. Sometimes, that's what it takes. Sometimes, you can't argue your brain into submission. You just have to tell it to fuck off, or just ignore it. I'm an atheist, so I don't have a God to trust. But I do have faith in Life. I know that consciousness, that humans, are in beta testing. I know and believe that we give things meaning. I choose to participate in reality and for my life to have meaning. I choose to redeem myself - no dead carpenters needed. When I have my next craving for food, for alcohol, for mindless gaming, I'm going to ask "will this bring me the joy I seek?" Am I truly hungry for this? "Go I forth to my work like an ass in the desert" - Gurney Halleck, Dune Positive PS: I got a 2K bonus this year. I've bought myself new clothes and I'm going to fix my car. I'm taking a vacation with my new gf. I haven't bought a video game in months!
  23. Day whatever Broke down in therapy today. Yeah, that kind of post, readers. Being tired turns me into the most emo Hulk. Angry, yet sad. That's my secret, I'm always a little sad. Going to bed now.
  24. Day Unknown: downward spiral into the Minus World It started with the arcade bar. That led to downloading some emulators. many of you are familiar with this story. Ramped back up to 4 hours on weekdays and 6-8 hours weekend days in a few weeks... Healing well from surgery, but mentally, spiritually, I'm a wreck. Burned through probably 250 bucks on games in the last month. Maybe more. At first, it was exciting, probably because it was forbidden and I was sneaking playtime. Now, after losing hours and hours of sleep, I'm a zombie. My head is full of crappy thoughts, my body full of aches. I'm lonely, empty, not pursuing any other goals really. By the old gods and the new, I read about relapse, and intellectually, knew it was a possibility. This is a dark place. I don't know if this is me coping with a heavy load in a bad way, or if I'm falling apart. Old therapist left, and it was 6 weeks before the new one got started with me. In that time I was riding the dopamine from this game, from that game. If my wrist or elbow got strained, I'd switch hands or change to a controller. After a while, the newness of each new game or old game would wear off, the rate of lost interest growing faster. I have these epic romantic fantasies about what the gaming will feel like, how the adventure will make me feel. I set games on hard or nightmare just to prove that it's not a cakewalk, that I'm "doing something." It's all a lie. I've really slacked off at work lately, and I'm behind on a few big projects. The sleep deprivation is really taking a toll. I'm really, really embarrassed for relapsing and abandoning my detox. It wasn't all bad, though. I did read a few books and got interesting in writing stories, instead of just clicking though them. I did play a little guitar. I did organize outings and parties and even ended up playing board games with total strangers. I took an online programming course and started another. I took on some new job responsibilities and got recognized for good work. I want to try again. I need detox and some quality rest from the over-stimulation.
  25. Day 41: Through the Looking Glass Thanks to everyone for kind words and helping me hold it together in a perfect storm of physical, mental, and professional challenges. 1 day post-surgery. Could be routine, could be complicated, could be unfixable, permanent. Fortune rolls the dice.... Critical Success! Surgeon says it was easy, uncomplicated, a little as 1 month recovery. Pain level: low. Discomfort: low Medication side effects: a little groggy, a little sleepy, very tolerable. Possibly the hardest thing is the ghost of surgeries, illnesses past. -- So far, so good. Focusing on nutrition, sleep. Today got back on guitar and did some baby yoga. DAE realize how much you use your pelvis for everything? So I used the pull up bar instead. I once did 70 pullups in a day. Now, back to 1. Let's get this party started -- Got 10 days off work. Gonna reflect, recharge, reconnect with others. Feels good enough to have the weekly GOT party at my place. I can do this. This has revealed a lot of baggage and trust issues on my part. It's really hard for me to trust in the recovery process. I am super-defensive, even paranoid of my gf's attempts to help. Never got the care I needed as a kid. Paradoxically, I both hide my issues and then fear others won't help AND drive people away. Knock it off! -- So I'm apologizing every couple of hours. I am not a calm Buddha. I survived, and will heal. FUN FACT: 15 years ago today, I was hospitalized for depression and anxiety. Thought my life was over. Very nearly was. Fast-forward to now- I'm on my way, and I'm handling this issue the best I ever have. It's going to be okay. -- POS PS: I have a really great SO. Post-surgery pumpkin pancakes and homemade soup, and a good nurse. Life is better in co-op mode. Out.