goldkin: umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH* (umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH*)
As is common with the rubberband trip between my family home and my current one, I'm suffering from a severe case of culture shock this week. This leads me to suffering from something I call emotional whiplash, as my emotional center and personal self-image attempt to catch up with rapid changes in contextual information.

This usually leads me to feeling emotionally very small once I return home. A part of this is the fact I live with introverts that keep very much to themselves, returning from an overdose of heavily extroverted people that make me feel several sizes too large on the socialization scale. The result is this sort of ill-fitting feeling of emotional disquiet that leaves me paralyzed for days, as I try to reclaim my quiet desire for affection and positivity after having it effusively and uncomfortably thrown at me by the cartful during my vacation.

I wish I handled this better. At core, I'm a strongly emotional person, and the disquieting polarization of emotional input completely throws me off balance. This usually results in about a week of lost productivity, as I spend that time alrecover.

Is there some better way to handle this? I know that, in part, this is signaling that I'm not meeting my emotional needs... and among those are my desire for affection and for quiet reminders that what I do and who I am are both, somehow, meaningful. My current coping mechanism has simply been to latch on to what scraps I can in my daily life, and that's simply causing me to rapidly burn out.

I guess what this is really saying is that I need focused love in my life again. I have no idea how to attain that for myself, as my lack of social poise and emotional balance have basically driven off most of the people I might otherwise care for. It's difficult for me to communicate that with care, I actually do much better when the initial results so clearly speak against.

Sigh. Humanity is so utterly confusing to me.
goldkin: goldkin tranquil (goldkin tranquil)
For the past several months, the concept of laziness has been heavily on my mind. I mean this both within and without, because, for the same set of months, my energy levels have been very erratic.

Previously, I would have just enough time to get my tasks done for work in a given day. I would then switch over to housework (with no commute; I work from home). When it came time to take a break for the evening, I would find myself completely exhausted, unable to participate in the wholesome activities that give my life so much meaning.

Yet, despite all of my energies and efforts towards work and the home on a daily basis, not much seemed to actually be getting done. Work was going well (and I've been treated especially well by my peers, I note). Yet, I found myself increasingly embarrassed by my quality of output. It was certainly acceptable, but my past abilities and attentiveness to detail were clearly starting to slip.

Working on the house seemed literally insurmountable: I would perform quasi-heroic, full-kitchen and full-room cleans on a weekly (sometimes, daily) basis. Yet, the mess piled up again within hours of my efforts. I had not experienced this when living alone, so I surmised that there must be some disparity of labor involved. Yet, try as I might to catalog and communicate this, my energies were too scattered to make much headway, let alone reverse the trend of slipping chores and an unsanitary lifestyle.

It was all quite disheartening. And, for a while, I quietly slipped back into depression. During my more energetic periods, I built personal spaces for myself to recover energy: small, wholesome outposts of activity that I could use to make myself feel good about myself again. And this worked for awhile... until those spaces started to become disrespected or overtaken. I then began hiding in my room, only coming out for personal needs. My housework plummeted, though my work efforts (via my personal laptop) redoubled. I was still exhausted and rapidly burning out, though.

It should be glaringly apparent at this point that this wasn't healthy. And, any time I was away from the house, for business or personal reasons, my energy levels would return to their original, high levels. It thus became abundantly clear that there was an energy leak, and that something needed to be done to make amends.

I fault no one in particular. However, I do fault a very specific form of predatory laziness that all of us experience from time to time. This can have a multitude of causes, but its primary symptom is unmistakable: the taking of someone else's energies and time to maintain one's own comfortable quality of living.

This is usually abstracted away in our lives. Every good and every service inherently has a cost associated with it, and try as we might to reduce disparity, many are unfairly exploited as a result. I am personally for (and will continue to be for) the reduction of human abuses in the professional textile industry, for example. But, this specific drain is at a more personal level.

At this level, three abuses were in play:

1) A seemingly reasonable request that is targeted, primarily, at deferring the cost of an action to another.

2) The repeated assertion that one's efforts are inadequate, so as to keep them hungry and wanting after performing any given task.

3) The assertion that these observations generalize, such that in any other, reasonable scenario, the same observations will also be present.

This is a crippling combination. It is to say that, globally, one is inadequate, such that only through one's infinite effort (as no finite effort will ever be sufficient), that person will be able to progress into a state of adequacy.

This is the sort of logical fallacy that developed within me. I am not the person whom directly made these three assertions. I do not believe these assertions were ever explicitly given to me. But, through the combined statements, actions, and negative space of others as they impacted me, it seemed as if these premises were given by implication. I felt understandably upset and abused. And I wanted to find any way that I could, out.

Psychologically, it's useful to note how such a pattern gains purchase within the brain in the first place. The human mind has very strong recency and primacy biases, and it tries to limit cognitive dissonance whenever possible, usually through dreams and storytelling. Given the information presented to me, the persistent theme became my own inadequacy, through repetition, recency, and because it was the simplest and most compelling story that explained my then-position within the household. My own performance, abilities, desires to recover, and desires to improve all plummeted. I sought escape, primarily in video games, which allowed me to properly distance myself without becoming clinically dissociative. And, through plodding, directed effort, I began to unpack my circumstances and learn how to adapt them to my needs.

One takeaway here is that no one should have to experience this, yet many of us do. At the same time, this pattern isn't one of depression. It is all too common the result of circumstance, which, often unbeknownst to the instigators, causes these patterns of thought to arise. And it is much too common in the employment treadmill, and in how many artists are treated.

Before I continue, I note that I am not wholly blameless. Nor am I the victim of circumstance. It simply took me this long to unpackage and identify my needs accordingly.

What corrected it in my specific instance is a rebalancing of households and household needs. By splitting our joint efforts in two, tasks can now be adequately assessed, communication on how time is spent can open up once again, and calcified processes that had decayed into inefficiency can finally be approached and reorganized. While I once again directly fault no one, I have no qualms about stating that negatively-reinforcing feedback loops bring out the worst in people, and that I am no exception.

In other words: we had a reorg.

The net result is that we're seeing immediate improvements in all of our energy levels. My own battered emotional state, in particular, is recovering rapidly. My productivity and abilities are finally pulling out of their nosedive in quality. And, most importantly of all, I'm starting to feel cheerful and good about myself again.

It isn't perfection. In fact, my goal in writing this out is simply to define it for what it is. All too often, cognitive abuse, be it from others or from oneself, is too quickly labeled and dismissed as an aspect of depression, when other biases and stimuli are in play.

So, where do I go from here? I have a lot of energy again, primarily from ending old patterns, and I intend to devote it to those people and aspects of my life that are wholesome for me. This means that I will not have time for everyone, and in some specific and rare instances, I'll be making cuts.

This does not mean I do not love you. It means that I will be focusing on those aspects that make me feel holistically good again, and I will be directing my efforts accordingly. A cut is simply an acknowledgement that I haven't made that work, yet.

I hope that isn't too alarming. I'd very much like to open myself up again, and in the interests of doing so, this post is public. But this time, I will be more wary of specific predators and predatory behavior patterns, and I'll be tuning myself accordingly.
goldkin: umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH* (umm... what I mean to say is... *CRASH*)
In hindsight, when I rolled my character for this lifetime, I made some pretty good decisions. Among them, starting out with high CON and DEX scores, plus several points invested into INT, did me a lot of good. The downside is, I also took a lot of character-specific disadvantages to compensate, in the hopes that the innate creativity and versatility welded into my character sheet would get me out of the more difficult binds.

Common and semi-irrelevant disadvantages aside (really, who didn't take Fear of Spiders at the first available opportunity?), I'm realizing that Social Aversion and Lack of Empathy have seriously been harming me. These were required to attain high competency in the Video Games and Game Design skill branches, but what I didn't anticipate was the additional penalty to all rolls when determining the intentions of others. Indeed, I completely missed these rolls' full ramifications.

See, I'm not especially bad at what I do. Quite the contrary: given how I've invested my skill points, I run the gamut of competent to relatively (or in rare cases, extremely) good. But, because I cannot determine the intentions of others in conversation, I'm currently the perpetual butt monkey. I read emotions and meaning just fine, but intention, not so well. Unsurprisingly, I'm also flagged as an extremely bad listener, and not for lack of trying to learn, perpetually, over the course of my entire lifetime.

As a result, I ask stupid questions. A lot of stupid questions. An insane number of stupid questions. And the net impact on my friends, my family, and my coworkers is people either don't understand me or build very low respect in my abilities over time, because this communication carries tremendous up-front costs. It also erodes my confidence and weathers the quality of how my work is presented, eventually giving me an (undeserved?) aura of well-meaning incompetence.

It nearly goes without saying that I can't interview competently, either, and that's harmed me at varying intervals for my entire career. Socially, I'm pegged somewhere between jovial-but-incoherent and an intellectual social pariah. Internally, I have anywhere from middling to extremely low self-esteem as a result, and it's only through investing heavily in will saves that I don't fall into a yawning pit of depression from whence I will never emerge.


This situation, to put it bluntly, sucks. I'd like to fix it, because hovering a scant two or three rolls above crippling depression and self-harm isn't a very nice place to be in for even a moment, much less a lifetime.

Other than reading books on the subject and trying to digest several lifetimes worth of qualia and communicated experiences (which I intend to do as soon as feasibly possible), I don't know quite what else I can do to work around or fix this. I do know that it will steadily improve with skill investment (neural enmeshment of ideas in the brain, eventually converging on the desired skills, is Really Cool in general), but I'm terrified that I'll make those wrong rolls before the situation improves, obliterating my progress and leading me down a road from whence I shall not recover. Despite what people seem to think about me, I do care about them, very much in fact, and it would be a crying shame if I were forever lost to them due to the 1 side of a D20.

Compounding my problem is the fact that I'm in a situation where demands on my time are so astronomically high that I cannot easily seek the best help that I desire. I'm lucky if I get a few hours to myself anymore, much less a single day, and that time is spent recovering my energies, reconstructing my internal mental context, and avoiding people. I'm topically aware of the issues underlying my current class of disorder, and I would like to seek someone analytical and professional enough to not dismiss me out of hand or force me to withhold information for fear of bias. After all, being unable to talk about my own beliefs and draconity is actually a big confound, because it's part of the complete story. Transparency of information free of manipulation is also very important to me as a scientist, and I would implicitly distrust any information borne of even the slightest observed social manipulation on my part.

So, I guess I'm otherwise out of ideas. Do you all have any? The low cost solution, in the form of reading and self-practice, is available and something I already intend to pursue. The higher cost solutions, involving professional help that I'm not wholly convinced will help, without high searching costs or straddling the uneasy lines of cognitive biases, isn't nearly as accessible to me at this time. I'm curious if there's some middle ground, some way to get this out of my system and get myself onto the road of recovery, without watching my dreams, ambitions, and pretty much everything I care about continually shattered over critically failing on stubbing my own toes.

I'm not one to complain often about fairness. After all, every outcome has some element or set of elements that, in their composition, led to a perceived lack of fairness in one view or other, despite being part of a more complex and nuanced whole. But, this feels incongruent and so completely wrong relative to the amount of effort that I've put into it. I'm trying, sincerely and honestly trying to better myself, and to put myself in a position where I no longer feel as if my existence and well-being are perpetually endangered by lingering threats and that there's no Plan B. I'm a planner. I'm a security professional. I'm an engineer. I'm a dragon. And dammit, I'm going to build some semblance of security and some small flickering of firelight for those that I care about. That is, quite simply, the person that I am right now.

I just wish that I felt I could anymore. In weathering it all, my abilities to adapt circumstances to help people and change things for the better are what I value the most. I build because, in doing so, I feel that I might be able to keep the darkness out for just one more night. That together, it'll let us see just one more dawn. And that through patience, vigilance, and ingenuity, we might be able to span that out into infinity.

I live for that dawn. I know that, in spite of my best efforts, it won't always be me. But I take comfort that it'll be someone, so much so that it's the message that I've chosen to weave as my purpose in this life.

And, I don't want that spark to go out. So, I ask questions. Incessantly. Because it's what I know works. It's one strategy that's allowed me to see more than one new dawn. But, now I need another one that I'm uniquely incompetent at, and I suppose I'm terrified of the ramifications of failure. Help?

October 2015

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