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Trepidation, Victims, Peace.... Thoughts

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
MARDEK's basically ready to be uploaded... but I seem to be having difficulty with the emotional aspects of all of this. I had to essentially go into hiding to recover from the stress of everything before, but now that I'm at the point where I should come out of hiding, I can't say that I feel especially prepared. So I'm going to write what will likely be a long, rambling, barely coherent post about my thoughts at this point.

I've spent the last couple of days working on a completely new game, inspired by one of my old games that I've been playing recently. This is a good idea, right?!?!? No, of course it's not. It's my mind's way of avoiding what I should be doing; it's so much easier to avoid than to face things that have caused me so much difficulty in the past.

(Though it's a good sign that while working on this other, new game, my mind constantly wandered back to MARDEK; the desire to return to it was very much there.)

It's been interesting playing through my old games... since the further into the past I go, the happier - or at least more innocent and naive - I was. When I first started making games, it was for the sheer joy of it. They were crudely-made and riddled with in-jokes I shared with the friends I actually had back then, but I made them without the slightest bit of worry or fear because I was the only one who'd really ever seen them. The first game I ever released was that Cyber Ortek thing, all those many years ago, but before that I'd worked on a whole host of unfinished RPGs which I might never have released anywhere. I certainly never made even a single penny from all the months of effort I poured into them, and that was never the goal anyway.

As I went through my old games, though - each a portal into many memories - I remembered how the way in which I made games changed. Criticism of others and the need to make money from what I was doing made it into a chore. Things took longer, even though I had more free time since I was no longer at school, and while I still experimented a lot and tried to make things that I myself would enjoy, there was always the lingering criticism of others in the back of my mind; the need to please, simply to avoid being stabbed by judgement.

Criticism... I think about that a lot. How there are people who crave it, but I imagine they're the ones who work on their personal novel or whatever which nobody takes any interest in; they'd love it, of course, if someone took the time to write a long, in-depth dissection of one of their chapters because it would show that someone cared and would allow them to improve their work and such. It's very different though when you get tons of criticism even when you don't ask for it, don't want it, aren't in the mood for it... Maybe you just want to do what you love for the fun of it. Maybe you aren't even interested in making the kind of thing that some stranger would like, since you'd prefer to make what you like. But no. You have to read it all, and even if the positive outweighs the negative by far, it's easier (for perfectionists like me, at least) to focus on the one jabbing needle in an otherwise fluffy haystack.

I've worked on MARDEK so far without any direct input from others... but I know that I'll be throwing it before the wolves to be torn to pieces very soon. Of course I'm not eager to do that. What if people hate it (again)? What if all my months were wasted? What if all my dreams are shattered?

I'm particularly sensitive about MARDEK because I've poured so much of myself into it. Every character and event is deeply personal to me, so if people criticise it, it would be like them criticising me, in a way, and if they suggest that this or that bit should be differently, I'd resist (and they'd probably get annoyed, if past experiences are anything to go by) because it'd be like suggesting that I edit the details of my autobiography or something. I can't change it because it's based on something that is... It's not just some distant story I regard with objective detachment, with which I can tinker until it's better suited for a paying audience. It is a story of me... and as much as I wish that story had gone differently, it hasn't, and so I'm working with what I have.

When you write or say anything, do you have a nagging voice - or voices - in your head criticising and/or arguing with everything you're saying or writing? Picking out the 'faults in your argument', the 'logical inconsistencies', the ways in which they're personally offended, etc, etc? I've been like that for so long that I can't remember what it's like to be truly mentally free. Even now, it's as if I'm picturing a group of frowning, cross-armed young men all waiting to leap on the slightest slip-up; to tell me I'm wrong and why, or to condescendingly 'help' me by holding my hand and guiding me out of my obvious naivete. Currently they're only imaginary, though; soon they'll be quite real - or at least as real as 'text on a screen' can be - and... am I ready to face this again?

I recently discovered certain spiritual ways of looking at the nature of the world, my own mind, and the minds of others that will, in theory, allow me to cope with these things much better than I ever did in the past. I do feel like a different person than who I was before the start of this year, and it's been wonderfully liberating so far. My life has been changing in significant ways, and I finally feel like I've escaped a black hole that consumed me completely before. Even the colours of the environment look brighter and more vibrant than they ever used to.

I've learned that we're all possessed by inner parasites in the form of our minds; these nagging inner critics and demons that make constant demands about how things should be this way or that way before they can be happy. They greedily demand fulfillment, incessantly, and drive us all to madness. I was very much the slave of my own in the past; I was more deeply 'unconscious' in this sense than most people, since I suppose I was being constantly drowned by negativity, largely from within.

I'm now aware that my mind is very much like a needy infant, wanting and wanting and throwing tantrums when it doesn't get its way, or when things don't go as it wished they would. I roll my eyes at it a lot. But it's also not a simple matter of detaching from it completely. Sometimes - with enough dark logs thrown on the fire - it can consume me once again, and I fall back into the hole... So far, I've not fallen nearly as deeply into it as I used to, and I've been able to get out again fairly quickly, but I don't know whether it'll be as easy if I'm having to deal with a lot of criticism and drama online.

I understand that others are driven by their 'parasites' much as I was (or still sometimes am), and as such they - that is, the true essence of who they are - are not to blame for being disruptive or difficult. They are slaves to their own minds, they are consumed by a black hole of their own, and their own way of dealing with it is by acting out, hurting others (the imagined critics are shaking their heads at me, ready to argue about what I'm saying; I doubt I could ever say anything that at least one of them wouldn't feel the need to argue with, though).

I always used to get bothered by the idea that every playground bully must be having a tough time back home, otherwise he wouldn't be acting out. I was more judgemental; I thought that regardless of what their home life was like, inflicting pain on others to cope with their own made them monsters anyway, and besides, some might just be dark to their core; sadistic psychopaths who do it for kicks.

The way I see it now, perhaps they are all driven by these 'parasites'. Perhaps I'd be the same if my life experiences were identical to theirs. They're mad, as are all humans driven by our minds, and they should be regarded with the same non-judging compassion as those who suffer from any other mental illness, since belching flames at them only makes their own inferno rage even stronger.

...I just suddenly realised that all my talk of 'parasites' and 'most people being mad' might be either baffling or offensive or both to many; maybe I've dived into the deep end and I'm the one who's mad for talking in this way, they might think. I suppose I've been immersed in this terminology for a while now, so I talk about it without realising that it must sound alien to those unfamiliar with it. I don't say it as if judging as such, though; it's not BAD, it's simply the way things happen to be.

Oh, language! It's a shame how limited it can often be, when people interpret words differently to how you meant them. Recently I came up with the mental image of language being like constructing a little figure or statuette or something, then sending it to someone else one limb at a time, expecting them to assemble it using their own experiences and knowledge. The figure they end up making might not even resemble the one you sent, not necessarily due to a fault on either side, but because of the nature of language.

Anyway, the underlying gist of all the spiritual stuff I ramble on about is that if we become a 'silent watcher' within ourselves, observing with wordless, thoughtless non-judgement at the things our own mind does, wants, gets 'offended' about, etc, then we no longer imbue it with 'selfness'; we no longer believe that mind IS ourselves, but rather we realise that it's simply a beast within which rules over us, but which can be tamed. We cannot tame the mind using the mind in the same way it's not possible to put out a fire with fire; we tame it with silence, by thinking no thoughts at all and by simply watching. Like any bully, it tends to calm down when deprived of reactions.

I've been going out for long walks almost every day recently. I'd love to go WITH someone, but I don't have anyone, so my only option is to go alone. I listen to audiobooks about this spiritual stuff sometimes, but other times I simply try to drink in the world around me, ignoring the grumpy monster growling and snarling and barking within my head.

"I need to think about this! It's important! And that thing you said before. That was stupid, wasn't it? Why would you say such a thing? Everyone must have thought you were an idiot. You'll never find love, or be happy. What if you don't make any money? So many people hate you"... and on and on and on it goes. If I were to believe everything it says, if I took it all at face value, then of course I'd go mad. Or rather, I was already mad when I lived in that way. Life when 'mind-identified' is very serious, an ordeal, a challenge from which escape through death seems like a wise option when things get too tough.

But if I just roll my eyes at it and let it go about its silly business, while paying devoted attention to the sound of the birds, the barely perceptible rustle of leaves in the gentle breeze, the beautiful lavender sky as the sun sets, the fragrance of flowers or the freshness of the air... all without labelling or judging anything, simply silently accepting it as it is, then a rush travels through my body, the sheer thrill of being alive, and it's as if nothing else matters other than this moment, because, well, it doesn't! The mind is quiet, but there's an intense alertness, aliveness, consciousness, and the realisation of soaring above the storm clouds of the mind which block out the nourishing light of the sun most of the time. It's hard not to smile when embracing the world so truly.

I used to be unable to leave the house because every time I went out for a walk, I spent the whole time constantly fearing having a panic attack. I had all the physical symptoms - lightheadedness, nausea, trembling with trepidation, etc - and I rushed home as quickly as I could. I was trapped in my own mind, and I didn't notice the outer world at all. But now all my walks are peaceful. The fear isn't necessarily GONE completely... It's just that I now realise that it's just a tangle of dark threads in my inner world, rather than the entirety of the world in which I live, and I'm free to ignore it because I no longer 'believe in' it.

None of this means that it's necessary or wise to discard the mind completely. Ignorance is bliss, yes, and I bet we'd all be happier if we didn't have any thoughts at all, but our minds are our greatest gift as humans (as well as our greatest curse); we simply have to master them rather than letting them master us. If we no longer believe our mind and ourselves to be one and the same, we can use the mind as a tool when need be without being consumed by its constant neediness. We can guide it to dig up truffles for ourselves to eat when we want to, rather than bending to its barking and feeding it all our own food in the hope it might finally give us some peace. There's a big difference between using the mind and letting it use us.

Anyway. My walks are nice... but I still put online 'social' things off, because once I'm at the computer again, it's just me with my thoughts, and things tend to linger. While I've had some luck meeting actual human beings in the flesh recently and having conversations with them - after which I always feel so uplifted - I don't have anyone at the moment who I can turn to whenever I need them, meaning that if I were to read some particularly harsh criticism, I'd have to cope with it alone somehow as it writhes darkly in my mind for hours, probably by retreating into meditation and doing my best to chain down the beast as it's agitated into a snarling fury. With practice, I'm hoping to get to a point where I can tame this beast enough that I no longer need the support of others just to stay stable, but, well, that will require practice. Things take time, sadly. I may have found the path to freedom, but I still have to walk it.

I know there are strangers reading these words who might be happy to Be There for me... but I'm so wary because of the way my mind's been conditioned over all these years. I picture them all - unfairly, of course - as those frowning, arms-crossed critics, 'helping' me through pointing out my faults and telling me to basically 'get over myself' (oddly enough, while obnoxiously unhelpful and heartlessly insensitive, that phrase - 'get over yourself' - has a grain of spiritual truth to it which I would have been unable to see before). Or I fear they may be in cahoots with the gang of trolls that seems to have formed based at last partly around a mutual loathing for me, and either they're wearing a mask to reach my inner sanctum so then they can wreck up the place (this has happened before), or they're simply talking to these unpleasant people in the background and... well, I wonder how much of this is just my inner beast making up dark fantasies simply so then it has pain to feed on. That's how it tends to work.

I am hoping, however, that when I open the doors to this site - and I will do that when MARDEK is released - I'll be able to have a fresh start, and I'll be able to forge a caring, compassionate community that many people - myself included - will be happy to be a part of.

I know that I'm going to do my part to be 'forgiving'... Or rather, by understanding that people are all being driven by the tangled snarls inside themselves, it's easier to regard them with quietness rather than judgement. It's not necessarily 'their fault' that they've acted out; they're simply 'insane', as are we all when identified with the mind. It's easier to type this here than to live by it when confronted by trolls though, I imagine.

I became aware recently however that there are people who still seem to harbour resentment against me because I've not 'apologised' for something or other that they seem to believe I've done. I raised an eyebrow at this, since whatever it is, it's something I myself just don't even think about at all anymore, but I suppose this is always a big problem with being in the public eye; your slightest slip-ups are scrutinised by the morality brigade, and by feeding off each other's disapproval of you, they keep that gaffe alive for much longer than it would be otherwise. A tipsy everyman might tell a racist joke amongst his friends which might make them uncomfortable, but it's likely to be forgotten before the night is done. A celebrity telling the same joke might be haunted by it for the rest of his career, if indeed his career could be allowed to continue at all.

I recently heard about Benedict Cumberbatch getting into bother while standing up for 'coloured' performers or something, because he used the term 'coloured'. I don't know the details and simply can't be bothered looking them up (more shakes of the head from the grumpy gaggle of critics), but the whole situation seemed completely absurd. He was using a term he thought was the NON-offensive one, and the whole thing he was doing was out of respect for these people. But no, there always seem to be a certain kind of person who absolutely MUST speak up about perceived 'offence' in these cases, to correct the social injustice or whatever. The point is missed entirely, and someone innocent is demonised largely - it seems - so then these noble warriors can feel good about themselves. I can't help but think of the ∞ Biblical quote ∞ about eyes and specks and logs.

"The Bible is stupid! Are you a god-botherer now? Everything in it is horrible! It's ruining the world!" say the increasingly agitated imaginary critics now, demonstrating the point exactly by missing it completely. (I wish I didn't always feel the internal need to preempt dissent. It's as if even when my posts get 0 comments, in my mind they get hundreds of argumentative ones, which I 'read' and respond to as if they were real...)

I do think that people - or rather, their inner beasts - feel better about themselves when they can look down on another. Others simply have their identity as a sufferer or victim reinforced by crying 'I'm offended!' at the slightest thing. It'd be absurd, of course, for me to speak as if I was never in that group myself. It's simply the nature of the mind, which IS identity; those who define themselves as Different or persecuted would feel reduced if they were to lose that element of themselves. There's a deep subconscious desire, I think, to want to cling onto that victim identity, because there's a kind of masochistic pleasure that suffering brings. I know; I've lived there for years. Sadly, ultimately it's never fulfilling, and all it does is alienate people and breed conflict.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently, too. About how everyone feels that they're the victim, while everyone else is the big bad bully. Well, maybe not everyone, but it certainly seems to be the way things often go. I've had... interactions with people in the past who I think believed they were toppling a terrible tyrant by tormenting me, destroying my sites, stealing my work, things like that. They saw themselves as noble dragonslayers, perhaps, or imagined that they were taking down one of the bullies who'd abused them all their life. They'd spew all kinds of vitriol about me, gnashing teeth and mocking and laughing, and at no point - I imagine - did they look at their actions and see them as being as bad as - or even worse than - whatever I'd done to them (if anything). This is the heart of conflict and combat, isn't it? It doesn't matter what weapons you use against The Enemy. You can never become The Enemy yourself because you're The Good Guy. Nuke their orphanages, rape their children, it doesn't matter, since they're bad and they deserve everything they get for hurting me.

That's another thing. "Me". Such a powerful word, that. Me and mine. A dark little seed that grows thorny forests of fear and suffering. If someone's computer is stolen, for example, then oh no, oh dear, that's bad, I'm sorry for your loss, I wonder what I'll have for dinner later. It's of little consequence to us. It's a thing that happened. An 'oh'. But if someone stole MY computer, well! The very foundations of the Earth shake! Justice must be done! What an awful world! What a horrible monster! The thief should be hung, drawn and quartered, and I demand that people care and comfort me and listen about the injustice of it all!!

If someone teases or verbally attacks another, there can be an element of Schadenfreude in that, or even comedy... as long as the one being teased is not ME. By which I mean you. Or all of us. Oneself.

Hence two victims battling one another, each feeling the other to be an evil monster who must pay for the harm they've done to ME...

This 'me' can widen, of course, encompassing friends and those that 'me' is close to. A troll is banned. Good riddance. I didn't know him and he was annoying. It's for the best anyway. Oh, wait, he was So-And-So? My friend, So-And-So?! That's not fair! That's unjust! The admin is a cruel dictator, and I'm going to give him a piece of my mind!!

It's particularly interesting how long the inner demons can try to feed of a single morsel of pain, especially if it's a particularly tasty one that bolsters their Identity quite strongly. Grudges can last for years... Recently, another of my sites was attacked quite harshly by someone I (or possibly another member) had issues with years ago. Much destruction, provoked by nothing. Many innocents caught in the fray. All for what? I can't say I understand.

I worry that others like that lurk in the background, as if camping outside my front door, ready to strike at me the moment I step outside. Why? Why don't they live their own lives? Are they not happy? I don't think mind-beasts are ever happy for very long. They always want something of the world. It's a shame that they control most people so completely... since those people have the potential to be so much brighter without their inner tormentors holding them back.

Because of this, though, I'm worried that as soon as I upload MARDEK to this site, I'll be told that some smirking troll has stolen it, depriving me of any chance to make money from my months of pouring my heart out as goopy sludge and refining it into a hopefully-pretty crystal.

I wish so much that I could simply upload it right now, for all of you, without a single worry, without having to care about readying 'defences', and that I could magically get money equal to its worth and the effort put in, and that everyone would enjoy it and get positive things out of it and that we could all be happy and all our worlds would be brightened just a little bit. That would be a wonderful experience for everyone involved... But it's a shame it's so unrealistic. It's a shame I have to worry about all these other little things. If only the world were simple and easy.

Anyway. I'm already taking steps to escape the world of games development because of all this isolation and stress. Come September, I'll be studying Psychology at university, and perhaps I'll meet people in the flesh with whom I can finally have something resembling fun. So even if this whole MARDEK thing turns into a disaster, at least I have that 'way out' coming up.

Still, I'd prefer it if it went well! If people liked it, and if I could continue to make games for many years to come. I do greatly enjoy the process of making them... I just dread the bit where I have to present them to legions of mad mind-beasts, because of how my own mad mind-beast gets spooked. Hence this post.

I'm going to spend today adding some kind of tutorial information to MARDEK for the testers and some security measures (sigh), and playing through it yet again while writing my own impressions as I do so, for the testers to view... Then hopefully either tonight or tomorrow I'll upload it for those testers and... brace myself. Embrace silence within.

I will try to see it all as a spiritual challenge.
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26 United States 1w9 rcxaI CholericMelancholic
A Tobias said:
This is the heart of conflict and combat, isn't it? It doesn't matter what weapons you use against The Enemy. You can never become The Enemy yourself because you're The Good Guy. Nuke their orphanages, rape their children, it doesn't matter, since they're bad and they deserve everything they get for hurting me.

This struck a chord with me, because I've been resisting that mentality for years. Have you heard of a practice called doxxing? It's when a person or group of people researches a disliked person, finds personally identifying information (such as phone numbers, addresses, government ID number), and disseminates it on the internet for all to see. It's a form of cyber-bullying to the extreme, in that it leeches out into a person's offline life.

Yet the primary way people use this is not in the "traditional" way, in which a bunch of teenage girls demonize another girl because she's Not Pretty or boys demoralize the one who's Not Masculine Enough. Instead, it's typically done under the guise of "justice"; example targets include people who have made racist comments, people who had too much sex (or with the wrong people), people who believe the bible as-written should be made into public policy, or people who reveal some secret about themselves that the general public doesn't like. No, it's not good to tolerate things like racism or homophobia, but that is absolutely not an excuse for harassment. Having unconventional (and wrong) beliefs is not and should not be illegal!

I mostly find it horrifying because the power of the mob somewhat resembles a public lynching. Often, the mob calls for the "offender"'s employer to fire him or her for what may be completely unrelated to his or her line of work! Obviously it's not good to have a sexist or racist attitude in the workplace, but at the same time, those people still deserve to eat. They're still people, too.
25 Australia
Not to mention - some of these people haven't committed whatever crime they were accused of. Reddit went on a gigantic witch hunt for the Boston Bomber and got one poor person in an absolutely horrific mess without him being related to it at all, because it's a snowball that just... kept rolling, and kept rolling.
24 United States AIS
You said:
When you write or say anything, do you have a nagging voice - or voices - in your head criticising and/or arguing with everything you're saying or writing?
Yes. From what I hear, it's pretty common; I think exercises like freewriting and NaNoWriMo are designed partly because a lot of people worry so much about writing well that they tend to not get much writing done at all.

For me they're not even the 'voices' of actual critiquers, though, since I haven't actually had much experience with harsh critiquers. Maybe it's like the voices are just one's internal perfectionism, and for people who've experienced harsh critiquers, it gets projected onto them? Or maybe for everyone, it's a sort of pessimistic imagining of their 'audience,' real or not.

When getting critiqued in creative writing classes, although I've felt stressed about whether I'd be able to implement the suggestions well, I've never felt a sense of insult. And then when someone who'd never taken a creative writing class started to critique something I wrote that was just some humorous story rather than anything personal at all, I got insulted and embarrassed immediately. The difference is partly in the critiquer's approach and partly in the attitude of the person getting critiqued.

I'm not sure how relevant this is, but I heard this ∞ interesting radio piece ∞ in which Western students take pride in their personal characteristics and feel bad about themselves when they can't do something right, whereas Eastern students value hard work, which is a choice rather than a characteristic, and are actually proud when they have to struggle to achieve something. The journalist talks about how the cultures might be able to borrow from each other to improve education.

It reminds me of the unspoken approach creative writing classes take, and why they don't make me feel insulted. I make it clear to myself that my story isn't me. In turn, they do not say "This part is boring" but rather "I found I couldn't connect with the protagonist during this part." Reactions, not corrections; but more than that, the difference is kind of like starting a new activity and someone saying "You're completely untalented," which is insulting, versus "You're completely unskilled," which is only true.

But from your post, maybe not the spirituality aspect of what you're saying but something similar, people should be able to avoid feeling personally attacked whether or not critiquers behave this way. Maybe it's all a matter of defining the self, defining the self that the critiquer is speaking to; maybe this part is boring to them but maybe I disagree, or I agree and fix it; either way, I don't need to identify with my story or identify myself as the self last week that wrote this draft of it—like those Eastern students, 'I wrote this story,' not 'I am that writer whom this story is a part of.' Or something. I guess I feel like I don't totally agree with or understand this spirituality but I'm looking for ways the principles could fit me. Yeah, I don't know. Sorry if I'm going about connections that aren't there.

those who define themselves as Different or persecuted would feel reduced if they were to lose that element of themselves.
Yeah, this is such a complex issue, from what I hear of it— Ideally, people would find a balance between on one hand acknowledging people's differences and addressing the persecution or rivalry among the disparate groups, and on the other hand getting rid of the victim narrative that just reinforces the conflict. I mean, people of oppressed groups do define themselves as different in a response to oppressors defining them as different—

Anyway, yay, so close to beta testing! This close! It sounds good to me from what you've said about it!