Two posts in two days. Obviously it’s the end of the world. Explain otherwise. I dare yah.
I really don’t know what I’m doing anymore. Everything has become tepid to me. Nothing interests me enough to actually want to do it. Video games have fallen by the wayside. I haven’t programmed in months. I don’t even watch TV or really anything anymore. I just feel like I’m going through the motions of rote memorization, muscle memory. Nothing feels real. It all feels like such, well… bullshit. Everything is bullshit and pointless.
Depression has been an intimate friend of mine for as long as I can remember. Hell, I can remember us playing together as far back as first grade. How the FUCK does a SIX YEAR OLD have fucking depression? And I can still remember one specific incident like it happened yesterday. And where did it happen? Why at school of course. Was I being bullied? Probably, but that wasn’t it. Was I being teased or called names? All the time. No, this incident involved my teacher. And this was back when I still really, really loved school. Before I became cynical because, fuck, have you even seen how the world really works?
There was this thing we would do in class where the teacher would hand out an assignment sheet and then play a record or tape or something that we would listen to and then answer questions on the sheet related to what we heard. Now, I don’t remember if the teacher was in a particularly bad mood that day or if the class had been more unruly than usual. I do remember that there were a few names on the chalk board though, some with a few check marks next to them even, but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. It was the punishment system that was used in my class. If you did something bad you got your name on the board. For every further infraction you got a check.
Before we began the teacher laid down a few rules. The one I most remember was that she told us not to draw on our papers. Then she started the lesson and went to her desk. Every now and then she would get up and walk around the classroom checking to see how things were going. Sometimes taking away papers and putting more names or checks on the board. The lesson was godawful boring. Listen to a story. Answer a question or two about it. Listen to another story… Looking back it’s obvious it was just busy work to keep us out of her hair for a while. We weren’t learning anything other that to sit down and shut up.
So the “lesson” continued and I was bored out of my mind. I was looking at the pictures on the sheet, especially at the picture of the duck nest with an egg in it. Absently I started shading the egg in with my pencil because what else was there to do? I was 6. I had tons of pent up energy and I was being told to sit and listen to a boring recording and then answer questions that I knew the answer to before the lesson had even began. So I’m shading the egg and suddenly my paper is gone. I’m told to put my head down and my name is on the board.
I’m sure lots of folks would simply have ignored it and went on with their lives. I can already hear the multitudes of “So what? I got in trouble as a kid loads of times. Everyone did.” I’m not everyone, am I? I’m me. And this incident actually traumatized me. To get your name on the board meant that you were bad. It was a punishment. A public punishment as a warning to everyone else. I didn’t know what I had done wrong though. I had followed directions. Even the one about drawing on our papers. I hadn’t drawn anything. I had shaded in the egg. It was a boring flat 2D image before and I made it a beautiful 3D object that really stood out. I hadn’t defaced the picture or drawn random images over it. I knew the difference between drawing and shading. I had shaded, not drawn. And yet board, name, punishment.
I cried the rest of the day. Thankfully, this was the last thing we did before class let out that day. I remember crying when my older sister came to take me home. I remember still crying while we walked home. And I acutely remember the self loathing, the sadness, the depression.
That incident taught me that no matter what I thought I knew about the rules, that I always needed further explanation to ensure that I knew I was doing or acting in just the right way. Other incidents following that didn’t help. None involved actual punishment rather than simple correction but the damage was already done. If I couldn’t do it perfectly then I was a failure. If I already knew I was going to fail, there was no point in even trying.
Eventually my life became an endless cycle of aborted attempts and frozen fears. And still is. I can still see my name on that board over 30 years later. I can still feel the self-recrimination. I can feel everyone’s eyes on me. Judging me. I’m a bad boy. Always have been. Always will be. Can’t listen to or follow directions. In response I decided that I needed more directions, better directions, so that I could ensure that I was being good, being right. I became paralyzed with fear that no matter what I tried I would always be doing it wrong.
How does a 6 year old take a simple punishment, most likely meted out simply because someone was in a bad mood, and warp it into never being able to do anything out of fear of punishment and disappointment?
I don’t know… It might be because they’re SIX FUCKING YEARS OLD!!!
At least the weather’s better today. It feels much more like autumn than winter. I’m tired. I need to get some rest. Didn’t sleep well last night. No, not nightmares. I almost never remember my dreams anyway so it wouldn’t matter but that wasn’t it. Besides, I get my fill of them while awake. I’m just so, so tired… of everything.
I think I might need to see a psychiatrist again. This is starting to get out of hand. I hardly ever even leave the apartment anymore. I need to finish this before I start crying. Sleep. I need sleep. I’ll feel better later, right? When I wake up, right?
Why do I even remember this shit?
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The monkey can type!