The Making Of An Indebted Man

I was perfectly content spending all day and night in my chair. Yes, I dealt with intense anxiety but that is only because when a person spends a lot of time sitting still in a chair they become very aware of what everyone else is staying busy to forget- death. I was very aware of the inevitability of my own death and not knowing when it would come made me feel very apprehensive. But I dealt with it and aside from this, I felt very content spending all day and night in my chair doing whatever I wanted.

I read my books. I stared out the window. I watched the sun set and the sun rise. I drew pictures. I followed my breathing. I meditated upon various things. I remembered my youth. I masturbated. I ate food that was delivered to me from a health food co-op. I felt peaceful. I lived off money that was provided to me by the generosity of others. I was not doing anything with my life and as a result I felt like I was living fully.

My mother would occasionally visit me and become mad. She always brought me flowers (I don’t know why). My mother bringing me flowers made me feel very uncomfortable. Why was I just sitting in that chair? She was angry that I was not doing anything with my life (my father could not even deal with visiting me). She could not understand that I was doing everything with my life. She wanted me to get up more. She did not think that spending all my time in a chair, alone in my room was healthy for a young man. I told her that the greatest thing about my life was that I was a man free of debt (I told her this because I knew she lived buried in debt).

My father and my mother owned two large homes. They had numerous credit cards. Several cars. A small airplane. My main memories of my father and mother are of them sitting around the kitchen table with a large check book opened and stacks and stacks of bills piled up in the center of the table. As a kid I knew that I did not want that to be me. But then my mother said to me one day when she came to visit: Debt my son is a wonderful thing. It is what our society is built upon and it is what allows us to have a good life. I didn’t know why, but my mother’s words often had a strong unconscious influence over me. They made me do things that I knew I really did not want to do.

A man dressed in a standard business man’s suit came into my room one day. He was carrying a briefcase. I was at the point where I was trying to teach myself how to walk on the ceiling. I would not sit in the chair as much and instead I would learn how to walk on the ceiling. That would feel like a valid accomplishment to me. I was obsessed and fascinated with the idea of learning how to walk on the ceiling. My imagination was running wild. The man offered me an American Express Card, a MasterCard and the opportunity to have any graduate school of my choice paid for by a loan. He told me that these things would drastically improve my life and I decided to think about it.

Should I give up learning how to walk on the ceiling? Should I not be spending so much time sitting in my chair, enjoying my life? Suddenly I felt bad for the way I was living. Irresponsible. Failed. Maybe there was a more adult way to live? Maybe debt could give me an even better life than the one I already had? I would at least make my mother, father, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, wife, creditors, debtors, president, congress people, advertisers, business owners and others that I was not aware of proud. When the man dressed in the standard business suit returned to my room I told him ok. I signed several things. I took the cards. I chose a graduate school that I would attend and the man told me when I could start. He gave me a check that he told me I would pay back someday in the distant future. Congratulations son. You have made a smart choice for the direction of your life. Welcome to being a contributing member of society. This idea made me nervous but I went to graduate school anyways.

I got a graduate degree. I was then offered a house and decided why not. It would be nice to have my own home. A different man in a suit told me that the house could be all mine if I just signed here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

I got the house. It was a nice house with a large backyard. I bought furniture for the house with the cards that I was given by the first man in the standard business suit. I was then offered more cards by various strangers who seemed so happy to give them to me. Credit cards were being offered to me by everyone. I had never felt like such an accomplished and trustworthy person before, so I said yes to all of them. I figured this was the responsible thing to do. I had made it! I bought a car. I rented an office and started the business that I was told to start by the people in graduate school. I bought more furniture for my office with the cards that proudly displayed my name on them. Suddenly I felt like someone important. I felt like I was living a legitimate, adult life. I bought patio furniture.

My mother, father, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, wife, creditors, debtors, president, congress people, advertisers, business owners and others all seemed proud of me. They all wanted to talk with me. When I walked into other people’s businesses I was treated with respect. I had accomplished great things now that I was a man in debt. Suddenly people wanted to spend time with me and pay me for my time. I could buy whatever I wanted but the strange thing was that I started to feel very sad and had no idea why.

I missed those days when I spent day and night just sitting in a chair. I regretted that I had not learned how to walk on the ceiling. I was too busy and occupied now. If I spent too much time sitting in a chair I noticed that I felt bad. I tried but I always felt like I should be doing something else. I checked my iPhone a lot. I had a business to attend to. A house to run and keep clean. Things needed to get done and just sitting in a chair felt like I was letting important things remain undone. Now I was not anxious because of the reality of death, but I had dozens of others things that I worried could go wrong. My hair started to thin and fall out. I felt a dark despair in me that I had never felt before but began using my cards more to buy things and an effort to get the despair to go away. I bought expensive healing products to heal the diseases I felt like I was vulnerable of catching as a result of living a more stress-filled, adult life. I drank more wine to make the anxiety dissolve away.

I would forget to pay bills. I didn’t have energy to pay bills. How did my parents do it? I didn’t want to pay certain bills. Why should I pay my student loan back, when this was the life it had gotten me into? The man in the standard looking business suit had not told me the truth. I felt more and more depressed. More and more trapped. I longed for the simpler times when I was perfectly content just sitting in my chair. I just wanted to be able to walk on the ceiling and do other spontaneous and creative things. Instead, my life became routine. There was nothing else to do.

No one else seemed to notice how much I was suffering. I thought about ending my life. I thought about how trapped I felt. I felt rage towards the men in business suits and my mother for giving me terrible advice. I felt set up. I started experiencing anxiety attacks and was given Lexaproby another man in a nicer suit. After several weeks of taking the pills I started to feel better. I started to feel a bit more relaxed and content in my life. It was working! The despair and anxiety subsided and gradually I was not so miserable going to work. My sex drive vanished, I put on a bit of weight but when I sat down at my kitchen table and paid off the stack of bills, it didn’t feel so bad. Now I could begin getting my credit score back on track. I could start exercising, meditating and maybe even reading again. I could begin to just enjoy working, driving, buying things, hanging out with other people, taking care of my house and living an average life in the suburbs. It felt nice. I lost all interest in learning how to walk on the ceiling but who cares, that sort of thing doesn’t matter anyways.

10 Things I Hate About Tuesday Mornings

1) I don’t get to have fun today because I have to work.

2) Still have an ocean of obligations in front of me and still can not see the light at the end of what feels like a very, very long tunnel.

3) I know that today, tomorrow, the next day and the next day I HAVE TO pleasantly interact with a lot of people I would be happy to never have to speak with ever again. Fuck.

4) I know that I still have to wait four or five nights before any chance of going out and having fun sexual experiences can arise.

5) I know that I still have to wait four or five days before any chance of being able to feel totally free of all the bullshit I have to put up with during a normal working week.

6) At best, I know today is going to be completely dull, somewhat unpleasant, filled with me being fake so that others will like, respect and pay me and the most enjoyable part of my day will be spending all the money I made by overeating and drinking at dinner so that I can forget all the crap.

7) I know that I can’t do exactly what I want to do (which is often just doing nothing) for five more days. Fuck.

8) When I woke up this morning I knew that I had to go to work all day and as a result did not have my day free. This made me feel depressed and unhappy and on Tuesday mornings I know that I will have to feel this way for three more mornings in a row. And then when I wake up on Saturday morning I will wake everyone up (wife and four dogs) at 7am by screaming out in joy, “No fucking work today! No fucking work today! Today I am free! Today I am the owner of my world!! Yesssss!).

9) On Tuesday mornings I know that Saturday morning is very, very far away but I do not want it to be very, very far away. I want it to be here now. Right fucking now.

10) I always end up drinking more coffee than I should just because I want to feel better than I do on Tuesday mornings.

Writing My Way Out Of The Cave

Ok, lets do this. I don’t want to do it but I am going to do it anyways. I would rather do anything else. I would rather sit in my garden and watch bugs and birds fly. I would rather take a walk, read a book, go spend money, listen to music- anything but this. This is hard. It is not what I want to do but I am going to force myself to do it anyways.

“Write it out man. Just write it out……” I know this is what some of my literary heroes would tell me.

Ok. I’m going to write. Let’s see what happens.

I have been dwelling a lot in my mind. Like a person lost in a dark cave I have been wondering around a lot in this cave of my own mind. My mind is rarely a pleasant place to be. When in the cave it is filled with thoughts about potential falling rocks, deep holes in the ground, threats behind every corner and of course being lost in the cave forever. Some people may be able to walk through the cave of their own minds and have a rather pleasant experience. Not I. For me it is a continual stream of worry and fear about what terrible or harmful thing could happen next.

This is not helping. I really don’t want to be thinking about any of this. I want to just go do something that will help me to forget and maybe even feel immediately better. Pop a pill? I don’t want to do that. Have a glass of wine? Too early. Overeating at lunchtime did not work. Now my stomach just feels upset and my upset stomach is only making my anxiety worse. I know that making my suffering an object of my awareness can help. Take a step back from myself and observe it in the same way that I would observe a protagonist in a book or an actor on a screen. This could help. This is why I am writing. Carl Jung often said that a way of reducing suffering is to find the meaning in a difficult event. Ok, that is what I am doing here. The way we make meaning out of our suffering is by taking a step back from it, becoming aware of it and turning it into some story we are reading, writing or watching rather than being all caught up in it.

That is what I am trying to do now. My stomach feels unwell. I hear sounds of birds. Sirens (I don’t like the sounds of sirens but always feel grateful that they are not coming for me). The sun is starting to come out. I have been dwelling in negative thoughts about the end of life. Sudden loss of control just around the corner. This is what all anxiety really is right? The fear of death and/or complete loss of control just up ahead. Isn’t this why we really preoccupy ourselves with work, drama and other things? Isn’t this why we drink booze and use other substances? To forget about death. But sometimes this is where my mind goes and it is difficult to stop it.

I am beginning to feel a bit better. I am going to keep writing this. I am going to keep trying to pull myself out of my head. I am starting to see a sliver of light up ahead. Phew. I thought his one was going to be bad. There it is up ahead. Light. Ok, keep carrying on. Keep writing. Maybe the more I can step back from the thoughts in my head, the more I can begin to feel better. This is what I am trying to do by writing. It can also be done through meditation or anything else a person can focus on outside of their own head. I am working hard here. I am really trying to stay with this. All I want to do is get up and go do something else. Go sit in the garden. Go sit on my couch. Go do something else. But I know that if I go do these things I will only get pulled further into the negative machinations of my own mind. I will write.

“As long as you unconsciously identify with the sufferer and remain unaware of the pain creator, you are stuck in a anxious state.” This is what Arnold Mindell wrote in Working On Yourself Alone. I am writing so that I can keep myself from becoming unaware that I am the one creating this anxious state. The moment I forget this and get sucked back into the dark cave of my mind, I will be suffering. So I need to keep trying to pull myself out. The pain creator is the one who is identifying with all the negative thoughts in my head. By writing (and mediating) I am stepping back from the sufferer. I am becoming aware of the sufferer in an objective way. Just making a story out of the suffering. That is what I am doing by writing here. Just making a story out of it. Turning my suffering into a story. Ok. Is it working yet? A bit. This kind of thing doesn’t happen on my time. It takes its own kind of time. I just need to be able to breathe, write remain as aware (present) as possible and be patient.

I will now go into my garden for a bit and just breathe. Just take a step back from the sufferer for a bit. Be back in a few minutes.

Without a doubt, getting stuck in one’s own head, is a real illness. When we feel anxious or worried it is difficult to keep it from happening. People who do not deal with so much worry or anxiety do not have to really worry about being lost in their head. Wondering through the cave of their minds can often be a very pleasant and sometimes magical experience. But for those of us with a predisposition to worry and feel intense fear, getting lost in our heads (unconsciously identifying with the sufferer) is the worst possible thing we can do for ourselves. We need to get better at not doing this if we want our anxiety to go away.

I am feeling better now.

My wife made me a cup of chamomile tea. Talking with her about what I was feeling helped. Writing this also seems to have really helped me become aware of and take a step back from my suffering. The sun is coming out. I am doing better now. Everything is fine right here, right now.

It is interesting how anxiety can be like waves. It comes on strong and threatens to suck us under. Years ago when it came on strong like it did when I began writing this, I would have freaked out. I would have panicked. I would have reacted negatively. But by just doing whatever it takes to stay present and as out of my head as possible, whether it is banging my fingers on a keyboard until the intense feeling of anxiety begins to diminish or by talking with someone, drawing, painting, meditating, cleaning the house, reading out loud, deep breathing and on and on, I am able to hang in there until the terror and fear pass.

……..and now I am beginning to feel normal again. Writing my way out worked.

I think I am almost out of the cave. Phew

My Penis

I enjoy taking my penis out. It is something I need to do for my mental and physical health. Doesn’t everything and everyone love going out? Why should penises be excluded? When I take my penis out it is like breathing in a deep breath of clean air. It is a great relief. It feels good, like taking a long sigh.

Obviously, I try not to take my penis out when other people are around (my neighbor sometimes catches me when I am in my backyard). People are easily offended and I do not want to create a public scare. Can you imagine? Local psychotherapist arrested for taking out his penis. No thank you. I would much rather avoid that fate. So, I take my penis out only in private places.

Most people tend to think of taking your penis out as some sort of perverted thing. What narrow minded crap. Is taking your son or daughter out perverted? Is taking a date out for dinner perverted? I don’t think so. Why should taking your penis out be any different? The penis spends long hours every day stuffed behind tight fighting clothing. How would you feel if you spent most of your day to day life crammed in? Taking out my penis is an important thing for me to do. It provides much needed release. It allows my penis and testicles to feel less sore. It lifts my overall genital mood.

It can’t be healthy to keep the penis stuffed away most of the time. The penis (and testicles) need to be let out a good amount of the time. They should not just be taken out when going to the bathroom. The penis needs fresh air. It is a very sensitive organ and the fresh air does it a lot of good. It helps the penis to feel more alive and if the penis feels more alive, well this just means that the man is more alive. When the penis starts to die, so does the man.

I take my penis out quite regularly. I take it out when I am in my backyard. I will take my penis out on breaks from work. We will go someplace where there is no other people around and for a few minutes several times a day, I will let my penis be free (kind of like a smoke break). When I am out in the city I will be sure to take a moment or two to find a private spot where I can take my penis out. I am out having a good time so why should my penis not be able to come out? Keeping the penis stuffed away beneath pants and underwear is not healthy for anyone. It is probably the cause of a lot of male disease and wars. So much unhappiness and poor health could be avoided if penises were taken out more. Just imagine if someone like Donald Trump would take his penis out more. If he could just find a private spot in the back of The White House and air out his penis several times a day. He would be a different kind of President. Maybe we could all avoid the Trump induced catastrophe, which is soon to come.

My penis needs to be taken out just like anyone else does. Who the hell would be happy if they were stuffed away all the time? I try and pay more attention to this and provide my penis with the kind of open space it needs. It might seem strange to some, especially to those who might catch a glimpse of me just standing there with my pants down and my penis hanging out. But to remain healthy it is something that I need to do. It is important to keep in mind that to remain healthy we all need to do certain things that may not make other people feel good or happy in the end. Taking my penis out several times a day is important for both of us, so despite what others may think (especially my neighbor who tends to get upset when he sees me standing in my backyard with my pants down and my penis hanging out), I have no intention to stop doing something that is obviously so crucial for my health.

The Trouble With They

They say writing helps. They say that more so than talking, writing allows people to really process thoughts and feeling within themselves and resolve things. This is what they say in study after study. I am going to write now. I am going to write about how they piss me off.

By they we normally mean other people whom we do not know.

They are strangers.

They are other people who control certain aspects of our lives.

They are the government.

They are corporate people.

They are people we do not like. Enemies.

They are people that we do not get along with.

They are a group of people who are somewhere out there.

They are soul, mind and body snatchers.

We rarely call someone we love they.

When I am not getting along with my wife, she becomes they. When I do not like other people they are they. When I am pissed off at my dogs they are they. When I am unhappy (which is normally always before 12pm) every single person is they. I am even they to myself.

When I do not like other people they are they to me. This all too often means my wife, my dogs, my patients, my parents, my sister and all the people who live around me. They are all they to me. Especially before the hours of 12pm.

I lack the ability to get along with other people. I attract o create conflict in the same way that prolific artists create art. It is the one constant in my life. I am incapable of getting along with other people. If I am getting along with other people I know it is only a matter of time before something will wrong. I have been in conflict with other people since the day I was born. I can remember feeling pissed off at the doctor who handled me too tightly when I first came into the world. I was pissed off at the nurse who held me upside down (for way too long) as I was trying to make sense of the bright room I had just been forcibly pushed out into. I was immediately pissed off at my mom for not defending me more against the techniques of this nurse. My father and I have been in conflict my entire fucking life. I mean what the fuck? Why would you do this to your son? Why would you fight with him all the time? You are a doctor, and educated man- aren’t you smart enough to know that you are setting your son up for a life spent in conflict? My father is always they to me. I just do not like the man one bit.

They all piss me off. I don’t get along with any of them. I continually fight with my wife, sister, mom, dad. Continual conflict. There will be some good times but I know that trouble is around the corner. Chekov once said that when a gun enters a scene it must go off. I always think that when another person enters the scene there is going to be trouble. I don’t say it out loud, but when my wife comes into the room I often think, here comes trouble. I need wine and weed just to help mitigate the negative effects of they.

They are all a serious problem for me. I don’t know what to do. They are continually setting me off. They are obviously putting my health at risk. I presume the damage has already been done since I feel fucked up most of the time. I do feel a bit relieved whenever I meet an old man who is miserable and has spent a lifetime in conflict. They give me hope that maybe I can live a long life, living a life always in conflict with someone. I live in a society obsessed with positivity, anti-stress, healthy relationships and happiness. They say that these things greatly improve our chances at longevity even though in the back of my mind I am almost certain that even happy and positive people die. For these reasons, I have tried to be positive and happy. I have tried to reduce conflict in my life. I have seen several people my own age who existed in a state of continual turmoil pass away from cancer. Because of they, I am worried that cancer is coming for me next. Don’t people realize that cancer is relations with other people? I know that I need to be the one who changes, but as long as I am around they– this is impossible. Conflict and troubled are too hard wired into my DNA.

They just piss me off. Always have, always will. What can I do?

I tell myself that I just need solitude. I just need to withdraw from the world. I just need to cut off all relationships. I need to be able to live alone. I have known this since I was a young man and was on a river rafting trip with my father. We floated by a hut in the woods with a single chair out front of it. I asked my father what that was. He said, “That is where a hermit lives son.” I asked, “What is a hermit?” “Son,” my father made sure to begin his answer with the disproving Son. “Son, a hermit is a failed man. A hermit is a man who lives alone and has withdrawn from the world.” I immediately replied, “I want to be a hermit when I grow up!” Son of a bitch. I even knew then.

I feel much healthier and happier when alone. I begin to feel stabilized, normalized when I am alone. My spirits lift and my nerves and blood pressure gradually return to a state that psychologists refer to as homeostasis. But then I crave human interaction. I want to be around my wife. I want to be around other people. I want to be in the world. I want to go to work so that I can get other people’s money. I am always drawn back towards other people but then the trouble starts. Above my desk I have written out notes to myself: Just Become Comfortable In Solitude. Please Spend Several Days In A Row Alone. Learn To Make Friends With Solitude. Take Days Off From Interacting With Your Wife, Sister, Anyone. I know being able to do this is necessary for my survival. I try but am drawn to other people like a moth to a flame.

I don’t know what to do at this point. I am pissed off at everyone. Where is the resolve that they speak about, which is supposed to come from writing? Where is it? Do I feel it? Is it there? I have just poured out my heart and soul. I have just processed complex emotions through writing this. Do I feel any resolution? Do I have more perspective now? Maybe. Maybe I feel a little less pissed off now. Maybe now in my mind my wife is no longer they to me. My sister is no longer they to me. The eight clients I have to meet with today are not they to me. Maybe now I am no longer in the reactive state that I was when I first began this. Maybe I can see how they are also just flawed and fucked up human beings like me. But I am alone right now. I know that the moment another person walks into the room, they will be trouble again.

Yuck. Yuck. And The Feeling Of Yuck.

Yuck. Yuck. And the feeling of yuck.

Yuck.

It all feels so empty. Uncomfortable. I go check the news online. I go read from a few websites. I read a novel. I fill my pipe with marijuana and take a small hit. Anything to rid myself of this feeling of yuck.

I have often heard this feeling of yuck referred to as existential pain. It is the feeling that your life is not measuring up. You are failing to be the person you want to be or think you should be. You are failing to be great. You are failing to meet these societal expectations of how you think you should be. Failing, failing, failing. And this fear of failure is causing you to feel like a no one. It is causing you to feel like you are doing everything wrong. It is causing you to feel like your life does not matter. You have failed and when you die you are going to fade away into obscurity.

When you just sit there and do nothing things feel yucky. All that emptiness which is caused by a fear of failure comes up. We all know this feeling and most of us just stay busy, keep doing things to avoid feeling it. If we just stay busy, if we just keep buying things, working, having kids, making money then maybe we will feel like we are measuring up. Then maybe we will feel like our lives will not be for nothing and we can be relieved of this feeling of yuck.

Good luck.

I eat. I listen to music. I write these futile essays and post them on various blogs. I go to a job in an effort to earn a decent living. I make art. I read novels. I watch films. I drink wine and meditate. I do all these things in an effort to keep away the existential pain. But it always returns. First thing in the morning when I just sit there. There it is. What am I going to do with my day? How am I going to try and make my life count today? I don’t want to do any of the things that I have to do, but I still must do them anyway. I am failing at the things I really want to do. I don’t want to do anything. It goes on and on like this. I had a mentor many years ago who believed that existential pain was an alarm going off telling you that your life is on the wrong track. But who cares. Let’s put it out of mind. Let’s watch the news or smoke some pot. Let’s go to work. Let’s            check our phone or read a website. Lets just try and forget about it. Life should not be so difficult. It should not be so hard. I just want to forget about all the shit. This becomes most people’s life’s motivation. To forget about all the shit.

I am trying to be content with just being average. I tell myself that if I could just be ok with not being anyone, with not distinguishing myself in any kind of unique way, if I could just be ok with disappearing into nothingness and obscurity, then maybe I can be happy in my life. Then maybe I could free myself from this feeling of yuck. After a life-time of being conditioned to be a somebody, to be great and successful at whatever I do, it is hard to settle on being average. On not needing to be anyone at all. To just be able to sit here and not do anything except just enjoy my life and be at peace. I know that this feeling of yuck is a result of feeling like I am failing at doing what I need to be doing or what I should be doing. If I could just not need to do anything at all maybe I would finally feel all right.

But it is tough to decide to just become average, to make peace with not needing to be noticed by anyone. Aren’t we all striving for this? To be acknowledge and appreciated for the unique, distinguished and talented/good individual that we think we are? Isn’t that why we work so hard? I know this path only leads to more stress, more unhappiness and I would like to give it up but in making the decision to become average (or below average) I can’t seem to shake this feeling that my life would then somehow be a waste. After all, I live on this tiny planet, in this even tinier country where everyone I am surrounded by are all trying to distinguish themselves from all the rest so that when they die they will not slip away into nothingness. It is always difficult to go against what everyone else is doing because then you feel like you will be out of the club. Forgotten. Discarded. No longer necessary. I know that I do not want to be in the club, but I also know that life can present new challenges when you are living on the outside. (See my essay The Outsider.)

Maybe we are all just fucked. (I can’t believe that spellcheck does not have the correct spelling for the word fucked when I spelled it wrong; have we really become that repressive of a society?) Maybe this is what life in the Western world has come to at this point in history. We are all fucked, there is no escape from the yuck. Maybe the only way out is through some kind of spiritual transformation where you are no longer trying to achieve anything at all because you are perfectly content with life as it is in the present moment. You need nothing else but what you have in this moment because you have spiritually transcended the more material and ego based reality. Maybe.

Where is my marijuana pipe?

I reach for my pipe, fill it with marijuana and that becomes my answer for right now. I clean my house. Turn on music. Maybe I will watch a small amount of porn to activate my dopamine receptors. I water the plants in my backyard garden. Read a few things online. I realize everything that I am doing is basically motivated by the impulse to get rid of this feeling of yuck. Possibly the society that I live in is constructed to provide people with a way to rid themselves of this feeling of yuck or maybe it is the cause of this feeling of yuck. I happen to think it is the cause. Life unto itself can be a very pleasant and peaceful thing much of the time but society is what fucks it all up. This continual pressure to measure up. Maybe. I don’t know. Obviously, the answers I have thus far found are inadequate.

Is this what was meant by a life of quiet desperation? At least I am not staying quiet about it. This is one thing I am doing right. Maybe. Maybe not.

Yuck.

Instagram Stole My Wife.

There is a new kind of addict around. No one has seen this kind of addict before. The vast majority of people do not even see it now. Not yet at least.

This kind of addict is continually being pulled by uncontrollable compulsions to check their phone. To see how many likes they have received and if anyone has commented on their posts. They want to feel connected. They want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel like they matter and with every like they receive they feel better about their standing in the digital world.

Last night I was up until two in the morning talking with my wife about what I think is a full blown Instagram addiction. It was a stressful conversation that gave her chest pains and kept me up most of the night. The conversation consisted of me trying to make her aware that she has a full-blown Instagram addiction and her begrudgingly confronting the truth about her own addiction with a reluctance to want to do anything about it. She was trying to appease me by saying she would give up Instagram for good but it felt like I was forcing her to do something she did not really want to do.

I do not need for my wife to give up Instagram. I need her to get more control over the compulsion that are causing Instagram to take over her life. Even though she still denies it is a problem, I know that my wife cannot go twenty minutes without feeling the pull to check her Instagram page. She is addicted to seeing who has liked her posts. Who has commented on them. “Her baby, you look hot!” “Awesome drawing! You are brilliant.” “Sexy! You are so sexy!” Stuff like that really gets her off. She says that this makes her feel more appreciated and noticed. She admits that she is addicted to the likes, to the positive feedback from other people she will never know. I am glad that she is getting this kind of positive feedback from the pictures of herself and her drawings that she posts. She deserves this since she is such a good woman. But being pulled by compulsions to secretly check on her Instagram every twenty minutes or so is something I seriously dislike.

This is not the woman I married. Instagram stole my wife.

My wife used to love the culinary arts. She was a prolific reader who finished almost every novel she read. And she read long novels! She wrote poetry and exercised on a regular basis. She went to regular yoga classes and engaged in regular deep conversations with me. I could not keep my wife’s hands off of me since she was always sexual in some way. Since my wife started regularly posting on Instagram, I feel like all the above has practically disappeared. What remains is a shell of what was there before. My wife no longer writes poetry. She does not attend yoga classes. When she cooks half the time is spent on her phone and the lack of interest and focus on what she is cooking has caused her enjoyment of the process to decline. My wife rarely finishes books that she starts and does not exercise anymore. I have to literally force her to go outside for a walk if I am going to get her to go exercise outdoors. My wife spends more time in the bathroom than she ever did before. Now she will go into the bathroom six or seven times a night for a long period each time! I never remember this happening before Instagram. And most of her sexual engagement with me is gone. It is just not there anymore. If I talk about any of this, she will get immediately and immensely combative and stressed out.

I realize that life is all about change. Nothing remains the same. People are verbs not nouns. Things that we used to do and/or be like is not what we keep doing or who we remain. But I would like to think that people have the ability to become better at the things they do. We can become more masterful and refined with regards to the things we work at. The problem with Instagram is that the Instagram user is striving for things that only exist in the Instagram world. Instagram is an end unto itself. A destination and any fifteen-year-old with a phone can get there. More likes, more recognition, more followers. But very rarely does any of this translate into something tangible in the external world (very few people actually make a career or something tangible out of their efforts on Instagram). But what does happen with hourly Instagram use is that everything that a person strives for in the external world goes into great decline. A person has less of a need to put the energy into various things in the external world that these things require to grow and evolve. Instead, with Instagram, people do just enough to get by. Just enough to get that post up and get those likes. When someone is getting their satisfaction from likes and comments on the mediocre things that they post on Instagram, they have less of a need to get this satisfaction from things that require effort and attention in the external world. As a result, Instagram is a breeding ground for a unique kind of mediocrity that bleeds out all over a person’s real life.

I have tried to talk to my wife about how she seems much less interested in our sexual life. She does not ever talk to me about having kids and we are not getting younger (I am 45 and she is 32). She says she wants to be in better shape but she does very little about it. I don’t see her putting much effort into advancing her career. Books remain unfinished (I am not allowed to talk about the fact that now she is only able to finish graphic novels and the more intellectually challenging books she used to regularly finish remain unfinished). The car is not getting cleaned. Dogs are not being walked. The house is not being tended to as much (I do most of the cleaning and decorating). The act of cooking brings her less pleasure. Clothes sit in the washer for days (I have taken over the laundry). Closets are a mess. And our relationship exists in a continual state of strain. Every time she checks her phone my nervous system is now triggered. If I bring up the issue of her intensive Instagram use she gets angry with me. She says things like, “Can’t I just relax right now. Do we have to always talk about this!” I continually notice her sneaking off into bathrooms or someplace else to check her phone. If I talk about this she gets mad and stressed out. She feels like I am trying to control her. Many years ago I dated a serious alcoholic. What I am experiencing now with my wife feels like exactly like what I went through with her. The secrets. The sneakiness. The outrage. The: “I only had a few drinks. What is the big deal? Jeeze you are always making a problem out of it. Cant I just relax!” Meanwhile she was drunk almost every single day.

I really do not know what to do at this point. There is no doubt in my mind that my wife and hundreds of thousands of other people are seriously addicted to Instagram. That person sitting at the dinner table with their partner while being on their phone, is probably checking some form of social media. They probably have a serious social media addiction that is not allowed to be spoken about right now. After all, almost everyone is doing it and several more years of lives falling a part because of it need to happen before people begin to really see the problem. But it is a serious problems that is currently destroying lives and relationships. People have no boundaries with regards to their social media use. It is “all on” right now. Full-time use. A pack a day or more! My wife is still young and could be using this time to steer her life in the direction she wants it to go. She could be getting her body into optimal physical condition. She could be cultivating her life with her husband. She could be doing whatever it would take to have children and work on reestablishing some kind of sex life with me. She could be spending more time just enjoying her life in the present moment. Cultivating in person relationships with other people. Growing that vegetable garden she has talked about for years. But none of this happens because she is getting all the pleasure and satisfaction she needs from Instagram. She is continually being pulled by uncontrollable compulsions to check in with Instagram even as we sit there having dinner together (I now always feel like I am keeping her from something she would rather be doing- checking Instagram). Meanwhile we are growing apart. I am becoming more and more despondent because I am watching a woman that I love, seriously neglecting her real life. If I talk about this I just stress her out. If I don’t talk about it I feel very uncomfortable inside. This Instagram things is just this massive presence in both of our lives, but neither of us seem allowed to speak about what is really going on. I resent her for this. When she goes into the bathroom for the sixth time that night, I have to just accept this as a normal part of our life together now. Fuck. I don’t like it but I am trying to roll with it. I just want my wife back.