My psychologist asked me to analyse the feelings of guilt that taint all my playtime and free time.
What I observed, first of all, is that there is no time when I am free of this guilt, there is no “pure” relaxing free time for me, ever. What changes is only the intensity of these feelings, whether they’re on the back of my mind or if they dominate me, whether they’re too strong for me to keep playing, or if they’re just intense enough that I am stupidly lead to play more as a way of coping with them, in the vain hope that they’ll go away and leave me free, just for a little bit, even if I am in fact simply strengthening them.
And what causes these changes is a variety of (mostly) external factors, but it all comes down to the basic reason for my guilt itself: I could be better, and I should be better. I feel guilty because I could be a better person, and I should be striving for it, doing something different, but I am not, and my playtime reinforces these feelings as much as it vainly tries to make me forget them, to make me feel better. My playtime in fact, says the opposite: I cannot be better. I want to do this because, it may be simple, it may be stupid and it may be profoundly unfulfilling, but there’s nothing better waiting for me, all the effort in the world won’t lead me anywhere.
The two opposing lines of thought – belief in my self (you’re wasting your time when you could be so much better, so much more) and self-loathing (may as well play and try to not feel too bad, because you’re not going to get where you want to be) – are always both present at all times in my mind. The latter has obviously taken over the majority of my practical life, and so there is nothing left for the former but to remind me that what I am doing is not ignoring a broken wish, but wasting real potential.
The intensity of my guilt is proportional to this belief in my potential, in what (I) could be if I tried harder; and consequently it’s fuelled by external stimuli, from awe at the dedication and effort that some people put into what they do (no matter how insignificant their achievement actually is) to inspirational talks, and a variety of often random and inconsequential things, up to Charlotte, probably the person I most hate and most admire at the same time, whose music I love and can’t listen to anymore; my guilt incarnate.
It is not secondary that the feelings I can rely on for guidance are almost exclusively negative feelings. (It usually creates a reaction so that the moment I start to get better I run out of energy to follow up and consolidate a positive change) The only emotions I can rely on to push me to make the right choices are depression, and guilt and the like; I have lost all my positive feelings (such as my drive to write) somewhere in the way, possibly when I lost the ability to play without guilt tainting it. They are still there, somewhere, occasionally they re-surface, and I’m confident I could bring them back, somehow, if I manage to ever solve this knot.