Hello, everyone. It's been a little over a week since my last post. I actually haven't played any Octopath Traveler since then; I've mostly been swallowed up by anxiety. I haven't felt this bad about myself in a long while.

I've been slowly climbing out of the pit of despair over the last several days, at least partially by reading Yumi Sakugawa's frequent Patreon posts[1]. In one from earlier this week, she talks about this concept called your "pain foundation". It's a phrase that starts with "I am" and in her words:

[Your pain foundation] summarizes all of [your] deepest psychic wounds and the behavior and emotional patterns that stem from this belief.

I spent the last few days thinking hard on this. There's a lot of things I'm insecure about, a lot of things that cause me pain. In the end, however, I just know this one is mine:

I am unwanted.

All of my fears really stem from this idea. I can go back as far as I can in my life story and remember the disappointment I caused by being born female. I can remember the relief felt once my younger brother was born, how much everyone doted on him and loved him more than me. He's everything that I'm not, even now. It muted my personality. I became a people-pleaser because I'd rather be someone else than unwanted.

I wanted to be indispensable.

There was a moment when I was 9 years old that has been seared into my memory. I was in the attic of my new home with this girl and we were digging for buried treasure, antiques that might be hidden in the dusty rafters. We wrote a letter and signed it with drops of our own blood before hiding it, hoping that someday someone might find it there and wonder. Afterwards, knelt on the ground, I told her that she was my best friend, only for her to laugh[2] and thank me before saying that her best friend was someone else. Someone I didn't know. I realized then for the first time that just because someone is your most important person does not mean that you are theirs.

I could have become a JRPG villain from that experience alone. But this is reality and 9-year-olds can't become villains of anything. I suppose I could have thrown a tantrum. Instead, I became more and more of a doormat. I covered this part of my life in a game, so I won't rehash my feelings on it too much. I've pushed away a lot of people in my life because to me, it was better to cut them loose than to be told that they didn't care about me anymore. Better to dump than be dumped. It was my only ever path of resistance, pointless though it was.

All the while, I convinced myself of my own lack of value. "I can't blame them for not wanting to be with me anymore. I wouldn't want to be friends with me." That's a horrible way to think about yourself. But I feel that way about myself.

If you know your pain foundation, if you can face that inner demon, you can change it into something else. Instead of feeling that I am unwanted, I want to feel that I am enough.

You Do Not Need To Work Hard To Earn Love

Another little saying from Yumi Sakugawa. When I first read it, I resisted its message. Yes I do. If I don't work hard, if I am not the best version possible of myself, how could I expect anyone to love me?

But that's the wrong way to think about it. Love is not something that is earned. You don't put kindness coins into real people. You couldn't complete quests to gain affection points from real people. Either someone loves you or they don't. It's almost independent of what you do. My boyfriend could decide tomorrow that he doesn't love me anymore. Or he could not. In the year and a half we've been dating, I have gone through some big life changes. As far as I can tell, he loves me the same. It's not about me and I can't control how he feels. I can't control whether or not my parents approve of my life choices, whether my friends will drift from me or not.

I can only control my own actions and my thoughts sometimes. Whether I work hard or not at the field of my choice, someone will be here loving me, supporting me. At the very least, that someone should be myself. But let me cut through my anxious, depressive state and remind myself that I have lots of people who care about me whether I've written 10,000 words today or none at all.

I am not unwanted. I am enough. If I choose to work hard, if I choose to improve myself—it should be for my own sake. Because my friends, my family, the people I love...they'll love me nonetheless.

The more I repeat it, the more it'll sink in. The more it sinks in, the more I will become the person I truly want and deserve to be.

  1. Once again, I highly recommend her Patreon. ↩︎

  2. Not even in a mean way, but dismissive and indulgent and that hurt more than anything. ↩︎