Some time ago a good friend of mine had a birthday, and for once I wanted to actually get him something, so I bought him Ori and the Blind Forest. Good game, but unfortunately, he's not the kind of guy to just accept a gift. He ended up gifting me Night in the Woods. If you haven't played it, I would absolutely advise that you do. And I guess spoiler warning as I'll mention some story of the game.
I found an oddity that never happens to me in video games, and I do mean never: I played for hours on end literally enraptured by the story and half of the time I had no clue as to what the hell I was suppose to do. I had to stop several times and ask myself "What the fuck am I playing?" It felt like I was just playing a game about another random time in the life of a random person. Don't get me wrong, the characters felt rather realistic, very well thought out, and I love them, but there didn't seem to be any real goal or objective to the game, just, hang out with your friends.
So the main character is a cat named "Mae". She is my favorite character, but until literally the day I started writing this I was on my way to work when it finally dawned on me why I like Mae so much and a sudden realization occurred to me. I'll get into that, but first some context. Mae did something horrible when she was very young. Something the game danced around for the longest time. It is a serious issue and one people would avoid talking about, so it makes sense why she doesn't talk about it for the longest time. As a kid Mae and Gregg played pretend. They would pretend to date imaginary characters. Mae claimed to play the game 24-7, until one day something snapped, as if what she thought was real just turned to 'pixels'. The best way I could describe it would be: Mae did not have any true distinction between fantasy and reality until one day it just snapped with her. Then everything she believed to be real was truly fake, and she lost her place in life. She then had a softball game where she had a full on psychotic break down and nearly killed a kid by beating the ever living shit out of him with a baseball bat. She was only fourteen when this happened so she wasn't arrested for this, but she was removed from school and she saw a very poor psychiatrist who told her to simply repress her anger, which is the literal worst thing you can ever tell anyone. People have to confront their anger and make things right.
Now, I never attempted to kill someone before, but when I was a kid, and I mean real little, I began to play pretend. Something most every kid does, pretends to be someone or something they're not. Now, "playing pretend" is often cited as a healthy part of every child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Claiming it fosters social skills, engaging in shared cooperative activities, appreciation for relationships with others, even with imaginary friends requires the children to consider other people when creating his or her story, and even emotional competence. However, there are people who are afraid that by doing this children will lose the distinction of reality from fantasy. But these fears have been largely unfounded. However, this seems to have been the case with Mae.
Thing is, I cannot truly say I stopped. I'm twenty eight, and I played pretend for longer than I should have, same core concept, but to a different degree then when I started.
When I was a little kid I use to watch TV shows all the time, mostly anime and cartoons, but I fell in love with so many characters and I wanted to be them, be apart of their world, so I started to play pretend and do just that. Of course when I went to school or eat dinner with my family the playing stopped and we're right back into reality. Some time later, just before I was a teenager, my father met another woman who had two kids, one was named Mark. I can't say what was going on with that kid but for whatever reason he began to lie about himself, claiming he could do or have all these impossible things that just sounded so awe inspiring. So I started to play pretend again, except I didn't stop this time. It started to literally take over my life. I started going to high school and I started to include my friends in this game of pretend. Whenever I wanted to say something mean or hurtful I just pretended I was someone else. I started skipping school to make it seem like I was off on some important mission or something bad happened or some other excuse. I lost friends because of it. I began to alienate myself from everyone. And I was so ashamed of myself at doing this that I hid it from my family, but I was so wrapped up in it that I had to distance myself from them. My grandfather died and instead of being there for him I was off in the school's woods pretending to be fighting monsters or something, I don't quite remember. When I came home and heard the news I snapped back to reality and froze. But that didn't stop it. Eventually I got back into it and moved on. I turned seventeen and my dad reunited with his high school sweetheart, found out he was a father of not just us three kids, but four, and they rekindled. So he decided to move down with her, which is about an hour and a half drive away. Mind you I didn't have a license. My dad didn't own a car so why should I bother, right? Well, I made up some bullshit excuse to my friends why I was going away and that was that. I never really noticed until writing this, but there were no heart felt goodbyes, no real goodbyes to be honest. They probably thought I was just making it all up again. They were half right. I got down there, my dad moved in with her, but due to her getting a divorce he couldn't legally be living with her yet, so he rented a place further in town. He and my sister never actually stayed there, they stayed at her house, a place she actually owned verses the single bedroom apartment he had. They planned this out. However, I didn't know her very well and I didn't want to move in, which was fine because I could watch the apartment in their stead. I didn't have to work and I didn't have to pay bills, so it was a little slice of heaven…. But, I had no friends… no one to play pretend with. It was just me, alone. I didn't have the internet, so I lost contact with all of my internet friends, and I was just by myself. This is why Disgaea became my favorite game, because when I needed someone, or something, to keep me company that game did. I had bought it simply because I kept seeing it at Game Crazy in my hometown before I left on the same shelf for about a year. No one was buying it, and it was just constantly staring at me and it was bugging me. I've played bad games before, but I couldn't understand how a game could sit on the exact same spot for about a year! That was the second best purchase of my life, and thankfully it wasn't bad at all! Eventually my stepmom won custody of her kids and the house was already in her name, so I eventually moved in. After some time I began talking with my friends again. Some of my friends are Asatru, and they hold an event called handfasting, which I've gathered to be a kind of marriage. My friend Will was handfasting with my friend Ashley, so of course I wanted to be there for the event. My friends drove down in their little beater car that broke down on the way back, fun adventure there and we made it back a day before the handfasting. As we began to gather together the one leading the event, the Gothi, decided he wasn't even going to show if this really horrible bitch of a person decided to show up. It was a stupid thing that was causing chaos where it wasn't needed. She wasn't invited to begin with, but her boyfriend was, whatever. Will was clearly distressed, and being the "leader of the group" I decided to take action. So I took Will aside to the train tracks and began to talk to him about how I was going to fix everything but I needed his help. He listened to every word I had to say, only to tell me he's already taken care of everything. I was flabbergasted, this kid who I thought I picked up, and introduced him to my friends, and dragged him into my world of pretend was moving on with his life. I had been playing pretend for maybe ten years, and here's this kid already found the love of his life, as of a little while ago the mother of his child. He's in college, she's finished with a master's degree in child psychology or therapy I don't quite remember, and they're living a wonderful life, not in this crap town. I went home, wrote a little note on Facebook about how he had grown and congratulated him on the handfasting.
I continued to play pretend, and it got worse. Now that I was talking to people again the game continued. Fortunately, those friends began to ignore me because they didn’t want to deal with my insane nature I was showing. I turned twenty one and decided to go to college after having quit my job as a gas clerk. My friends supported me, Will was actually applying to the same college coincidentally. They picked me up the night before the entrance exam and stayed up way too late, got about four dozen donuts for the price of one, and two gallons of apple cider. Went to the entrance exam and my stepmom texted me not to come back, ever. For the third time in my life I froze. I failed the rest of my entrance exam. I was in a town I didn't know, my friends still living with their family so I had no where to go. I was homeless. Later that day my dad and stepmom came to the place I was staying for the night and dropped off almost everything I owned. A few things didn't make it for whatever reason. My dad gave me $50 and apologized to me a dozen times before he left with my very angry stepmom. Me and her had a falling out when I lost my job, and I thought that was why she was kicking me out but I didn't find out why until many years later the real reason, which I won't get into. I broke down. I didn't know where I was, there were people around me that I didn't know, and I had messed up my entrance exam horribly. Still got accepted, but not into anything I really wanted because I bombed the last half of the exam.
I sold almost everything I had to make up rent for the people I was living with. The room was infested with fleas, to which I'm allergic to, it had no windows, and it was small. Paid an unfair price in gas for lugging my stuff to a pawn shop. About two months later I was kicked out, and all but my PC and blanket was thrown into a bonfire. Mind you, I was sharing a room with someone who was never there. Only half of the room was mine. I was eating maybe two times a week, just so I could extend my rations for as long as possible. School finances took nearly five months to receive. By the time I was informed I had it I had already dropped out of college because I physically could not make the six hour walk to school without literally collapsing on the side of the road.
Needless to say, my time of playing pretend came to an end: An earth shattering end. Everything was crumbling around me, my friends deserted me, my family abandoned me, I couldn't attend college like I wanted to, I had no place to go, no one to care for, and I was dying. I was literally dying. Eventually, my oldest friend Chris, a friend I've known since I was six came by and saw fit to take me in. Every time he tells the story he reminds people of how skinny I was. You could literally see my bones, I was malnourished. His grandfather opposed the idea, because he's a stubborn fuck who barely even cares for his family, his grandmother didn't care what her husband thought, so she took me in. I only stayed a few short months before Chris and I got a place together with two other friends. I took the money from school to support me while I looked for a job. This town is a dead end, and the economy is garbage. Before I could find a job we were all kicked out, even though I paid my portions in advance not everyone could make up their portions so we were kicked out collectively. Chris couldn't put me up again, his grandfather wouldn't have it, and none of my other friends could either. Homeless again, but not for long as we ended up getting another place together. I finally got a job and things began to look up. Finally making something, not quite a living, but it was something, I was able to sit back and enjoy somethings.
But for the past six years nothing really has been enjoyable. I look at everyone and they're so empty to me. They're nobodies. Just blank canvases walking around making noises and it's annoying. People are just blank pieces of paper that produce a strange amalgamate of white noise. Always opening that gaping hole and just blurting out stupid fucking things or just saying inconsistent annoyances. A giant fucking gaggle of worthless trash with no mind of their own and screaming absolute idiotic obscenities of immoral, illogical, nonsense. And all I do now is get up in the morning, watch a video on YouTube as I get ready for work, head out to work, and clean fucking dishes! I listen to the inane bullshit people have to say, smile and act happy all the fucking time even when I'm hanging out with my friends because if I so much as slip a little bit and let them see that I'm dying on the inside, that I'm miserable and falling apart, that I just want to go down the road to the bridge with a rope and hang myself, knowing that if the snap of the rope doesn't break my neck or the rope gives out and drops me I'll fall into the river and drown at the very least because I'm so fucking worthless that I can't even fucking swim and definitely won't be able to when I break something from that fall, at least then I'd be dead! I can't do that out of fear of what my friends would think! I know! They would see me as coward! They wouldn't be sad that I died, they would be angry that I gave up! So I can't I can't bare to do it!
So I continue. I continue to play pretend. So that the people around me don't get upset, those who I still cherish as friends don't hate me for being worthless, so they don't feel bad for being friends with someone who can't sleep at night because they're riddled with the fear of letting someone, anyone, down. I can't let them be sad or broken apart even when deep down I doubt myself at everything I do. I just can't stop…
I'm sorry, I'm so sorry everyone. I'm sorry I can't be anything worth anything to anyone. I hate myself for it, and I'm just so sorry. I want to be able to believe in something, I want to love something so dearly again. I want to be… me. I don't want to play pretend anymore. I don't. I'm sorry to all of my friends, I'm sorry for wasting all of your time.