Sherman, here, and this is my story.
ASLEEP TO MY EMOTIONS
It all started when I was 7 years old. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be loved. I felt I had to loved to be happy.
So I’m downstairs in the basement playing “the floor is hot-lava” with my neighbor. I’m just about to rescue the princess and I get summoned by my father. “Matt… can you come up here for a second?”
I go upstairs and see my parents sitting on the living-room sofa.
“Matt, your mom and I are getting a divorce…”
Part of me wants to maintain harmony at all costs, repressing my own negative emotions…so I’ll be loved. Part of me wants to be myself and actually express those feelings.
“Ok. Can I tell my friend?” “Oh… we didn’t know anyone was over… but ok…” So I go downstairs and, with a smile, say “Hey Matt! *his first name is also Matt* My parents are getting a divorce!”
I remember playing basketball in elementary school… I’m in the gym practicing with the rest of the team. I really liked basketball. I take a shot and miss. It wasn’t even like I bricked it and missed completely. I just missed. And one of my teammates starts yelling at me. “Sherman! You suck! You can’t even make a shot!”
What would you do in that situation? Would you get angry back? Shrug it off? Flick him off? Take a guess about what I do in that moment.
I quit. “Ok, I quit.” His friend comes up to me right after and says “You’re not quitting because of what he said, are you?” “No… I’m just quitting.” Complete bullshit by the way. But I didn’t just quit basketball. I quit soccer, baseball, and boy scouts as well.
Every instance of conflict solidified this idea that my influence on a situation would be a problem. My actions make people angry. My actions make people sad. Even loving someone will cause them problems because eventually, like my parents, the gods that brought me into this world, relationships will end in separation.
By middle-school I’m having thoughts of suicide. I’m sad. I cry randomly… during lessons. I have a goal of never living past 30 years old. Like, that’s the cutoff point. I’m fat because I quit all the sports. The one girl that I had somehow managed to get close to moved to another state.
So I realize the solution. Just shut off. I turn off all the emotions I can. I put my true self to sleep through games, TV, and daydreaming. I also began studying people to figure out why the hell they’re so different than me.
FACING THE WORLD
Carl Jung once said “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” The more I studied others to make some sort of logical sense why I am the way I am, the more my desire to be true to myself and act based on how I really feel about things grew. I had to eventually accept the illogical nature of these scary, unsettling, and deep-seated feelings within me. In my endless search to understand the right and wrong thing to do, there was a voice inside prompting me “how do you know what right is? You need to experience it.”
So just out of high school, in a moment of heroic courage… I move to Japan.
But even then, there’s still a part of me that wants to keep me safe and do what I’ve always done. I should just stick with the games and fantasies that have always worked. This voice keeps reminding me “You were hurt in the past, you’ll get hurt again if you let someone in. Don’t stretch yourself too far,”
In the end, I’m in Japan, I have no idea how to do laundry or cook. Everything is new and I’m essentially helpless – unable to communicate through anything but body language…
But this is also one of the moments in my life that I’ve felt alive.
Flash forward 15 years later, through a lot of searching, ups and downs, and here I am at my wedding day… in Japan.
As I look out over the podium, I see everyone I love and care about in the same room.
My parents, brother, step-mother, friends who I’ve known throughout my journey, people from all over the world… all gathered in this one room to celebrate together.
I recently had a falling out with one of my best friends and he chose to not come. And I realize here that this room is a microcosm of what’s going on inside all of us.
I feel that people are genuinely good. Each person has positive intentions, but sometimes those intentions get brought out in negative ways. They fight, they go different directions, they hurt each other, but they can also align and support each other.
How they work together, or don’t work together, forms a larger whole.
Love, unity, and peace come from understanding each other and having the ability to empathize with their journey. And this can only happen when you put in the effort understand people, and yourself, at a deep level.
I need my internal mentor-like character to show me the world and to get out of my comfort zone, but he can distract me too much at times. I need my childish, newbie-like style to teach me to respect my past experiences, and keep me looking for safety, but he can scare me out of taking any action at all. I need my antihero to show me what areas I really lack control over and inspire me to level up and take control of my life.
All of these parts are necessary – just as I am.
I have a purpose.
My influence in a situation can be bad or good, but my life-long search to define what good is can act as a compass for other people as well as myself. I’m fine as I am.
My actions can bring people together.
CHANGING THE RULES OF THE GAME
I believe that all problems come from lack of empathy, Personality awareness unlocks the skill of Empathy. If we all understood ourselves better, we’d understand how other people are different and we’d be able to respect their strengths and forgive their weaknesses. We’d see where we struggle and where they succeed. We’d see how they can teach us life-changing skills, and how we can help improve their lives.
My purpose is to help people appreciate and align the different characters within them so they can face the same direction and embrace love, and life. Helping finally become who you are meant to be while helping change the world. Because changing one person’s life will change another’s, which transforms another person’s life. The impact is endless.
So by taking the same games and fantasies that I used to distract myself from facing my own feelings, I began to use them as the tools to awaken self awareness.
RPGs have an ability to let us slip into different worlds and see ourselves as powerful heroes – accessing the hidden potential within. So by loosening the rigid structure of personal growth, I was able to use metaphors and analogies to link Jungian psychology and many extremely beneficial growth concepts to RPG elements.
Life is a game. This is the walkthrough.