Why I Am the Way I Am

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I’m not referencing a pretty great Eminem song, but I wanted to write this post solely because I feel like whenever I go on a random mini-rant, everything is vague. When people ask what’s up, it’s hard to even explain myself. Most reply in confusion not knowing what’s going on with me and for that, that onus is on me. I’m horrible at providing context. For you, it’s typically hard to connect the dots without it. And I often find it hard to explain myself repeatedly to an extent where most can understand me. I’ve touched on some of this back when I had my Tumblr before but that’s gone now, a lot of time has passed, and I have way more people following me than I used to, so there’s that. 

This is a long, personal, nearly autobiographical post, and whether you want to read it or can relate to it or not is none of my business. You don’t have to. But if you do, then I hope you don’t judge me for expressing myself and feel you’re not alone. It’s something I wish to see more of from my closest peers to know I’m not alone and I don’t get that much at all, so that would make me satisfied. I’ve never explained anything about this level of who I am at this length before.

Anyway, here goes… I’m going to start from the very beginning.

Growing Up Different From Everyone Else

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I didn’t have a typically bad childhood. It wasn’t a rich one, but also it wasn’t a poor one. It was kinda in-between… There were a lot of times when I lived in the Chicago winter months with no heat and the lights out, and there was a modicum of instances where I was livin’ it up with the newest SNES game that plagued every commercial break during the after-school cartoon block on Fox Kids. Rented from Hollywood Video, of course. It was basically a barometer of whenever my parents were at their poorest and when they had some extra money to splurge. I was no stranger to Disney World. Nothing out of the ordinary so far.

Me at Disney World, circa ‘93.

Me at Disney World, circa ‘93.

I was a smart-ass. I’ve been reading English fluently since I was 3 years old, able to break down huge words much to the amazement of adults at the time. Super Honor Roll every report card (up until I started having issues which is related to me recently discovering I have ADD around 6th grade). 

What set my childhood apart from most American kids, however, was my religious upbringing. I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. Yeah, exactly like Michael Jackson, The Wayans, Jill Scott, Childish Gambino, etc. This is something that I’ve always been very bashful talking about because a large majority of people just can’t grasp it. It’s still hard to talk about now even when I don’t classify myself as one (I simply don’t believe in it, or even religious) anymore.

So, for anyone who isn’t vaguely familiar, a JW lives a bit more peculiarly than your standard religions. They have a Christian foundation, so it’s still all about Hey-zoose and striving to be like him (or so they try to rise above their hypocrisy and attempt), but they also believe in god separately (YAHWEH; or Jehovah, the transliteration). Anyway, I’m not gonna bore you with details. If you’re interested in the hard facts about them, just google JWs. 

Me, right, sometime in the mid-90s, with my mother and younger brother at one of the yearly “conventions” that Jehovah’s Witnesses attend.

Me, right, sometime in the mid-90s, with my mother and younger brother at one of the yearly “conventions” that Jehovah’s Witnesses attend.

Back to me… I was not “normal” in contrast to most kids. No birthdays. No holidays. The Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school was like playing a game of “watch Robert be weird and stay seated”, my favorite morning pastime. 

Now this is not about me complaining about not celebrating that stuff, I could care less. The idea of celebrating even my own birthday is still foreign to me and doesn’t bother me. (Besides, I personally feel birthdays can be egoistic, but to each their own.) This is more of what my upbringing has done to me and the weight it carried into my adulthood.

In a nutshell, JW leaders thrive off keeping people guilty to keep them in:

“If you’re not knocking on people’s doors enough at 10 o’clock on a Saturday morning, you should feel bad about how that looks to God!”

“It’s normal to think about girls but you should be thinking more about God, and if you’re thinking about them a lot, that makes God jealous! Don’t make God jealous!” 

“Think about how violent the video games you’re playing and how that makes God, a loving (but very violent) creator feel. God hates violence (despite being violent a ton of times in the Bible)!”

Just hysterical nonsense to the point I’m even still mad at myself for being born in that system and stuck with them for so long. As a child and into my mid-teens, I was one of the best examples of a “JW Kid”. Textbook, even. For those who aren’t intellectually equipped and don’t question anything, it’s a hook-line-sinker for them. 

My high school yearbook is littered with tons of notes like this. Never called a single one though. LOL

My high school yearbook is littered with tons of notes like this. Never called a single one though. LOL

Girls were a huge problem for me. (Hilariously, they still are despite all I know now.) Eventually, I started thinking about girls so much that God was getting pretty jealous so I had to do something about it! Throughout high school, I had a crushbook and despite me being forbidden to even attempt to talk to a girl in a hormonal manner (let alone a girl who wasn’t a JW), I managed to make out with a few (and I still don’t understand how, I was and still is the biggest fuggin’ nerd) and not tell any of the elder dudes. Stuff I would get slightly reprimanded for but nothing that would bring shame and dishonor upon my family’s name. (The entire thing is a huge social construct dealio; all of my closest friends at the time and their families were also JWs, and I had to keep the alternatives (i.e. “worldly people”, I’m cringing as I type this) at arms length.) This is the first issue that has a major effect on my mental psyche. Keep that in mind.


Anyway, I wanted to get some because what the heck man, I’m basically an adult at this point in my life (18-19). So they were like “well, God would rather you think about him more but we can’t tell you what to do so you need to get married ok” and I was like “ok” and they were like “…to another Witness!!!”.

I’ve done a lot of dumb things in my short time on this planet, but what I did next is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Ever Done

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Now I want to preface by saying that I don’t hold any ill will to anyone described henceforth. I’ve physically and emotionally long moved on from it and wish them the very best (they’re already remarried to the homewrecker and shit), but I can’t ignore what happened and how it still mentally affects me to this day. And this post is about me, not anyone else.

I met my ex (not going to mention her by name because there’s no point to, but there she is) through mutual friends at the time. We dated for a couple years and we did a TON of stuff we weren’t supposed to (that we later got in trouble for, but I’ll get to that shortly). Eventually, out of guilt she felt pressured to get married. I was a bit iffy about that but then she got her mom involved by pressuring me and that was just… oy…

Anyway, we do the dumb thing.

Now, I am always upfront in everything about myself, and up to this point: The things I’m into, the stuff I enjoy doing, my aspirations of being an artist/creator (this is pretty! important!) but also I wasn’t selfish. I aimed to do everything for the benefit of both of us. I was proud of my “family” and I didn’t want to harm that in any way.

Naturally, I hate confrontation. I avoid it. Even though I grew up in an environment that was counter-productive to my social life as an adult, my parents rarely raised their voice at each other and at us. There were arguments and I got whupped a couple of times, of course, but nothing abusive. On the other hand, my ex-wife’s family would yell, scream, and shout at each other like it was natural. At the time, it was shocking at first but I didn’t really give it any attention, but in hindsight, that had a lot to do with my relationship with her.

See, she grew up a bit more “troubled” than I was. She wasn’t born in the religion from infancy like myself, and her father didn’t believe in it at all. So, obviously, there was a lot of discord in their family arrangement. She also had a lot of run-ins with the elder dudes of the religion before even meeting me (nothing serious, all about promiscuousness, which is just natural to want to explore, but to them it’s a huge deal). Not to say that out of judgment. It just was what it was. That attitude however permeated into our marriage, in that she would speak abusively and raise her voice when things didn’t go her way. 

I touched upon this before on Twitter, but I summarized the kinds of things I’d get into with her, and most of it had to do with my art career. She hated the female characters I drew, so yelling ensued. Any basic, normal attention I get from another woman, she’d look too into it and accuse me of entertaining it. I even played video games on eggshells because the moment a sexy character pops up, the entire mood of the day would go from A-OK to Apeshit. (I was barred from playing Chun-Li in her battle outfit on SF4/SFV, LOL. THAT kind of “apeshit”.) Still loved the shit out of her, though.

2007. Cringing because I can’t even remember the last time I smiled like that in a candid shot lol.

2007. Cringing because I can’t even remember the last time I smiled like that in a candid shot lol.

This is the catch about me: I’m an extremely traditional loyal dude. Despite the kinds of content I sometimes enjoy drawing, I grew up with strict morals and I even still live my life based on the principles I grew up with (even though I loathe religion and the idea of God now, some of it does have merit to how I should live my life). So, to constantly wrestle with a woman (who was very attractive) day in and day out about her insecurities and accusations nearly drove me insane. 

Eventually, she started to think I was being conniving against her about standing my ground with my art and all. So she went to the elder dudes about ALLLLL the naughty stuff we did before our marriage (which was pretty humiliating). It was honestly partly out of guilt, but also it was a way for her to ultimately badger them to get on me about my artwork (because it wasn’t considered “appropriate” but was technically a grey area to them). So basically, I was thrown under the bus despite both of us being into it in our early hump days. We get a slap on the wrist, moving on. 

The Great Tectonic Shift 

Later in our relationship, she started drastically changing and hanging out with individuals who all have been involved in the religion to some capacity. Not to the extent I have in the early years of my goody-two-shoeing it in said religion, either. Bad people are everywhere. But I also started changing a bit before that, in that I was becoming disillusioned with all of it at this time, unrelated to any issues we had. 

Long story short, I started seeing the religion (and religion in general) for what it was: bullshit. (If you follow me and you’re religious, you are free to live your life however you deem fit, I have no personal issue. If you are one of JWs specifically, don’t take it personal, but also maybe you should think for yourself about it & do some research. There are extremely good people in there, although I personally feel they’re trapped. Like my family. I’ll get to that near the end.) She took that as an opportunity for her to start detaching herself from me because I stopped buying into the thing. Which I was mad about at the time because there was no effort to try and understand where I was coming from even as a mate, but now, cool whatever. 

Eventually, those individuals she was hanging around were not morally upright folk, so she got pressured to eventually cheat on me with a wishy-washy dude. He was ugly too, but that’s another story. Anyway, ya boy got cucked. And there were multiple signs of infidelity throughout the marriage even before the final straw. Could’ve been more than I know of for all I know, but that’s besides the point. Point is, I was loyal, she wasn’t. I just stopped being “loyal to God”.

So the whole ordeal blew up, kinda lost it publicly at the time (this was like late 2016, right before our 10 year anniversary). I called for a divorce, she took my favorite dog, she remarried to Ugly Dude, I moved from Chicago to Arizona. I’m single again. 

Now that that’s all explained, there’s a theme to this post that is evident. It’s not about my ex-wife, none of that matters even though it was a waste of time; she’s grown, she can do and be however she wants (though she’s not practicing the religion anymore, shocker), I honestly and wholeheartedly wish her the best through-and-through. But it is the second major effect it had on me mentally. I have major trust issues now and PTSD from the entire thing, so little things will trigger those thoughts for me. That’s what happened this week.

This is all about how I was brought up. And right when the divorce happened, my worldview continued to crash even further.

The Epilogue

Finally, since I started sharing that I’m not a believer anymore to my family and previous friends, I started losing contact with them. Immediate family still keep in contact with me but only at arms length. I know I’m breaking my parents’ heart every day even though they won’t outright say it, but that’s just how devoted they are. It sucks. Extended family… lol. And all my old friends won’t even talk to me anymore. Some even slandered me because of mutual relationship stuff with my ex, but that can happen anywhere and anyway. 

This is where the constant bouts of loneliness come from. It’s not because I’m desperate for any random woman’s attention (though it’d be nice to have again but I’m in no rush at all), I can get punani anywhere. It’s not that hard. But I’m also not your standard human man. I’m picky and coming back into the dating scene, a lot of girls today are shallow and boring as hell. It comes from literally being catapulted from a years-long haven of having close friends, associates, and a mate and loving dogs to nothing, nearly instantly. This post doesn’t nearly do it any justice; I could write for days about all the small dilemmas I’ve been in. Shit adds up.

I titled this heading “The Epilogue” as if this is the end of my story, lol. It’s not the end, but as a turning point in my life, it felt fitting.

I titled this heading “The Epilogue” as if this is the end of my story, lol. It’s not the end, but as a turning point in my life, it felt fitting.

As a result, I’m a completely different person now. I’m still the same kid I always have been (even still look like one at times). I just feel like an 18-wheeler ran over me in contrast to before. But, realistically? I would say I’m in a much better circumstance than what I’ve been in all the years since I was a child. 

Since then (it’s been 3 years now), I’ve gained an extremely small amount of people that I am happy to call my friends because they always try to check up on me and make sure my head is still screwed on straight. And I value them very much. I still have issues regarding genuine nature and whatnot, but for the most part, I’m appreciative. 

But it’s not cut and dry there. The way I’ve been brought up affects me to this day. Trying to please people who don’t really deserve to be pleased is how I’ve been raised, yet I always try too hard to be conscientious about how I’ve inadvertently made people I don’t even know all that much felt thru simple interactions online, lol. And I’m still riddled with loneliness. For what I do for a living, being an artist and developer working at home, it often gets overwhelmingly tough. I long to be able to just speak to someone about literally anything and to hear a voice echo back in a room as a response. I can do this online thru a headset, but it’s simply not the same. I grew up in an environment where someone was around all my life. Most of my days are so quiet I’m sure my neighbors wonder if I’m weird for literally hearing nothing going on daily. I don’t even open my mouth and speak often (I LOVE talking); I might as well be mute, outside of jumping on Discord with my buds to play a game or so every now and again.

As for me, mentally… I like to think I’m not crazy, but I’m still going to try and get therapy for everything I’ve gone through up to this point in my life. If they can help me out even a little, that would be nice, but I doubt they would understand even 10% of me. I want to feel like my old self again. 

Y’know… my longtime followers probably remember “breaksketchin’, post-a-day Robaato”, yeah? Yeah, me neither. 

But I’d like to be that guy again.