Relationships, Mental Health, and ARGs

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  superstar 1 week, 6 days ago.

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  • #27396
     Lawrence Meyers 
    Participant

    Because things are (mercifully?) quiet, I wanted to share some insights on these topics. We’re in uncharted territory in many ways with this new form of storytelling. I’ve been having some pretty interesting dreams and, while in analysis, seeing some insights that might be of benefit to the community.

    The theme of these dreams is that I – and imagine all of us in some way – are feeling out how to handle the character interactions we have as well as the larger narrative. They have also been about trying to find the balance between wanting to feel emotionally open and accessible and yet not feel exposed; trying to find a balance between experiencing an emotional moment and engaging the mind and reason to put those experiences into context; trying to be aware what these experiences pull out of the unconscious without letting that which is released get the better of us.

    An impactful ARG carries risks and rewards. They open up the unconscious, and lots of stuff springs forth, much of it unexpected. We need to find a way to put a lid on it so it doesn’t run out of control. Perhaps think of it as establishing a breakwater in a bay to keep the raging ocean from slamming into the beach all the time.

    In short, the analyst suggests remembering that this is a game, and popping out of the forest from time to time to get a panoramic view of our psychological and emotional landscape. To check in with ourselves.

    I discussed breakfast with @nothenrygale with my analyst, and we evaluated the subsequent reactions that day and after the video revelations. He offered a couple of significant thoughts. We have to remember that, as much information as TPTB have on any of us, the narrative they develop is a reflection of their own imaginations and fantasies about us. That’s all it can ever be because they are not us.

    Like all good storytellers, who co-opt details from the lives of others and filter it through their own imagination, and then give it away to mass audiences, this process is exactly the same – except the narratives are derived from having direct access to us, filtering it through their own narrative, and then handing it directly back to us. It’s more personalized. It is also, quite frankly, very generous.

    Therein lies the potential for great rewards, as many of us have experienced. However, there is risk. We are so eager to feel and to experience that it is easy to forget that just because something happens doesn’t make it true, or right, or says something profound about us. For example, I like and need to win. I have a savior complex. But these are not always bad things. Everything depends on circumstance.

    I hope @nothenrygale will indulge a discussion of our experience, which was fruitful in many ways. From what I gather, Brad felt betrayed by Morgan. Brad was responding to something he was told to do – not even by Morgan, but by someone above him. It wasn’t internally generated, but in fact externally generated, and twice removed. I can’t say how that made Brad feel, but I think I reacted as I did because I realized that this was the case. I chastised Brad for not just telling me himself, on his own, at an appropriate time, how he felt.

    Some might take issue with how this all spun out. I learned some things, but was this the proper venue for it? Does it matter? Was it fun? Was engaging me in a scenario set in motion from wayyyyyy over there of value? Brad was very kind and generous in telling me that he selected me because he felt I might be more likely to be able to handle the criticism in the constructive manner in which it was presented.

    There is no right or wrong answer, I think. Everything depends on circumstance. But that’s the point, I think. It’s uncharted territory and if we agree to play, it is also incumbent upon everyone to play responsibly.

    Brad, what about you? I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

    [And yes, it’s all good between us. Hearts. Unicorns. Etc. And thanks again for breakfast]

    Herein lies a great lesson for everyone. We are all people and we should have compassion and respect for everyone else whenever possible. I was struck by the encounter I had with Jon Gaboudian, the owner of the towing company that towed my car illegally. I sued him, as you know, in small claims. The judge asked all parties to try and settle first. We sat down and talked, both of us realized that the other guy wasn’t all that bad, and we reached a settlement and actually got on rather well. He even asked me for a copy of my book, and I learned about how his family came to America and about the towing business.

    We met on a relational plane and I think that was to our mutual advantage.

    I offer this story because my dreams have also reflected some of the internal strife I sense in our little wacky community. That leads back to the overall theme of checking in with ourselves, and with each other.

    Not that it matters. We’ll all be dead in three weeks anyway.

    I’d love to hear everyone else’s thoughts on this!

  • #27399
     Brad Ruwe 
    Participant

    Good post @larry. That week was… tricky for me for sure. I consider myself a fairly open and up-front person. That week was absolutely interesting for me on my side of things. I think the after effects of that brunch hit me hard because I felt like I was put in a situation where I couldn’t “win”, which is a bit ironic given what we discussed that day. I had to call in a member of the community I had problems with. And with all that they know, I’m sure they’d have figured I wasn’t being upfront if I picked someone I didn’t actually have issues with. The only way we could come out of that situation in a positive gain was if we had an open conversation and could actually move on with a better understanding of each other and ourselves. By the end of breakfast I thought we actually pulled it off… then I saw your Periscope go up and started second guessing myself.

    This whole thing has been hard because it both IS and ISN’T a game. It’s part fiction based on real facts about us. So long as we can use the fictional parts to gain a better understanding about ourselves, I’m all for that blurring of the line. But as you point out, some times the fiction can get in the way of that.

    Frankly I’m super happy for this extended break. I think everyone, on both “sides” needed this. Cause towards the end of that last chapter I know myself personally was starting to feel like I was being played, like I was being set up for a fall. It got me questioning @111error and any instructions I got from him. And obviously when the chapter ended and the first part of the video was released I felt like I had once again been played a fool. A role I’m not entirely against being in (isn’t the purpose of the audience in a magic show to be fooled and amazed?), but a role I’d want to be sure I’m filling for good reason. Part 1 of the video was me being shown I was in that role, but without the reason. Part 2 showed that reason. They knew I’d never follow through with instructions if it came directly from Noah or Joyce or Mason. But now knowing they’re working together to bring down the OSDM I understand.

    I’m glad we can get back to talking terms after that breakfast. I was in a tough spot I really didn’t want to be in, and to go from “that went better than I expected” to “well shit” when the Periscope went up was a bit rough for me. As I’m sure the position was rough for you too.

    May our Lust dreams bring better clarity as we navigate the rest of this experience.

  • #27400
     Unseen Presence 
    Participant

    This topic is one of great interest to me, because I come from over 20 years of experience with ARGs and LARPs–and there is a reason for that length of time.

    I am FASCINATED by the concept of stepping into another’s shoes/clothes/life for any length of time. I find it an incredibly therapeutic way to try out other potential lives, to tap into parts of myself that would be considered problematic in the “real” world but are perfectly fine to explore in a safe environment, to try out different ways of problem-solving (even occasionally intentionally making BAD choices).

    So I’ve long ago come to grips with understanding the balance between the “Real” world and the “pretend” world of whatever ARG/LARP I’m involved with. Or rather, long ago come to the understanding of where -my- balance is.

    And I’ll be honest: For me, it’s hard to get really invested at an emotional level any more. When I started, I was able to strike that balance of “losing” myself in the moment without actually losing control OF myself. I was able to enjoy the moment and then immediately step out of it when it was done and take an outside viewpoint.

    But over the years, I began to play less often and story-tell more. I began to write stories and LARPS and ARGs and to teach storytelling to others day after day, semester after semester. And as I’ve done so, it’s become harder and harder to shut down my “storyteller/director/writer” head and get back into the part of ARGs/LARPS that appeal to me the most–the actual, emotional, in the moment responses. It’s become harder and harder to not constantly be watching things from the outside, attempting to determine the narrative, trying to compare things that happen with things I’ve done before or seen before.

    Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in myself for not getting involved here sooner BECAUSE I miss having the deeper connection in a scenario. It’s part of what I’m personally seeking again–that moment when something ACTUALLY makes me respond, when it truly hits home. Because for me, it’s been a good while since such has happened. Even the best immersive shows I’ve seen in the past few years have touched me more in a distant emotional way (as in “I can see what they’re going for here and it’s certainly effective”) rather than in a directly emotional one (as in “I’m heartbroken because X happened”.) And the closest I’ve come has been an event where I couldn’t change ANYTHING–and I was more upset about THAT then I was in the moment itself.

    So yeah–I’m fascinated by how people respond to ARGs and how people handle keeping themselves together as they do so. If anything, I’m too -intellectually- fascinated to be able to always respond truly emotionally. I’m sort of hoping this will, at some point, bring me back to that space.

  • #27401
     Lawrence Meyers 
    Participant

    @nothenrygale Friends have disagreements and even arguments. The measure of a friendship is getting past those moments and seeing each other as people, on a relational level.

    Part of the reason for the post was to show that you and I succeeded because we were honest with each other and ourselves, even if belatedly so. I didn’t have to do that Periscope but again, thanks to @bcbishop for encouraging me to do so, I thought it would be of value to everyone.

    I hope everyone takes that to heart.

  • #27402
     Megan 
    Participant

    I generally don’t put faith in the meaning of dreams and I’ve walked away from three therapists this year (one for being a dick, one for telling me that Lust was abusing me, and one for telling me, upon hearing about certain proclivities of mine, that instead I should try “sitting by a lake” for stress relief. “We have many lakes in Minnesota,” she said).

    Thinking about what Brad said about his experience seeing that video – mine wasn’t so much that I’d been played for a fool as it was that I’d gotten exactly what I’d wanted and was now being dropped unceremoniously on my ass.

    Mason: “You will beg me to pay attention to you.”
    Me (inner thoughts): oh fuck me up the ass

    I did everything they wanted me to do, when they wanted me to do it, just to get to that point. I’m a smart person and I’d stopped being able to see any of it coming. Fucking amazing. It didn’t go the way I’d wanted and I was feeling gutted but there was definitely a part of my brain – that meta part that Noah hated back in August – that recognized the brilliance in what had been done.

    Unfortunately this all came at a really bad time and I couldn’t have this emotional reaction, and definitely couldn’t have it be messy and public, because a few days later I learned I was probably going to lose my job this coming spring. Academia was now fucking me up the ass and I had to push all of THIS aside to deal with the fallout of that. In many ways I’ve shut back down emotionally because I’ve had to. They wrote an 8 page letter that tore me to pieces, artistically and personally. Even if I win this fight, I will be staying in a department with people who don’t want me and don’t like what I do.

    I haven’t felt anything other than anger because of this since then which kind of cheats Lust of the intended effects, in a way. It’s not anger at Lust at all, it’s at my colleagues, but it’s still the only thing I’m feeling. With Lust that anger gets redirected at myself for being dumb. I don’t feel like I’m having the right feelings in the right way at all. At the time the video was released, I was really emotionally vulnerable in a way I hadn’t been in a long time. Now…not as much. That’s not really how I wanted to go into the MSE, but it is what it is.

    So, I’m sorry for the delayed reaction post while I dealt with real life bullshit.

  • #27457
     superstar 
    Participant

    Ah, yes… relationships…

    Certain events in this experience have triggered some very strong feelings of anger, sadness, and isolation within me. And, I’m very much aware that 99.9% of what I feel is directly connected to my personal history, childhood insecurities, and family disfunction. But, I tend to be a fairly private person, and I’m not comfortable bringing up issues concerning family members, OOG friends, coworkers, etc. on a public forum (hence, my less-than-exciting social media profile). I prefer to talk face-to-face, and I find it challenging to develop close bonds with people. The kind of relationships many of you seem to have within this community are a mystery to me. I feel like even after all these months, I still barely know most of you. And, most of you barely know me.

    But, maybe that’s ok. Maybe we’re just people passing through each others’ lives at a point in time… maybe at just the right point in time… to help each other grow and learn whatever it is we’re meant to learn. If it turns out to be more than that? What a wonderful, miraculous thing! If not, maybe that’s ok.

    As I move through this experience (and, through therapy IRL), I’ve come to believe that what I desire most is to be free. And, I’m beginning to think that the only way to be free is to let go, which is an incredibly difficult and painful choice. I struggle with a self-destructive desire to fix things I cannot fix, to force things to be the way I need them to be, to push for answers where there are none. But, really, the best I can do is learn to cope with the emotional upset I feel confronting circumstances beyond my control. In some crazy way, by pouring salt in my wounds and tearing them wide open for further examination, I believe this experience is helping me.

    @larry, what you said about the creators filtering details of our lives through their imagination… YES.

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