Two Years

Yesterday was 2 years sober for me. I didn’t notice because of the bizarre passage of time we’re all experiencing in lockdown mode. Better late than never though. I don’t have anything profound to say about it other than my life is better now than I could have ever hoped for and it continues to get better. I’ve already written tons of posts on sobriety and addiction in the past so there’s no need for me to rehash any of that.

I guess the one insight I could give is that sobriety doesn’t mean anything is fixed on its own. I’m still antisocial, afraid of the world, and a hardcore procrastinator. But sober I have a chance to beat those things and some days I do. It’s not a battle where one day you win and you’re done… it’s a daily series of choices. Some days I have the energy to make the right choice and some days I don’t.

It was worth it.

My First Week as a Vulcan:

A friend of mine, one of the few whom I’ve discussed my possibly ridiculous experiment with, is a Trekkie and replied “so you’re trying to be a Vulcan?” I’d be lying if I said that hadn’t occurred to me during the initial phase of my project but it’s not my intent, mainly because Vulcans are poorly-designed fictional aliens from a franchise that puts the “fiction” in science fiction.

More Logic Isn’t the Goal or a Result So Far

Logic isn’t the opposite of emotion; controlling emotion doesn’t inversely cause one to be more logical and rational. Logic is a skill whereas emotion is a chemical response. I suppose one way in which they may be opposites is that logic requires practice and critical thinking whereas emotion, in its reactionary form, is the lack of critical thinking and focused practice.

Therefor I haven’t found that I’ve been more logical than I ordinarily am. I believe I’m already a logical person compared to most of the people I’ve met, so I haven’t noticed an increase in that faculty. What I’ve noticed is an ability to convey that logic more effectively because I’m not responding to people out of a desire to prove myself, debase them, or gain something. This has made conversation challenging as prior to this experiment I already knew that these are the primary reasons all people communicate; overwhelmingly the first one: proving themselves.

We Can’t Exist Without Emotion

Learning how to respond to people who are addicted to affirmation is an ongoing obstruction. Although I am attempting to eliminate my emotional responses, I can’t eliminate emotion entirely. I’m sure you can imagine how awkward it feels to have people tell you banal, codependent jokes all day and uncomfortably stare at you when you neither fake a chuckle or smile. This week I realized how often I fake laughter to make people feel comfortable with their own insufficient personalities.

Gratitude can be felt for the opportunity to practice, though. Several dozen times a day, I am given the opportunity to challenge myself to not pretend to find someone funny. It should be a given that this is only a problem because of my own character flaw which made me feel it was necessary to respond in an expected way to emotional manipulation. If I’d never given people what they wanted in the first place, this wouldn’t be an issue, and upon reflection I’d probably have had fewer toxic friends over the years.

Not giving in to expectation is the true test of emotional restraint. Analyze everything you do for a week and I promise you’ll come to a similar conclusion: many things we do are to appease other people. Society wouldn’t have formed the way it did without that provision but that doesn’t mean all of us have to give in to this animalistic need.

More on Emotion Being the Lack of Mental Activity

I’ve failed many times this week, yesterday in particular. Failure has given me insight into what causes emotional outbursts and I’d like to study this more. It wasn’t by accident that I chose to combine emotional control with asceticism and the times at which I gave in to impulsive hedonism were not coincidentally the times that I was almost completely out of control emotionally.

We are drawn to things that make us feel and not specifically to things that make us feel well. When I gave into desires such as eating fast food, playing games, watching valueless YouTube videos, and so on, these were the times I was at my most unstable. I’d vacillate wildly between joy, depression, and outright rage in mere minutes. These feelings then caused me to react to people as if they were the cause.

It’s worth mentioning that I have an unhealthy relationship with my mother and the mere sound of her voice throws me into a murderous rage at times so I can’t put all the blame on fast food and video games.

Humor Persists

You might not expect a sense of humor to prevail through an emotionless state but as I said previously, we can’t truly eliminate our emotions. Emotions aren’t an intangible concept that can be switched on or off at will, they are very real chemicals. Even medications that seek to mediate these chemicals don’t deaden our emotions, they merely mute some which makes the others seem amplified.

I’ve still been able to share my sense of humor with people. I also feel it’s been augmented during the times I’ve been more in control. Rather than fill the void with every stupid thought that enters my head, I carefully select appropriate and clever times to interject. Timing is everything, as the saying goes.

My writing may seem more dry than usual and that’s not a result of emotional control, it’s part of my “brutalist” asceticism idea: I’m trying to be more concise and to the point. I’m playing with that idea not just in writing but also in music and conversation as well. It’ll evolve over time and I’ll get better at making my writing interesting while refraining from rants and colorful language.