(Kinship art credit - "Faceless": M.N.W.)
Earlier in November was International Men’s Day.
After reading the variety of articles, tweets & other social media posts that I had revolving around this day, I made the very tough choice to speak openly, both as the Founder of my emerging studio & as a Male human being.
This will be the only time I create such an open & vulnerable blog.
When I founded Nascent Games in January 2012, my life was a (mostly) clean slate. I knew almost nobody when I moved to Sacramento, only 3 months prior. But, that began to grow when I attended my 1st event (SacAnime) and attended an Amateur Voice Acting Panel. Since then, I released my very first video game which wasn’t even the 1st game I started development on. (yay, game development!)
But I achieved something that I never thought I could: Finish making a video game!
I also took over a very niche & awesome Game Development Meetup group and formed it into the Sacramento Chapter of the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) for several years. From this I formed the Sacramento Indie Arcade which also had a great run for almost 5 years. Jobs were formed for a variety of Indie Developer & Designer talent in Sacramento & elsewhere. We suddenly had an important presence!
Which was the whole point of both the group & event to begin with.
Through these achievements & milestones, there have been a variety of people I’ve met throughout my path as Indie. Supporters, colleagues, fans…and backstabbers…some of those people were all 4, respectively. Within all of these successful steps forward, there were many painful issues growing behind the scenes which would, ultimately, degrade & destroy me.
As these issues continued to devolve further, I was diagnosed with & learned the causes of 2 medium-staged forms of Mental Illness: Co-Dependency & Depression
The cause: Abuse. (Verbal, Physical, Psychological *mental + emotional* & Sexual)
I am now strong enough to reveal that 3 people throughout my life viciously & severely inflicted those varied kinds of abuse to me.
I only understood the full scope of these attacks through Clinical Therapy & Legal Counseling, in Summer 2018. But from the 1st attack over 25 years ago, I’ve lived my life thinking that those attacks were my fault. That I deserved it because of my kindness or because I was a guy not looking to simply “hook-up” with those I wanted to get to know more.
I was pushed to be someone I wasn’t. My body, my identity, were both assaulted & emasculated. I was manipulated & forced to throw my beliefs aside because, otherwise, “I didn’t really want them” and needed to prove myself to them: One of the many symptoms from Co-Dependency & one of the many after effects of Abuse.
Throughout my life, I didn’t have the strength or conviction to fight back or speak up. I have lived throughout these past 25 years convinced what happened to me weren’t actual attacks, but only “poor” or “selfish” choices or that I was acting out some kind of “deeper urge”.
Turns out, I was wrong.
It began to impact everything I was developing & nurturing both personally & professionally. And it almost cost me my life. In December 2017, I tried to end my life, but I stopped. These terrible thoughts didn't come from being in some kind of dark room or having dark thoughts...I was working on a game at a very well-lit coffee shop after work.
Because of this, I decided to write an article in early 2018 on a local gaming website called Last Token Gaming which focused on a hybrid Game Review/Mental Health perspective for a game called Earth Defense Force 5. In that article, I slowly revealed the very strange similarities EDF 5 had to my Mental headspace, at that time. EDF 5 really did save my life.
But, I still had yet to fully grasp the severity of my issues at that point.
I began to share these revelations with only a few that were very close to me, including family. Surprisingly, some (including family) did not believe me. Some of those I began sharing my issues with would check-in with me…only to feed those who harmed me with the same challenges & issues I’m sharing with you all now.
They didn't want to know how I was doing. They wanted to know what I was doing.
Thus, the abuse continued while I cried frequently in secret & continued to slowly collapse…praying, well *fighting* really, to maintain faith & forgiveness throughout to overcome this severe level of trauma that continued to fester within my heart.
Though I’ve had friends come & go in my life, I never came across friends or acquaintances who would call, text or email me only to betray me in such a vindictive way. Friends which I grew with from when I was the new guy 3000 miles from home and no family near me to reach for.
To come to terms with these revelations were as if I was being attacked all over again.
Something I’ve learned: There will be those who will see the goodness, the kindness of you, only to stalk, seek & aggressively destroy you so they can, out of false pretense, ensure you don’t outshine them.
They will go to heartless extremes to remind you how faulty & worthless you are. They will decimate you because you were the only one who saw the good of them when they were unable to believe it in themselves. Thus, they didn’t always believe you…and often questioned your agendas & why you stayed in their lives with such faith.
They despised you, but they didn’t want you to go…they kept you close, so they can attack you again.
Those who applaud for you do not always cheer for you.
And if anything I’ve shared here has offended you, you’re most likely the cause or have caused it to others.
I was scared to share this post because of the varied mix of perceptions I’m expecting from both the supportive/understanding side & the ignorant/repugnant side of humans, respectively.
I have spent 95% of my life either walking on egg shells or a double-edged sword to fight the constant teeter-totter of either talking too much, to simply shut up and take action OR slow down to take the time and vocalize my feelings.
If I did nothing, I didn’t care. If I did a lot, I was caring too much. :(
So, what am I looking to achieve by sharing this? Transparency. Closure. A new beginning.
What I’m not looking for are allies with revealing my inner turmoil. I do not seek pity. I only want people who are going through what I am to understand, know & accept that they are not alone.
I do not & will not seek revenge on those who directly or indirectly harmed me, even if I were to ever again see those who hurt me. Even if I were to learn who some of them were, because there are those who enabled this kind of destructive abuse. But I may never know their names.
I am not going to call anyone out specifically nor publicly because, for me, it achieves nothing. For other victims, this may work & might give them a particular sense of closure or attention to the matter.
But, not me. And that’s ok!
I’m growing beyond the pain, beyond the abuse. I continue to pray for & have faith in my attackers & their enablers that they find the strength & foresight to become more than their mistakes, their deception & their betrayal.
I have already forgiven them. I also have, very recently, forgiven myself...which was much more difficult to do. It is also the most important thing to do.
Continuing forward, I will share certain moments & experiences in all I create for others through empowerment, rather than vengeance. If I were to push back with anger, rage, manipulation & vindication, I become them. I become no better than they are.
I am worth much more than that.
I now know that while I still both confront & embrace daily healing from the consequences of these Mental Illnesses & attacks, I am no longer the Man WITH a Mental Illness…those who inflict it are the ones who suffer from it.
And rest assured, it will be THE LAST TIME that anyone will ever destroy my peace, murder my smile & assassinate my innocence again. EVER.
Writing this kind of a blog, 8 years after moving here to start a new life still, in certain moments, feels like I have deeply failed and deserved what happened.
This should be a celebratory blog about the next games in development, new team members, new events, new collaborations & having an actual game studio, plus other very personal moments & beautiful milestones.
I know I am what I do TODAY, in order for a better TOMORROW.
Nascent Games will emerge again as something new, in due time. I mean, hell, it's the actual definition of "Nascent" anyway! My heart & my voice will be the source.
After sharing all of this, I…I’m now releasing many tears. The catharsis is surreal, visceral & gratifying.
I want to share my deepest gratitude for those who took the time to not only read but understand what I’ve shared. It has been the most difficult set of feelings I’ve ever had to reveal. And I’m not afraid anymore.
I am Nerd. I am Geek. I am Indie. And now, I am a Survivor.
But I am not my Mental Illness.
Thank you everybody for the good years & the great memories we have all created together.