A&I: Healing, and Dreaming

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I can’t sleep.

At night, I lie in bed, eyes staring at the blinking red of the microphone I always forget to unplug. Despite this ache that spreads through every part of my being, despite this yearning for unconsciousness, I hold on to whatever it is that keeps the wheels of my brain turning. I wish I could apply such a strength to other areas of my life.

When I do drift away, the moments of peace are fleeting. After ninety minutes, I may wake up shaking, in the middle of a panic attack with some long forgotten cause. Memories and dreams become blurred, as I fight to keep aware of where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I exist moment to moment: I can keep up with my writing, I can go to the gym, I can get to all my appointments on time. But these days, I can’t afford to stop and just think. The true loss of insomnia is stability.

This is not the mindset best suited for a life lived on social media, on which each moment is as important as those following and preceding, and when I begin to invest in my relationships emotionally, it is a pressure cooker for my social anxiety. This is not a twitter thinkpiece, I shall never write one as long as I live, and ultimately my twitter feed has become where I go for my sense of community these days. But without that structure, without that stability, it becomes another impulse to fire into my brain, a crutch to avoid slipping into resting with my own thoughts.

I sometimes lose myself in games to find that structure. I might load up Clicker Heroes, grind in Fantasy Life, or go through every available quest in Borderlands. I seek out the skinner box, anything that takes away the burden of choice and gives me a moment to forget.

My insomnia comes and goes in patches, but the underlying anxiety is ever present. I still don’t yet understand how my Asperger’s Syndrome truly affects me, I’m still dealing with unresolved trauma that feels so close it’s hard to imagine it happened over a decade ago. Forgetting is helpful, everybody needs a moment to forget, but forgetting is not healing. And healing doesn’t happen by itself.

So this week, I’ve been playing games of healing. Games of dreaming. Games of reflection, suggestion, pain and serenity. I’m at a place where it’s important that I’m no longer searching for art that makes me feel better, but art that makes me feel like myself.


Upon Reflection (by Lady Boss)

Upon Reflection moved me to tears more than once, such is the power of honesty, when such a state is so difficult to reach. The game frames itself in the shower, one of those moments in a daily routine where there’s no way to escape your own thoughts, nothing to do but sift through your pain.

And there is nothing more impossible, or important than being able to do that and still accept the truth:

Today might be a good day.

Dream.Sim (by OXAM)

Nothing captures the space between sleeping and waking like Dream.Sim. The ghostly city sprawls out in all directions, its muted neon enveloping you as you explore all the way to the edges if you so desire.

Dream.Sim is at once the melancholy walk home at four in the morning and the joyful escape you imagine as you rest soundly at night.

Planeter (by Ditto)

With the press of a button, the worlds you willed into existence vanish beneath you, and although you may create new ones just as pleasant, never will you be able to return to how things once were.

A celebration of impermanent creation, Planeter is so peaceful and simple that every action is pleasing for the joy of itself, and the fact that things will soon pass doesn’t matter at all.

Desolation Dream (by Owe, oleflaten, Bjørnar)

There is strength in numbers.

Desolation Dream starts from a place of haunting isolation, as your scratchy figure wanders the desert, searching for something, anything, but the world does not provide. And as you progress, you are no longer one figure, but two, then four, an ever growing crowd of figures walking the empty desert.

The greatest comfort for a lost soul is to not be lost alone.