Ugh, Do I Have to Talk About Feelings? Level 2.1: Contemplation

Updated: Sep 16

Congrats! You made it to Level 2. You didn't accomplish much, that was just the tutorial, but now you know how it works.


If you just jumped in. You die, start over with a new life here.


My days are pretty much all the same. I’m an engineer. Admittedly, I’m a workaholic. I work at least 8 hours a day, but honestly I fall down rabbit holes and sometimes work 10-12 hour days. When I get home, Natalie always has food ready for me. It makes my day. I seriously look forward to her dinners all day long. Watching her work in the kitchen amazes me. Watching her whisk around pulling out things she needs, using them expertly, and in ways that don’t make sense to my limited culinary skills, swiftly cleaning up after herself, and setting the timer like she didn’t just dance the last hour away seemingly blissfully. I can’t place the date of the last time I watched Natalie cook. We’ve been married for six years, and I can easily say it has been at least two since the last time I got home in time to watch her cook. On my late days, she used to wait for me before eating so we could eat together and talk about our days. It’s engineering. There’s only so much I can talk about before I run out of things to say. Natalie doesn’t have that problem. She could talk until the cows came home, were braying for dinner, and not even notice over her own chatter. Don’t take this as me complaining, I love the woman, and her chattiness, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The more she talks, the less I have to. Until she wants to talk about feelings. Not a subject I’m comfortable with. 


After dinner, I sit down to my games. I like to learn. I like to be engaged. I like challenges. I like self improvement. I like competition. I like the reward of winning. I like doing things that I cannot do or afford in real life normally. All these things are available uniquely in gaming. 


When I game with my friends I am honestly the most relaxed and honest version of myself. No one gets offended, everyone understands the goal is to have pure enjoyment. We are all working together to have fun without actually working. Our minds drift into a thousand random topics and no one is ever judged, we're just free to explore topics while we enjoy a hobby that we all respect and want to continue to get better at together. I have made some incredibly close friends that I’ve never met from all over the world. 


Natalie doesn’t get it. She thinks I’m wasting my time with the games. She has a honey-do list as long as my arm, but fixing the kitchen cabinet and cleaning out the trash cans are not exactly what I think of when I picture a relaxing weekend. When I spend all weekend focused on that list, I feel like I don’t get my bang for my buck in my weekend. Really, it’s that she got sick of me not talking back about my feelings, and started talking to her Mom, her friends, anyone who would listen. All the same to me, I still don’t have to talk, but now I get to game. Better time spent, in my opinion. 



If only I had known what I was walking into that day. I will never forget that day. It’s what’s called a crucible moment. Crucible: cru·​ci·​ble | \ ˈkrü-sə-bəla : A place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. Which is just a fancy way of saying that a perfect storm (or an angry wife) caused me to realize something needed to change


She was sitting at the table, her hands crossed in front of her. An envelope where her plate normally sat when she waited for me to come home to eat. No dinner in sight. With her head down, and her hair wisping across her forehead, I could tell she was crying. Quietly. I couldn’t hear her, but by the gentle shake in her shoulders, I knew this couldn’t be good. I knew what the envelope held. She had told me a million times that I had to choose and that I wouldn’t be so satisfied with my gamer friends when she was gone. This was not a surprise. But it was. I didn’t actually think she would do it. I didn’t actually think she would ever leave me. I can’t imagine my life without her, and fuck, her cooking. God, I am a pig. My wife was sitting there at the table distraught over what she was about to do, and I was worried about the dinners I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of. 


“Please don’t. I will do anything. Tell me what you want. I will give you anything.”

“I’ve told you what I want. A million times I’ve begged you.”

“I know, I will do better. I promise.” I stuttered. I was shaking. I didn’t think it would ever come to this. 

“A dollar short, a day late.” She barely got the words out before she began to sob. The ugly kind. The kind you don’t know what to do with. You want to make it stop, but have no clue where to start. 

What about counseling? You have asked me to go before. If I commit to going, will you give me a chance?” Beneath the wisp of her hair, her dark eyes look up at me. I can’t read what’s there. What is she feeling? Does she believe me? Will she give me a chance? Does she love me? Have I broken this beyond repair? Suddenly, I cared about the feelings. Maybe I did need help. 


Decide counseling is out of the question, and you will hope this is just like every other time she threatened to leave, but didn't.


Continue to suck it up and go see the counselor. They aren't allowed to bite, right?


Transtheoretical Model of Change Step 2: Contemplation


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