I think I am lucky since I've had enough time to sort of climb out of the rut, and while I still have the same phobias, I have been able to keep them under control. Hiding in an office cube with headsets on definitely helps.
From reading through the previous stories (and threads), I could relate a lot of the posters... so I think it might be interesting if I were to tell my story in a timeline format.
I’d also like to thank everyone that posted before me, and in other threads; having someone talk about their experiences makes it easier for me to share.
Age 4 - I was a healthy kid, but something triggered a severe asthma attack - entire body was wrecked onwards. I had breathing issues and needed injections to prevent attacks during colder seasons.
Age 6 - 2nd grade, I moved away 3/4 into semester due to family's work.
Age 7 - 3rd grade, I was mostly a latchkey kid that was terrified of the dark due to being alone (poor lightning makes shadows dance in an unfamiliar, crappy, cockroach infested apartment that was supposed to be "home"). Sometimes my grandmother and aunt would visit, and I think that’s what kept me together.
Age 8 – I moved yet again right before starting 4th grade; I had fell slightly behind in school due to non-standardized teaching of same material, so I was sent to cram school - the entire experience could be best described by my first day welcome from the class rep, the first words that came out of her mouth as I entered was:
"Don't think we'll treat you nicely (if at all) just because you're new."
Age 9 – I caught up and completed 4th grade - some friends from 2nd year were here and recognized me, so we were put into the same class. It was a good year, and the only time where I enjoyed and thought of when asked to remember my child hood. Then I moved to the US at the end of 4th grade.
Weighing less than 18 kg at the customs (about 40lbs), the customs agent thought I had some disease and had to be screened.
Age 10 - 5th grade - had some "friends," probably because I looked "different" and amused them.
I didn't speak English and couldn't really defend myself until some friendlier classmates came to my rescue.
At this point I developed sleep walking and interacting with objects at the kitchen. (Guess the objects.)
I have no recollection of this at all; I was only informed of this.
Age 11 - 6th grade: because of language issues, I was sent to the worst class of the local middle school, which was absolutely terrible (there were kids 3-4 years older that were held back due to delinquency). Even though the teachers did their job teaching as well as they could, they were completely uninterested in any student affairs.
This is the year of year of hell where I developed agoraphobia. I had to be dragged to school, and was afraid to leave the classroom. It didn't get any better until I finally flipped out and bit someone fairly violently. Fortunately I was able to explain my actions... so I wasn't punished for it. (The teacher probably knew what was happening, that's why I got away without any disciplinary action on my part.)
Age 12 - 7th grade: I was still in one of the worst classes for the less-than-disciplined kids.
From the fear of retaliation from those in my previous class, I developed enough anthropophobia where I panic-attacked myself into somehow spraining my neck (seized?), even as I sat still in my seat. I remember sweating like crazy while shaking in my seat from the fear of making eye-contact with anyone… I don’t know how long it took to happen, but I didn't realize something was wrong until I couldn't move...
My seat had to be changed to the far end for me to even stay functional in class.
Age 13 - 8th grade: I had been so terrified of going anywhere, that I spent most of my time reading and studying in order to not fall behind. I stayed in the computer labs and library where there was at least some safety / supervision. And oddly enough, I did better studying alone and my grades caught up.
Age 14 - My grade improvements in middle school put me "on-track" for advanced high school courses
I got along well with the teachers and spent most of my time sharpening the language + reading / playing games by myself.
I also somehow gathered enough confidence and became a "sociable loner" in that I found a few people that I could go to, but mostly did in order to avoid being singled out and picked on again.
At least, I thought I had people I could go to.
At some point I realized that I had been the butt of many jokes, but I was either too naive to realize it at the time, or just forgave them out of fear of losing the shelter.
What finally made me break away was the final joke - they told me that they found a quiet girl that wanted to be friends with me, but was too shy to talk to me; thinking that I could help her (and share my experiences), and potentially interact with someone of the opposite gender. My health has been recovering and I was starting to be interested in girls, it was a chance I couldn't give up.
I was driven to somewhere public to meet her, and was stood up for an hour. It turned out that someone had pretended to be the girl, and the rest took the time to make an elaborate story and left behind clues in order to convince me. They knew that I was already very skeptical in general, yet they took it a step further to ensure that they could trick me.
I found out on my own, as over time where I was able to put bits and pieces together (by this point I've developed great memory retention), overhearing someone slip up during a conversation simply confirmed it. That was pretty much the end of my refuge in anyone. Back to the library and labs I went; any additional time I had, I worked part time. To this day, I still don’t know how many / who was involved, and I am not sure if they know I know.
Age 17 - Senior year. I received my first kiss from a girl that thought I looked lonely. I was genuinely surprised, since by this point I can blend into any background perfectly, yet she noticed me... our relationship was odd as we didn't really... date. Yet she stayed with me for almost a year before finally leaving. (I just realized as I type this, I wonder if it's because she knew of the joke from above and felt sorry for me.)
I ultimately graduated high school with 2 years’ worth of college credits ready, and was accepted into a prestigious university.
I was also approached by another girl, and she was my first girlfriend. She said she was attracted to my intelligence and my supposed "confidence." (Why I fell for that, I don't know, I guess word got out regarding my academic accomplishments, but at this point I had been very alone and appreciated/was desperate for any sort of companionship.)
Age 18 - college freshman. In the mean time I had moved away to attend university, numerous soap opera drama-filled events occurred, such as her parents fighting for custody/moving away; I helped her find a place to secretly moving back, drawing on my savings for deposits, helping her abused younger sister move in with her, setting them up for school... etc.
After the first year, I returned during break to only find that I was cheated on repeatedly while away.
She was completely unapologetic despite everything I've done for her; instead, she blamed me for being emotionally detached and inattentive... Being the idiot I was, I thought it was in fact, my fault, so I forgave her and the same thing repeated for another few months before I got an international call telling me it was over; she had found someone else during a “trip.”
After that, I pretty much shut down for 5 or so years (even after college), I moved into an apartment, and despite having roommates; our total interaction time was less than a few hours a year. I locked myself in my room and my grades suffered.
During the latter parts of college; I completely didn't realize that a very nice young woman had tried her earnest to know me better and to talk to me, only to have me miss the hints entirely and declined whatever she suggested rather impersonally. It didn't help that while she started rather innocently, she became rather suggestive at the end since she probably realized I was too dense... and I still didn't get it.
I do kind of feel bad for her... probably thought she was doing something wrong. And she was a very nice person... Hell, what did she see in me? (Well, I looked back at some pictures, I guess I did look alright. Hah.)
With that last statement, of course I had moments of existentialism and severe loneliness (particular around age 15), but fortunately for me, I could always rationalize away the negative thoughts. I made sure to myself that everything would be temporary and it'd be okay with tears shed alone.
Add another decade or so, the result is pretty much what I am right now.
I graduated university at age 21 (ended up losing just about 2 years worth of credits), so instead of pursuing higher education as I originally intended, I joined the workforce instead. This wasn’t bad, as I picked up a variety of skills, and IT is one of my main interests.
I am now known as a quiet, polite individual, albeit not fun to talk to at all. In addition, I have been "notified" by upper management that my mannerisms are off, to the point of creeping people out when I try to smile in order to be polite (their recommendation is stop). Aside from that, being Asian (I assume that's guessable by now), the narrow-eye stereotype applies rather well... I've also been reminded that I always look either extremely bored, or angry - which kind of leads to the smiling issue altogether.
That's not to say that there's anything wrong with me visually, as I've had other relationships despite them never lasting. Ironically, I'm coming up on 2 years with the current girlfriend - which I see once every 6 months or so; and she's amused that this is the longest relationship we've both been in, in addition to it being a semi-long distance due to lack of contact.
I'm fairly certain that my perspective on many things are skewed a bit as a result of my experiences, but I am sure that it isn't difficult to see why I enjoyed and appreciate this game so much.
"It's kinda funny, I've played a bunch of VN's and for the first time I'm feeling apprehensive about going down another path. I'm thinking weird crap like how will Hanako ever be happy if someones not there for her.......If Hanako's writer reads this I want you to know that I thank you for giving me this wonderful treasure."
[I feel like a giant jerk for completing the game.]