All Things In Their Own Time

A bookshelf with art supplies sitting on the top shelf, with a picture of Tacoma the Tiger spanning across the binders of several books. Tacoma wears her hair up in a ponytail, her stripes clearly visible as she declines, and her giant fluffy tail behind her.
One of several projects I've finished this year.

Well, it's that time of year where I drop a personal update. In my last post, I announced that Lunati and I were moving out of a terrible living arrangement and weren't sure what the future held for us. That day has finally come and there's been a lot of unexpected surprises.

Now would be a great time to put on some tea and get comfy, I've got a long one for you all.

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To give the appropriate context into just how big a change this was, I'll recap on the last few years until we get to the present day.

So I've mentioned before just how hard the last couple of years have been but never really the extent of it. I uprooted my whole life in an attempt to save my wife Lunati and I from being homeless in 2018. With our last bit of savings, we moved 1300 miles from Minneapolis to Florida where we'd live with a roommate, an old friend who assured us we'd save money and get back on our feet if we helped him pay rent to his father, who had bought the house for him. Had that been true, I'm not sure we would have been stuck there as long as we were. But hey, at least Luna and I didn't have to suck dicks in the Kmart parking lot, right? Her head game's on point but she didn't exactly earn her degree in fellatio.

All jokes aside, I can tell you that only a few short weeks into it, I was having regrets. Big ones. Not of moving to Florida, but where exactly I'd gotten us into. From the moment we arrived, we were forced to store our belongings in a filthy, infested outdoor shed. Our bedroom was roughly the size of a walk-in closet; too small for one adult, let alone two. Our clothes had to be stashed on and around my desk and I was forced to work outside with my laptop in all varieties of Florida weather. This wasn't for a few weeks or months, it went on for years.

The homeowner, roommate's father, insisted on the sprinkler running for hours each and every day, rain or shine, jacking up the water bill and ruining all our stuff. Like something out of a bad fever dream, those sprinklers regularly shot water onto my laptop and against the side of the shed our beloved books were stored in.

As soon as I noticed the damage, I moved what I could into the small garage. Unfortunately, this came with more problems. Roommate complained about anything I brought in. Space was limited and I couldn't carry all our stuff over, so the bulk of it continued to degrade in the shed. Several things were lost anyway in the equally infested garage, including art made by Luna's late mother.

All in all, we threw out at least 30 garbage bags of wet books, ruined clothes, wedding gifts and more. An estimated $8,200 worth of stuff, right into the trash. No efforts to reconsile for the damage were made whatsoever. C'est la vie.

But of all that was lost in that hell house, peace was the thing we missed most. Roommate had no respect for our privacy. He also slept lighter than a tweaked out squirrel, meaning Luna and I were forced to talk at a whisper at our most active hours. We'd be rudely interrupted while working, eating, even having sex. Everything was intruded upon and nothing really belonged to us anymore. Like my toxic ex agonizing over which selfie to post, it was a shitshow from whatever angle you looked at it.

The worst events transpired in the first year. This spicy new blend of stress made my brain feel like it was shorting out. I ended up in the hospital a few times where I had the misfortune to learn that, due to some quirk in my wiring, panic attacks cause me to lose consciousness. The exact term for this event is called a 'Psychogenic Blackout' and it's about as fun as it sounds. Those introductory attacks had a primary cause, and I wrote about them here.

Recovery was slow but I pushed on. Dissociation was a daily event with hearing loss, vertigo and cardiovascular issues surfacing around the same time. The sheer amount of stress I was under caused my MS to flare, further compounding to the anxiety. I barely ate and withered down to a sickly caricature of myself. Though I spent some months in bed, I still tried to make the most of my situation by drawing when I had the energy for it, gaming when I didn't and sleeping when symptoms were unbearable. My dark sense of humor turned into a coping mechanism and a few good memories even came out of those cursed times.

When Lunati returned from work one afternoon, she dragged me out of bed, ordered the works at Tijuana Flats and drove us to the beach for dinner. It was the first time I'd left the house in about a month. As soon as I took a bite of my burrito, my chest tightened and a growing shadow engulfed my vision. This, in my at-the-time panic-disordered brain, surely meant I was having a heart attack and the EMTs wouldn't get to me in time on the remote stretch of causeway. So I turned to my wife and said, 'Well, this isn't the worst way to go.' She laughed about it but I could sense that deep down, she was undeniably tired of this shit. I sure know I was. But Lunati was such an absolute knight the entire time, not once did she berate or snap at me like a certain loser we used to know. Luna loved me and wanted to ease my pain, not cause more.

Working from home in 2020 gave my wife a glimpse into how I'd spent the previous year and a half, trapped in that nightmare house with unresolved PTSD and anxiety chipping away at my health each day. The downside was her having to experience a lot of the same shit I had. 'You weren't kidding,' she confessed in the Taco Bell parking lot, "I really had no idea it was this bad." We'd drive out there almost every night just to speak freely to one another. All privacy was gone since everything back at the house would be overheard. Our car was the closest thing to home we had and, for the last year, much of our time together was spent in it.

With the onset of the pandemic came some unexpected recovery from the nightmare that was 2019. Suddenly we had more time together, more money and more time to indulge our creative outlets. I had someone to reassure me when I was on the verge of an attack. If I fell again, I knew I'd get some assistance. I didn't have to worry about Luna getting into trouble on her commute. Having her home alleviated so much stress that I started feeling something close to normal again. My clipboard exploded with art again and it was beautiful.

The PTSD threw me the biggest curveballs on my road to recovery. After the acute panic disorder was dealt with, I had to face the sticky residuals. There were moments where all I could feel was burning hatred for those who contributed to my suffering. Several times I wished to cry, but tears never came. There was no sadness, no self-pity, no despair. Those would have been less complicated emotions to deal with and my anxious mind refused to let me off that easy.

If I had to describe my emotions back then, I'd say they were split evenly in two; peaceful workmode and all-consuming rage. I'd be on hour x of some art piece when the rage set in, often following an invasive cycle of rumination. I never did anything about it because I couldn't exactly do what I wanted. I'd chat with Luna over discord and we'd console each other, which worked for awhile, but ultimately had diminishing returns. I could have punched a pillow, but taking out aggression has never provided me with relief. Self-harm was also out of the question.

What I really wanted was to pull a meteor down from space. I wanted to open a sinkhole. I wanted to cause a cataclysm. There was no other way to describe the fire I felt inside of me. I filled a jar with carefully selected ingredients; bitter herbs, tea, vinegar and a small note. Whenever I felt the anger rising, I envisioned one of the several scenarios that comforted me and shook the jar, effectively containing my rage to that small bottle and out of my mind. As stupid as it sounds, in that time and place, the jar served an important purpose.

And it's good that I couldn't do quite what I wanted to when I did. After all, everything happens in due time. I couldn't accelerate time or rely on karma to dispense justice. Did I even need justice to heal? No, not really. Several people in my support group reassured me that harmful actions had consequences, it's just not always immediate. Still, I prayed for an answer from the universe that all of this wasn't for nothing, that my pain would someday be justified.

Finally, on February 18th 2021, both pots boiled over and, now, I wasn't alone with these feelings. A particular event re-opened wounds that Lunati had not fully addressed. While I had ample time and solitude to process my own emotions, Luna kept her's buried to push on and fight for both of us. But even the most stoic knight has a breaking point. At last, she stood face-to-face with those same demons and they demanded a response from her as well.

Normally we'd go for a walk, try not to cry too loudly and let the trauma quietly rip us apart. But on this night, we were 110% done with that shit. So Luna decided we would drive out onto the highway where nobody would hear us and we'd scream our fucking lungs out until we either felt better or were too tired to give a fuck anymore. I almost dismissed it as a stupid idea but, after the hate jar, I had no right to.

Once we reached the appropriate stretch of highway, primal banshee screams erupted with a force I never knew I had in my body and, with them, all the pain I'd kept bottled up inside. I imagined some kind of cosmic mirror reflecting every bit of agony back where it came. And whether or not that pain will ever find its way back, I knew in that moment it no longer had any place inside of me. I slept great when we returned.

From that day forward, our lives only got better.

I found the perfect apartment an hour away. We were approved that same week, paid our deposit and given a move-in date. Luna booked all the necessary appointments and we began the grueling task of packing up all of our belongings, cleaning out the shed and throwing away the forementioned mountains of destroyed items.

Two months later, Lunati found a higher paying job working from home. Since I'm immune compromised, she refused work anywhere public out of concern for my safety. Despite doubling my prices to cover the costs of this move, more people commissioned me for work than ever before. I even had to turn down a few as the time to finish would be longer than I'm comfortable making clients wait. I took on all I reasonably could, knowing the bit of extra money would come in handy very soon.

Two months out from that, we've finally settled in and are enjoying our new home. We've had our second round of covid vaccines and are free to socialize safely again. I've planted a garden, something I wanted for a long time but never had the space for. With the funds available, I set up my office exactly the way I'd planned to for years. All of my tech has been upgraded. New hard drives, monitors, printing equipment, furniture. Older PCs have been repurposed into Network Area Storage and media centers. My office even has a dedicated scan & printmaking station. I helped Luna get a beautiful high end streaming rig. We're both able to play VR games, stream, work and do whatever else we could possibly need or want to do.

The main area of my office.
Other areas of my office including a print station and data center. I'm constantly moving stuff around to accommodate whatever project I'm working on.

Sometimes I wake up in disbelief until I realize how hard we each worked to make this all happen. How long we waited and struggled. How much pain it took to get here. Despite the odds being stacked so high against us, our lives are now astronomically better in every way.

Once my home and office were settled, I decided to tackle a very long overdue project; sorting and categorizing two decades of physical art, all 52 lbs of it. Digital, painted canvas, large pieces or sold commissions aren't even part of this batch. There's so much here that if I only scanned 10 pieces a day, it would take over a year to scan everything.

My Void Beasts assisted me with the tedious art project.

Seeing my progress over the years filled me with an unexpected sense of pride and gratitude. I rediscovered the ancient sketchbook where anthro Tacoma was first brought to life, her huge feathered wings draped around her like a protective shield. I found long-forgotten sketches of Cassandra from 1998, a bratty rockstar weasel girl who had no sensible reason to hate Tacoma yet still did. One thick folder contained an animated flip-book of Tacoma taking to the skies. Dozens of comics resurfaced featuring the misadventures of Tacoma, Tasmin and even Smokie, one of my three anxiety monsters. An experimental six-piece series revealed the exact day Tacoma got her signature blue markings. A separate folder contained all my anime, Pokemon and Sonic fan-arts. I laughed at the re-emergence of the first lewd things I ever scratched out. An especially thick, warped portfolio exploded with work that maybe a handful of people ever laid eyes upon. All around me in stacks laid a comprehensive timeline of imagination and progress, all of it creations of my own.

Two decades of physical art organized neatly into binders.

At one point during this eight-week sorting project, I sat on the ground with a tidal wave of sleeved drawings surrounding me and felt something new. Here were thousands of drawings of Tacoma, every scenario that I imagined over the past twenty-three years, all brought to life by my own hand. I sat frozen in reflection for twenty or so minutes, mentally discarding every moment I undermined my own achievements or gave half a shit what anyone ever said about me. I shaped my own dreams, shamelessly walked the walk and created everything I wanted to see. I didn't pay someone to make any of these. I never needed social media, connections or praise for validation. It was so much greater than that. Everything in sight at that moment was the only confirmation I ever needed of my success. My only regret was how long it took to realize.

This experience brought something back that I'd lost somewhere along the way. I'm proud of the progress I've made. While I've broken down most of the barriers that once stood between me and my goals, I still have a lot of work to do. My chronic illness and PTSD haven't gone anywhere but I can say with certainty that I feel better equipped to manage them now. I feel good about myself, my skills and my life.

So, no, this move didn't really go the way I expected it to. I thought I'd be more or less picking up where I left off in July 2018, from the day my PC was shipped out. But this isn't a continuation of that at all. This was honestly a fresh start. Despite everything horrific that's happened between then and now, I actually feel better than I did back then. Stronger, more capable and more determined. Change has offered new opportunities for growth. I welcomed whatever changes came with this move, after all, it had been such a long time coming.

Picking up the pieces and rebuilding has been a recurring theme in my life. Mistakes weren't regrets but lessons learned, teaching me that when I was self-sufficient and uncompromising, the very best things would come. And this time has been no exception.


Summarizing the roller coaster of the last three years for this update was harder than I thought it'd be, but I hope I was able to provide a clearer picture into where I've been and where I'm at now. For art, I have several big and small plans in the works (especially for Patreon) and will announce each new thing as it becomes available.

Before closing, I'd like to take some time to personally thank each of my patrons, both newcomers and veterans. Elwood, Snoobjack, Bitsy, Lovebot and Kaori. With your help, I was able to buy the supplies needed for the huge sorting project. Your support went directly to the purchase of a new scanner after discovering my old one didn't survive the move. I was also able to pick up 3-ring binders, sheet protectors and labels. Commissions helped me put some new furniture and hardware in my office, including new hard drives to replace two that were failing.

To those who commissioned me or supported my Patreon this year, you've all helped make a positive difference in my life. I hope my art has brought something good to your's as well.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,
💙 Tacoma

Moving, Patreon & Big Thanks!

A set of nine desktop icons available on Tacoma29's Patreon Page.
Icons for March 2021 are available now on Patreon!

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my gallery! We're just three months into 2021 but it's already been a year of big changes. Posts have been infrequent since we're moving to a new house so we've been busy with preparations. I'll have my office back so I can work in a climate controlled environment again. There's a lot to do but I'm really looking forward to it.

Lunati and I have had our hands full packing and making all the necessary arrangements for moving into our new place. Our expenses are going way up, so while I'm still technically doing commissions, my prices are jacked due to those expenses and how busy I've been.

At the moment, I've got four active commissions in progress and two more in queue. No slots will open for new commissions until mid-april, most likely.

I'm honored that people enjoy my art so much they would still commission me at this time. Thank you all for your support, seriously.

Between commissions, Patreon releases and personal projects, I've also been making lots of graphics for my wife's stream. Lunati streams five nights a week on multiple platforms including Twitch, Periscope & Youtube using the avatar I made for her. She plays a lot of Hearthstone and sometimes we stream Minecraft and WoW together, so come follow her channel if you're into any of those.

Best way to get in touch with me is still email or discord. DMs are reserved for business only so if you just want to chat, don't be shy, stop by the discord server and say hi.

I'm still expanding Patreon with monthly goodies and I've got some nice stuff planned after we're settled into our new place. If you enjoy what I do, want to show your appreciation and get fun stuff to customize your desktop, come support me over on Patreon! Each new Patron encourages me to release more content.

That about wraps everything up for now. Stay tuned, I'll be slowly posting through my backlog of finished work and getting those Patreon icons out for April.

Be well & stay shiny,
💙 Tacoma

Farewell to 2020: Art and Personal Update

A collage of 12 art pieces Tacoma did in 2020 mostly featuring her character, a white tiger with blue stripes and large angel wings.
A bunch of art from 2020.

Happy New Year, friends and guests.

2020 was something else, but I'm grateful that none of my friends or family got sick this year. In December, after four long years, tons of paperwork and several appointments, I finally have my health insurance back. I'm also making enough now to cover my bills. All things considered, I'm in a better spot than I was at the start of 2020 and feel like I'm back on track to living life on my own terms.

Lunati still works at home with me, every day. We spent the holidays on the lookout for somewhere new to live and, while money is still tight, we can finally afford to move out. By spring, we should have a new home and the ability to resume our lives from where we left off in 2018. I've had to sacrifice a lot, but having our own place back will return most of what was lost when we moved into our current arrangement.

A fat loafy bombay cat named Zipper.
Zipper, the supreme loaf.

The cats are doing well. Zipper, our little meatloaf, is on a treat-free diet and we're making sure he gets more exercise. Thankfully this isn't too difficult, since Zipper is one of those weird cats who loves to play fetch. Not content to chase after a toy just once, he'll bring it back to whoever throws it to do it again. We hope we can use this to help him get into better shape.

In 2020, Lunati made the decision to dive into a creative outlet that she's been quietly plotting for some time now. Lunati is now a Vtuber, and I've been helping her crank out graphics and layouts for her stream. I'm also working on a Live 2D model for her, and another friend of our's is designing her a full 3D avatar that is turning out absolutely gorgeous. In the meantime, she's using an animated pixel avatar I made that works flawlessly in her software of choice and was a lot of fun to code.

Expressive animated pixel art girl with short blue hair and faerie wings. She displays a wide range of emotions.Animated pixel art girl with blue hair tied up in a ponytail and angel wings.
Animated sprite avatars for Lunati's stream.

Lunati streams starting at 11PM PST every night except Thursday and Friday and I join her for a game at least once a week. Check her out and show her some love with a follow on Youtube or Twitch.

Meanwhile, I'm still posting stuff to Patreon, and I've made a few new Patrons in 2020. I'm planning a huge sketch drop soon, which includes lots of sexy sketches and exclusive goods! This may have to wait until after we move, depending on what I can get done in the limited space I have now. I also have a wallpaper I'd like to get out soon and, as expected, an Icon Pack lined up for January.

A preview of a coloring page featuring Tacoma sitting on a snowy hill.
A wintry coloring page featuring Tacoma, full size available to Patreon Supporters.

Another cool thing that happened at the end of the year was Lunati buying a one-year advertising slot for me on FurAffinity. I've been talking to many other artists and getting lots of new exposure for my work. I'm excited to make new friends in 2021, and while it's going to be a busy year with tons of art to finish, I'm excited to be able share it with you all.

If you feel like chatting, the best place to reach me is still my discord channel. I don't care for dms unless we're doing business, but if you're interested in using my art commercially or need a (currently overpriced) commission, feel free to shoot a dm my way. For anything else, come hang out and chat at the Sky Sanctuary with all the cool people.

Hoping you all a happy and fulfilling new year. Let's aim to be even better in 2021.


Come Play With Us On Twitch!

Lunati Senpai

I'm excited to announce that my wife Lunati has opened up her own Twitch channel this week. We've been playing the new WoW expansion "Shadowlands," catching battle pets while we quest and have fun in all the pretty new zones.

Lunati is also a big fan of Hearthstone, Skullgirls and RPGs, so if you enjoy any of these games, be sure to check her out and show her some love with a follow!

We'll be adding other features & platforms later for streaming and older streams will be available on youtube.

I've also added nine new icons for november up on Patreon. Get yours here!

November 2020 Icons are here: cyrixfox, emerey-bust, folder--music, pink vibe, teacup with a rose, pumpkin pie, frosty sword, green phone with 404 background, and Tacoma Senpai Cat ear headphones!

A Special Shout-Out to my Patreon Supporters: Elwood, Snoobjack, Kaori & new patron LoveBot! Thank you all for supporting my work and I hope you'll enjoy the new holiday goodies I'll be releasing in December!

Much Love,

Halloween Icons!

Nine new spooky-themed icons on Tacoma's Patreon!

Greetings, everyone. It's the fall season now and I've been working hard on Patreon rewards. Some merch I ordered finally came and will be available soon on both etsy and patreon. In the meantime, I've got more fun stuff available for download including nine new icons for October. Check them out here!

Have a Happy Halloween,

New Story Series: Lychee Tales

Tasmin meets up with Lychee at the Cindermint Cafe.

Summer has been great so far, I'm getting done a lot of art pieces and releasing tons of cool stuff on Patreon, including soon some stickers, buttons and other merch!

Today's update is about a new story series, Lychee Tales, which I started back in July. It will feature a bunch of short stories centered around friendly squirrelkin, Lychee Sweetnut. Lychee sometimes serves up stories alongside tea and desserts, with her midnight ramblings often about the strange creatures who lived far below Nimbaterra. Perhaps Lychee missed her calling as a therapist.

Shout-Out to all my awesome Patreon Supporters: Elwood, Kaori, Biscuit & Snoobjack. You guys rock! I can't wait to get this month's icon package out to you.

Until Next Time,

Commission Showcase 2020

Let's dive in!

Back in June, I made an announcement to FurAffinity & DeviantArt that commissions would be closed for awhile. I'd spent every day of the past ten months working and desperately needed a break. While I really do appreciate all of the business, a hiatus was long overdue.

Lately, I've been able to work on my own projects and get in a little downtime as needed. Lunati and I are collaborating on a side story which we'll hopefully be able to share in the coming weeks.

But for today, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite commissions from 2019 to the present day.

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The majority of commissions I get are for sprites or pixel art. Even though I'm not as active anymore, I still get a ton of work from members of the Furcadia community.

One of the most requested commission patches are trees, which is kind of irritating since there are a ton of free tree patches out there. I've even made some available for free use on my free patch page. Regardless, everyone seems to want their own unique trees.

I love getting commissioned for more interesting things, though, like this cat cave entrance.

And an animated fish fountain.

My favorite patches to work on are the small things like pillows, walls and small effects. They don't eat up much of my time but they still add something special to an area.

Different people commissioned these.

I also get work for custom avatars and sprites. These were for another member of Furcadia.

My custom avatars come with a portrait, which is included in the price of the commission.

And to wrap up the pixels, some lewd emojis for a friend. I've made a bunch like these for my discord server and everyone seems to want their own.

Finally, for digital art, I've finished a messy coloring page for a friend, and a digital painting of a friend's Final Fantasy XIV character.

Dicks in spaace.

For Snoobjack.

If you plan on commissioning me in the future, please note that I have increased many of the prices on my commissions page. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying this time with my wife, and on some long neglected personal projects.

Have a great summer everyone.

Until next time,

Dispelling Poison

A bottle of purple poison with skull and crossbones labelled 'Fear'.
Real friends don't poison your mind.

It's been a long time since I've made a personal update, so I'll be covering a lot of ground here. The decision to write this post was a hard one, but Lunati has agreed with me that it was necessary to get closure on some painful events. In the process, I hope it will provide better insight into what we went through and how we got out of it together.

Please Note: This post contains descriptions of real-life psychological abuse, trauma, injury and blood. If you're sensitive to any of these topics, you may want to sit this one out.

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For full context, I'll begin in January 2018. It was a time when my wife Lunati and I were at our most vulnerable. We'd spent the holidays hungry and isolated in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, living mostly off bread from a donation box after her 10-year career went up in flames. By February, it had been six months and Luna still hadn't found a new job. My family was 1300 miles away and couldn't really help us. Our savings had evaporated. I was taking sketch commissions for pennies on the dollar, selling off craft supplies and furcadia stuff, anything I could scrape together to pay for food and necessities. But I knew deep down, without any reasonable doubt that it would be a year of big changes.

Luna reached out to anyone she knew down in Florida, as we'd be likely be moving there to find work and she needed advice. In the process, she reconnected with one of her oldest friends. I was hesitant to get too close to this person, as something about them just didn't sit right with me. I rarely get that feeling about people so it caught me off guard. Yet, in short time I started to enjoy her company. We shared more interests than not. It felt good being able to hang out, joke and flirt with a fellow femme just as into gaming, art and perversion as we were. A couple months later, she asked us if we'd like to be her girlfriend and we agreed without hesitation.

The two of us decided to move back to Florida over the summer and, in doing so, would meet up with our girlfriend and start properly dating. We were content to love someone else together and the arrangement seemed like it would have worked out long-term. But love has a blinding effect so, for awhile, all the red flags just looked like flags. These warning signs would grow harder to ignore with time. The constant trash talking their friends. Inability to show empathy. A monstrous ego cloaked in self-loathing. The vicious need to always be right. The joy they derived in others' suffering. Looking back, it was all some pretty creepy shit, but her superficial charms were endearing enough that we were willing to look past them. And besides, we were in love.

Until that summer, I never really cared for booze. In October, I began my brief foray into alcoholism after our alcohol-fueled sex parties with 'nightmare girlfriend'. In part to deal with the uncomfortable living arrangement, an inconsiderate roommate and financial worries. But deep at the core of my upset was the ever increasingly volatile, mean-spirited person we were dating. It was the perfect storm for my already high anxiety to grow into an untameable beast.

Lunati found a job that month, giving me just enough privacy to keep my daily drinking under wraps, even with our nosy roommate constantly lurking around us. Every morning, as soon as Luna set off to work, I'd slam anywhere from 6-10 shots of vodka to keep my anxiety from spiralling out of control. I'd finish commissions and social media posts, then wrap up by sorting my portfolio. And much like our relationship with 'nightmare girlfriend,' this arrangement worked for awhile. It was 2018 and I was prepared for anything, even if I had to drink my way through it.

The tipping point happened just days into January 2019. 'Nightmare girlfriend' was in an especially wretched mood and decided I'd be her target that night. She tried to convince me that I was crazy while insisting there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She later admitted to being jealous that I had been talking to and bonding with one of her friends. After suffering a panic attack so intense it felt like someone had ripped all of the wires out of my brain, I threw away the alcohol. The blinders finally came off and only then did I realize the mess we'd gotten ourselves into.

A week into sobriety, more ugly things surfaced and I immediately descended into my second major panic attack. This one was so severe that I blacked out and woke to my head and knees covered in blood. It took just over a week for the bleeding gashes on my head to close up, but Luna helped me clean and care for the wounds. That was the night I learned 'nightmare girlfriend' was spreading lies about us for attention and actively trying to pit shared friends against us. When we confronted her we were told, 'That's just the way I am, take it or leave it.' I regret not ditching that human-shaped dumpster fire right then and there. But ultimately, relationship or not, we just wanted our friend back.

Despite all this, I kept abstaining from the alcohol. I'd already been down that road and never wanted to return. 'Nightmare girlfriend' grew ever more hostile and argumentative. Getting angry at everyone, not just us, seemed to be her favorite pasttime. It had always felt like walking on eggshells with her, but that feeling intensified with each passing day. She tried (and failed) to make us jealous by pointing out the success of certain 'friends' and making baseless comparisons of us to her less desirable ones. She projected her worst traits onto us and blame-shifted constantly. Her spouse even teamed up with her to join in the harassment, 'diagnosing' us with mental illnesses to further demonize us and fit their narrative that we were the jerks worthy of hate.

It felt like being in 6th grade with a school bully all over again, except if that bully just punched you unprovoked, ran to the principal's office and lied that you'd attacked them. Unsurprisingly, her ugliness had started to rub off on me. I'd picked up several traits and coping mechanisms in my dealings with her, many of which would take some time to unlearn. My final strategy was to reflect back some of her nasty attitude which made her especially furious. There would be no victory on this battlefield. My wife and I finally made the decision to go no-contact. We could now begin to detox from all of the poison she had filled us with. I was still angry at myself for not heeding my initial instincts, but foresight is 20/20 and denial is one hell of a drug.

Luna was trying to be strong, but stress was taking a toll on her, too. Mounting pressure at work. The terrible living arrangement and lack of privacy. All the love we'd given to her ex-friend only to be used for sex, torn down and thrown away like used-up trash. It absolutely crushed her and she was inconsolable for several days, if not weeks. At one point she told me she hated everybody and was done trying to make friends. This woman, who I fell in love with for her golden heart, was actually telling me she had no more love left to give. And yet, after all the abuse, gaslighting and discard, 'nightmare girlfriend' still had the audacity to tell her, "I hope we can still be friends." It took my wife awhile to pull out of her own denial, but she did.

Some days I regret not publicly calling out 'nightmare girlfriend' while I had the chance. No one else dared to stand up to her, even though she regularly picked fights with friends on her discord server. But I chose not to then, for the same reason I never hit back any of my past attackers. Not because I'd hate to stoop to their level, but because I knew even if justice wasn't immediate, the consequences of their actions would come back around to them in time.

During April 2019, I enjoyed a brief calm before the storm. We went out with friends from work, hit up the arcades, had a blast and forgot all about the stressful living arrangement, 'nightmare girlfriend' and the numerous ways we'd been hurt. One night after an uneventful dinner, I had my first sudden, unprovoked panic attack. Feelings of overwhelming dread, dizziness, chest pain and severe weakness took over me. In that moment, what little sanity I'd spent the past month stitching back together was torn apart. I got a ride to the emergency room where I was given a chest X-ray, CT scan, bloodwork, the whole nine yards. But there wasn't going to be a simple explanation, because there wasn't a simple cause.

I learned that I was still healing from the injury which could cause some psychological issues all on its own. Recent events may have also contributed to an attack from my MS, but I'd need to see my neurologist for a better answer. It wasn't until a follow-up appointment some weeks later would I hear the exact name of what I'd been experiencing. Panic Disorder, with PTSD at the root. It can happen to anyone following a period of trauma or abuse. It was a lot to process and I wasn't yet sure what to make of it. Luckily, none of my doctors felt I needed any additional treatment at this time. I'd be prescribed the ocassional 'as needed' xanax for the attacks, but only on a short-term basis. Ultimately, I'd need to adopt healthier coping mechanisms to get free.

My two catnip-coated fiends were an anchor to sanity through the tough times.

For the next month, my symptoms worsened and I wound up at the ER a few more times. I could barely sleep or eat and was losing far too much weight. At my thinnest, I weighed in at 110 lbs which made me look terrible. During the 3rd ER visit, I was told I'd lost way too much muscle and they'd be admitting me if I came in any lighter next time. The suspected causes were always the same. They'd send me home with some anti-vertigo and anxiety meds and tell me to avoid unnecessary stress.

So I spent a few weeks in bed, eating very little and taking a xanax on extra bad days. Suddenly, on May 27th 2019, I had the grand mother of all panic attacks. It came on while I was simply moving clothes to the drier on a hot day. But instead of fighting it, I sat calmly with my kitty by the window and let the beast run its course. I gave it no power this time and, after several minutes, the feeling was gone. I don't cry often, but when that ordeal was over, I shed tears of exhaustion and relief. I knew something had changed. While I'd go on to experience more anxiety and dissociation, that was the last 'big one'. I was finally starting to regain some control.

While our first car had a lot of problems, it gave us our first real taste of freedom.

That summer, with what little savings she'd managed to tuck away, Luna booked private driving lessons, passed her driving exam with flying colors and bought her first car. That car was a total junkbox that broke down on us each week, but Luna traded it in for a real beauty. And even though it will take years to pay off, our new car is the closest thing to 'home' we have. When we need to escape from our roommate, feel like hanging out at the beach or simply go for a night drive while listening to Vocaloid, we have the freedom to do so. There's no going back.

The 2019 holidays were the best we've had in years. We celebrated by cooking lots of great food, exchanging gifts and spending time with the decent people who remained in our lives. Luna started cosplaying with me as Hatsune Miku. We found an awesome Ragnarok Online server and got back into one of our favorite games. I stopped needing the xanax and began to open up a little about what we'd been through. I persisted in spite of the residual anxiety, pouring myself more into art on days I felt my worst. I also realized that it's okay to take breaks and give myself time to heal. I reached out to more people and found a lovely support network. I discovered that those feelings of panic and spite and pain that I thought would last forever ultimately didn't, and while I can never go back to the way things were before, maybe that's for the best.

Hatsune Miku celebrated the end of 2019 with us.

Even if 2020 has been sort of a train-wreck so far, I still feel like the previous year took home the prize. But 2019 wasn't without its victories. I dealt with a lot of inner turmoil, but in doing so, learned numerous strategies for coping with stress. I severed ties with horrid people for my own health, my sanity and my wife's. We were rewarded with peace and freedom like we'd never felt before. Once the smoke cleared, it became obvious that the important people were those who had been by our side the whole time, making us laugh and cheering us on in some of our darkest times.

Through all this, my wife has been loving and supporting as ever. She had to take over a lot of responsibilities when I was fighting my way out of hell. Even if she still had a job to get to each day, Luna cared for me. She made sure I was getting enough to eat, looked after our two cats and gave nothing but her unconditional love. Regardless of how scared or upset I was, Luna made damn certain I knew I was loved and wasn't going through this alone. Our circle of close friends reaffirmed this, even when I was terrified out of my mind. It was hard to put into words what I was going through at the time, but they listened and never cast judgement onto me.

Luna has since made leaps and bounds in her own recovery. We've found some new friends together. She started up her own discord server that has grown past 100 members. Luna has learned to open up again, to trust and talk to people. She's also earned several promotions at work. I am so proud of all that she's accomplished in such a short time. I don't say it enough, but my wife is my hero and I love her with all my heart.

I've remained hopeful, and while I haven't recovered 100%, I'm filled with gratitude. The fact that Luna not only retained her job through the pandemic, but gets to work at home with me now. Despite earning very little money and recognition, I'm still able to pour my heart and soul into every sketch and painting, each sprite and story coming from a place of passion. I've been quick to adapt to change and each setback has shown me a new path to reaching my goals. Even on a worst-case day, when my illness has me camping out in bed, I still manage to sketch out something on my clipboard. I'm fortunate enough to do what I love most every day. I feel good about the progress I've been making in the various facets of my life. And I'm grateful for all of those who have stuck with us through everything.

While I hated having to relive so much pain in the process of typing this wall of text, I hope it's provided some insight into what happened to us in 2019 and how we've come out of it. I'm doing a hundred times better than I was last year. I've gained just enough weight to look and feel healthy again. Luna and I are still in the process of rebuilding our lives but we're just now starting to see a light at the end of the long long tunnel. And I won't be giving fear, or terrible people, any more control over my life.

To Happier Times,

Commission Changes Update

A traditional pencil piece of Tacoma catching falling stars.
Tacoma collecting fallen stars.

Hope everyone is staying safe and calm in spite of current events.

Today I'll be taking a moment to update anyone watching my site on some commission related news.

Sometime in the next few weeks, I'll be raising my prices to reflect the demand I've received in the past year. This is for a couple of reasons.

For starters, I'm receiving far too many inquiries to keep up with, which ties into the second reason.

I'm still without a workspace or environment where I can work for more than an hour or two at a time, and I won't until Lunati and I move into our own place. Due to current events and financial difficulties, any large projects and commissions will be on hold for an unspecified amount of time.

Commissions are currently listed as closed on my social media platforms due to the high volume of commissions I've received in the last year. Normally this would be a good thing, if I were able to finish everyone's work in a reasonable time frame.

A recent pixel art commission of a fishing cat.
A recent pixel art commission.

If you really need art from me and are willing to pay at a rate of at least $10 an hour, please email or contact me on Discord for an estimate. Make sure to completely read through my commissions page prior to contacting me.

My Patreon is still getting monthly updates, with icon packages and coloring pages. Every little bit helps, so if you like my work at all, consider donating even a dollar a month. If you can't afford to donate, please take a few seconds of your time to spread the word to others who might enjoy my art. It would make me really happy to hear my work has reached more people.

A big, heartfelt thank you to my current Patrons: Elwood, Biscuit & Kaori.

Be well,