@kiro Thank you for the help! The problem is that I just don't understand what I'm doing.
So up top I have my variables listed in theme.xml, but that's just to avoid confusion here. In reality, I have my variables in variables.xml, with I have included in theme.xml. It should do the same thing, or so I thought.
Viewing the code to carbon, I noticed the include tags are in carbon.xml, not theme.xml.
In my theme I included variables.xml to views.xml and it seemed to have fixed everything. I don't understand why though, you think it would need to be added to the main xml the theme loads so that way all xmls inherit the variables. I have a helpsystem.xml just like the views.xml, but I only included the variables to views.xml and it fixed the helpsystem... I just... don't understand...
Anyway, thanks for the help, I'm going to go cry in a corner and question if I should even continue haha.