Last night I had a very long conversation with one of my gamer friends about why I stopped gaming. He was calling BS on the fact that gaming is a problem for me. Mostly because he would like me to really get into Guild Wars 2.
We had a great gaming-social network back in our WoW days and I think he wants to try to re-create that in GW2. He misses the camaraderie of our group. We played pvp (player vs. player) battles. Our faction, the Alliance, battled against players who made up the other faction, the Horde. Our group extended beyond our Alliance team. We were also friends with many of the people who played Horde characters. We talked back and forth on the message boards and we joined each others vent chats. (pre-Skype voice chat program). We had a lot of fun.
He misses that, and frankly I do too. I just cannot bring myself to game right now. I may never again, at least not at the same level I did before.
He is a recovering alcoholic and has been doing the 12-step thing for about 15 years or so. And I have talked about my battle with food on this blog as if it was an addiction. I feel that for me, it is. He wanted to understand how I felt gaming was part of the problem.
He thought I was blaming WoW for making me fat, which is what he was calling BS. I was not and I do not blame World of Warcraft for my obesity. I was fat before I started gaming. I have only myself to blame for that situation, (my mother will be greatly relieved to hear that).
Here is my problem with gaming: avoidance. While playing games, I ignored all of my other problems. I allowed the game to consume all of my time so that I didn’t have to deal with my life falling apart around me. I did not want to deal with my financial problems or my health problems, so I immersed myself in an imaginary world where my characters were powerful, capable, and financially solvent.
Gaming didn’t stop my other problems from getting out of control and taking over my life. Gaming didn’t make my real life any better. Just like binge eating didn’t solve anything. My problems only got worse because I was not dealing with them. In the end, I had to face my problems, both health and financial. I had no choice. I had to reign in my finances or risk losing everything I have. I had to deal with my health or start preparing to die.
I was explaining this to my gamer friend when he asked me, “So what changed? Why make these changes now? Why, all of a sudden, are you enough? What do you see now in yourself worth living for that you didn’t before?”
Those are hard questions, and I struggled to find an answer. I imagine that these are questions he had to find answers for during his own recovery from addiction.
I am not sure if I have a complete answer for this or not, but I simply just decided that if I did not want to die, I had to find a way to live. To quote Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption, “It comes down to a simple choice. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
I may not have thought I was enough of a reason, or good enough period, but I knew that was something that I needed to work on. And I did. I wouldn’t say I’m completely cured of low self-esteem, food addiction, avoidance, etc. I struggle every day with all of my problems, but each day does get easier.
Once I started working on my problems, I was amazed at the number of people who were willing to help me, who cheered me on, who were so supportive in so many ways. My sister encouraged me through the whole process and took me into her home for a month. My mom helped me financially and came down to Virginia for the surgery. My niece, who may not understand all of the changes I have made, totally loves it that I can go to museums with her and walk all over DC and go to fairs with her. My brother and his wife are really happy to see how much I have improved. My writer’s group dedicated an entire meeting to writing stories for and about me. Not to mention, the members of my writers group routinely cheer me on and tell me how great I’m doing and how happy they are to see the positive changes in my life. (I totally heart you guys!) Even my gamer friend is happy for me, even if he is disappointed that I am not playing GW2.
I may not have thought that I was enough of a reason to live for when I started this process, but I quickly found out that a lot of people care about me and want good things for me. I am constantly amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and love. They think I am enough. And that’s good enough for me.