Category Archives: gamer girl

No Time

You know that Styx song, “Too Much Time On My Hands.” Yeah, well that’s not me.  Not these days.

OK, I know that I have a problem with over-committing myself.  I have struggled with this my entire life.  The problem is I want to do everything and there just simply is not enough time in the day to do it all.  And now that I can do more, I seem to really relish trying to cram as much into each day as possible.  Combine that with the fact that I am easily distracted by shiny objects, and boy am I in trouble.

Work has been keeping me very busy.  I think I have mentioned this before.  It’s the busy season with meetings and travel just before the holidays roll around.  That’s just the way it is.  I have been working a long string of ten-hour days for what seems like an interminable amount of weeks.  I’m glad to have a job so I won’t complain too much.  But I a looking forward to when I can take some vacation time, definitely.

I am also keeping my weekends completely filled with fun activities.  Walking, gym, museums, this weekend is the National Book Festival.  This was always one of my favorite things to do.  When I was unable to really stand comfortably, let alone walk, doing this bordered on nightmarish for me.  I had to settle for watching the lectures on C-Span.  This always broke my heart, because I love books, reading, writing, lectures, anything that has to do with the written word.  I know it seems kind of pretentious and snooty, but I love it.  I might be too scatter-brained and over committed to be a voracious reader, but I still do read a lot.  And I have amassed quite a collection of books of my own.  So, a book-fest is a little slice of heaven.  It is to me what a Ren-fest is to an RPGer.  OK, who am I kidding, I’m a Ren-fester, too.  Add another event to the list of things I will be doing on the weekends.

My point is, that every minute of my days seem to be filled right now.  I love it.  I love being able to go places and do things.  I was trapped by my obesity for so many years, I was afraid I’d never be able to do anything again. Yeah, my weight loss has slowed down and I haven’t reached my goal yet, but I am not overly worried about that.  I am just happy that I can get out in the world, walk around, and have some fun.

I’ll get to my goal weight eventually, but for now I’m celebrating the fact that I’ve lost 125 pounds and have the freedom to go out and enjoy life again.

555373_10151900657944328_59046002_n

Speaking of going out and having fun.  This is a picture of me at my friend Sush’s Art Studio.  Last Saturday she had a grand opening bash and I finally had a place to wear the dress I bought this spring.  I’m just glad I had a chance to wear it before I shrank out of it.

Here’s another pic of me in the same dress.

1236058_10201039895772524_17010933_n

The party was a blast, and Sush’s studio is just beautiful.  If you’re in or near Arlington, I recommend checking it out!

 

 

Advertisements

Am I Enough?

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.

Old Habits Die Hard

Sometimes, living with change is hard.  I have had a great run with the changes that I have made in my life.  I am very happy with how I look, how I feel, and the weight that I have lost.  Sometimes, though it is really hard to to keep old behaviors at bay.

kermmy

One of my World of Warcraft characters.

Recently, I have been fighting the urge to game.  Omg I loved World of Warcraft when I was heavy into the gaming scene.  I have been thinking about WoW a lot recently.  I loved the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  That’s when I played the most and was at the top of my game, so to speak.  I did every raid, every pvp (player vs. player) battleground.  I was the second ranked alliance restoration shaman (healer) on my realm.  My guild was the second alliance guild to down the Lich King (end game raid boss).  I had several twinks (low-level, overly geared characters made just for pvp).  I was on the game day and night, sick or well.    I was obsessed.

My obsessive problems were not limited to gaming either.  I think my gaming addiction was simply one of my addictions.  Obviously, my other addiction was food.

The gastric by-pass certainly helped me control my food addiction.  And managing one addiction helped me let go of another.

I am worried though.  When I start thinking about gaming, I wonder if I am starting to fall back on my old ways.

One of my gamer friends from the WoW days now plays Guild Wars 2.  I did go out and buy the game back in January.  I created a character and played a bit.  Sometimes, when this friend contacts me, I would log on and run through the game with him a bit.  But playing GW2 made me realize that I really have no desire to game.  Thus, I think my character is still level 5 and probably still standing in the middle of the field where I left her.

Last night he sent me messages on Skype trying to get me to log on.  I was tempted.  I miss my gamer friends.  We had fun together running around killing imaginary crap or instigating world pvp battles.  The problem is, this particular friend just does not get what it is I have been through trying to manage all of my addictions.  I haven’t really take the time to explain it to him, but he does have access to my blog and could read it, but doesn’t.  Not that I don’t think he would understand, I think that he would.  I am just afraid that I would fall back into the same trap and end up right back where I was.

I think that is one of my biggest fears since the surgery, backsliding.  I have worked so hard to get where I am and I still have a little way to go before I reach my goal weight.  I am so happy with the changes that I have made.  I feel good.  I look better than I have in years.  But I’m terrified of ending up right back where I was.

It is possible to regain all of the weight lost even after a gastric by-pass surgery as extreme as mine.  I would hate to go through all of this pain, expense, suffering, and sacrifice just to regain the weight and be just as sick as before.  I think that is why I just cannot bring myself to jump back into the gaming world.  I am afraid that if I start gaming again, the whole new life I have built for myself will collapse.

Maybe one day, I will be able to play video games and have them  be a part of the healthy new lifestyle I have created for myself, but not yet.  The pain of the past is still too close and the fear of failure to too near.

Conquering The Fear

Like pretty much all people, I have been living with fear my entire life.  In my case, however, that fear has been paralyzing.  I felt stuck for a very, very long time.  I kept waiting for it to end, for life to get better and less scary, but that just was not happening. 

I tried many forms of escape to keep me from dealing with my problems and facing the truth.  I have already discussed on this blog my obsession with World of Warcraft.  Obviously, I over-ate.  And I had a whole host of financial problems.  Each of these fed off the other, spiraling around and around, keeping me in a very dark place for a very long time.

I was unable to break the pattern and set any kind of realistic goals for my life and I was not doing the things I know I needed to do to make my life better.  Furthermore, I was absolutely convinced that my obesity was going to kill me sooner rather than later.  I could not handle any kind of real stress.  My blood pressure was out of control.  I had pains all over my body.  My feet are a mess.  My back is a mess.  I was certain I was days away from a stroke or heart attack.  I was afraid of dying.  I was afraid of not dying.  I hated going out with my friends in case I got myself into a situation where I could not walk to where they wanted to go or I could not afford a cab if I needed it.  Not to mention my finances were out of control.  A few more months of ignoring the problem and I’m sure I would have been homeless.

What did I do about all of this?  Nothing.  I spent more time living in Azeroth, (see previous WoW reference), than the real world.  I mean it would have been fine if I was living inside some fantasy world that I created in my head and was writing it all down in the form of short stories or a novel, sold the book on Amazon and made a mint,  but I wasn’t.  My escape was a computer generated fantasy land where I totally rocked.  Except in real life, I did not.  My real life was falling spectacularly to pieces around me.

I had to do something.  I finally accepted that my life would not improve if I did not take action.  When I made the decision to do something about my health, I just started fixing everything else as well.  I kind of had to.  Everything was connected.  Things were a mess for quite a while, but they did start to slowly get better.  Some of the health changes that I started making before the surgery really improved my quality of life just a little.  And let’s face it, a little bit of improvement was a big change for me. 

I took control of my finances.  I had to borrow money from a friend of mine with the caveats that I would take decisive action to fix the problem and that I pay him back.  I am happy to report all of my bills are paid.  I have money in my savings account.  Furthermore, I only owe him one more payment, which will occur next month.  I’m not proud of the fact that I had to do this, but I am very proud of the fact that I was able to turn things around and pay him back.  He’s has been my best friend for 25 years and I would do nothing to jeopardize that friendship.  Clearly he is way too good to me.

I have moved out of Azeroth.  I no longer play WoW.  I did have a very short visit there recently when I took advantage of a 10-day free trial.  I took that time to put a whole bunch of game gold in my personal guild bank which was chock full of game goodies.  Then I gave it all away to some random newbie player.  When the 10 days ran out, I did not re-up.  They had my old debit card info and I never gave them my new info, so the account has been deactivated and I have not looked back.

My health has significantly improved.  I have lost 90 pounds.  I walk everywhere.  My back no longer hurts so much.  My feet still have some problems, but they are getting better.  I no longer live daily wondering if today is the day I will have a stroke or heart attack.  I know I still have a long way to go and that I still have many health problems to fix, but I feel so completely different.  I feel good for the first time in a very, very long time.

I am no longer afraid of every little thing.  I feel more confident.  My friends have even told me that I act more confidently.  At one of my writer’s group meetings, one of my friends told me that during a critique I spoke confidently and with authority.  I was kind of surprised.  I never thought of myself that way.  Yeah, my little brother and sisters always told me I was bossy, but that was only because they are family.  I immediately thought, what right do I have to speak with authority about someone else’s work?  I’m a novice and a dilettante at best.   Then I thought, meh, somebody has to do it, why not me?

You see, I still have fears and doubts, but I am no longer crippled by them.  I still find myself falling down that dark hole sometimes, being tempted by horrible food.  Not wanting to leave my apartment.  Still tempted to return to my old ways of escape.  Still wondering if my bad choices will catch up to me some day.  I just do not let those thougths paralyze me.  I recognize what is happening much sooner so that I can stop it.  I just feel much better equipped to face my fears.  Maybe one day, I will actually conquer them.

 

Speaking of Addiction…Confessions From A Gamer Girl

And you thought I was going to talk about food?

Part of what I am trying to do with the surgery is to change some of the non-food related activities that helped me get fat and kept me fat.  One of the things that helped keep me there was my video game addiction.

For about three years, I was pretty seriously addicted to World of Warcraft.  I kept the account open for about a year after I stopped playing on a daily basis.  I would still log on from time to time and look at my characters.  I also went through short bouts of playing for a couple of days, but the game as a whole had lost interest for me.  This summer, I closed the account completely and removed the software from my computer.

While I was deep in the thralls of Azeroth, however, I did not recognize how completely addicted I was.  I played every day for several hours at a time.  This required hours of sitting in one position with little movement.  I ate in front of the computer.  I played when I was sick.  I took staycations and played WoW all day long.

It did not help that I had family and friends who also played the game.  We would all get together on weekends, usually at my sister’s house, and play.  It was a lot of fun.  In fact, many of my friends are gamers of some sort or another, although not all of them play WoW.  Many of them do, however, play some sort of MMORPG.

For those of you not familiar with gamer-speak, MMORPG means Massively Multi-player On-line Role-Playing Game, or as it is also called…Many Men Online Role-Playing Girls.

I have to admit, it was very interesting to be so immersed into such a male dominated world.  Yes it was imaginary, but you constantly have to group up with other players to accomplish goals and complete quests.  Unless you actually carry on a conversation with the other people, they really do not know much about you and assume you are a guy.

I had one character on my realm that was fairly well-known.  I created a healing shaman and I named her Anaxamander.  Healers are always in short supply, so I was often invited to groups and raids, even if they were above my current ability because people were desperate for healers.  This taught me to become very good at healing very quickly.  It also helped me to very quickly gain the items necessary to improve my healing skills.

An in-game friend of mine invited me to a group.  He had a ventrillo account set up so that we could all log on and talk to each other live in real-time.  I started talking and one of the guys interrupted me.  I had run some dungeons and raids with him before, but we had never really talked.  He was in one of the top guilds on the realm and was fairly well-known him self. He said, “Wait…who is that talking?”  I replied, “Anaxamander.”  He replied with, “Anaxamander is a GIRL??  Dude, all this time I thought you were a guy!”

I ran into that a lot.  And I have to say, I kind of enjoyed it.  I was good at the game and I loved that it shocked the guys who dominated the world population.

Most of the in-game people I became game-friends with were guys.  Mostly, though, I stuck to gaming with my sister and some of our other friends that played.  We enjoyed doing a lot of the silly stuff.  We did the holiday quests.  We ran around getting in-game vanity pets.  At Christmas time, we would take stuff from our guild bank, wrap it in virtual wrapping paper and give stuff away to other characters.  During that time, we also started city-wide virtual snowball fights and created campfires and sat around telling holiday stories.  We were always amazed by the number of people who would come and sit with us and egg us on with our story-telling.

I also really got into doing player-versus-player battles, also known as pvp.  Many of the people who I became good gamer-friends with all played pvp.  The battles are basically two teams playing either games of capture the flag or protecting bases.  It was a lot of fun.

But as fun as the game is, for me,  it is a form of escape.  I could feel a sense of accomplishment completing game achievements, quests, and difficult raids and dungeons.  I was proud to have one of the top healing shamans on my realm.  I had a lot of in-game friends and was in one of the best guilds.  Unlike my real life, my in-game life was awesome.  I could do stuff in-game that I could not do in my real life.

Here’s the problem, none of those fun, awesome things fixed my life.  I was still morbidly obese and getting sicker.  I still had many other problems that I was not dealing with, and I was not doing the other things with my life that I wanted to do.  So, I made the decision to quit the game.  I had really stopped playing for the most part.   Closing the account was merely a formality, but an important step.

Now that I’m not spending all of my time playing WoW, I am amazed by how much time I have to do the other things I love.  I am working on improving my health. I am getting ready for the gastric by-pass surgery.  I am writing more.  Blogging more.  And I have started taking care of other things in my life that I was struggling with.

I have to admit though, I really do miss gaming.  I was surprised to discover this myself.  Recently, I read a news article about the game.  Someone was able to hack into the game and do mass killings, killing off nearly the entire world population in minutes.  I watched several videos on youtube watching an entire city of characters just drop dead.  I was cracking up.

Watching those videos though made me realize how much I do miss the game.  I actually thought about reactivating my account.  The thought scared me and I immediately shut down my web browser, closed my laptop, and walked away.

I have not reactivated my account.  I really do not want to go back to the way I was.  I want to continue to take care of my health and my weight.  I do not want to escape my life or my problems.  Maybe sometime in the future, after I’ve lost weight, fixed some of the other problems I have there will be a place in my life for video games.  Maybe not.  What I do know right now is that as long as I feel that need to fill the emptiness inside with some kind of addiction, whether it is food or games, I cannot invite WoW back into my life.

All of the images included in this post are characters that I created and  played during my time in WoW.