I was inspired while reading Kaylriene to take an introspective look at my gaming personal life. In many ways it has mirrored my own life and friendships. I found myself getting wispy and nostalgic reading the tales of their trip from A to Z. I struggle with these kinds of posts because I feel utterly exposed. There is not much in my life that I struggle with as a mid 40s, white, cisgender male with a logical world view (albeit empathetic) and the CEO ability to compartmentalise emotions and decision making. I’m not so sure how healthy that is. In fact, I am shocked that I fully understand the seemingly overused term “trigger” that we hear a lot about these days. Because thinking about my old EQ guild is a true trigger for me. A sadness overcomes me. Now, I think I know why – it was during this time that I had a nasty drug addiction (which I kicked without help) and that experience is as much a part of the good feelings of belonging and gaming. I have always blamed this on nostalgia but I know there are deeper forces at play, but my ability to understand them – fully – or perhaps face them and put them to rest – remains elusive.
I think to better explain what I went through it would help to explain what it felt like for me to fight addiction. First, I cut off all contact with those I used with. It was the only way, I quickly learned. They were already my only support and friend group but even when I did well to avoid the drugs – just having a few drinks with them and being around access to it would make it hard to avoid using. So I cut everyone out of my life who I was close to because I couldn’t handle it. Things got bad quickly. Withdrawal is terrible. I can’t explain the feeling in words enough to do it the horrible justice it is. It’s appropriate, mind you, as a barrier if you do get through it that no high can ever balance or make worth that low. When I was fighting during my personal rehabilitation I could never sleep. My heart would race at night uncontrollably. I was so sure my heart was going to stop that I would drive to the hospital, park in the parking lot, and sleep there. At least if my heart did stop I would be close to help. I did this for months. Try to sleep at home, panic, drive to hospital, get some sleep in my car in the parking lot. Winters were cold. I lived and was alone. I probably pushed away people who could have helped.
As a gaming blog I don’t know if I want to continue too far down this path. I just wanted to explain this part as I was a heavy user, and recovering addict, during my time with EQ. The bright light around it was that I used my online friendships as support and purpose to pull me through the dark time. Having to cut out your in-life friends and being too ashamed to explain to your family is a very lonely place. I found that support in my guild. Even though THEY didn’t know what I was going through (being an addict is a complete embarrassment to me) they were always there – someone was 24/7 in game and someone or a group to spend time with, have fun with, and just not feel alone.
So yeah, that is the basis on which every time I think of my old guild, or visit the forums that still exist (they boards themselves have gone through 3-4 hosting changes and survived unscathed), I feel a deep sadness. Maybe it isn’t sadness, but the emotions are hard to explain or control. This sometimes leads me to believe that maybe I hold a depression inside, in one of my tidy and clean compartments but it is only triggered by my old guild. I log into EQ and I have characters still in that guild and I check to see if anyone has logged in. Years have passed for almost all, even decades. I don’t really play there but I can’t let go either. I stop by regularly to check and to do a /who all on the server to see if I recognize any of the names.
I am not sure if I feel worse about all of this because of how healthy my life is right now – physically, I am very fortunate. I have a great life and do not have many struggles to face “in the world” that many do. It is sometimes because of this I feel guilty for harbouring these emotional struggles. As a business leader it’s hard to show or share this because I am afraid people will not want to follow someone who isn’t “a rock”. And while I mostly play that part quite well and can inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, I have this one trigger that always pulls me back down to a weird place of happiness and sadness, existing at the same time.
Yes, writing about it feels good. That fear of someone connecting this to my real world self is cowardly but I can write under general safety of anonymity, for the most part. I am not that important for people to care either. Good thing I never plan on running for office. =)
Dagome. All of that to explain Dagome. Dagome was an enchanter in The Grove on the Testserver. His name was Wojtek. He was Polish. We were online friends and late-night grinders, often just the two of us. I was a Troll Warrior. One day he asked if he could call me – and that was strange because we had never spoken. Of course I said yes, and he did. He had a very heavy accent.
He was suicidal.
This was after I went through my challenging period and I was able to support him well on the phone. I knew the feelings he had. They were all too familiar with what I struggled with. This gave me strength, oddly enough, to be able to help him. That was the first of many calls (from what I can remember – funny how memories are), and we were great in game friends for many years. Eventually he left to a new game, tired of EQ. He was in a pretty good place when he did, again, if memory serves me correctly. We had a brief time where I joined him at DAOC but the personal ties weren’t as strong as the gaming needs. I wanted to recreate the test experience on Pendragon, which I ultimately did for several years. He was still angry about how the devs did things on Test with the wipe, and just wanted a regular life on a regular server. We both made characters on each others’ servers and promised cross play. Didn’t happen too often and we lost touch.
I had locked away that part of my life and moved on. WoW was always positive and I stopped thinking and worrying about the past, and moved on happy in life. Met a girl, married, have a healthy child. Something drew me one day to search for the Guild, and it’s members from The Grove. I am not sure what, or why, but I did find the forums. And that was when the first trigger happened. And it hasn’t stopped since. Although the trigger is still there and it always hits me when I visit, good memories and happy feelings always follow. It’s quite strange.
Sometimes I wonder about Dagome, about Wojtek. Where he is today. I tried looking for him on facebook but without any luck. I hope he is happy and healthy in life and relationships. I sometimes worry if he went the other way. I logged into my Shaman in EQ recently and she had logged out at the Lake of Ill-Omen. She was there because I would log her in to give Dagome and his enchanted goblin buffs, and log her back out to log Braack back in. We farmed that spot for hours, pulling goblins from the lake. It reminded me that that was the last in game place in EQ I spent time with Dagome in. Probably the last time I spent meaningful time with him. If you can count gaming as that.
When I was young I had a real life ‘movie moment’. I had a summer job with summer friends and for several years we spent our summers working and having fun together. Their grandparents had a cottage nearby and I was a local. That last summer we were hanging out in a bunkie by the lake after a night shift, listening to music and talking. The twins weren’t coming back to work the next summer. It was the end of a long run together. Forever young was playing on the radio. I was on the bottom bunk, one was on the top and the other on a bed by the window. We told stories and shared memories. We said we would keep in touch and always be friends. I pulled out a jack knife and carved my name into the bottom of the top bunk. I cried.
Even though I spent years there I never saw their grandparents cottage, that bunkie, or them again.
Life is funny sometimes.