Inspired by @Applecidermage's blog post regarding issues she has had in the past, I wanted to reveal some of my own. This is to let you know that this is more of a personal thing for myself. There are some intense scenarios and may trigger anxiety or anger towards people, hopefully not myself.
I am not my father.
I have to remind myself of this daily. When I wake up, before I go to bed. Before I go to work, before I log in to WoW or League. Before I go out in public, before I go driving. Before I see my therapist.
I have been getting to know some of you recently, some in game, some out of game, and I mostly just ramble on twitter about random stuff late at night. You've all shown me great support and I am so grateful to be getting to know some of you. That said, I don't know much about you all, just bits and pieces. And you probably don't know much about me, other than I try to be very complimentary and encouraging, while also relevant and witty. Some times I feel like I am trying to hard, and I often wonder what kind of an impression am I leaving on people. Do they think I'm nice, sweet, caring, honest? Do they think I'm just trying to seek attention? Do they respect my opinion? Do they even know I have an opinion?
I question myself a lot. I have no reason to question anything. I am an adult, 30 years of age and feeling more like 25. I have a mostly stable job, I can say I'm happily married, and I get to play games I enjoy in my spare time. But that isn't everything. Despite all of this, much to my therapist's disapproval, I doubt myself and others. I want to be open with my wife, my colleagues, my peers in game and on the blogo-tweeto-sphere. But I just don't bring myself to be outwardly so. I don't trust you.
Don't feel bad. I don't trust myself either.
Trust is earned, not given. That's what my father used to tell me. There are very few things I remember about my father, but he would try to inject words of wisdom and life lessons into me whenever he could. "Don't trust the world, it will let you down." "Friends are temporary, family is forever." And so on. In many respects he is right. When you're in a dungeon, battleground, or LFR scenario, you often don't know all of the players. You are put into situations where you have to trust them to help you accomplish your goals, goals which all involved share: the end result. Justice points. Loot. Honor. Achievements. Shiny things. You can't do these things on your own (unless you outgear/outlevel the content), so you must work together. What I often do, in these instances, is keep my mouth quiet and do my job. That's easy for me to do as DPS, stay out of the fire and kill Skull/X/etc. Achieve glory and etc. Go back to guildies/Real ID friends and tell tales of how people are so eyebrow-raising in PuGs. I think we've all been there.
It's easy for us to not trust pugs any more than we trust Thrall to hurry up already. Its easy for us to rely on our raid groups or arena groups or guildies or Real ID friends to be there when we need them. But what do you do when you don't have those resources? What do you do when your guildies leave for greener space-pastures? What do you do when you have no friends, when you have different schedules than your spouse, when you don't get to see your loved ones? Who do you talk to?
I think most anyone would do what I try to do, and probably with a fair bit more success: you go out and try to make friends. And because of the nature of friendship, if you really want to be friends with someone, you have to put yourself out there, you have to be vulnerable. Acquaintances, no big deal; just give them the old song and dance, pat on the back, log off cya round. Friendship is more. Friendship leads to deep care, love, or respect for one an other. Friendship requires trust.
How can you make friends, in game or out, when you don't trust anyone, not even yourself?
If you have the secret formula for this I will pay you all of my monies. Because the truth is I'm 30 and married for almost 5 years and I have a hard time trusting anyone. I have a hard time opening up to guildies, and in fact, do not really know anyone in my current guild. And that's just on my priest; my shaman is not guilded at all. I haven't gone through the trouble of guilding him because at some point, I'd just like to group up based on my Real ID friends list, which is still quite small. Getting an email address out of anyone these days requires a personal connection, unless it's a junk email account. I know I don't like to give mine up unless I have to. Again, it comes down to trust. So, why not just trust people? Why can't I trust anyone?
This is your last chance to get out before I go all apeshit emotional on all of you. This isn't something I would normally discuss, but I've recently realized (last night on twitter) that because of the nature of twitter, and in some ways, the internet, there is a level of anonymity. That anonymity can be breached, easily in fact. But nonetheless, these blogs, tweets, avatars, and chats with each other about the game, politics, and so on, can make one feel liberated, free of worry of judgement or persecution. That's not to say there aren't consequences; I am not sure how anyone will react to my post, but I am making it anyways because I want people to know me better. I want friends again. I don't have good friends now. The friends I had are more like acquaintances now. I need some freaking companionship for when my wife is asleep, and I need to quit being a chickenshit about it. So here we go: the reason I don't trust myself or you.
I am not my father. My father was a monster. He is still a monster, but I have learned to tolerate him better. My dad did some things that put my family in a lot of danger, and he didn't care. When I was 2, someone cut him off on the freeway; he forced them off the road with my mom and I in the car, and beat this guy up within an inch of his life. My dad was reckless and inconsiderate. He beat me. He beat my mom. He abused us verbally, physically, and mentally. Part of this I'm sure was related to his hobby: making and dealing meth. I wish I were kidding. He threw a fucking pillowcase full of kittens in a river because he couldn't sell them. This man was to be my role model, and at my young age I was oblivious as to how much this would shape my life.
At age nine things were at their worst. Something happened and the real abuse started. He locked us into rooms. He tortured my mother. She tried to fight back, get help. But she felt powerless. She felt alone. And she couldn't abandon her children. So she put up with it. We all did, in fear of our very lives. One day he turned his back for a minute and we ran. We fucking RAN like there was no tomorrow. And he chased us. He chased us down the street with a rifle. I don't remember if he shot at us or not, I just thought it was over. And yet, it was not.
An aside, my father did not get what he fully deserved out of this. Drugs were not found because my mom did not want to get involved with the drug ring. The police weren't going to do much of anything. Had it not been for one of my uncles, he may not have done any time at all. He ended up doing 18 months in county for a list of all the things he did to us over the years, but only after my mom convinced a female case worker to hear her out instead of the male she was assigned. I say this as an aside because I do not trust many men. In fact to date I only trust two, and whatever male twitter followers or fellow bloggers read this. Men are evil. Men do horrible things and can get away with them more so than women and it's bullshit. For example, take the dad who shot his daughter's laptop; if that were a mom, people would question her ability to raise a child. Dad? He just is a dumb redneck who doesn't know any better. I used to be guilty of this same exact thing, along with many other things I am not proud of. But that's in the past and I am trying to move on. The point of this is that women are equals and in most cases superior to men so just fucking deal with it.
We moved after the divorce, because obviously we couldn't stay where we were. We needed a fresh start. So I got to start over making friends in a new place. Only I was so full of rage and pre-teen angst that I was instantly labeled an outsider. I was the brunt of most everyone's jokes, from popular kids to not-so-popular. I was the key to anyone's popularity, a trend that followed me throughout grade and high school. As I became more isolated, I gained weight and eventually glasses. At my heaviest I was 230 at a height of 5 feet. While not terrible, it got many people concerned for my health, which made me more anxious about myself and led to some other not-so-appropriate habits. Mainly, smoking and drinking. At 16. Well the drinking at 16, the smoking at 13-14. The stuff was provided by the myriad of men my mom would try to use to replace my father. I don't blame her, she was lonely as well, and was working two jobs to support all four of us. These men, though, would eventually leave, making it even harder to trust men. An other aside, good men don't treat women like shit at all. There are few good men on this planet. Ladies, for that I am truly sorry. For the gents, I am also sorry, because I may never know how close I can let you in.
At 8th grade I was contacted again by my father. He wanted back into my life. I regret doing so, but I was afraid he would find me, so I just let him in. Things were ok at first, visits at first, then phone calls. He had done his time, remarried, and founded a business for himself. He became a catholic. He was sorry for what happened, or so he claimed. He hoped I could some day forgive him. I never did answer.
By high school, things were not so bad. My senior year, I became more sociable after I lost my weight and gained contact lenses. I even had my first kiss. My first girlfriend. My first someone special. Until she dumped me for God. That hurt. That made me mad at God, at the world. And there, out of that vile hatred that simmered in my head about my lot in life, stemmed the idea of finality. I started acting out on myself. I started watching things on the internet I should never have seen, things to this day that still haunt me. I cut myself. Deep. People were concerned and I told them that if they really cared they would stop me. Only one did, a friend who to this day is one of the few decent men I know. He led me to God, ironically enough.
This is where things kind of get weird. I believe to this day in the power of Christ, and while disputable I have seen it first hand in my life. That said, today's "Christians" and the church in general is not what I think it should be. The real Jesus is loving, caring, and respecting of all. He does not judge, blame, criticize, or hurt people. He does not care about your race, sex, preference, past, none of that. Jesus loves everyone. Many people today who try to claim that they follow Jesus come up short of His expectations, and I feel terrible having to live with being labeled as one of those guys every time I bring up my faith. That's something I didn't learn until recently, and for that I am truly sorry.
After I became a "christian" I thought things would get better (easier), but ultimately my father and his attitude would creep back into my life. My mom had left me, moving to where I now live in pursuit of an other chance for love, which sadly did not work out. My dad wanted me to move with him and go to school. I decided to tell him off and live on my friends' couches for two years, playing music and having the life I wanted in high school. That did not last long either.
Eventually my mom needed financial help to get out of an other abusive relationship, and I obliged to help her, as I swore I would protect her at all costs when my father left us to rot. However, in transport I was left with no option but to call my father for help, after telling him off. To this day he lords this over me. 8 years ago, and still, it's an issue for him.
After finding work in my current town, I found myself alone again. I tried going to church and getting involved, and I ended up meeting my wife. She has been so patient with me, anger issues, depression, and all. Before I got married I got a government job. I lost all anonymity because technically I am a public servant. And serve I do. What I do is not glamorous, and I get mostly backlash and complaints from the public and my peers. This was great for a while, but shortly after our marriage, her father, a man I was slowly learning to love, left her mom for an other woman. This pissed me off to no end. I was swirling around a sea of negativity, and feeling pressure to keep it up while putting my wife through college (she is currently getting credentialed to teach). And worst of all, for me, was that I felt abandoned by the God that claimed to love me. One day last year I popped.
I remember the day. I was at work. A customer had just laid into me for something that I had no control over. I looked back at my lot in life, frustrated with the way things were going. Despite everything I had, I was miserable. I wanted out. I wanted to quit. So I punched myself in the face. That same day after work I got into an argument with my wife over something so irrelevant I don't even remember. I raged and shouted at her. I lashed out towards her, cursing at her, raising my hand towards her.
Instantly I stopped. I was paralyzed by the fear that I was my father, something I swore I would never become. Shamed, I locked myself in the bathroom and contemplated ending my life, only this time for good. But I knew there was an other way. So instead, I got help. I sought out a therapist.
I will never forget the first session. We talked and talked and talked for what seemed like ages. And by we I meant me. At the end of the session she looked me in the eyes and told me something I needed to hear but could never understand.
I am not my father.
After more sessions I started to calm down. I was also diagnosed with high anxiety and depression, which I am getting treatment for currently. I was asked to read more, to help me relax. I read a book titled "Searching for God Knows What". That book allowed me to really understand the gentle love of Jesus without the bullshit hypocrisy and politics that mar today's churches and religious leaders. It allowed me to be more conscious of what I say, do, and think; how I treat people, even those who I don't quite understand. It allowed me to desire relationships with people, relationships that weren't just fickle, but meaningful, caring, and healthy.
Relationships, however, require trust. Relationships require me to make myself available, to make me be compassionate and patient with people, to make me willing to be vulnerable.
So, readers, I hope that this inspires you to learn that in the darkest of times, you are never alone. I have seen the darkest places, and come out better and a bit healthier. I am not a perfect person, and I never will be. I will do my best, though, to be better than I was yesterday. I can look back and dwell on the shit that may have made me fucked up, or I can move on and be happy. I am choosing the latter.
If you would have me, I would someday like to call you a friend. I would like to talk about things I may have left about, about the games we play and world we live in, about the sunny beaches of California which I see almost daily, about the things I believe in, music, food, whatever. If you can trust me, I can try to trust you. I promise I am not my father.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, or you suspect they are harming themselves, or you are harming yourself, please get help. You may not see it yourself, but you are a valuable person and are deeply loved and cherished. You can visit Helpguide.org or seek out other resources locally. Do not let your life go to waste on a whim. You are not alone, and you never will be.
Update: The awesomely awesome Nymphy at D/E the Tank! and Famous Shaman blogger Lodur of Way of the Totem, as well as many others, responded to Apple's post. Apple herself made some updates as well. This should be a reminder to all of us that we are not alone, even when we feel despondent, isolated, or broken. This is also a reminder to all the oppressors that we will overcome any obstacle thrown in our path, that we won't give up the fight for OUR rights. Further awareness and openness can only strengthen the bonds between us, not only as gamers, but as humans, colleagues, family, and friends. And while I fear these stories may continue to come out of the woodwork, it is good to know that there are more shoulders to lean on. Again, I encourage you to seek a friend, a guildie, anyone, before contemplating taking your life, before giving up on yourself. You ARE worth fighting for!