I would normally post this in a more private location, like to a very restricted friends group on Facebook, but I feel, somehow, here it will be more significant. Also, it got a bit long.
A few weeks ago, having gotten my magick and spirituality jumpstarted, and going well, I said “Well, I need some recreation, I’ve had my brain immersed in gematria and in ritual study and practice for over three weeks. What is an easy form of unwinding that I can do on my own time? I know! World of Warcraft!”
A few weeks later, I have spent _way_ the hell too much time playing WoW. It cuts into my meditation time. My ritual time. My study time. My sleep time. Completely unacceptable. So yesterday I looked at my therapist — who specializes in treating addictions, though that’s not been something I’ve explicitly sought his help for before — and said “Is this an addiction? Why am I so bad at moderation? Is there any way I can take ‘just one drink’ with WoW?”
He shook his head sadly. “No, you can’t.”
I have lots of friends who have played WoW, some of whom can read this post (Liz, Doug, Greg, Alan, Michael, etc.) And all of you have been able to put the stuff down. Liz and Doug refer to me having a serious “binge and purge” cycle with WoW — I get entirely far too interested in it for a while, then months later I quit in a huff.
So my therapist and I discussed that at length. How my patterns work every time I start up my account. How I notice it eating into things I really would rather be doing — including eventually sleep.
I said to him: it’s very difficult to get to this point. One wants to imagine one is strong enough to control it. One wants to believe one can just take one drink, or play WoW for just two hours one evening a week.
Most people can. I can’t. WoW is fun for many people. For me, it makes my brain light up like the proverbial Christmas tree. When pondering other such things which have had that effect in my life, nothing came to mind more strongly than … than my failed relationship in the early 2000s with someone around whom I felt the world revolved. That wasn’t healthy either. Far from it.
But he assured me, this is in the nature of an addiction. Some people have predispositions in their brains to be overstimulated by certain activities. For many people it’s beer. For me it’s apparently MMOs (I’ve binged on other ones pretty badly too, but I keep coming back to WoW). Something about the expansive world, the questing, the open-endedness … there’s always just one more thing to do.
So yesterday without more ado, when I got back to my computer from my therapist’s office, I logged into Blizzard’s website and canceled my monthly subscription fee. Then I deleted the client and Blizzard’s launcher/downloader from my computer. Cold. I didn’t log in to take stuff out of my characters’ mailboxes, anything.
I actually cried about this last night. I loved my characters. I’m a roleplayer, not just a person treating the game as a magical shoot-em-up. My little female gnomes were all insane in one way or another, each differently. My paladin was an honest hardworking child of Ironforge who just wanted to be a blacksmith, but that had to take a backseat to protecting home and hearth, and ultimately helping to save the world. My tauren druid preferred the simple life but occasionally came back to the city for the amusement value. And so on.
I loved my characters. Deeply. I spent a lot of time with them. I had a lot of fun with them. We helped to make each other what we are. But yesterday, like a very toxic relationship, and knowing that my doctor had actually recommended it, I ended our relationship, and no matter how much I may miss them in the future — and it is an absolute certainty that I will at times — I have to remember that I did it in order to be healthy, and that this time, I have to stick with it. I have to not go back.
I want to be remembered as a person who demonstrated an approach to English numerology. As a layman who loved Egyptology and shared that love with those around him. As a guy who threw great parties for great people. As a devoted husband, boyfriend, “dad” for an amazing dog. As someone with a ready wit and a winning smile.
I wouldn’t mind “a guy with a wacky sense of humor and some decent skill in video RPGs” being one item on the list, but if it appears at all, it’s likely to become the only thing on the list. So it has to go.
I may cry about this again in the coming few days. But I’ll move on.