Days 5&6 With Dora 

I missed yesterday. I meant to write, but well, I guess life got in the way. I had a flare up, as it were, and when my health is bad, it spreads to my husband, which reflects back to me, and it can be a really caustic resonance cycle if it isn’t stopped. 

We made it through somehow. And then we had a friend over and spent hours raiding a Christmas-themed ship before getting utterly lost aboard a pirate ship and winding up in a castle. (Only with video games would that be possible.)

Dora was… well, she’s a dog. A young dog. She’s excited and getting used to a new home and there are still bumps. We are trying to learn her routine and figure out why she has started barking, and it stresses me out. But it will be fine. It is fine. This is normal.

We got her licensed and scheduled her vet appointment and we’ve got her first obedience training (with me) lined up. It’s flowing. Which scares me, but everything scares me, so that emotional feedback isn’t useful for decision making.


I decided to commit to this, to accept her, and so of course I spent most of last night waking up terrified that she was relieving herself on my carpet or eating my belongings. It’s ok. This is normal. It’s ok.

Sink or swim, I am going to learn to move faster, without fully developed and quadruple-checked plans, and to accept outcomes that are fine but different than anticipated. Dora is already breaking my illusions of control. I will also have to find something to do with myself now that I’m being forced to connect with all the hours in my day. It’s difficult, but I’m not breaking. 

Maybe I’m stronger than I think.

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Act 4- Violation

Remember my rules? Along the way, my list had changed a bit, according to my level of involvement. Here’s an updated version:

  1. Don’t spend money on the game.
  2. Don’t join a guild.
  3. Don’t install Line.
  4. Don’t take the game to bed with you.
  5. Don’t play while your husband is home– spend time with him.

As you can see, I downloaded Line. The guild master wanted us to add the app, and since I was 2nd in command and Guild Champion by now, I added it against my will in order to uphold the guild rules. Text messages and sticker spam bothered me so frequently that I had to keep my phone on silent, which meant that I missed messages and calls from friends and family as well.

I had started bringing my phone to bed with me, to play before I fell asleep or when I awoke in the middle of the night. I knew it was unhealthy, but I rationalized it fairly well. I didn’t play in bed every night, and using all my energy could provide a sense of closure at the end of my day.

Once we started to get serious about events, I couldn’t avoid playing during my husband’s off hours any longer. But fighting 4 battles doesn’t take more than a few minutes, so I could participate in raids and wars easily without upsetting our rhythm much. And there is down time in a marriage, so I only played during these moments, not during time we were spending together, so I only partially broke this one.

I did things that I did not want to do, because I felt they were beneficial to the guild as a whole. I violated my principles and myself to strengthen the guild, but I have low self esteem, so I don’t really take that kind of thing very seriously.

Small things happened during this time, rule changes and players being kicked spontaneously for little reason at all, and I grew uncomfortable, but I could bear it… At least for a while.

Prologue

About three years ago, I played the mobile app “Lord of the Dragons.” For the curious, the official app page is here.

I loved it- the game had an art style I enjoyed, a level up system that was easy to understand, a good social system,  and several elements that encouraged daily play. It was easy to be addicted to, and I dove straight in.

I joined a guild that was just starting up, and my commitment, enthusiasm, friendliness, and investment in the guild helped me rise to the top. I was soon one of our top 5 players, serving as the welcoming committee and one of our most devoted fighters. In LoD, like in many mobile RPGs, success in PvP is mostly about showing up consistently and fighting as often as possible, rather than being the strongest warrior on the team.

I watched our guild grow and I did all that I could to set us up for success. I renamed my accounts to suit the guild’s Marvel superheroes theme. I formed a second account on my family’s tablet. I convinced my brother to join. Soon, we brought three strong accounts to all guild battles, with coordinated attacks and maximum firepower. I developed many of the gambits we used in battles, maximizing the guild’s potential by empowering the weaker members to defeat much more powerful goes. We had strategies, high participation in events, and we took many guilds by surprise. We climbed into the top 250, maybe even the top 100, guilds very naturally. I spent money on my characters. I learned real life details of my guild mates. I was totally invested, and it was great.

Then our 2nd in command left the guild. Suddenly. Without warning. And he made his own guild.

And everything crumbled, bit by bit. I was caught between the two guilds, and I doubted everything we had accomplished.

I left my guild and joined the ex-2nd in command’s new guild, because I couldn’t take the drama in our old guild. But then I doubted myself, like a woman leaving an abuser that she loved: she wonders if it was really so bad, she thinks he needs her, she feels guilty, she blames herself for some of the chaos and pain.

And I went back to them.

But it wasn’t the same. The guild master stopped playing. Nothing worked well any more.

I couldn’t stay and I couldn’t leave. There was no place for me.

So I left again and formed my own guild as a sanctuary for my accounts and my brother. He joined another top 250 guild for a while, but it soon became clear that we were both burned out.

I uninstalled the game from my devices and promised myself “Never again.”

Fast Loyalty

One of the things that I have done routinely is commit to things very quickly, whether it’s a boyfriend, a job, a college major, or, in this case, a guild in an online game. I like being on a team, contributing to something bigger than myself, and giving my all to things and people. I’m an “all in” type of person, and I always have been.

Normally, this is fine… Well, wait. Actually, most of the time, it doesn’t really work out well for me in the long run. Friendships aren’t always as deep as you think they’ll be, boyfriends/girlfriends don’t have to love you like you love them, employers don’t need to care about the work you do, and team members don’t often play the game just like you do. It’s been pretty rare for me to find friends who form genuine, deep relationships; this marriage is my first relationship where both of us can really be hurt or comforted reciprocally; I’ve never had a guild that I could really support fully.

Wow. I… I started this entry with the belief that things normally went well for me when I trusted others. It’s a little hard to know what to say now.

I guess that I’ll just present the issue as a story, bring in the players as they appear, and walk you through the journey piece by piece. That will give you the chance to catch up and it might help me to get the pieces sorted out.