It's hard to express my pain, anguish, agony and the developments of my life since I first pledged to free myself from the vindictive web of video games... So i'll do it in a narrative.
Abridged (can't include the whole story!!)
Upon the outset of his life, he was not like others. He had a keen ability to see things that others could not, a immense creative pool that was left untapped by education, a void left by a lack of friends and family interactions. He was different, it was apparent in how we walked, talked and how he expressed himself. Unfortunately, this lead to a myriad of problems for the young lad. He lacked social acceptance, social skills, friends... He yearned to be loved and accepted and he desired his ideas to be viewed as good. He wanted to be a part of societies solutions but was continually discounted and shut out by his peers. Pessimism was being instilled into him and he began to doubt himself, if they cannot see the ideas as good than why bother?
The education system was a failed venture - a breeding ground for bullies and neglect of students who yearned to be taught but had teachers who either didn't care or were too far stretched to do any real good. Parents who rarely helped fill the gap. A society on the cusp of a technological breakthrough that would set us on a course of unknown origin. A child who yearned for acceptance, love, community, power, control and the ability to hide his physical appearance because society had labeled him as unworthy of approval.
Then came the escape. A land filled with magical creatures, and the boy had the ability to control the avatars of that world. It empowered him to have control - to be free of his physical persona and to be the hero. These lands began to expand, growing in size and scope - making the journey to a Hero only much more rewarding and enticing. He escaped to these worlds day after day, hoping to forget the pain that he had felt in the real world. Never realizing that he was inching closer and closer to the spiders web...
One day, his older brother discovered a new land, a land of magic and adventure, called Norrath. When this young boy discovered Norrath, he found everything he wanted. He created a character, a Monk, because he always wanted to learn Martial Arts. Entered the world and began to disassociate the real world. He dreamt of Everquest, he dreamt of his character and wished he could flee his life and enter therein. He suffered defeats and achieved victories. He was allowed into Guilds to join other people in the same pursuit and became a part of a community, and was largely accepted and admired for his writing abilities given his young age. Now a young man, this was his life. While his peers were outside playing, socializing, or reading books and learning new things - he ignored everything to feel accepted and loved. He felt empowered and in control for the first time. The spider's web had achieved its goal. The lure and promise of video games providing all these things had finally attached... The spider was upon the young man immediately and injected his venom - but little did the young man know - that rush of euphoria he felt was only the initial onset of the venom. The spider worked tirelessly over the next years to wrap the young man into a cocoon. One day the young man fell out of that web and into another spider's web, and was again injected with venom. Euphoria of a new world of adventure struck again - this time in Star Wars Galaxies. Wrapped again, unknowingly becoming a slave to the spider's will.
The young man grew older, his grades in school were dismal and eventually he forced himself to quit and in an act of young childishness, he joined the Army without considering the second and third order effects. Upon arrival, the spider's webs and venom were still in and around him. Through his basic training and job training, he would discover the price of those games... Those four months of abstinence finally provided him with a brief moment of clarity. The games had poisoned him... After two months of withdrawls, something happened... He began to notice he had power and control over his life. His leaders began to see the change and they molded him. During that time, he still strived for love and acceptance - so he began to attend church to find it. That worked... for awhile - we will discuss that later. Four months later he was 35 pounds lighter and had developed proficiency in all his soldier skills. Finally, an accomplishment! He returned home and those who "knew" him had no idea who he was anymore. A young man who had achieved a maturity they never envisioned. Of course, the impending war he was headed for played some into that...
Upon arrival to a new land, strange, but not so strange... he began to feel the venom again. He yearned for the rush of euphoria again. His unit turned out to be just as bad as the education system - immature young men and old men who were closed minded and refused new ideas or methodology. This was not where he could thrive... Due to finances and a lack of internet on his base in Germany, he decided to remain off the online games and played single player games. Then he deployed to a desolate place, a place that would forever change him...
Kuwait was a furnace of desolation, upon stepping off his aircraft and feeling the heat, his first instinct was he was standing behind a jet engine. Twas' not so, it was the fiery furnace of a midsummer wind in the desert. Fresh in country after a knee surgery only a month prior, being forced to deploy was difficult and painful. He was expected to perform just as well as any other soldier, regardless of injury. He wanted to, he strived to be accepted by those men who he was bound for war with. Alas, his intentions would not be met with kind regard. He proved himself a few times, but soldiers who are injured are looked at as malingerers, regardless of if they have a bone sticking out or a MRI proving injury. So, being labeled a malingerer even after surgery left him scarred and feeling like a second class citizen. The stigma attached dragged the young man into a pit of despair and he clawed the walls desperately trying to get the love and acceptance he wanted since he was a child. That stigma ruined him, but that will come later.
Day 1 in Iraq: the war starts... within a week the first car bomb went off within range to make your ears ring. Danger was established, anyday could be your last. He turned to the church for solace, he began to dig deeper into the philosophy and teachings of the church. Overtime, he began to be respected for his faith, by some but the stigma remained. He was noted to be an excellent driver, he pushed to have the best vehicle always ready for mission, always stocked and clean.
I will... let this story wean off because the length of the deployment was 15 months and so much happened in such a short time it could compromise the rest of the story...
On or about April 21, 2007... Everything changed. Contact! Enemy north in the bongo truck! Mount up! The trucks were on line, driving through open desert on a line 300 meters apart they intended to surround and destory the enemy combatent and his vehicle. The desert floor was a mirage, you couldn't tell a hole from straight land - thats when he saw it... a 4 foot ditch that we were headed for at around 45mph. The young man yelled, HOLD ON! With no seatbelt (to escape the truck in the event of a fire *which was common*) the young man slammed into the steering wheel and the windshield and was knocked unconscious. Upon waking up his Sergeant yelled at him to get back in the fight. After all, there is no time to succomb to wounds, we have a battle to get into! After the crash, they all suffered differing damages. The young man suffered memory loss, nerve damage and a Traumatic Brain Injury, but was fearful to report it due to the stigma already attached to him. He went a few weeks until the symptoms were too much to bear and was yelled at by his Battallion surgeon and PA who largely brushed the entire thing off. Then, a week later he was sent home on leave for 2 weeks. He was married in his church's temple, still suffering from the damages of the accident. Nearly 95% of his marriage photos were of him squinting due to light sensitivity. Upon return to Iraq his behaviors began to rapidly change... He stopped attending church and began playing video games, he felt like the accident may have shifted his memory back to a different level of maturity and understanding. The spider began to creep back in, and unbeknownst to him, the venom it shoots in doesn't get worked out, it remains dormant until a new injection of venom is recieved and than all reactivates - causing extreme harm.
Upon return from Iraq, he was moved to a new duty station in Texas. Ahhh, back to internet!!! The first thing he did before even unpacking his apartment with his new wife was setup the computer and internet. Began installing games and playing them. Overtime, he strived for new games, new excitement and adventure. Alas, he came to find Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and due to his PTSD he couldn't help playing it. Maybe he could be better, save his friends, kill all the bad guys and end the war.... At it's worst he was playing 40-60 hours a week. His wife in a state and city where she knew no one was struggling. Pregnant, she didn't know what to do... She saw her spouse crumbling and didn't know how to help him.. He began to succomb to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the only place he didn't feel those was in the game. She was torn, make him suffer here with me, or let him be at peace in the virtual world....
He began to see what was happening to him, he began to cut back and was successful. He now only played 20 or so hours a week (still a part time job), he began to research stuff on the internet like colleges and other things that he could improve his life, but this became the other 20 hours a week - he wasn't doing anything good, he was simply trading one addiction for another.
He attended universities and began to do well on the onset, but as the games began to seem more appealing and better for his being - he began to fail his classes. Then his Mother died, and his depression went out of control... For over a year he buried himself in the games, ignoring everything for them. Eventually he used all of his education benefits from the Army and lost majority of it to the games and depression. This only added to his feelings of defeat.
Years have gone by, he quits, he relapses, he quits, he relapses... but this time is different. Deleting his hard worked characters, acknowleding what is important. And mostly, determining his beliefs in life and finding a purpose.
The Age of Retreat has ended and the Dawn of Purpose has arisen. No longer!... Will he retreat to another world when his real world causes him harm or places him in bad situations - he will face them with courage, fortitude and the same passion and intelligence he applied to the games. He will shift his paradigms, shift his values and usher in a life of service, usefulness and achievement and will do everything he can naturally do to ensure the same venom never enters the veins of his children or himself ever again.
The Banner has risen, I, Reality_takes_hold, have beat the games. My abstinence began nearly a week ago and with each passing day I shall yield to a higher purpose, not one of religion - but one of conscious living and stoicism. Forward into the NEW DAWN!
It was easier for me to write that in a narrative and surprisingly therapeutic. I've quit multiple times before but most recently relapsed due to the Free to Play era... I've acknowledged my defeats and I'm ready to try again, but with a new vigor. I hope my story inspires others, I'm ready to be free form the venom of video game addiction - I'm ready to rule and conquer my dreams and I've finally eliminated the only person standing in my way...
We cannot succeed until we make our pain an integral part of our recovery. At the end, that pain will be a part of your prize, it will no longer be something we suffered under - but something we overcame.