I've been struggling with a range of addictive behaviours for as long as I can remember. Compulsively playing video games, however, has been the most engrossing and destructive in my life. I think up until this point I was able to get away with these behaviours and not face consequences. I quickly figured out the minimum I needed to do in life and was able to coast by on autopilot while conserving energy to burn on numbing activities, like gaming. I did well all throughout high school, undergrad, and even graduate studies. That is, until I got to the point where I was writing my dissertation and could no longer just indulge my addictive habits the majority of the time and then quickly produce something at the last minute. I regret that at the time I didn't realize the full implications of this or see the big picture.
I've been married to a wonderful woman for just over fours years now and we have a beautiful son together. I have a job that I am doing well at and, at least on the surface, everything appeared to be going well. Then, after another bout with Diablo 3, my wife said she had had enough and that she was leaving me. This seemed surprising at first. But I wasn't playing as much as I used to...It wasn't interferring with my responsibilities as a father...I was just about to quit...again.
After she left, a switch flipped and looking back at our relationship, I saw with clarity how absent I had been - from the good times and the bad. Yes, I was physically present - but it was obvious to her and now me that for so much of the time, my mind had been wandering in other world. It seemed that no matter what I was supposed to be doing, I was mentally elsewhere. In my head I was imagining that item I so desperately wanted finally dropping, or mapping out the most efficient way to grind, or planning a new build for my toon. I had been MIA from my own life and my wife suffered at the missing hands of an absent partner. It's heartbreaking looking back at the pain I caused in my absence from my own life.
We are still talking and just today she told me, through tears over the phone, that she is pregnant. I was overjoyed with this news and at the same time horrified at how destructive my addictive behaviour has been to her and our relationship. She is concerned that she is asking me to become a different person and there is too much to fix. One thing is for certain: she can't, and shouldn't, have to be exposed to my toxic behaviours ever again.
I told her that she's not asking me to a different person, but a real, living, breathing person. I want to be a present husband and father who is there to fully experience all life's joys and sorrows. I know that this journey can take a lifetime and will require work, time, dedication, and constant vigilance. I am in this for the long haul and want to come up with a plan to ensure I never slip back into the shadows again. While I see with clarity now, I can't let the veil of gaming or other addictive activities ever be pulled over my eyes again. I need to know what to do when the tendencies start pulling from the depths. I want to know why I am broken this way and what I can do to confront and fill the void that threatens to suck me and my loved ones into an out-of-control vortex. This is the first step on my journey and I need all the help and support I can get along the way.
Thank you for listening to my story thus far...