I can't even believe I'm here. If it isn't "interesting" enough that I'm in about three Twelve Step fellowships already (and one I thought would pretty much cover the problem I'm here to discuss), here I come to another one. Sadder still, I'm mourning the loss of someone I barely know, but feel like I know inside out, and love, and am devastated will probably be robbed from me by the jaws of what I'm coming to know is a seriously horrendous condition: Online Gaming Addiction.
In March, I met a guy at work named Chris. He's one of the kindest, most forthright, helpful, and generous technicians I've ever known. Always quick to help or answer a question in a non-condescending manner, truly giving of his vast technical store of knowledge, and amazingly perceptive and funny, his heatsink is cooling my northbridge, thermal paste applied by his hands, and an ingeniously improvised zip-strip/metal clamp cooling fan solution is anchored atop my 2GHz CPU, as I type this message. As a geek girl, there is no deeper expression of love, in my mind. Or, at the very least, itaEU(tm)s a start.
In late July, I got a promotion, and was asked to move into the cube with Chris. I have issues w/ intimacy, men, dating and such (which IaEU(tm)ve been working on in another fellowship for almost 2 years). Chris seemed like the healthiest guy I could ever encounter. Fastidious, reliable, brilliant,and single, which I gleaned from a conversation in the Tech Room, where our boss asked him what (if anything) was going on in his dating life.
I had already gotten wind of his Guild Wars obsession some months prior to moving into the cube. One day in April or May, as we were both working past 5PM, I caught sight of this amazingly rendered landscape on one of his monitors. Mesmerized, I asked what it was, and as I came in close he explained, with an almost weary rapture.
Barring a few childhood crankers and one text-based game called Planetfall I was desperate over in junior high, I basically signed off on gaming in my late teens, because I KNEW FOR SURE I would get addicted to it. IaEU(tm)d had enough problems with intimacy, isolation, booze and drugs by even that early a point to consider flirting with it. I know now I wouldaEU(tm)ve failed to heed my instincts about gaming, I probably wouldnaEU(tm)t be writing this now. The combination of booze, drugs and untreated depression almost killed me before 30; if gaming were in that recipe, I wouldaEU(tm)ve checked out before age 20 for sure.
Looking back, I realize that Chris had been dropping very subtle hints about his level of engagement with GW for a while. Things like, aEUoeI was up until 4:30AM last night,aEU and, aEUoeYou can download a trial,aEU or even the day when he (not so subtly) blared different aEUoeWeapon of ChoiceaEU installments all day long (thataEU(tm)s the online radio show dedicated to GW). When I commented on the hostaEU(tm)s grating and aEUoeflavorfulaEU language, he got very defensive; aEUoeYouaEU(tm)re talking about my favorite game in the world...aEU he bristled.
In early September, Chris went part-time at work to begin his Masters in a new and rigorous, totally computer-centric degree program. HeaEU(tm)s 26, and lives with his parents, I believe, in their basement. He has 9 workstations and two servers down there, and his 100% custom-built, 100% liquid-cooled gaming PC whose individual parts add up to somewhere in the neighborhood of $5000.
This was when the staying up late comments started to drop. During this time, the aEUoeWeapon of ChoiceaEU incident occurred. On more than one occasion, IaEU(tm)ve seen him logged on at work, and screenshots of the game as his wallpaper. One day, he commented wryly on a news item about the burgeoning Asian Internet addiction rehabs, how parents were forced to action when they couldn't get through to their kids for the games they were playing. IaEU(tm)ve seen him distant and grumpy at the end of the day, and several times, when he walked me out of the building, I was stunned as he turned and bolted off towards the bus with a brisk, aEUoeGoodbye!aEU dashing all hope that perhaps we might spend some time together.
I gave him my phone number and email address. He never used them. I asked him out to dinner for helping fix my hardware issue. He didnaEU(tm)t say no, but he didnaEU(tm)t say yes, either. I never heard him talk about any friends. It seemed like he didnaEU(tm)t even have a phone, or any contact info at all. Totally sealed off.
This past Monday was his last day at work. I gathered the courage to tell him how I feel about him, and he said heaEU(tm)d be open to hanging out as friends. He added, though, that heaEU(tm)d been involved recently with a aEUoegirl he met online.aEU A Guild girl, I thought, immediately. There's no way it was anywhere else. Though remarkably even-minded despite the setback, he provided only sketchy details about this girl, and prefaced the fact of meeting her on the Internet, IaEU(tm)m ashamed to say.aEU Hmm, I thought. Why the shame?
"I've had -really- bad luck with relationships," he said, during my confession. So do I...addicts typically do. Addiction swallows everything whole, and can't be hidden in the bright, glaring light of love. Either the love or the addiction has to go. 9 times out of 10, it's the love that is forced out.
I donaEU(tm)t know if IaEU(tm)m overreacting, and it seems so asinine to come and post to a site like this for this. But as an addict myself, I am not only most often attracted to other addicts, but after the veil of denial lifts, I know addiction when I smell it. The days pass, and my emails are not responded to. The distance between our bonding, laughs and genuine good times working together as a dynamic technical team grows. I begin to doubt we were becoming rather close and personal towards the end,he spent all day next to me Monday, and finally said when three other people randomly gathered around my desk to converse, aEUoeI guess everyone wants to be near you today.aEU
And then I came here, and read, and came to believe...I have fallen in love with an online gaming addict. I am completely powerless over his addiction, my codependency, my longing to develop our friendship (one that may never, ever even get off the ground), and my own addiction to unavailable men. But here, I have come to try to deal with the intense feelings of disappointment, anger, shame and sadness I feel, as an incredible, beautiful kindred human spirit drifts (or so it seems) into a vanishing point on a 3D-renedered horizon.
I've been sober in AA almost 4 years, and Internet addiction was a major feature of my bottom. Rehab, a halfway house, an SRO apartment situation (I also suffer from major depression and PTSD), and many, many, many AA meetings eventually broke that addiction. Now I can work as an IT professional without the threat of waking the beast.
Chris may not even be that far gone yet, but heaEU(tm)s talked about the money aspect of the game, has talked GW up to me, has played at work, and is losing sleep. I donaEU(tm)t know if itaEU(tm)s addiction, and IaEU(tm)m well aware (through SLAA work) that my attachment to him has very codependent and obsessive/fantastic qualities. Last Sunday, before his last day at work, I finally broke down and went to the Guild Wars site -- within 4 minutes, I was sucked into character profiles, skills, and how to download the game, all with the thought of potentially "following him in," half out of insanity, half out of despair.
But I deeply and strongly suspect that IaEU(tm)m losing something incredibly special to Guild Wars -- the chance at friendship with a wonderful person. And itaEU(tm)s absolutely killing me inside.
Thank you for listening to me...this has helped a lot.
Edited by: missing chris at: 10/8/06 22:40