A Phoenix Rising From the Ashes of a Former Life

11 posts / 0 new
Last post
Xander's picture
Last seen: 10 years 2 weeks ago
OLGA member
Joined: 06/04/2013 - 1:05pm
A Phoenix Rising From the Ashes of a Former Life

Hello Everyone,

I've been resisting making this post for awhile. The main reason is, I just didn't want to think about gaming. I was afraid that if I started to think about my old life that I would be tempted to go back... but, I've been in contact with a possible sponsor and when I read Step 1 from The Big Book it gave me the catalyst I needed to make this post. This post is my story.

It all started in around 1997, I was in the 3rd grade at the time. My father had just bought a computer for the house. Even before we had the computer I was obsessed with gaming because I remember subscribing to PC Gamer magazine even before I had the computer. This was how I knew what the latest and hottest games were. I remember asking my friend at the time, "What should I get for my first computer game?" the options I gave him were StarCraft or Half-Life. My friend suggested StarCraft and so I got that, and then I got Half-Life shortly after that. StarCraft was amazingly fun and I sunk many hours into that game. Half-Life was absolutely mind-blowing, I felt like I was the action hero in an epic movie.

Then, my neighbor introduced me to a game called Ultima Online. Some of you may be able to relate, your first MMORPG is unlike any you find after that. I think because I was only 9 at the time and so full of imagination that the idea of a virtual world where I could be anything I wanted to be really blew my mind. I was completely and utterly hooked. Indeed, for those of you who don't know, in UO you REALLY could be anything you wanted. I remember being a wandering murderer killing anyone who I could find unawares deep in the forests. I robbed someone for their boat once and they had a house deed on the boat which you could use to build your own house in the game, I never was able to place that house however because the whole world was full of houses placed by other people.

I even played around with gender roles. I remember pretending to be a girl and even having a virtual boyfriend and crying when he broke up with me.

I think for many years I chased that original experience I got from UO. It really is like a drug, your first high is the best, then you need more and more to reach that same point (that you never can actually reach again), finally you end up just maintaining and not even getting close to how you felt when you first started.

Fast forward to High-School, I was completely in my gaming world. I still read books on occasion but it was pretty much just gaming any time I had a moment to spare. I still had friends however. In HS I fell into the bad crowd, the druggie crowd. I think because I felt insecure and nerdy the fact that these "cool" people welcomed me into their circle was big for me. It was during this time that I kissed a girl for the first time, went to a lot of parties, etc. Honestly I had a lot of fun in HS and I don't really regret the partying I did because I did get it out of my system and I'm no longer interested in doing that stuff.

I really screwed up in High School not focusing on my studies or anything just doing drugs and playing MMORPGs (though honestly I played ALL PC GAMES I was a MMORPGer but really I was a PC Gamer, if it was a game, chances where I bought it and played it) but then I transfered to an alternative school that really saved me and I managed to graduate on time.

In college I decided that I wanted to drop out, move out, and get a job so I could just relax at home and smoke weed and play video games and not have to worry about anything else like studying or other responsibilities.

3 years later. I have absolutely no friends anymore, I've completely lost contact with them. I would spend months at a time hermited into my apartment only coming out for work and for food. My neighbor, an elderly man in his 80's became my only friend. I was 22 and still a virgin never having even dated a girl. I always was too busy gaming to make time for girls.

Then things came to a head, I became severly depressed and I stopped going to work. I would spend months on massive gaming binges (playing Darkfall at the time, basically a 3D Ultima Online, murder anyone you want and take their stuff, territory control) and each time my parents would bail me out by paying for my rent. I did this several times, infact during that time period I went through 5 jobs, 1-2 a year. Each time having a "crisis" and getting bailed out by the folks. Then, I decided that I was going to leave this life I hated so much behind. I was going to leave my apartment, sell all my stuff, and hit the road. I planned on joining the Occupy movement in New York and hitchiking across America basically bumming it up. My parents were horrified at this prospect and when I mentioned I did have a desire to go back to school they jumped on it.

So, the parents were now paying for everything in my life. They payed for my rent, my food, and my schooling. But I was still gaming. I was gaming so much that the past year of education (three semesters including summer) I only passed 9 of the maybe 15 classes I attempted in that time period. I had one really bad semester, then a good one, then a really bad one again. During this time period I tried to quit smoking marijuana several times but failed. I never did try to quit gaming, I didn't acknowledge it as a problem untill only very recently, I was majorly in denial.

Then, after the last fudged-up semester where I only passed 1 class out of the 5 I attempted I think I started to realize that this wasn't going to work. I decided to change my major in school, maybe this fresh start in a different field would be the answer. Maybe I just didn't like the IT industry which was what I was studying before I changed my major. So I switched my major to Education and I decided I wanted to become a teacher.

There was a three week mini-vacation that I had between the Spring and Summer semester. I had told myself before this time period started, "Xander this is your chance. Take the time that you have between semesters to quit smoking pot and detox so you can be ready for the next semester and be succesfull." I was passionate about doing well with my new career and new major, I wanted to start the semester strong and get straight A's.

Well that didn't happen. I didn't quit smoking and I continued to let gaming interrupt my studies. I would start the day thinking, "OK I got to do this and this and I can do it at that time." Then that time would come... and I would log onto the game.. then before I knew it I was dead tired and that time had passed. And I would be SO MAD AT MYSELF. This isn't what I wanted to do! I really wanted to do well in school! It was also during this time that I noticed a shift in my gaming experience. I just wasn't having fun anymore, I would feel compelled to log on, I would do my thing, but it just wasn't the same... I felt like I was just going through the motions of gaming. I would play Dota 2 and I would be mildly happy if I won, and devestated if I lost.

This was my rock bottom. My parents, bless them, would not LET me hit rock bottom. In reality, I had probably hit bottom many times but each time my parents would prop me back up. I can't blame them, they knew that I was in such a place that I truly was ready to "throw it all away" and they just couldn't have that. Indeed if they had given up on me, then I'm not sure where I would be today (possibly dead, not through suicide or anything, but because its a dangerous world out there for a street person) I'm sure this was very hard on them. I can only imagine paying for my way.. and then to watch me fail... and to continue to pay? They really love me, and THANK GOD they didn't give up on me.

Then, I don't even really remember exactly why, on a whim I typed into a search window "video game addiction" or something like that. I was lead to the OLGA website and I briefly glanced at it but I didn't really read anything and I closed the window pretty quick. See, for a long time I blamed all my problems entirely on myself and on marijuana. I thought if I could justr quit weed that I would be smart and succesfull again and not lazy and that I would be able to accomplish all that I wanted to.

Then, after continuing to struggle in school I realized enough was enough. Again something pulled me to the OLGA website and this time I actually read a few posts. I was absolutely blown away, these people's experience mirrored my own ALMOST TO A TEE! I mean their stories where JUST LIKE MINE. Finally I read, I think it was dan939, "many people have had success quitting cold turkey." This resonated with me because I have battled another addiction and successfully beat it (after many attempts) and that is nicotine addiction, and I was able to quit cold turkey with those. (been over a year since I quit tobacco, I havn't been keeping track of when I quit but I know I've beat it)

Something clicked in my mind. It all came together. I realized that I was addicted to gaming and that my addiction to marijuana was completely tied into that. Gaming was no fun without weed, and when I smoked I would game. Something in me realized that I had to quit them both. I was PASSIONATE about doing well in school, and I still am! I knew I had to quit to be successfull.

I've always had dreams. I want to travel the world. I want to speak a foriegn language. I want to have some kind of romantic experience. So in an effort to achieve this, on 6/6/2013 at 12:10 in the morning I smoked my last bowl, threw away all my paraphenilia, and uninstalled all my games.

It is now day 8 and I'm still going strong. I also havn't drank any alchohol in 7 days because I know myself, I know intellectually that it would be very dangerous to play around with the sauce during this time period of recovery. I might get buzzed and get tempted to "just play a little bit," or "smoke just a little bit" or worse, get addicted to alchohol. As some of you know I have been going through withdraw, I havn't been sleeping well, and sometimes my mind feels like it is going a mile a minute. But already I have experienced some positive things. The other day I smiled at a cute blonde and she smiled back! Then I said something to her, and she said something back! Then I walked away, but as my old self... I never would have done that.

What I'm doing to try to aid my recovery: attending meetings when I can. I signed up for therapy but unfortunately he won't be able to see me untill next month, I could look for another therapist but I wanted to try out this particular person. I'm also trying out new activities. This weekend I'm going Contra Dancing (which is a fun folk kind of dance, people young and old do it) and I'm of course focusing on my studies. In the fall I hope to start learning Tai Chi and martial arts and in the meantime I am going to take some Yoga lessons. Also, I am going to work the 12 steps.

I realize that this is my first time quitting gaming ever. But I don't want to go back. I don't want to relapse. I know what relapsing is like, I did it plenty of times with cigarettes and with pot. I'm NOT going to relapse. I'm NEVER going to play video games EVER again. I FUDGIN' HATE VIDEO GAMES!!!! (had to get that out hehe) But really, I feel passionate about quitting and I'm going to keep it going.

Everyone in my family knows about my quit, even grandma! My father told me, "the best present you could give me is the changes you have made and to continue your progress towards your goals." Oh God, now I'm crying again lol. I don't even really know why, I guess it was intense to write all this and get it out there!

Thank you everyone for readind,

Xander Smith

Free from gaming since 12/23/2013
Free from marijuana since 12/30/2013
Loving life and living it!

Last seen: 9 years 10 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 12/11/2011 - 5:41pm
Xander, that took courage.

Xander, that took courage. Good for you! Life is so good when we're courageous! Keep being brave one day at a time, and before you know it, a year will be behind you, a year will be between you and the fear that kept you gaming. And you will feel so good about that!

Glad you're here!

Acceptance. When I am disturbed, it is because a person, place, thing, or situation is unacceptable to me. I find no serenity until I accept my life as being exactly the way it is meant to be. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.  Acknowledge the problem, but live the solution!

Patria's picture
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 06/02/2011 - 1:55am
That was awesome! Xander,

That was awesome! Xander, welcome. I am so glad you are here. Hope to see you at the meetings :)

Last seen: 3 years 2 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 05/12/2013 - 8:47pm
Good for you, Xander. 

Good for you, Xander. Quitting is hard, but SO worth it. Keep up the good work!

When you're going through hell...keep going. --Winston Churchill There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still --Corrie ten Boom

hirshthg's picture
Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
OLGA memberOLGA moderator
Joined: 11/15/2010 - 2:06pm
Thanks for sharing X go for

Thanks for sharing X

go for it!

leveling in steps, serenity, sponcys, sponsors, exercise, and sleep, (sanity has been downsized) sober from all electronic games since 11/19/2010

Allyson2213's picture
Last seen: 6 years 11 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 12/01/2010 - 6:06pm
Thanks for sharing Xander.

Thanks for sharing Xander.

"Take what you need and leave the rest." I got nothing but moments to live.

Andrew28's picture
Last seen: 9 years 9 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 03/19/2011 - 10:25pm
Welcome Xander. Thanks for

Welcome Xander. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Stopped Gaming: June 22nd, 2014.

dan1's picture
Last seen: 9 years 4 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 05/04/2012 - 6:42pm
Good going, Xander.  I

Good going, Xander. I appreciate you sharing your story. The addiction part is always the same: compulsion, lack of control, depression, loss. But when we quit and start becoming our real selves, who we were meant to be, that happens in a thousand different ways. Beautiful ways. You are well on your way. Congrats!

I am a recovering computer game and gambling addict. My recovery birthday: On May 6, 2012 I quit games and began working a program of recovery through OLGA No computer games or slot games for me since December 12, 2012. No solitaire games with real cards since June 2013.

Xander's picture
Last seen: 10 years 2 weeks ago
OLGA member
Joined: 06/04/2013 - 1:05pm
I had a great day today,

I had a great day today, quitting gaming was probably the best thing I've ever done. :)

Free from gaming since 12/23/2013
Free from marijuana since 12/30/2013
Loving life and living it!

Last seen: 7 years 2 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 02/02/2013 - 5:02pm
Hi Xander, thank you for

Hi Xander, thank you for sharing.

I am having a tough couple of days here and reading your story gives me strength.

Last seen: 10 years 4 months ago
OLGA member
Joined: 07/27/2011 - 8:58pm
Congrats for quitting, man!

Congrats for quitting, man! And definitely give contra dancing a whirl. I met my wife contra dancing. It's a lot of fun and a wonderful community.

It does get better. A lot better.

Jeff (JMonkey)
First left my game July 27, 2011. Relapsed in July 2013. Committed myself once again to being game-free on August 2, 2013

Log in or register to post comments