Caveat – this is a deeply personal post. I debated a great deal about sharing this much about my private life here, out in the open where it will be judged by anyone with internet access, and ultimately decided that since I had been chewing on this post for days – and my mind kept coming back to this post every time I sat down to write about something different – I have decided that if my mind has dwelled on this for this long, it’s clearly something I want to put out there. If you don’t really care about my life – or things that I’m going to discuss – then this post probably isn’t for you, and I encourage you to pass it by.
Because this is a pretty personal post, I am going to fairly heavily moderate comments. I am completely open to discussion, as long as it’s polite, educated and well thought out. If it gets nasty – I will not hesitate to start deleting comments. I am putting highly personal decisions and aspects of my life on display here – because I think that there is some good discussion for it, and because I think I am at a point that in my life and current relationship that I am ready to reflect on the decisions of the past. I am not putting it out there to be judged, even though I am sure that will invariably occur. If you intend to offer commentary, please remember that there is someone sitting behind the keyboard that typed all of these words out and that someone, namely me, has feelings too.
A Bit of History.
Something that a lot of people probably don’t know about me is that I was once married. I married a guy that I met during my Junior year of college, and with whom I’d always had a tumultuous relationship with. We got married after 5 years of dating and in the summer between my second and third year of law school. I often look back and think that this marriage was one of the biggest mistakes that I made in my life – but we can’t change what is already done.
You see, I used to be an extremely outgoing person with a huge personality. I had dreams that no one could shatter (except myself, as it turns out) – and I loved the odd duck that I grew up into. I was quirky, fun and didn’t have limitations. I could do, and be, anything I wanted.
Until I met my ex-husband that is.
You see, he was a good southern boy, from a good southern family. A good southern family that disliked me from day one solely because I was from the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line (and no, I am not exaggerating this). Hell, in my eyes I wasn’t even a “Yankee” – I was from the Midwest for crying out loud. But that didn’t make a difference. Even though I was polite and used the good manners my own parents raised me to have, I didn’t refer to his relations by using “sir” and “ma’am” when answering questions or responding to them, which was apparently unacceptable and rude. Once when I was sick, I forgot to stand up when his Grandmother walked into a room and it was forever a black mark in my book.
I tried desperately hard to please his family and make them like me. I tried to so hard chasing their acceptance I realize now that over the years I started to lose who I was. I lost my confidence, I lost my personality, I lost me.
I think that the loss of myself was probably the worst part of my marriage, but there was so much more bad there. My ex-husband was verbally abusive – especially during football season – to the point where if there was a Saints game on the TV I either locked myself and the dogs away somewhere else or I just wasn’t at home. When I was trying to drop the weight I gained in law school – he would stand in front of me, waving a chocolate bar under my nose, lean right up to my face and take a huge bite. His focus on money was borderline deplorable. I remember when we went to purchase him a new car and I told him that no, we couldn’t go test drive that Range Rover he wanted because we couldn’t afford it, his completely serious response to me was “well, then you just need to make more money”. And these are just the tip of the iceburg in a broken relationship – but I won’t burden you with more.
Nothing I did was ever good enough. And somehow I accepted that I was failing.
What made it worse was that I was so lost, I was so not the woman I was when I entered the relationship, that I didn’t have the strength, courage, or self-respect to say “you know, this is bullshit and I don’t deserve this”. My mother would have been so ashamed of the shell of a woman that I had become – because it was not the girl that she raised. She raised me to be strong, independent and my own person. And when I left for college at the age of 18 I was all of those things. Yet when I entered my marriage at the age of 25 – I was none of those things.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Well, because I want to tell you how WoW found that strong 18 year old girl in the miserable 29 year old shell of a woman and rescued her.
How WoW Rescued Me
I did a post awhile back about how I had come across the term “WoW Widow” and how I felt about that. And I think that a lot of my past likely colors my opinions on the matter. But I still believe that WoW doesn’t kill relationships.
The truth of the matter is that I picked up WoW at release and I will whole heartedly admit that I used it as an escape from my already failing marriage. Now please don’t take this to mean that I didn’t try to make my relationship work – because lord knows that I did. But WoW became an escape from the horribly reality that was my day to day life – and this was of my own choice. I willingly succumbed to the fantasy and escape that it offered.
I started off just putzing around by myself – playing it as if it were a single player RPG. I declined many guild invites because I just wanted the solitude and the escape that the game offered. However eventually I caved in and joined a little guild. And it was the best thing I could have done…ever.
This little guild wasn’t getting world first kills, hell we tried to raid Blackfathom Depths! But what this little guild did was so much better. They were able to bring me – the me I wanted to be, the me I remembered being – out of my shell. They reminded me of who I was…and made me remember that I liked that person. I started re-finding my confidence. I found that I had a voice and opinions – and that those were good things. People liked hearing what I had to say and didn’t tell me to shut up then minute I started talking, or tell me that my ideas were stupid and worthless. Eventually, I ended up leading this little Friends and Family guild, and I made some great friends there. And some of those friends became people that I could confide in and talk to about the problems I was having in my life – which was something I was sorely missing at the time. These people had more influence on my life than they will ever know.
Eventually I outgrew this guild, partly because my confidence in myself had grown to the point that I wanted more. I was no longer content to just putz around I wanted to see more of what the game had to offer. WoW had reminded me what ambition was – and that I had ambition, and that was a good thing.
I joined a raiding guild – and I made more friends. For those of you who say “internet friends aren’t ‘real’ friends”, I say rubbish. The more people that I met, the more I started to remember who I was – and the more I started to recognize what I had become. And I realized that you know what? People like me. And they like me for who I am. I don’t have to change myself for people to accept me. This revelation was a huge wake up call for me.
I became empowered to be myself.
As time wore on I started to grow increasingly unhappy with this shell person that I had turned into. I started asking myself “what happened to your self-confidence”, “what happened to your ambition”, “what happened to…you”. And I started really thinking about it. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became at myself. How did this happen to me? How did I ever let other people’s perceptions of me matter more than my own self-respect? How did I become this person that I don’t even recognize anymore?
At some point, either consciously or unconsciously, I made the decision that I was going to embrace me for who I was. In time, I finally became comfortable in my own skin and didn’t give a shit if my in-laws didn’t like that because I did – and the strong, smart, confident and fearless 18 year old girl in me re-emerged. And when she returned after all those years, she kindly lent me her walking boots.
After a lot of thought, I finally found the courage and told my (ex)husband that I was miserable and wanted a divorce.
When I called and told my Mother, her response was “well, it’s about time”. Apparently everyone but me realized how miserable I was, and how much of me that I had given up for this marriage. I wish that the people would have spoken up and reached out to me sooner, although I understand that they were just trying to be supportive of the decisions that I made.
But nobody close to me had spoken up – and if I hadn’t of picked up that box on the shelf at the game store one day, the box that opened me up and ultimately rescued me, I very well could still be that shell person that I hated – living in a town I hated, working a job I hated, and in a relationship that was built on me being a person that I wasn’t. WoW didn’t fail my marriage – my marriage failed my marriage. WoW empowered me to be me – and you know what? It turns out that “me” hated my life. “Me” hated my marriage. “Me” hated who I had become. That’s not WoW’s fault – it’s mine. It’s my ex-husband’s. It’s our families. But it was most certainly not WoW’s.
Well – I suppose this is really more “the next chapter” than the end, since this story is still in progress.
After I filed for divorce, I pretty much swore off men for the foreseeable future. I even changed guilds and made Beru, my PvP horde reroll, my main after having a fall out with some members of my alliance guild that coincided with my divorce – I don’t know if I was just trying to run away from everything associated with that time of my life to make a fresh start or if I just needed a change of pace.
Eventually I joined Monolith because I missed raiding. And with Monolith came Brade. You see – I figured if you made it this far I suppose you deserve to know another tidbit that I don’t hide, but also don’t share openly, I met Brade in WoW.
Now, I had no intention of dating. I had no intention of “meeting” anyone. In fact, after having just left such a terrible relationship, I really wasn’t interested in being in another. I was more interested in re-discovering me. But, as time passed, we would chat as I farmed dreamfoil and Nightdragon’s breath. As it turned out, we had the same interest in books and in authors – and we made some recommendations to each other to read.
Eventually we started talking back and forth via email outside of the game. And as time passed we were chatting some on the phone. It was odd, and unusual. I didn’t really want to be in a relationship – but here was a person on the other side of the country that fit so well with me. How do you turn away from that? One night he said “well, we’ve exchanged phone numbers, I think the next step would be to ask you out on a date” – and he flew to Atlanta to take me on a proper date.
I was mean and cruel, and made him pick the place – offering no assistance. But somehow, it worked out. Actually, somehow our relationship worked out. Against all of the odds – there it was. At first, I was a little embarrassed to admit that I met him in WoW – but the more I thought about it, how was that really any different than using a dating service? Actually, it was better because we already know that we have at least one thing in common.
After about a year of long distance dating (oh god the airfare!), an opportunity came up for me to leave my job in Atlanta on very favorable terms and we made the decision that I would move out to Seattle. It was a risk. But I was young, empowered and had the opportunity to shed the last thing I hated about the shell me – Atlanta. And so my parents came down and packed up everything I owned into a U-haul and moved me across the country (it doesn’t matter how old you are – your parents will always move you!).
That was four years ago.
I am probably the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in a stable relationship (and lord knows how Brade deals with me sometimes, because I’m not always the easiest person to reckon with), I have a job that I love and Seattle is great outside of all the rain! And most importantly, everyone in my life right now accepts me for who I am. I am incredibly fortunate to be where I am right now, and as I think back on the path that brought me here none of it would have ever happened without WoW.
So when I say that WoW didn’t ruin my life, it saved it, I’m being entirely serious.
The next time that you hear someone complaining about how WoW is ruining their marriage, relationship, whatever – before you whole heartedly agree that WoW is the devil, please remember my story. I very much doubt that I am the only person that WoW has empowered and I very much doubt that I am the only person that WoW has saved. I suspect those of us who are so positively influenced are just far less vocal about our stories – which is why I wanted to share mine.
I thank you for listening. I thank you for understanding my need to finally put this out there. And lastly, I apologize if you came here looking for druid information today and found that you ended up with Oprah.