Rock Bottom   23 comments

Today I’m going to share a few things with you, not all of them pretty.  The first of those things is that I’m a total consumer of trashy gossip magazines. And TV shows of similar ilk.  I’m not sure I should tell you how many times I’ve had a subscription to People or that I’m considering snagging the e-publication version as we speak (don’t judge me!), I swear I buy them for the articles!  And if E! has a True Hollywood Story on, you can bet I’m glued to the TV.  Ok, ok, I’ll come clean – the same is true for any Behind the Music or Top 100 (insert something here) countdown.  (Seriously, don’t judge!).

Anyhow, I have a point.  Lest someone feel the need to advise my that my incredibly shallow taste in entertainment is…well, incredibly shallow (hint: I’m aware), I suppose I should probably get to it.

The other night I was watching a countdown of the 40 Most Shocking Moments.  And one of the top ten moments was Britney Spears’ public meltdown – maybe it was even in the top three, I don’t remember now. But you know the one I’m talking about; the one where she shaved her head, completely fell apart and lost custody of her kids. Now in the commentary they actually had some people who were rooting for Britney talk about her meltdown, as opposed to the I’ve-never-heard-of-you-before comic tossing out jabs that is the norm.  And one of the things that they said about her was that it was that moment she hit rock bottom.  That in every crisis, there has to be a rock bottom.  And once you’ve finally hit it you can start your climb back up.

Well, folks, I hit rock bottom.

At least as far as WoW is concerned anyhow.  I was going to say that it all started Sunday night, but I don’t think that is entirely true.  Looking back on it, I think it all started close to four weeks ago.  I had been underplaying the importance of getting a Heroic Rag kill, and more than that a server first Heroic Rag kill, to myself.  I had been trying to convince myself it wasn’t important, it wasn’t the end goal, it wasn’t the end all be all and that it would happen in time.

I was lying to myself.

The truth was that I was terrified almost nightly.  I was worried that if we were in the middle of an attempt and realm spam came flying in our faces it would be debilitatingly disheartening to a great many people.  I was stressed almost nightly that if we didn’t get this done, people would leave, looking for greener pastures.  I was inundated with nightly complaints, comments and suggestions that overwhelmed me.  And yet I kept pushing on with a smile on my face singing the “everything’s going to be fine” song.

Hint: it wasn’t.

The pressure on the raid soon caused a huge divide between “people who fucked up” and “people who didn’t fuck up”.  Even if you rarely made a mistake, if you made a stupid one when tensions were high, you became a “person who fucked up”.  It made me incredibly sad.  Especially when I truly like everyone on our raid team, despite their flaws and despite the fact that I’ve wanted to strangle every one of them at some point.  I tried very hard to keep the peace.  To reprimand when appropriate, to speak to people privately about performance when appropriate, to keep spirits high when things were rough, to not morph into psycho bitch nightly.  But underneath it all, the truth is that I worried on a nightly basis.

And it exhausted me.

What Rock Bottom Looks Like.

For years I’ve been trying to keep my stress over work locked down.  However, unbeknownst to me until now, that has taken so much energy that there is very little room for additional stress.  In looking back, I now notice the cracks that were forming each week and were threatening to weaken any resolve I had left to hold it together.

Sunday night, the cracks won.

I knew our second Rag kill wasn’t going to fall in our lap.  I was optimistic that it would happen Thursday, but was prepared for Sunday.  We were bringing in five new people for the kill, and there would probably be some bumps in the road.  But as pull after pull came, and low percentage wipe after low percentage wipe happened, I started to crumble.  This second kill was important to me.  Just as important as the first. 

I wanted everyone who worked on the fight to get their kill.  I wanted the guy who DC’d on our first pull the night we got the kill, but hadn’t missed a single Rag night, to see the asshole dead.  I wanted the young man that I’ve been raiding with for a year and got to know better at Blizzcon, and who is devastated at missing guild first kills, to finally be able to say he had done it. I wanted the healer who I’ve known for seven years now, and who voluntarily stepped out of our first kill to get the satisfaction of all the time he put into the fight. I put a lot of pressure on myself to see that we succeeded, because it was extremely important to me, and time before 4.3 is a limited commodity.

I think it was the pull where an add hit the hammer on the side with only two adds at the end of the night.  I think that was my shave my head moment where everything just all fell apart and I couldn’t deal anymore.  I was devastated to have to walk out Sunday night kill-less, and I was now incredibly stressed about being up against the wall on Monday night.  Brade did our raid analysis, trying to figure out why we were struggling and how to solve it, because I was too upset.  I honestly just couldn’t think

I went to bed extremely upset, and woke up heavy-hearted, feeling like I was Atlas.

And then I learned that one of our two DKs, who performed a crucial role on this encounter for us was bailing.  There is no other way for me to look at it.  He bailed.  He bailed out on me, he bailed out on his friends and he bailed out on a team that accommodated him for years.  Why?  Because he didn’t like that he was offered feedback on his performance that he didn’t like – and it was “too stressful”.

And it broke me. 

I had now completely and totally hit rock bottom. Our second DK doesn’t log in until 9:15 on Mondays and we felt it was imprudent to pull Rag without at least one deathgrip, and we had built our strategy largely around having two.  We’d adapt with only having one, but it was going to be harder.  And we were losing almost an hour of raid time.

I cried all day, I couldn’t help it.  I felt hopeless.  I felt like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter.  I cared so fucking much about getting this done for people, I had been stressed for so long, and I just broke.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  This one thing was the last chink in the armor that I was desperately holding onto.  I wasn’t even pissed that the guy was bailing, because as cruel as it sounds everyone can be replaced - I was pissed that he was selfishly potentially shitting on so many people and seemingly didn’t care.  And because I cared so much, it was more than I could take.

I was so emo on twitter over the entire situation, that if I were me, I would have unfollowed myself.  I got home, logged in and couldn’t stop crying.  I cried through the entire fucking raid.  I was so emotionally distraught that I was playing like shit.  And that one percent wipe that night where I used two of our battle rezzes as a result?  Yea, I almost couldn’t keep going.  It got to the point where a mistake by anyone only made me more upset, and a mistake by me was inconsolable. I was so upset that I could hardly talk in vent.

Rock bottom, folks.  It’s an ugly place.

Brade, bless his heart, came over in between pulls to comfort me and try to tell me it was going to be fine.  I’m pretty sure the entire night on the inside he was screaming “CRYING?! THERE’S NO CRYING IN RAIDING”.  (If you don’t get the reference, google Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell). 

We did get him killed again, in case you were wondering.  And even though we only had one DK, not a single add hit that hammer, and we adapted to deal with the meteors.  And I love my raid for that. You have no idea.

The raid stayed late to push it out, we never ask this of them and are actually pretty strict about our cut off time, but they did it anyhow.  And I am forever grateful that they did.  By the time we were finished with loot and sorting out the mount it was almost 1:00.  Honestly, we were about 10 seconds from another 1% wipe.  We lost a tank that we couldn’t rez fairly early in phase 4.  We were down a few DPS early in phase 4.  Somehow Borsk had a heal in there on Brade that was a borderline miracle. Seriously.  In fact, I almost think he must have redeemed some sort of “favor” card to have pulled it off.  If he hadn’t, it would have been another wipe.  Somehow the healers kept that one tank alive, and that one tank navigated every single hammer alone.  I remember seeing the 3% mark and just going “please, please, please”.  Our lone tank died as Rag hit the floor, but it was over.

I logged off.

I needed a break.  That was abundantly clear. I went to watch Once Upon A Time (my new favorite show, by the way). I didn’t want to think about WoW.  I didn’t want to think about the guild. I just wanted away. Last night I came home and lit up the fireplace, changed into PJs, found some deliciously terrible countdown on VH1 (40 greatest one hit wonders of the 90s…if you were interested) and snuggled into the sofa with my laptop to answer some emails.  I was “taking the night off”, I wasn’t going to log into WoW, and it was much-needed.

I just needed to recharge.

And this raid week will help.  We aren’t doing another Rag kill this week.  The plan all along was to take this week and finish out everyone’s T12 mounts.  And while you may think that Alysrazor’s achievement would be stressful, I assure you, she has shit on Rag.  We are running two 25 man raids over the course of four days (although, I strongly suspect each raid will only need one of their two scheduled nights).  I am really looking forward to this for a few reasons.  I think after the past few months this is going to be fun.  And I get to bring an alt in tonight, which I’m really looking forward to doing.  Of course, I can’t decide if I want to bring my shaman or my mini-me, but if that’s the worse problem I have this week, I can live with it.

Not only that, but after this, we don’t have another raid until after Thanksgiving.  Which means I have some additional much-needed down time to continue to recharge.  I am really looking forward to not having to look at Heroic Rag again for close to two weeks.  Whether or not a fight should make me feel that way is a completely separate topic.

Why I Am Sharing This

There are a few things I don’t want to hear.  Please do not tell me I need a new guild, or need to find a better guild.  For better or worse, I love my guild.  Please do not tell me that a game shouldn’t make me so upset – because that just tells me that you didn’t understand why I was so upset to begin with.  It has nothing to do with “the game” – and everything to do with my connections to the people in the game.

People are important.  When I play WoW, I don’t think of anyone as a pixellated creature in my computer, but rather as a person sitting behind a keyboard.  A person with emotions and feelings.  A person that I want to share holiday cookies with.  A person that I want to help be entertained.  And when it comes to the people in my guild, they are people that I care about. I don’t get upset because of a game.  In fact, it’s rarely the game that upsets me.  I get upset because I care so much about the people that really make this game amazing.

People get upset at real life situations all of the time – why should the medium in which I deal with people (i.e. online) prevent me from having the same gamut of emotions as anyone else?  (Hint: it shouldn’t). Do I take things too personally?  Absolutely. Do I try too hard? Most Likely. Do I care too much?  Maybe.  But those aren’t things that are there because of a video game – those are things that are there because of who I am.

Please don’t feel sorry for me because I spent the night in tears.  While it’s regrettable, it’s things like this that help to define us as people, help to build our strengths.  I mean, I may have been in tears the entire night, but not once did I pack up my bags and go home.  Not once did I set aside my values because I was upset. I was going to get through this dammit, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – and I’m not going to run away just because it’s hard and someone hurt my feelings.  That’s just not my style.

I hung in there because it was important to me, and I have no regrets about that.  And neither should you.

So Why Am I Sharing This?

Because it’s cathartic to finally be comfortable enough with it to get it all out in the open.  Because I’ve finally found enough calm to say “I hit rock bottom, and it was terrible”.  If I can’t recognize and admit that I hit an all time low, how can I expect to recover from it? 

But mostly?  It’s because there is someone reading this right now that has felt the exact same way.  Who has wondered if they can pull through.  Who has questioned if it was all “worth it”. Who wonders if they should feel bad for crying “at a video game”. I know that there is, because I’ve personally spoken with some of them.  I know that I am not alone, and everyone who finds themself in this position should know that they aren’t alone either.

There is no shame in feeling and sharing emotion. It’s human, it happens, and talking about it is one of the best therapeutic tools out there (and this thought has spurned a crazy idea for a top-secret project that I’m thinking about). There is no shame in hitting rock bottom – because in a challenging times there will always be a bottom before there is a top.

I hit rock bottom and it was terrible and terrifying.  It needed to happen, and I’m in a better place because it did.  And I’m okay admitting that and moving on.

Posted November 16, 2011 by Beruthiel in Brain Dump, Raid Leadership

23 responses to “Rock Bottom

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  1. Oh Beru! *Hugs* Thank you for sharing this (and I’m so glad I caught it at home when I could comment and not say…tomorrow at work on my phone).

    Not only is it cathartic for you to get this out there, but also for the rest of us who have lost sleep and shed tears over raids (especially when we feel like we’re letting the rest of our team down by not being able to fix “it”)

  2. ::giving Beru a huge hug:: Well, that explains you on Twitter Monday… oh my.

    I would never tell you to get a new guild or a better guild because in everything you write, it’s crystal clear you love your guild and the people in it. That’s why these things get so deep inside you and tear you up so. If you didn’t care so much, it wouldn’t eat you up like this. Weird sign of love, huh? =) Now you even want to make them all cookies and send them to any guildie who wants them. Even after all the pain and stress.

    Yo, Monolith, do something nice for Beru! ::looking back to Beru with an imp grin::

    You’ve said it before in your other posts, if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. Right now, my dear, you’ve simply spent all that strength, so rest and enjoy your break to build some back up again before you go on. :) Lots of fun mindless things that just let you laugh.

    Brade, book her a massage and a mani/pedi at a nice salon/spa in your area, I’m sure that will help, too. :) And not a protesting word out of you, Beru! I think you’ve earned it, and I’m sure others would agree.

    • It definately explains a good number of things, I think :)

      Unfortunately, I’m not sure that Brade has read this comment…since there hasn’t been a spa day as yet! ^.^

  3. I am certain that there are few blog posts that exist that are a mirror of how I’ve felt at different points in playing WoW. I have felt many things from hatred to love and adoration, but the rock bottom feeling, that is one I could never explain. Because I don’t lead raids. Because I’m not a GM. Because I don’t know the in’s and out’s of leading a group of people to such epic kills as as Heroic Ragnaros. But I am empathetic. And know that while I’m not always at my best, and I often suck at separating my personal issues with my issues in raiding. But this, this was a fantastic entry. For a million reasons that aren’t worth writing (for cheese factor). Thank you.

    • I bet you’ve been there, or close, at some point. I think all types of players can get to the point where they just can’t go any lower, emotionally. Raid Leadership doesn’t have a monopoly on it, I don’t thinK! :)

      I’m glad that you still understood.

  4. I think more people than will probably admit have been pushed to breaking point by WoW and raiding. I know I’ve certainly been there, Freya plus three (I know I know, of all the boss fights… ) turned me into a monster and my old GM came close to killing half the guild over the Sunwell.

    But unlike you, I’ve never had the courage to post it and that’s why I love reading your blog because you manage to put into words so many of the things I’ve felt whilst playing but have felt too constrained and too cowardly to vocalise.

    /hug

    • Thank you!

      I am positive that you are correct in that there are so many people who have been pushed to a breaking point. I hope more people will come out of that breaking point in tact than not knowing that it’s only natural to reach that point :)

  5. The people are what makes this game great. Always remember that, no matter how tightly tuned and difficult a raid boss may be, it’s about the people. Focus on those people that you love within your group, because when something like this happens, they’re going to be the ones who lift you back up. It’s not about how many times you pulled rag, it’s about how many times you pulled rag with your friends. While I understand that the nature of 25 man progression raiding will at times require that you raid with people that you dislike, or merely tolerate, those aren’t the people who are important. The ones who are important are the ones who aren’t keeping score. They’re the ones who are happy to pull rag 400 times because they’re raiding with you. They’re the people who are willing to stay late to a raid because they’re staying with you. Never take them for granted, but at the same time, don’t let pressure you impose upon yourself impact your perception of them. As much as you don’t want to let them down, they don’t want you to harm yourself trying to stretch yourself too thin emotionally.

    I hope you got as much out of writing the post as I did from reading it.

  6. You know, Beru, even if we don’t talk that much, that “one side” of you that you reveal today is no big surprise to me. It is not a bad thing. At all.

    Sure, Monolith is no Paragon, but it has to be the hardest working team around. (Secretly or not) wanting a server “1st kill” for such an encounter is not much to ask for: you guys worked hard for it. By hanging around in guild, reading blog posts and all, I know it was important to get that Firelord down. ::hugs:: to Brade and you for believing in your guild mates.

    Again, a huge congrats on that 1st (and 2nd!) kill – and more to come prior to next tier.

    Rholm

    P.S. I will be back soon, as a Pandar… heck no, as a Forsaken rogue. My Dark Lady is waiting.

    P.P.S

    Hint: Engineering bikes can help killing big bad things =P

  7. /treehug

  8. Thanks for sharing with us Beru. I’ll second that it is truely the people that make this game. And honestly, I’d live to have a leader like you! Keep up the great work and good luck on the mounts!

    /hugs

  9. Some weeks/days are tougher than others – I totally agree.

    So for some fun while you do your achievement mounts

    This is what my guild did for ‘Do a Barrel Roll’

    Heroism ~2sec before damage started
    DG + Barrier
    Barrier + AM
    Barrier + Rallying Cry

    • We actually did “Do a Barrell Roll” twice this past week. But we opted to have the entire group pick one spot and follow one tornado (that selection is courtesy of the lovely Kurn) – it worked well :)

      We got all of our raiders a mount, and there are now many shiny purple birds flying around Org ^.^

  10. Your priorities are in the right place Beru. I wish I had a GM who cared as much about his team as downing bosses. Catharsis is good for the soul. You just keep on keeping on. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I’m continually impressed how much your team means to you, not just the kill. Well done you I say. Be well ma’am.

  11. I cannot thank you enough for posting this. You have articulated succinctly the exact emotions that I myself went through during my guilds progress on this heroic encounter and attempts to get good world rankings. We achieved the goal, but there were casualties along the way and my sanity was one of them. The stress became so much for me and i had a full blown panic attack mid-raid which I consider my rock bottom. I put so much pressure on myself. I was there for the first kill, I stuck with it, every single night for weeks on end until the wee hours of the morning. Not once did I bail, but as each hour went by, as each mistake got sillier and more avoidable from myself and many other people it felt like my spirit was being crushed further and further. The relief I felt when it was over, when the boss finally went down, when we got the kill is evident in my very unladylike nerd-screams in our kill vid. Rag hc was my rock bottom too. I feel at the moment like I’m mending slowly but surely and for truth I’m definitely stronger for the experience. Thankyou again. It was very nice to read that I’m not alone in taking things to heart.

  12. Pingback: A Day to Give Thanks « Bubbles of Mischief

  13. Pingback: A Day to Give Thanks » Bubbles of Mischief

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