Blog Azeroth's Shared Topic for the previous week was posed by Effraeti: How has WoW changed your life?
My post came late as I wasn’t even sure how to begin, or if I should even begin. There are some who know my story though very few know the full truth. The chapters of my real life have become interwoven into the chapters of my WoW life. This is a very personal story and I would appreciate it if any comments made are kept respectful. Fair warning, this will be a long post.
I started playing this game shortly after release as an escape from the abusive relationship I had managed to get myself into. Azeroth was a wonderful place, as I could be surrounded by other players and be somewhat social while still remaining anonymous. Bruises, both physical and emotional, are much easier to hide behind a computer monitor. I did not want to be one of those women who were unable to just leave an abusive relationship, but it proved to be much harder than people assume. I was never allowed to actually socialize in real life without him there, so WoW became my “second life” of sorts. Perhaps it was unhealthy for me to essentially live in an online gaming world, but to me, it was the only place where I could be my (old) self and just be happy and carefree. It was my personal space, my refuge, my fortress. Sadly, it was not to remain so.
He eventually picked up a copy of the game for himself. He caught me chatting with a guy one time and got ridiculously jealous. The guy was spamming trade chat, looking for a smith to craft him a rod for enchanting. I was merely offering to make it for him. My reward was a verbal assault, an almost- backhand, and the invasion of the one refuge I had from the madness that was my life. So he started playing the game, just so he could keep an eye on me. He would follow me to every dungeon group I joined, I couldn’t quest with anyone else in the game unless he approved, and I could not join any guilds without him tagging along and shoving it down everyone’s throat that I was with him. I was mortified and utterly embarrassed. But at the time, I didn’t know what to do.
It was a blessing when he faction-changed to Horde after a few years. At least he couldn’t stalk me in the game anymore and I had my privacy again. But the abuse continued and I began to realize that my friends were all retreating from my life, since they did not feel comfortable around him. It was during this time that I was bold enough to tell him I wanted out. I was surprised and very suspicious when he so readily agreed. Still, I didn’t question it, as it finally gave me the freedom I wanted but was previously too craven to demand. At this time I began to date a guy who was a friend of mine from my guild. I had been interested in him from the beginning but was still in that horrible relationship and he had a girlfriend at that time anyway. But when I found out he was single again, I put myself out there and let him know I was interested in furthering our relationship. The next few months that followed were just wonderful. Unfortunately, our relationship ended rather badly and I was crushed. But I bear no resentment and though we haven’t spoken to each other in years, I still wish him all the best in life. It just wasn’t meant to be. It took me over two years to get over him but I was able to move on.
At this point I had completely given up on myself and my life. My plans for my future had been ruined in the abusive relationship, put back on track with the new relationship, and then detoured again when he broke up with me. I didn’t even know how to begin a new life. My best friend and I were not speaking much at this time, as she was busy with her studies in graduate school in another city. I had kept much of my life a secret from her anyway, to hide my shame. I couldn’t expect her to help me when she didn’t even know what was going on. My old friends that distanced themselves from me during the abusive relationship hadn’t surfaced yet so my only solace was the friends that I met in the game.
I poured out all of my thoughts and feelings mainly to three people – a priestess, a druid, and a warlock. The priestess had experienced her share of grief from past relationships and it was comforting to talk to someone who truly understood what it was like for me and knew exactly what I needed to hear. It was from her that I learned how to pick myself up, from her that I found the encouragement to return to school and continue to pursue my waylaid dreams. The druid is one of the most practical, matter-of-fact people I have ever met. He was the one I heard the harsher truths from and though some might find his brutal honesty off-putting, I welcomed it. I needed structure in my life to get me back on track and he provided it. The warlock was a combination of harsh truths and gentle sympathy. He was there always when I needed to talk and never once judged me for anything. He offered advice from his out-of-the-box perspective and he always had a relatable and appropriate story to emphasize his points. It really helped me to know that he was speaking from experience, which made his advice all the more valuable.
Fast-forwarding a little bit, I soon ran into an old gaming buddy of mine that hadn’t played in years. I actually had his account and returned it to him when he mentioned he wanted to play again. He was on the Deathwing server with some real-life friends at first, but eventually came back to Silver Hand with his best friend in tow, who also eventually became my friend. We played together every now and then, some years back. But now I would bug him with a whisper each time I saw him on. He and his friend joined my raiding guild. It was around this time that I began to realize that I was slowly beginning to develop some real feelings for my gaming friend. I tried to suppress them as much as I could since the last relationship I had that stemmed from WoW ended so badly. I lost a good friend the first time I tried it and I didn’t fancy potentially losing another. But the feelings kept nagging at me and they became very hard to ignore.
One day, as our conversation became quiet when he was tanking heroic Halls of Lightning for me (yuck, right?) I broke the silence by telling him the beginning of one of my favorite Ron White jokes. “So yesterday I was sitting in a bean bag chair, naked, and eating Cheetos…” I said to him, and left it at that. I didn’t know it at the time but this statement had a profound effect on him. He would later discuss with his best friend what I meant by this. Was I coming onto him? Was I just trying to be funny? I had no idea he didn’t know much about Ron White, you see. But his misinterpretation of that joke became the nudge he needed to admit that he had feelings for me, too. It didn’t really sink in for either of us, though, until he was gone for 10 days on a family vacation to Mexico. He actually logged on in the hopes of finding me online, just so he could say goodbye. When he was down there, we communicated only through Facebook messages but it made me smile, knowing that he put up with Facebook’s crappy mobile site on his iPod Touch just so he could talk to me.
When he came back from vacation, it seemed like everything moved in a blur. Christmas was coming and he surprised me by asking for my address so that he could send me a present. During the celebration with his family, he received a scratch-off lottery ticket and mistakenly thought he had won a prize. When his family asked him what he would have done with the money if he had won, he casually said that there was “someone down in Florida he wanted to see.” He did not win the prize money but he came down to Florida to see the person he wanted to see, anyway. That was the happiest week of my life then, and it was his, too. After that, I would see the happiest 2.5 years of my life to date. We got married five months ago and I couldn’t be happier.
My best friend finally graduated from law school and moved back to our hometown so we were able to spend some time together before I moved to Canada. And though only one of my good friends from college eventually connected with me again (and I’m happy that you did, bro!) I’m okay with that since I’ve always been about quality over quantity anyway. Incidentally, WoW has also helped in said good friend and I being able to keep in touch since I’ve moved to Canada. We might not be able to hang out like we used to but we can at least mess up some monsters on WoW.
My life is finally starting to get back on track and though I am still not quite where I want to be, I am making excellent progress.
The friends that I’ve made on WoW are still with me and I will always treasure their friendship and their help during the darkest periods of my life. As silly as it might sound, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t silently thank the developers at Blizzard for creating this game. Without it I never would have found such wonderful friends and keep in-touch with real-life friends that live far away now. And most importantly of all, I never would have met my husband, who has become my life.