This is a guest blog written by Alex, a participant in my
cyber recovery groups, and the subject of several pages of my book (159-163). In the piece that follows, Alex gets to the heart of his problem. Alex will also be posting tomorrow.
Some people have a passion for learning, while others find their mojo in sports. I have many friends whose passion is people; they spend their energies socializing and having fun with others. For my friend Doug, creative metal working is the focal point for his free time. For me, video games are the spark that ignites my fire in the belly.
I remember when I first played Super Mario Brothers; I was six years old, and the game seemed to transport me into a fantasy realm. To make a long story short, that is where I have lived the overwhelming majority of my life.
I had cancer when I was eight years old, and that menacing malady made life a living hell. Ah, but I found comfort in my video games, and because they didn’t know if I was going to pull through, I was allowed to play to my heart’s content. Yes, video games gave me something to do. I thought of the “bad guys” in my games as the cancer cells. This trick helped me feel like I was helping in the treatment. The trouble was that once the treatment came to a close, and I was cured, a new ailment reared its ugly head: video game addiction.
I didn’t just play video games, but rather thought about them all the time. And I talked about them too, not really caring—or discerning—who was interested and who was not. As my parents divorced and I had to move out of our wonderful home, my world seemed to be crumbling all around me. I succumbed even further to the grip of video games.
Two years of frequent hospitalizations put me decidedly out of step with my peers and classmates. When I was able to go back to school, I felt marginalized as a result. Did I work on my social skills? Did I try to grow? No! I tried to avoid the unpleasantness in my cyber reality of gaming. I have since learned that avoidance is one of the hallmarks of addiction.
So, in the last four months, I have tried with all my might to stop burying my head in the sand. It has not been easy. Kevin Roberts and the other members of my cyber recovery group have challenged me. They have not let me proclaim myself as the victim of my circumstances, but rather have challenged me to accept total responsibility. These are hard lessons to learn, but I am learning. I have realized that I have been avoiding feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and shame. I am feeling these unpleasant feelings now and it is really difficult, but I know I must do this, otherwise risk staying where I’m at: nowhere!