Honestly, I’m not sure how this one is going to turn out, guys.
In April of 2008, I went through one of what is – to me – the defining moments of my life. Exactly what happened is not relevant to this post – all that you really need to know is that I was in a funk I didn’t think there’d be any end to. My friends, who are amazing people all, rallied around me, helped to hold me together, and tried anything and everything they could to pull me out of a really dark and ugly place, psychologically speaking.
Somewhere in all of this, Apple pushed her World of Warcraft disks into my hands. “Install it. It’s pretty. It’ll make you feel better.” I’ll confess here – I sort of laughed at her on the inside. No pretty video game was going to make me feel better! My life was in shambles!
But I did install it. It was pretty. And although it didn’t happen right away? It did make me feel better. Through WoW, I met the one person who I most credit for helping me screw my head back on straight, and although we’re no longer in touch, I’ll forever be grateful to him. I’ve blogged before how I came to WoW for the distraction of the game, I’ve stayed for the people I’ve come to love and adore. Apple is a huge part of that.
Except for a brief period where I selfishly decided that I needed faster progression (and oh, god, I was wrong), Apple & I have almost always been in a guild together. We’d meet for coffee, talk about our mutual friends, theorycraft and gossip. Our schedules don’t always mesh, and raid rotations have meant that we don’t get to play together as much as we’d like, but I was ok with that. Chances were good that if we didn’t kill bosses together this week, we’d surely be doing it next week.
There is no longer next week. Our time of playing WoW together is over for the forseeable future. A lot about what’s happened in the past few days has made me very sad, but this, I think, is probably the saddest.
When things in BoO became untenable for a group of friends that had merged into the guild, they made the decision to stay on server, but faction transfer, and create a new guild. That’s what led to Lunaris in it’s current form.
I can admit now that I was scared. I had trust issues. These were people who’d known each other forever – although they seemed eager for us to join them in their new endeavor, I thought “We’re always going to be outsiders! We don’t have the history! I’m always going to feel like the new kid! I don’t know.”
But – and this is important – these were my boyfriend’s kind of people. They spoke their minds. They accepted each other, flaws and all. No one felt like they had to censor themselves, or be someone they weren’t to keep the peace. It was a guild made up of like-minded individuals who just wanted to have fun, in whatever form that took. He was smitten, and honestly? I can’t blame him. I stuffed all my concerns deep into my Worry Box and jumped in with both feet.
Despite my complete and utter inability to faction change Krikket, I tried to dedicate myself to this guild, this group of folks, these FRIENDS the best way I knew how. I know I wasn’t always successful. I know I was still shy and awkward and sometimes felt unwelcome – through no fault of anyone by myself. I know that I wasn’t always the best guildmate – or the best friend – that I could be, but dear god, I tried.
And I am the first to admit, sometimes? I just did it wrong. Every time I was hurt or angry, I chastised myself for being too sensitive. I bottled things up that I shouldn’t have. I pulled away and hid sometimes, when a conversation would have fixed the problem. Once in awhile? I logged off and cried when someone said something I found particularly hurtful.
I’m bad at confrontation, you guys. I know it doesn’t look like it because there are things that I will fight tooth and nail for. I just tend not to be one of those things.
Every guild I have ever been in has had good things and bad things about it. By far, the best thing about Lunaris was the people, the friendship, the camaraderie that they all shared, even if I never let myself fully be a part of it. I was still – and if I’m completely honest, still am – stinging from the realization that not everyone I trust and care for will feel the same way, and I was scared to trust again in the same way.
But my boyfriend? Was completely and utterly at home. It was his little piece of Paradise in Azeroth. This is not to say that there weren’t conflicts and issues, but we worked through it. This guild was all about people and friendships.
Suddenly, that’s all gone. And I know that he’s blaming himself, and in a lot of ways, I’m blaming myself too – even though I was only tangentially involved with the incident that led to us no longer being welcome there. But maybe if I had been less afraid to truly immerse myself, it wouldn’t have happened the way it did.
Or maybe it would have, and I’d be feeling even worse than I do right now. It’s hard to say.
Sarcasm doesn’t always translate well to text. In the hands of a very skilled writer, with time and distance and revision? Sure. When one is upset or angry? The words don’t always get read the way the writer intended.
One of the best things I have learned due to my interactions with others in WoW is that sometimes, you need to say exactly what you mean to have any hope of the other person understanding where you’re coming from. After a particularly nasty disagreement – one that I can no longer even remember the content of – the conclusion was reached by all parties involved that it all could have been a lot less ugly & hurtful if any of us had said “I cannot have this conversation right now. I want to hear what you have to say, and I want to resolve this, but this is a bad time. Can we take a break and come back to this later?”
Because – as involved as we all get in this game, and in the friendships we make here – sometimes? There’s just too much other stuff trampling all over our brain-space. We are all human, and therefore susceptible to a million little distractions that make us not the best friends, or even the best people, we are capable of being. And when we all start throwing up walls, we make it that much harder for anyone else to ever really reach us. Not just today. Ever.
I am immensely guilty of this. I am a builder. I need a space just for me where I can hide when I’m sad, or hopeless, or hurting. It wasn’t always that way – something broke in me when someone I loved and respected told me that I was just far too depressing to be around. I had exposed myself fully – something I don’t know that I’ve done since, outside of my current relationship – and was rejected in an exceptionally painful way. So I often keep myself to myself. It’s less scary.
And sometimes? You need space, or time, or distance, or a few minutes to hide in the bathroom and sob like your heart is broken. I beg of everyone that reads this – if you care about the person who is trying to convey to you that you’ve upset them, and you need to take a step back, tell him or her as clearly as you possibly can that you just need a break. You value that person, and you want to hear what they have to say, but something is keeping you from being a good listener and a good friend, and you know that that’s unfair. Value your friends, value their feelings and opinions, and commit yourself to being present whenever you can. If you can’t right now? Commit yourself to communicating that as clearly as possible. It might be hard at first, but it’ll be better in the long run.
I don’t know much, but that? That’s something I’m sure of.
I am 32 years old. In that time, I’ve left schools and jobs and social clubs. I’ve ended relationships and friendships irrevocably, and I’ve had people end things with me in much the same way. More often than not, friendships have just petered out due to my completely and utter failure at keeping in touch. I know myself well enough to understand that’s a big flaw that I’m forever and always working on in myself.
Honestly? I cried a little bit yesterday when I said goodbye to Barbi, Sammy, Jim, Juan, and Joe. We all said happy things and promised to keep in touch, but I know it’s not likely. I know I’m bad at it. I know all the best intentions and good feelings in the world don’t always matter when circumstances are such that you just don’t share the same virtual space anymore.
I miss my friends, you guys. And I know how emo and childish it sounds. And I am angry and bitter and resentful that my ability to share green chat with these people who have become so important to me was taken away from me due to bad communication. Knowing that some people really believe that the best thing for this group, this little family-of-choice, was for me to no longer be a part of it is devastating.
This is the last part. Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me so far.
I didn’t intend for this to be initially part of this post. It kind of doesn’t fit here because it’s not about Lunaris and the friends I’ve made there. It’s really about SiB. But the more I talk about Lunaris, the more I’m reminded of this, and I feel like it needs to be here too.
When I was removed from Brotherhood of Oblivion, it was done in much the same way that my removal from Lunaris was. There was no warning. There was no note explaining the reasons the decision was made. It was just done, and I got quite a shock when I logged in.
Now, Brotherhood of Oblivion was a bad fit for me personally. I was not afraid to speak up there when I saw something that I felt was blatantly wrong happening. I was the proverbial squeaky wheel. If I am completely honest with myself, I was not happy in that guild in any way, but I had become close with a handful of people (and dragged poor Apple into that clusterfuck), so I felt like I needed to stay and try to effect change.
Needless to say – I was not successful.
But two important things came out of that, for me. First and foremost, through a couple of days of very painful, very honest conversation, two people who very firmly believed that they were right put a lot of time and effort into seeing the other person’s side of the story. In the end, we were both able to admit what we had done, said, and thought that was just plain wrong and hurtful, and we learned important things about ourselves and each other, and how we all relate in this crazy world. To this day, Math and I use each other to sound out our sometimes crazy, sometimes selfish, sometimes REALLY DAMN GOOD ideas, because we get it. We know how to talk. We know – to an extent – how to read the things that aren’t expressed well because we understand the author. We help each other to know our audience.
We’ve never met in person. We’ve never had a telephone conversation. We text, and email, and chat. This is a solid basis for a friendship, and I value having Math in my guild, and in my life. He’s good people.
Now, please don’t take this praise of one person as me overlooking everyone else. There were a lot of interpersonal difficulties for many of us in the transition from BoO to SiB. A lot of difficult conversations needed to take place to make it a comfortable place for everyone, and I appreciate everyone who took part in that, who gave second chances, who bit back hurtful words, or sacrificed a measure of comfort for someone else.
The second thing that happened, is that I learned that no matter how much you like someone, how much you want to trust them, some people will always disappoint you for reasons you may or may not be able to understand. There was someone who I considered a true friend in BoO, who later turned around and lied – or at least lied by omission – about me to please someone else, or to not rock the boat, or for reasons I cannot even begin to wrap my brain around. It was someone I truly expected better from, and I’ve never really gotten over my disappointment or my hurt from feeling as if I was betrayed. This was something that could have been addressed and dealt with in the immediate aftermath, but now, several months down the road, I cannot play nice and pretend it never happened. Another flaw in me, I suppose.
I guess the third thing that happened is SiB itself – it is an amazing community, full of amazing people who I am proud to call friends. It does not – at least for me – have the same feel as Lunaris did. It’s not a home, it’s not full of family. It’s more of a social club where I am honored to feel welcome and wanted and I think maybe, I’m a little more careful there because of it. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it works. I am grateful for both the friendships that survived the rocky times in the past, and the new friends I’ve made since then.