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December 22, 2011

I swore I wasn’t ever going to write about this. I always said it was too personal and too horrible, too unpleasant, and too petty — yet here I am. This isn’t the strongest post on this blog. It’s probably the worst, because my emotions, three years later, are still two raw to let me write as well as I’d like to. About guild drama. Sometimes I feel as if I don’t know who I really am.

Three years ago, almost four, Chris and I left our guild, Doom, the Warcraft guild we had been members of almost since we started the game, We joined the guild just after we got our first mounts, before we found out that what was wrong with me was cancer. Chris and I quit Doom for a lot of reasons, all of them excellent reasons, and if I had it to do over again, I would quit a lot sooner and make a much bigger stink, but even as it was, it was extremely ugly. I cried about it. I hurt a lot of people’s feelings. I’m not sure it ever came to any kind of resolution. I just moved on. What pushed people over the edge after we quit wasn’t that we left the guild. It was that we were honest and forthright about why we quit. Usually in the World of Warcraft, when someone quits a guild, they make the excuse “raid progression” and often times, this is at least partially true. People do play to win. However, in my experience, it’s seldom the whole truth, or even the majority of the truth. Players quit guilds to get away from someone. People who play Warcraft all the time don’t just play to win; they play to find community, because, for whatever reason, their real lives have an aching chasm where friendship and trust ought to be, and so we look for it, and find it, online. We quit Doom specifically because the guild had ceased to offer us the community we were looking for — and I said so. A few months later, we quit the game for the first time, in part to get away from the ugliness that followed us after we left Doom.

When we quit the game for the third and final time two years later, the events that precipitated our final departure  from the World of Warcraft were aftershocks from the mess with Doom. By that time, we’d bought a new house, one so huge that Chris and I each have our own office on opposite corners of the house, and it was no fun to play computer games when we were not in the same room. We had to holler at each other:

“Hey look out, there is a monster behind that column.”

“You mean the pillar between the living room and the kitchen? That’s not a monster. That’s the dog!”

“No it isn’t. The dog is here with me. It’s one of the kids! Stop casting! Stop! STOP!”

And then one of our kids would be evaporated with a giant fireball, or a blast of arcane energy, or something, and we’d have to wait for my mana to replen so I could cast a resurrection spell. Sometimes the line between game and reality is a little too blurry.

We haven’t played Warcraft in over a year. I do miss the game, but I’m not tempted to go back. It’s one of the ways I know, for sure, that my cancer is gone. Furthermore I have, or at least I thought I had, enough of a group of supportive and wonderful friends real life that I didn’t miss the companionship of my supportive and wonderful Warcraft friends, although I did, and still do, miss specific people: Kianamoon. Sylyn. Terrel. Airazune. Mith. Jibbie. Always and forevermore, Jibbie.

I’m not glad that the crappy drama with Doom happened. It was a bad situation, and I handled it badly — but I am glad that I was able to walk away from it with at least a couple of major life lessons. Everyone says that you learn and grow from having a disease like cancer, and you do, but I learned more from the hellish drama that went on with Doom.

I already knew not to say shitty things about people behind their back, but what drove the lesson home with a railroad spike through my head was the way it felt to have other people talk trash about me. Somehow, I’d managed to live for 39 years without anyone talking trash behind my back, and when I found myself the subject of gossip, I was deeply wounded. People I had trusted, people I had considered to be good friends, said the meanest things, and of course the things they said got back to me. It wasn’t a case of truth or lies — who’s to say whose point of view on a difficult situation is right or wrong? It was that the things that were said by my former friends behind my back were unquestionably mean. It still hurts. I’m not saying that I never fall into the trap of saying bad stuff about other people, but I try hard not to, not to say mean stuff and definitely never by name, and, what’s harder, not to listen to it when other people do it.

My grandmother, who was both smart and wise, used to always tell me to look at things from the other person’s point of view. I don’t always succeed, but I always try, or at least try to try, and what I found the most frustrating was the overwhelming refusal of the people I butted heads with to look at the situation from my point of view. I realize now that they couldn’t. For whatever reason, the other key players in the drama just didn’t have the capacity to see beyond their point of view — and that was my failing. I expected them to. I know now that it is not fair to expect people to do more than their capacity. Eventually, I deduced that the reason a couple of key people were unable to forgive me for my role in the mess was the inescapable fact that I thought I was better than they were. That’s not something they should have to forgive me for.

Another thing I learned was to become comfortable with the fact that I will never know the full story of anything. When the mess with Doom first came to a head, a lot of people who knew a little bit about the situation wanted me to make a big stink about the way another player in particular had handled the initial conflict, predictably, a conflict over raid slots. In a decision I’m extremely happy I made, I refused to engage in trash-talking her. Oh, I was mad, and I said things like “lack of leadership skills,” and “questionable judgement” and I might even have gone so far as to say, “Bitch” but what I never ever said were the things that this particular player had told to me in confidence about her real life, when we were friends. It would have been easier for me if I had, but  didn’t then, and I won’t now, although it is a helluva story and explains a lot about why she didn’t see anything wrong with the way she handled events, from her point of view. I can accept, now, that sometimes, I’ll have to trust that there’s stuff I don’t know, and the best I can do is to trust someone I know is trustworthy even if sometimes I don’t begin to understand their actions. I wish people had trusted me more when I left Doom to understand that my decision to go was a good one, but I have to accept that because they didn’t know the full story, they rushed to judgement and there was nothing I could have done about it without betraying a confidence they didn’t even know I was keeping.

And then there’s booze. Chris and I didn’t play drunk because at that point we never drank — I was already messed up enough from everything associated with cancer, and Chris wasn’t even going to take a step down that road, but one of the guild leaders of Doom was a heavy drinker who made bad choices and said ugly stuff when he was drunk. In general, I’m a fan of moderate alcohol use, but this was the first time in my life I had encountered someone who got nasty when he got tipsy. Now I know what to look for, and the second someone with a drink in his hand reminds me of that guy, I know to steer clear and don’t look back.

The thing I regret the most was that I underestimated the collateral damage of the drama. There was someone I knew quite well in real life, another player in Doom who had nothing whatsoever to do with any of the mess, and I completely failed to take into consideration how much the shitstorm focused on me and Chris would hurt him. That’s always a hard one, because you can’t predict stuff like that, but I’ve learned to try to think about it, or at least to not to be surprised when my actions have ripples beyond what I expected. It’s the one thing about which I really am truly and deeply sorry.

I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back and be both a lot more straightforward and a lot less angry.

From → Warcraft

  1. Cami permalink

    I miss the days when we all first started playing. I miss the community. Its just not the same thing anymore.

    I can’t believe I missed reading this post.

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