I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately with Lara Croft. The new “reboot” of Tomb Raider is out and her and I have been running, jumping and shooting our way across a mysterious island in the South Pacific for the better part of a week. Before Lara it was Isaac Clarke from Dead Space 3 and before that, the Vault Hunters from Borderlands 2.
The point being… I spend a lot of time with my PS3. I am a “hider” and my favorite place to hide is in video games.
A “hider” is someone who, when faced with adverse situations, chooses to lie low instead of facing the adversity head on. Kindred spirits include “runners,” “drinkers” and “sex addicts.” Workaholics, reality TV junkies, avid readers, the kid on the bus with the massive headphones… we are everywhere.
I am not sure when this particular coping mechanism became my “go to” tool for avoidance and self preservation, but it, or a version of it, has been with me since the very beginning. Growing up in an abusive home without any positive role models to learn from forced me to adopt alternative methods of survival. Escapism, in all its glorious incarnations, was the easiest way to get through.
I lived in a world of fantasy and make-believe for most of my childhood. Enchanted lands, mythical creatures and imaginary friends all kept me safe in the face of violence, alcoholism and abuse.
I couldn’t get hurt if I wasn’t really there…
In my teens, when the realization that I was gay (and all that encompassed) hit me, I turned to different, more practical forms of escape. Deception and aggression became my ways out.
No one could hurt me if I hurt them first…
Drugs and alcohol mixed with an unhealthy dose of self-disgust masked most of my twenties.
How could you possibly hurt me more than I could hurt myself?
The video games came in my thirties, when I got tired of the effort it took to find new ways of avoiding my life. I didn’t want to think anymore. I didn’t want to face the past or listen anymore to the voices in my head telling me how worthless I was. It was easier to hide, to shut down and lose myself in something that wasn’t real.
Video games became my way out.
Life has taught me to look for the patterns. Recognition of old, familiar behaviors helps me to understand what’s going on and gauge “where my head’s at.” The excessive video gaming tells me that I am hiding from something. There are thoughts or feelings bumping around inside my brain that I’d rather not deal with and I’ve chosen to hide.
It’s an option…
But, what about this? Perhaps, as the long process of growing up continues, I can choose a different course. I can set the controller down and instead put fingers to keyboard and hunt and peck my way out.
It’s an option…