When I logged into Battle.net on March 12th to cancel my World of Warcraft subscription, I confirmed what I already knew – I hadn’t logged in for more than a full month. A few days prior, I had skipped out on our first raid of 9.2. I hadn’t intended to miss it, but I’d had a couple of really rotten days in a row, and not only was I not in the best headspace for learning new things, time had gotten away from me, and I hadn’t even managed to do the most rudimentary prep for it.
That was the last straw. I finally had to confront the complex feelings I’d had about the World of Warcraft, and my place in it, that I’ve been struggling with pretty much since the middle of the first tier of the expansion. The only thing that I’d been hanging on for was to keep spending time with the friends I’ve had in game for over ten years now, but since I can’t even push myself to do the barest minimum in keeping up with the game outside of raiding, I’ve managed to even spoil that for myself.
Sure, I technically meet the minimums our guild requires, almost entirely due to raid drops from the previous tier, since I’ve been doing almost nothing but logging on for raid for months now. And I’ve never been a top performer, not by a long shot, and as time goes on, it takes me longer and longer to learn the fights. I spent most of the last tier feeling more like a dead weight holding the raid back than as a useful member of the team. I no longer bring any kind of unique utility, and I’ve been scaling back on my administrative tasks for quite awhile now. While I don’t doubt my friends still want me around, I am equally sure that they don’t need me anymore.
I’m hesitant to say that this is a forever goodbye – in a few weeks, Blizzard will be announcing a new expansion, and maybe it will reinvigorate me. Maybe I’ll get an attack of FOMO and decide I’m not willing to miss yet another end-of-expansion boss kill. Maybe this subscription lapse will only last a little while. But it feels like the end of an era, like leaving home for the last time, and I’m far more emotional over the whole thing than I have been any other time I’ve taken a break.
This blog is supposed to be primarily about gaming, with a smattering of my other hobbies & interests. As such, I usually tend to shy away from talking about anything overly serious, personal, or worst of all, personal and serious. It doesn’t feel like the right space for those things, most of the time. But I’m about to get pretty heavy for a minute. If that’s not what you’re here for, peep the cute dogs below and then move on.
It’s not about the game, not really. It’s about losing yet another community, one of the last few places I feel like I fit in. I cannot separate the feelings I’m having about stepping away from a video game that I have been finding myself increasingly frustrated with for about six years – since Warlords of Draenor gave us the earliest iteration of Mythic dungeons – from the other grieving and losses I’ve felt over the last two years since COVID19 showed up. Now, watching so many people in my orbit jump on the bandwagon of “Time to return to normal!”, I’m having a harder time than I have at any other point in the pandemic. I’ve known all along that as someone with a chronic illness and increased risk of long-term complications that I would be treated by society as expendable, but now I’m feeling like people I know and care about see it that way as well, and it’s absolutely wrecking me.
My official diagnosis is Fibromyalgia. My symptoms started after I caught a virus, and was the sickest I have ever been in my life. It was the spring that everyone was worried about H1N1, and I had no idea that the week before I caught it was going to be the last time things were ever “normal” for me.
For about six months after I “recovered”, if I wasn’t at work or at doctor’s appointments, I was sleeping. Spending 14 or more hours in bed on a weekend was commonplace. It didn’t matter – I was still exhausted all the time. The primary care doctor I had then didn’t believe there was anything actually wrong with me except my weight, prescribed exercise for someone who was tired, in pain, and falling asleep at the wheel, and managed to drag his feet long enough that I lost both my job and my health insurance before getting any answers. I was in my early thirties at the time.
It was about another year before I could access health care again, and start working towards a diagnosis and eventual treatment. In a way, the delay was probably best; by the time I had a name for what was happening to my body I had mostly become acclimated to it, and didn’t expect it to be something fixable anymore. I learned to live within my limitations – I had already grieved the life I expected to have. Nothing was ever going to be the same for me again.
I think if you talk – really talk – to anyone with a disability or chronic illness, they are likely to have a similar story. It’s not just an adjustment, but a loss, and there is grief. There is no getting better or returning to normal. The pandemic we’ve been living through for the past two years is the same, except society hasn’t accepted its limitations. It keeps pushing itself too far, doing more and more irreparable damage, stubbornly taking a bad situation and making it worse over and over.
The world is sick. It isn’t going to recover, and it has been – so far – unwilling to accept this fact.
Maybe it’s because I’ve already been through this so I have the experience to reflect on, or maybe it’s because I know that yes, it absolutely can happen to me, but I’ve mostly decided that for me, there will never be a return to the way things were. I will probably never eat inside a restaurant again. I’ll never see another movie in a theater. I probably will never travel by airplane or go on another cruise. None of these are things I’m willing to give even more of who I am to experience, not when I’ve already had to let go of so much of who I wanted to be.
But no one that I used to spend face-to-face time with in the before time is willing to give these things up. For them, things are improving, while for me – who has been fortunate enough to have fared pretty well overall during the past two years – they’re getting worse and worse. My world is getting smaller with every choice the people around me are making for themselves. I don’t blame them, exactly, but it’s hard to be left behind.
It’s exhausting to feel like, by advocating for myself, I’m being a killjoy and a burden, and not being able to not do that offline is also a huge part of why I’m leaving my friends in Azeroth. I can choose to not be a burden to them, so that’s the choice I’m making. Coming on the heels of the realization that the more “normal” society at large wants to be, the more risk I’m at every single day, despite how much I’ve already given up, withdrawn from, and continue to avoid, it’s painful, but it also feels like the right choice, at least for now.
5 thoughts on “Leaving Azeroth”
I tried to fit my thoughts in a tweet, but I am utterly terrible at being concise.
The world is awful and complicated, and it’s definitely hard to have hope about all ways it’s getting worse. I appreciate you sharing these deeply personal thoughts and reasons.
You are not a burden – you are person. We like spending time with you, and WOW has been an entertaining way to do that. I recognize these depressive thought patterns though, as I’ve experienced them plenty – it’s not easy to accept that others want you around when your brain is convinced otherwise. If you decide someday that WOW sounds fun again, we’d be thrilled to have you back. If not, I hope we can find some other way to spend time together. I’ve been so impressed by the way you’ve herded cats for our guild. I am so grateful for the way you’ve helped make it possible for me to spend time with friends, even when I haven’t had the mental energy to be very social.
LikeLiked by 1 person
You did good. Thank you. ❤