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 Xander's story 
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Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:55 am
Posts: 133
State/Province/Country: The Netherlands

Hi, my name is Xander and I'm a computer gaming addict gratefully in recovery,

It all started when I was 7. One day I was playing with my LEGOs in my room and my brother burst in. He had tried to convince our father to get a computer, but he could not. So, he came to me. At first I saw no use for the computer, as my LEGOs and friends satisfied all my needs, but he talked to me. He told me there were all these fun games and you could do more fun things with computers and, besides, they were going to be more important in the future. At first I was reluctant to help him, but he kept on talking and eventually he convinced me to help him.

So, we went downstairs to the living room where our father was reading the newspaper in his chair. We proceeded to convince him that we needed a computer. We told him that computers would be the future and that we could learn a lot, if only we had a computer. We begged, begged some more and after about half an hour of that our father gave in and said he would get one.

The next day our father came home with a computer. WOW! We had a computer. It had cost him a lot and so we needed to be careful. The computer in question needed to be connected to the TV and I was pretty much clueless how to do that, but my brother knew how.

We proceeded to play a couple of games on the computer (my brother had copied some from someone else) and we took turns playing games. I still remember all those colors (a whopping eight of them) and the fun I had back then playing that first game. I wanted more, but we had to take turns.

At first everything was fine, but that same evening me and my brother got into a fight over the computer. So, our parents told us both to do something else and said that each of us would get some computer time every day.

My parents proceeded to send me out to play with my friends and they too would be hearing about my computer, but they were not interested. So, I did what all 7 year old kids did with their friends. However, I took every opportunity to sit at the computer. LEGOs and my friends started to become second to the computer.

My parents tried to keep me and my brother to our amounts of computer time, but we both managed to stretch it as time progressed. Eventually the computer got upgraded to a new one. While my brother always had invested in developing his coding skills, I invested in gaming skills.

School was in a far away city and as a result of that I spent an hour a day commuting and most of my life ended up being at school. Friends at home I ended up seeing not as frequent as would have been desired. Add to that the computer, and you have a recipe for disaster. Which ended up happening.

Things remained manageable and the troubles which were brewing in my life didn't really materialize as I had friends at school an friends at home... This all changed when we moved.

When I was 15 we moved to a different part of town and, as my parents had raised me protectively (due to my visual impairment, which was also the reason I went to school in Rotterdam), I was too insecure to make any new friends in the new neighborhood. During the summer vacation (6 weeks) I was alone with my family and computer, needless to say where I spent all my time.

Then came the hammer. When I was 16 I got to hear at school that I was no longer allowed to attend it, because my sight was too good. I had to go to a new school. This one nearby. It was a culture shock for me. On top of loosing all of my friends at school, I had to deal with a new situation and new rules.

I had nobody left, except my family... and my computer. At this point me and my brother both had our own computer in our own room and so I could spend endless amounts of time at my computer. My parents had to kick me to school. Homework I did a quickly as possible and my parents took all kinds of measures to make sure I did my homework.

At school I did get to know some people, but they were all computer related. Games were exchanged and from time to time there were people at my place, not for me but for me computer. Sometimes I was at their place, and I was there for their computer and the games they had.

Eventually, somehow, I managed to finish that school with some measure of success and had to select a higher level eduction. One that I did not like.

At this eduction I did nothing in regards of studying. I just was at home playing games. My parents tried to take measures to get me to learn. To no avail. I was either at school, or I was at home gaming. I failed this education.

I did not attempt to go to another education, I just lived on unemployment benefits. Three times a month I had to send off a job application letter as a condition to the unemployment benefits, so I sent some generic letters and eventually managed to eventually get an endless stack of rejections. My brother tried to help me. He tried to learn me to program, and I picked it up quite well, but never got much going. He arranged some job opportunities for me, which I rejected out of hand because I was afraid of being inadequate. I kept on gaming, never really finished much of anything.

Then the hammer came down again. My parents decided I needed a job, so they started talking with the municipality and found a, not the, job for me. It turned out to be a nightmare. At that job I was treated like a retard. It was a job for the mentally disabled. I truly felt like a failure.

The next 12 years were somehow spent at that job. I would oversleep, sleep on the job, sleep during breaks, report in sick and not even show up on certain days. How I managed to keep that job is beyond me, but I did. Somehow I even managed to secure a learn/work arrangement at pay-rolling and got to work on that, it gave me a bit of self-worth, but fear of failure followed me and my insecurity on top of the not-learning proved to be my undoing. Within six months I was back at my shit job. Leaving a mess at the pay-rolling department.

For a while now I was being bullied at work, people were gossiping about me and trying to sabotage anything career like... and I got wind of this. So, I confronted the bully. Of course she did not know of anything and Xander exploded. The person ended up being hospitalized and I fired on the spot and prosecuted.

After about 5 years on the shit job, my parents suggested I move out and on my own. So I ended up doing that with help of the entire family. However, I neglected my house severely.

When I was fired I was living on my own for about 10 years. 10 years of shit job and games. Friends slowly gave up on me and had been disappearing from my life. At this point, there was nothing anymore. I felt completely worthless. Everything I had tried in my life had failed. There was nothing. Family nearly completely gone, friends completely gone, house a mess, no significant other, no kids, no hobbies. Just me and my computer.

The games stopped working as a means to survive. Just me and my pain. This intense pain. I started to want dead, I wanted an end to the pain. I made a noose and tried... and found I could not make the final step. Some more games. I proceeded to order a poison online... and when I received the handling instructions, a day before the stuff itself would arrive, my conscience started acting and I called the emergency number.

A police officer showed up, who thought I was in acute suicide danger, talked with me, and took me to the local hospital. There, I was told to stop whining. My father showed up and took me home, he was torn to pieces and I was overwhelmed with guilt. More games followed.

For a while now there were psychiatrists, psychologists, guides, therapists, social workers and the likes involved in my life and were trying to poke me to recover. Home, meant gaming though. My father took the noose to my psychiatrist one day and confronted him with it. Seeing my father to tears was a wake-up call for me.

While all of this was happening, I needed to eat. Irregularly I went to the local shop to get some food and one day I encountered a friend who I had lost. She had suffered from gaming addiction too and she informed me there is a solution and told me the location of a meeting.

Me, being desperate for a solution, went there and attended my first meeting. I just sat there and listened. What was being said I do not remember, but what I do remember is that I related. I also heard that the stories moved on from suffering to recovery. There is one thing which I remember vividly from that meeting. After the meeting this lady came up to me all smiles and little starts in here eyes... an honest smile. She said to me: "keep coming back." At that time I did not understand what she meant, but she had moved on before I had the opportunity to ask. I tried to keep up with her and asked her back what she meant. All she said was: "you will understand if you do."

So, remembering that smile I came back the next time and encountered a room full of people. For months I did not dare to share, for fear of being judged, being ridiculed, getting confronted with anger.

One day, before the meeting, I was approached by a fellow to which I looked up. He asked me why I didn't share during the meeting and told me he would like to hear from me. That gave me some courage to open my mouth and so I did.

That first time I opened my mouth, in a room with about 30 people in it, and said "Hi, I'm Xander and I'm an addict" (was a different fellowship) I expected to be scolded, to be sent off, to be faced with anger. Nothing like that happened. The entire group just said "Hi Xander," and I started sharing my pain and suffering. They just listened. After the meeting I was approached by some fellows and thanked for my share. I remember asking "what for? I just shared all my garbage!" to which various people replied the same "but I got something of value out of it."

At that time I was constantly relapsing, but I kept coming back. Remembering that smile.

It was suggested to me call someone. For a loooooong while I would take my phone when I thought I needed help and I would select a number... and not dial. My head was telling me all these things: "He doesn't want to hear from you", "He's busy", "He's eating", "He's sleeping", "He's working", "You've got nothing to say", "He'll just laugh at you", "He can't help you", and the list went on, and on, and on.

Until that one fateful day I resolved to stop listening to my head and hit the dial button. All the while my head was screaming in utter panic at me, that endless litany of excuses to not call, to hang up. And then the person on the other side picked up. I told who I was, stuttering out of fear and what I got to hear was a cheerful "Hey Xander! How are you doing!" The resulting conversation lasted for more than two hours.

One day I was early at the meeting and it was cold outside, so I went to the meeting room. I found some fellows (8 or so) sitting and discussing something. I was welcomed and told they were holding a business meeting. And I was explained that a business meeting is about the business side of the meeting: service positions, finances, the format, the likes. Various service positions were handed out, and there was one open service position nobody took; greeter.

After a couple of moments of silence the GSR (who was chairing the business meeting) asked whether I was interested. Immediately my head started telling me that I most certainly cannot do that and I started feeling insecure and I resisted from my insecurity. They noticed and nudged me a bit: "sure you can," and encouraging remarks like that flew in my direction. I ended up saying "yes". The next while I was outside greeting and attending business meetings. I got to talk with others and share what I noticed. I started feeling of value.

Two months in the service, I had just come out of another relapse. And I was headed for the meeting and was mulling heading home again as I was late for service and the games would be fun (my head was telling me). I was about to walk home again, when my phone rang: "hey Xander, we're missing you," a fellow said to me, "are you still coming?" That pulled me over the line. I had been thinking they didn't give a shit about me. This proved my head wrong. I took the bus and was welcomed back and all was fine.

A while later I was approached by the same fellow. He asked me when I would get a sponsor. The next meeting I got a sponsor. However, I called him rarely and when I did it was to complain and moan. I did not do step work. After a couple of months this person approached me and let me go.

My second sponsor shoved the basic text down my throat and started telling me what to do. It was all really simple. Read a bit, answer a billion questions and pick up the phone. Apparently he ended up wanting to put as much distance between me and him as humanly possible as he ended up disappearing to the South pole. He wanted to do some activist things and suggested I find a temporary sponsor.

The next sponsor took me all the way to step eleven. I was free of games for about a year and a half and then I relapsed, big time. Why?

I had not yet accepted myself yet, I had not yet surrendered completely and utterly. I had not let go completely. I was doing it on willpower.

A period of constant relapsing followed and then I encountered CGAA and made an account. However, it took me a while to make my first post. After that it took me a while to enter my first meeting. After that, it took me a little while to become free of games and find my first sponsor here.

Since starting working on the steps again, but this time in full honesty, I have become happy, joyous and free. Real friends started showing up in my life. I currently do my contribution to society and it feels good.

Since Juli 11th, 2015 I'm gratefully free of computer games. However, I will have to remember that all it takes for me to relapse is to start just starting that first game.

So, how have I attempted to control my gaming?
  • I tried to give away administrator rights to my computer... there are workarounds possible;
  • I tried to give away my computer... within a week it was back home;
  • I tried to have others move me away from the computer... and with the first opportunity I would materialize at my computer;
  • I tried Linux... games are available even on that os;
  • I tried just playing website games... did you know there is a staggering amount of them?;
  • I tried installing a program which would automatically turn off my computer... I just turned that program off;
  • I tried going to other places... computers are everywhere, and so are the website games;
  • I tried making appointments with others... doors can be amazing barriers to keep others out;
  • I have tried gaming only before going to bed... going to bed can be put off a long time;
  • I have tried gaming after everything else needing my attention is done... my to-do list would shorten very quickly;
  • I have tried gaming only before heading to work... work all of a sudden has a remarkably low priority.
The list goes on and on. I have tried everything in order to control my gaming. I have failed, utterly. So, it's simple. I cannot control my gaming. So I cannot afford to start that first game. It's that simple.

What have the results been of my gaming?
  • I lost education opportunities;
  • Work opportunities were lost;
  • Work was lost;
  • Friends were lost;
  • Hobbies disappeared from my life;
  • The development of my identity screeched to a halt once the games took over;
  • I didn't know who I was;
  • I nearly lost my family;
  • My house was a mess;
  • I never had a healthy relationship with a girlfriend;
  • I thought I was worthless, I didn't mean anything and nobody wanted me;
  • It nearly cost me my life.

So, when I start gaming again, I will most probably end up killing myself. Conclusion: gaming = bad idea.

I took my step 1 in the rooms, admitting complete and utter defeat by the games. No hiding, no escaping. Just the cold, hard truth. While I was sharing my rock bottom I had to cry but I continued, as I need to be hard with myself. Being nice to myself won't get me anywhere, being honest will. From there my recovery continued.

After step 1, came step 2: the admission that I'm insane. What does this mean? Well, that I cannot trust my own head to tell me the right thing. I need something else to help me out in that regard. First it turned out to be you guys, later I added "that miraculous something" (still don't know what it is). When I was first told to go and get a higher power, I did not understand. Did I need to get a religion?

So, I grudgingly went off and started looking for a higher power in religion, needless to say I only found what's wrong with all the world's religions. So I went back to my sponsor and complained to him. He cut me off after my first sentence and asked me: "do you believe there is something keeping you free of computer gaming?" Of course, there were plugs in my ears and I just continued babbling. He needed to repeat the question in order to reach through that peace of bone on top of my neck: "do you believe there is something keeping you free of computer gaming?" Then I was silent. I ended up saying "yes" and he replied: "good, let's move on."

Of course my head was panicked now and it expressed that loudly; There had to be rules. My sponsor cut me off again and explained that was the only requirement for a higher power to apply for the job. I apparently had one. And he poked me to move on. It took me a while to actually come to terms with it, but when I did it meant a huge relief.

Next came another really hard step. Surrender my will and my lives to the care of my higher power. Boy, did I have a hard time doing that! What would happen if I did that? Would chaos ensue? Would I go to prison? Would I be rejected? Would I be hated? The list goes on and on. My head was full of excuses, all of which I needed to let go of. That is something really hard to do, and needed to do quite thoroughly. But when I did, it felt like such a relief. I no longer had to worry. My higher power took care of things. I didn't have to worry about the future or the past, not about others, not about things, not about places. Life got a lot simpler.

Then came step 4. Honesty again, but also the courage to face my inner demons. This time around I looked at the ravages of my past. I had hurt family, friends, colleagues, employers, potential women I would have gotten a romantic relationship with, computer game developers. On top of that I was afraid of quite a lot of things. Rejection, loneliness, hurting others, getting lost, failure, and the list goes on and on. Some resentments went so deep, therapy was needed to root them out. The constant, boiling anger I felt was causing me suffering. But, when I was done with therapy I was able to look at those resentments and I found even there I had my part. I had never thought I could untangle that mess inside of my head, but here I was. Here there was this list of my past behaviors and all my character defects.

Then I went out to share it with myself, my higher power and another human being. In this case that meant my sponsor. This was quite ego deflating, but I knew this had to be done. I am as sick as my secrets, so there had to remain none. As my ego deflated, I had pain. I wanted to run away and hide. I wanted to keep secrets. This was not an option for me, brutal honesty was my only hope. Secrets would mean dishonesty. Finishing this felt good. Someone else finally knew everything about me.

Step 6 was the check. I had this list of character defects, and if I'd like to get rid of them. Over here I started acting the spiritual oposites and I noticed immediate improvements. I stopped trying to be an egoist, dishonest, control-freak, self-pitying asshole. Yes, that's right. My addict was a complete asshole, and I had thought I was a nice person! All the crap character defects no longer served me; They kept me down. Applying one small change proved that to me, but I could not do it on my own; So I asked for help from my higher power in removing them. All I have to do is act the spiritual opposites and my higher power will take them away at his convenience, not mine. This takes away a lot of fear. That was step 7.

Step 8 and 9. I had this list of people I had hurt. Here was my sponsor telling me to go make amends and, oh, whether I would be willing to pray for willingness to make amends to that one person which I hadn't put on that list? I WANTED TO KILL HIM! Grudgingly I set off with prayer. Fear of the consequences of that one particular amends were driving me crazy. My addict was again telling me to run away and hide. To ignore those amends. To lie to my sponsor. When I next contacted my sponsor I tried to lie and it was futile. He explained to me that we had to make all amends, not those which convenience us. I remember after that call I was sitting in my chair at home, afraid. My addict screaming at me to not do it. All other amends I had already done by this time, but this one remained.

I approached that person, every fiber of my body screaming fear, to make an appointment. I did not want to do it, but I did. The appointment came and I was a nervous wreck. Every step to that person's house was like I went through a wall. I ended up making the amends. It was very, very hard, but I did it. And I feel better for doing it. I still remember looking her in that person's eyes and honestly saying that I am sorry. Recalling what I had done and what my faults had been I felt very small. The unexpected happened: the person thanked me for my honesty and asked some questions, which I answered from my heart. After that I left, a free man. No consequences happened as a result of that conversation.

Step 10 means daily maintenance for me; discipline. Basically maintaining an diary of daily inventory. It's easy and, to be honest, I quite like it. It gives me a good idea of my day and it helps me noticing any undesirable patterns... but also the nice ones, as those invariably end up in there.

Step 11, or awareness of my higher power's wishes for me and the strength to do so; every day some meditation and silent contemplation of my day. This helps me untangle that huge traffic jam inside of my head. It also helps me take note of what is going on up there (inside of my head).

Step 12, service: being of value to others and applying these principles in all of my daily affairs. When I started this step, promptly a couple of guys approached me and asked whether I would like to sponsor them. I try to share my experience, strength and hope with my sponsees, those who are at meetings and the newcomer. This has been of immense value to me and I find that I quite enjoy helping others inside and outside the rooms.

All of the spiritual principles of the program I try to apply to all of my daily affairs. At times this may be hard, at times this may be easy. For me it's about progress, not perfection. I do know that this has brought me a position of some use to society, new friends and affection of those around me. I am so grateful for this program and those taking part in it, I wish to give it away.

Thanks for reading.

[EDIT]Grammar and spelling corrections.
[EDIT2] Added more text.

Last edited by ADH on Sun Jun 04, 2017 1:18 am, edited 3 times in total.

Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:01 am

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 324
Location: Detroit, MI
Thanks for sharing, Xander. I also valued games more than people when I was little, and I very much relate to having the baseline emotional assumption that nobody cares about me or my well-being. I also relate to the powerlessness I felt...it didn't matter how many reasons I had for not gaming, I could always be counted on to talk myself into playing at some point in the day.

I'm glad you're here.

Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:27 pm

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 969
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
Xander, I read your story a while back and meant to write thanks then... thank you for sharing your story! I appreciate your honesty, humility, and persistence at recovery. You've been an inspiration to me.

Sun Apr 30, 2017 10:55 pm

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:43 pm
Posts: 5
State/Province/Country: California
Hi Xander, I can relate to you a lot. I have also suffered pretty much all of the 12 bad results that things that you suffered because of gaming. And I totally get where you are coming from when you mentioned wanting to run away and hide, wanting to keeping secrets. I have felt the same thing with my own character defects and things I have done that I feel embarrassed about/ashamed of.

I am just starting to try to take care of myself. I hope that I can also not ruin my life against because of gaming, and I hope that you will stay free of gaming.

Fri Jul 14, 2017 1:13 am
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