Help sometimes comes in funny forms. If you blink, you might miss it.
About one year ago I was really struggling. My mom had just died. I became the primary caregiver of my dad. My husband was gone long hours due to his work. My world was crashing down like dominos all around me. I would stay awake – far too late trying to solace my fears with shows on netflix, reading Game of Thrones – yes you heard me right READING, or playing stupid games on my iPad. I was essentially distracting myself from my real problems. Feeding myself on all of this like an addict rather than face the real pain boiling inside of me.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of friends all around me. They would call to check up on me but sometimes I just got tired of the same questions:
How are you doing?
How is your dad handling things?
Do the kids miss grandma?
And so on.
Not knowing what to say, I started answering with “I’m fine” “He is adjusting.” “They are doing well but busy.”
I would go about my day in a fog and at night when it was quiet, I would feed my pain with distraction again. Things would get boring really quickly so I was always out to find newer shows or games. Eventually, I found a game where you essentially build a kingdom, build up troops, and fight other players. I quickly got sucked in.
Distraction distraction distraction
So in the game – you want to join an alliance because that creates a safety net, you can share resources, and band together to wage war on other alliances. Okay check – joined alliance.
What happened next I didn’t expect….
Suddenly my lonely nights were full of voices – I was surrounded by people. people talking, people making jokes, people from different countries, people from different walks of life. People who didn’t know me. People who would joke with me and didn’t ask all those questions I was avoiding. I loved it. it was fun, different. It was the best distraction EVER! We would steal resources (yes virtual ones), share, and wage battles, all while we laughed and talked the night away.
And talk we did. We started talking about real stuff, stuff going on in our lives. We started sharing pictures of our kids – weird places in our communities. Some really brave ones would share audios of themselves talking or singing. Videos of kids singing in school music programs appeared. And painful stories started to appear too. Somehow, this motley group of people had become trusted friends.
So, I started telling my stories in an honest way that I had not been able to do prior to that. I felt myself slowly being able to heal. An army of people who not only listened to me and gave great advice but also made me feel welcome and worthwhile surrounded me. I changed throughout this year and those people; those voices were part of that change.
Through all of the joking and jibes that surface through “alliance chat” the number one theme in there is that this is just a group of people who love being kind to one another. I doubt that every online community functions in this way but ours did. In fact, I know they don’t because as new members would come in, they were always taken aback by how we functioned as a family.
So, to corroborate my feelings, I had to ask them, what this alliance has meant for them in this last year and here are some of their responses:
I think in the beginning, it was fun & exciting in the sense that we could say n do whatever in a group of grown up strangers… Of course as we all came to know each other better & get more comfortable, we all started allowing our daily lives in bit by bit until some pretty good friendships have formed.
Yes I agree. In the beginning this was for the game and the game was fast and fun back then. Now I don’t play so much but I love that we have got to know each other as real people and I value our friendship ❤
I think this group has made a deep impression on me… All the wood sharing has been magnificent!!! But seriously you guys have been a great support throughout this year both psychologically and physically. You have been my support group; my pillow to cry on and the ones that make me forget the hard times… Time after time you have helped me get over whatever life throws at me and it has been great. I have enjoyed so many good times I have laughed so hard ppl looked at me weird and I just love being a part of such a dynamic group…. I ❤ AO!!! And you guys and gals Freaking Rule my World!!!
Jo is basically the father figure ive never had and the rest of ya like brothers and sisters i never had. Its great that we can always say whatever is on our mind and we help each other through everything.
Many of us don’t play much anymore. The “alliance chat” can be entirely dead on some days. But, even when I was “gone” for two whole weeks, I jump back into say a quick hello and I still find myself surrounded by some very real and dear friends – despite the fact that I have never set eyes on them.
So Jo, Tricky, Z, Mari, Piz, Ophi, Leav, Theo, St., Husk, Big Daddy, Rich, Qb, Ced, WhiteRaven, Bornley, Honda, Caleb, Kali and so many others who have come and gone…. Thank you for listening, being a shoulder to cry on, and making me laugh through a difficult year.
Last year I was lost – I was lonely – I needed answers.
God sent them to me in the form of an alliance formed over a battle game