Thursday, August 13, 2009

Word Games by Janet Miller

I wasn't addicted to playing Scrabble on the computer. Thinking it over, the song by Fiona Apple, comes to mind. “It’s not a habit, it’s cool.”

Here are the facts: I played more than 800 games of Scrabble on my computer and won most of them. I didn't play to win, but to put words together, all 86 delicious tiles worth of them. Then I hit the “Play Again” button and started over.

While thinking about Scrabble, I remembered I had another word game icon on my computer. I check my past scores for Bookworm and realize that my non-addiction to Scrabble was preceded by a non-addiction to Bookworm. In this game, the more points I earned and the more books appear on a bookshelf. There were also burning red tiles that popped up at random. If the evil red tiles were not put into words, they caused the entire game board to burn. While I caused a lot of conflagration, I also racked up some pretty high scores.

Yet surely my intense involvement with those word games was nothing to worry about. It wasn't as though I spent all my time or money consuming cigarettes or alcohol, or buying things on eBay.

Then I remember some of the things going on in my life at the time I began seriously playing word games. A relationship that had lasted more than a decade had recently ended. My mother’s breast cancer had returned. I'd discovered that my mother was drinking again and that I had to assume responsibility for keeping her finances and her life in order. I had felt my own world was disintegrating around me. I would manage to do the things that had to be done, but then I'd escaped to my computer and put letter tiles together. Did that mean I was addicted?

I had no real concept of addiction or substance abuse before I became involved with word games. I think I still believed what my father had believed: If you wanted to stop smoking, you just had to make up your mind. He never understood why my mother continued to smoke, and he certainly had no understanding or tolerance for her alcoholism. Neither did I. Yet as the hours spent playing Scrabble and Bookworm mounted, I what it meant to be truly addicted.

So, I find myself with a life lesson. The truth is I spent a lot of time playing games instead of sleeping, and instead of eating real meals. The truth is I used those games to cope with the overwhelming stress I was experiencing at the time. But I am a lucky one. I have close friends who refused to leave me to my own devices. I met someone who helped me realize how fortunate I was to escape an unhealthy long-year relationship that held nothing for me.

So word games did not take over my life forever--just for quite a long-time. Long enough to give an idea of what it means to be completely dependent on something in order to get through the day.

Hello, my name is Janet and I’m not an addict – but I came really close.

No comments:

Post a Comment


About Me

I write for lots of different venues, so this blog provides links to those places. Plus, occasionally, stuff that appears no where else . . .