I can talk (sort of)

I was a guest on Sunday on the Girls gone Wow podcast. Girls Gone WoW

They were all so lovely- Sil, EJay, Raven & Rob – but I was so so nervous. My stress levels about the show had been building up for weeks & I think it’s fair to say I pretty much wrote off the weekend worrying about it – terrified that I’d forget how to speak and babble incoherently. And gratz to me – I pretty much did all of that! Who knew saying altholic could be so hard  or that I would start rambling so quickly – on question one I think. In  the end I even mispronounced Bravetank! Class act. But I got through it despite being so nervous and I’m happy about that. And thanks again to the team for having me on & making me feel so welcome – even though I did criticise Tauren females, rogues & pandas. WWF have marked my card.

Other news – did some raiding last week – the first with the guild in DS (final Deathwing fight – unfortunately we were not successful. I think my dps was half to blame – Deathwing at one point rolled on his back and begged me to tickle him some more) and the  next day in  LFR after deciding to be a conscientious guildee and  do some work on my gear. Everything is currently 397 apart from robes (384), leggings (378), one ring at 378, one trinket at 390 & a staff at 390. So I do indeed have some work to do.

LFR was as you’d expect. No scratch that. Something really weird happened. When we landed to fight the coloured blobs I landed right on top of a blob and died instantly. Everyone seemed to do the same  – apart from the tank who initially seemed to be ok, then went afk and was then slowly battered to death by one insistent blob.  Only those who waited until we’d wiped before flying down were ok. Once we were all ressed the tank came back & said “Let’s hope Seashell doesn’t pull again”. I couldn’t believe it. I had landed on a blob & died immediately. Others did the same. It couldn’t have been my fault could it? I said as much in raid chat & the tank said “ofc ;)” . I didn’t say anything after that. I was too busy  fretting that I had indeed landed wrong somehow – although I have no idea how you can. However, the tank was a nightmare so maybe he/she was just trying to stir things up & randomly selected me as the fall guy? He was criticised for not  have righteous fury on, he didn’t tank  some blobs properly etc. but he just kept lolling and criticising the healers. Great fun as you can imagine. And then he left- mid fight. So at least my critic had no real credibility- but still I worried.

And that gets on to my main point today. Why did I  care what those 24 people thought about me? I froze when he said “Let’s hope Seashell doesn’t pull again’. I felt so exposed & singled out, and the injustice of it all made it worse somehow. I just wanted everyone to know it wasn’t me (unless you think it was…in which case please let me know how so I never do it again!)

As anyone who has read this for awhile knows – I live in fear of criticism.  I had my first session with a coach yesterday to start work on some of this as I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I am scared of the opinion of 24 people I don’t know from Adam (and terrified of what Adam thinks!). I am scared of criticism in work. I read every single comment on my blog with my heart in my mouth in case it’s negative. And I won’t even listen to the interview I recorded on Sunday. Someone once told me that I have a certain vulnerability  – I think it was being said as a positive, but it’s only positive to the person saying it when they see themselves as the great protector. It then makes them feel good about themselves. For awhile. Which is nice for them but what about me- the vulnerable one – the one picked up, played with and then thrown back down. I feel like the woman in Hellraiser with all her tendons & nerves on the outside of her body –  I need to stuff them back in (they’re causing a mess on the couch for one thing). But my coach says I can’t even start doing that until I acknowledge how it makes me feel. Until I feel the feelings. He said I translate my feeling into thoughts (& here into words I guess) instead of really feeling them, acknowledging them & then perhaps letting them go. But how do you do that- how do you feel without thinking? I really don’t know if I ever have.

My coach also said I need to start exploring who I am and own my “I”. He said I have to start talking about what I feel, what I think, what I want to do and say. I found that very powerful because I know I live my life through the eyes of the Other. When I look at my face I see myself with the eyes of people I think would judge me harshly. When I hear myself speak I listen to myself with the ears of those who, I think, regard me with disdain. My mental audience is a negative one – they really don’t like how I look, what I do or what I say. Not dinner guests I’d really want, but it seems they’re already in the house & won’t leave. And they define me.

And I have no ownership of my I on WoW either. There all the power is in the groups or the raid – everyone that  knows more than me. So I think I’ll study more & learn more (about the tactics for e.g.) to become stronger. And  in work I vow to work harder than everyone else, to become more knowledgeable than everyone else, and get my power that way. And after looking in the mirror I rub on the creams and go to the gym to do the exercises in order to fend off the critical eye that’s always watching and judging my appearance. Nothing wrong with any of that if I was doing it for my I, but I’m not – I’m doing these things in the absence of an I and in the presence of an over powering critical Other.  I have given all my power to those that I think define, measure and judge me & find me wanting. I’m doing these things to please the them. That’s the story of my life.

How do you escape this? If you take on the fear and do the thing that risks the criticism and find it does indeed come (as they say just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean everyone’s not out to get me) what then? How do  own my I in my response to it? Is it by knowing that ultimately I  cannot be touched by anything anyone says or thinks? My I is  mine – maybe the only thing in this world that’s truly my own. But that’s a thought in words again, not a feeling. I need to feel it – and I don’t know how.

My coach said this journey  will be hard and challenging but I have promised him and myself that I will commit to it 100%. And I will. Because I don’t like feeling sick with fear. I don’t like my little band of  critical strangers (some wear the faces of people I once thought of as friends)  mentally following me everywhere. And I don’t like thinking so little off myself that a sarcastic word from a stranger can throw me in a tailspin. And WoW of course is full of these sarcastic words and critical strangers. For some people they see themselves as performing a public service by being this way  – shaming you into being a better tank, dps or healer, or failing that forcing you to give up the game for good. And I know some people have given up and walked away. But why should  we give them that power? What on earth have they done to earn it? Maybe I should think of WoW as my exposure therapy- I write because of it & so expose myself to feedback; I’ve now been interviewed because of it & found the courage somehow to let my voice be heard; and of course in game I often find myself playing with the mean kids. Sticks and stones and all that. Maybe this game can change me. Certainly  slowly my voice is being heard. Literally last  Sunday. Now if only I could  learn to pronounce altholic correctly!


15 thoughts on “I can talk (sort of)

  1. Bravetank,

    I don’t know how to help. I don’t know how to feel without thinking, either. I can’t even start pretending to understand what you’re going through.

    But I can cross my fingers (or do whatever is common in your area to wish someone luck)! And I can (if I may) let you know that I’m inspired how and that you tackle your fears, that you write an awesome blog or two, and that I send you my best wishes.

    From what I’ve seen from the other commenters, if you need a boost or some positive feedback, just write a blog post and your readers will “have your back” 🙂

    Good luck. Shamrocks, rainbows, crossed appendages, and whatever else!

    1. Thank you for your comment. It’s really lovely and supportive and I appreciate it, We do cross fingers here for luck (plus touch a lot of wood – or I do anyway!!). Thank you again. I read your comment when I got up today and it made me feel a lot better.

  2. I wish I could say something that would be incredibly helpful, but unless someone is going through it, I imagine it would be difficult to say the correct thing. In my case, I do care what people think, but only to an extent. For me it is just a matter of whose opinion is truly important, and how that opinion stacks up against what you believe.

    The sad truth is that there are always people who will try to bring you down if you let them. The hard part is just learning how to shut them out and do your own thing.

    You seem like an incredibly nice person, and I think most people would agree. Focus on how you feel when you are nice to someone as opposed to how you feel when someone is shitty to you.

    I think this all came off a little bit babbly, but the TL:DR version is: Dont worry about people that dont truly matter and you will worry much less.

    1. You’re right about figuring out whose opinion is important – mentally I’ve allowed certain people to have that role in my life & they absolutely don’t deserve it. Thank you for saying I seem incredibly nice too – that really touched me when I read it. It’s a lovely thing to say. And yes I don’t quite know how to feel without thinking – you’re right- when I think about something the pain I feel is definitely a feeling – however unwelcome. Thank you again for your comment. I really appreciate it & I will take your advice & try to worry less about the people who don’t matter.

  3. Oh and the feeling without think part sounds like some metaphorical mumbo jumbo. Our feelings are very obviously linked to our brains, so when you are thinking about something, there is a feeling directly involved with that thought.

  4. I can’t give advice when it comes to RL, but in the game, I find it helpful to adopt what I call a “F*** you!” attitude. They say your DPS is bad? F*** them! They say you can’t tank? F*** them!

    Now, I’m not advocating you actually say this to them. You should always be polite. But go ahead and think it very loudly.

    It’s a game. Anyone getting on your case in the game has got to be a loser who needs to feel big in the game because they suck so much in reality. Decent folks will tell you how to improve, not just rage about how you suck. So just remind yourself what small and petty people these are. Replace your shame with scorn. Realize how little these douches matter and laugh at them for being such losers. Feed the rage; come over to the Dark Side!

    It’s like that Weezer song. “Imma do the things that I wanna do; I ain’t got a thing to prove to you!”

    1. Yes I should get a tougher attitude- even if it’s just what I say in my own head to them. Shouldn’t let them get me down. I do think that Tank in LFR deliberately wanted to stir up trouble for their amusement. And I fell for it!

  5. Why can’t I have a wonderful accent like that? Oh, I guess because I was born here, lol.

    I know exactly how you feel, I feel the same. But you are a bravetank, bravedps, bravehealer because you don’t let that stop you. I much admire that.

    1. I was really stressed about how my accent would come over – hate hearing recordings of myself! I’m not as brave as I should be – go so far & then stop! But I appreciate your kind words. Thank you 🙂

  6. Dear Bravetank,
    For what it’s worth, I think the show was fantastic. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who doesn’t like a British (to uninformed Americans like me)/ Welsh accent. Nothing to worry about there.

    I speak for a living; as a teacher, clarity and directness of message are incredibly important, but when I was on the Double O podcast, I stuttered, couldn’t think of words, and mumbled repeatedly. You seemed perfectly comprehensible, so I think you should give yourself a listen.

    At any rate, great show, and best of luck with your new coach!


    1. Thank you. I really appreciate that. I’ve still not plucked up the courage to listen to it but I’m glad you thought I sounded perfectly comprehensible. And yes I’m looking forward to doing more work with the coach- I have to do some reading on my MBTI preferences (INTJ) – I seam to recall you wrote about that & how it might influence the roles you play in WoW didn’t you – last year? I’ll have to reread what you wrote. It’s all very interesting. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Hi! I heard you on GGW and came to check out your blog and all I have to say is Bravo! Keep up the great work and thank you for such a wonderful column. You’ve gained a fan:)

    1. Oh thank you! That’s really lovely. I really appreciate that! I’ve still not listened to the show – too nervous – but really glad you like the blog 😀

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