It All Falls Apart

Doesn’t matter what I do, sometimes the game just falls apart. I am used to blaming myself.

Sometimes it feels like it’s all going to fall apart. I cancel a session because I was supposed to be involved in additional out-of-regular-hours work. The next session is also a bust because my family is visiting and I prioritise time for that. Either of these reasons for cancelling play would be generally considered acceptable. But I will feel bad.

When trying to meet face-to-face I miss the first session due to illness. Even with just three players, it can be mighty hard to get everyone together at the same time. If we are in that pre-habit, trying-to-get-the-band-together phase that exists when a group is new, all it really needs is patience. Perhaps we can meet in a month. The uncertainty is terrifying.

The voice in my head, the voice that lies, the voice of doubt chants the same old mantra: “You’ve let people down. You’re useless. They think you are flaky and weak.”

The rot starts inside.

The problem is that, day by day, I undermine my confidence in the idea that the game is going to get played. It’s fuelled by my own self-doubt. It happens because I keep blaming myself, even when it might not be fair to blame anyone.

If it goes on long enough I’ll be tempted to give up completely. Because giving up completely is more certain that dealing with the uncertainty of whether we’ll actually get to play in a month from now.

As an anxious gamer, I am used to blaming myself because I’ve become comfortable with the belief that I am a total loser for most of my life. The voice was once the voice of a parent or some other significant adult from childhood. But it’s hard to ignore the mantras we have practiced, in endless loops, for all these years.

Even though I know the voice of doubt is a liar, I can still hear it.

But the game hasn’t fallen apart. That’s just an impression arising from anxiety. It’s just part of the thought distortions that have become well-worn habits. The mind-reading and the emotional reasoning. Criticising yourself. Prediction and listening to all the “shoulds” in your mind. Shhhhh.

If you recognise this then you are not alone. If this resonates then you perhaps it will help to know that I struggle too.

Yes, sometimes it all falls apart. The lie is that you are the one to blame. Sometimes things just fall apart. On the other hand, perhaps it won’t fall apart after all.

We can’t really read people’s minds – my theory of mind is pretty ropey in practice. Just because it all feels like crap doesn’t mean that it is objectively actually crap. Feelings distort perception.

Criticising yourself and listing out the expectations you are piling on yourself doesn’t actually save the game.

The better way, I have found, is to admit to how you are feeling. To talk to the others about it. To express it and see what others think. Most of the time, when I do that I find that things don’t need to fall apart.

Game on.

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