Sidehug Your Problems

At counseling last week, I was talking about the personal difficulty I’d been having in the weeks since my return to tabletop RPGs. (Among many other things; it’s been quite a busy couple of weeks)

The first sessions went well! We’d blocked off two evenings, which was good, because character creation and rules discussion took most of the first one. DungeonWorld’s suggestions to ask questions and incorporate the answers into world building went well, and as I went home that night I had lots of energy and excitement to begin building the world and the story that these players would inhabit. I stayed up late that night, materials spread across the table, grinning from ear-to-ear as I wrote out the ideas we’d generated.

Next evening was playing, which flowed well. At some point during the adventure one of the guys asked if they were “doing it right” and I cited the three Agendas: Are we portraying a fantastic world? Are we filling the characters’ lives with adventure? And, are we playing to find out what happens? The answers were yes to all three, which felt great. We ended the night at sort of a natural lull in the story that would provide a good jumping-off point for the next adventure, and resolved that we’d meet in a few weeks to continue things.

Since then, as I told my counselor, I’ve managed to do some behind-the-scenes work on preparing the next adventure but it’s been quite difficult to get motivated. I miss that excitement and drive from the first night. Partly, it’s because things in the rest of my life have been taking up a lot of bandwidth and I’ve but DW stuff on the back burner because of it. But the other reason is because of another battle with Marvin, the Low Self-Esteem Creature. As I explained to my counselor, as time passed from our first session, Marvin worked harder and harder to convince me that none of my ideas were good and that the others were (for some reason) just humouring me while secretly having a bad time. I related that I’d quite harshly (mentally) told Marvin off more than once.

“You’ve gotta love Marvin,” said my counselor.

“Tch, I know, right?” I said, misunderstanding him.

I kept talking about some other issue, also involving Marvin, and my counselor said basically the same thing again; that I had to love Marvin. Hearing it differently this time, I stopped and asked what he meant.

He went on to explain that a way to deal with Marvin is to accept that, in its own roundabout way, it’s trying to help. The voice of my fierce inner critic and my low self-esteem isn’t trying to tear me down for funsies; it’s trying, in a misguided way, to protect me from things I’m afraid of; that my ideas won’t be accepted. That I’m an imposition, clueless about where things really stand. That I’ll lose connections with others and it’ll be my fault.

Marvin, said my counselor, is a part of my life and probably always will be. It’s part of what has informed the person that I am today. Rather than angrily fighting and trying to reject that, isn’t it better to embrace that aspect? Even to see it as a gift from God? Not to say “yes I believe you, my ideas are trash” but to say “Marvin: I see you there and I recognize that you’re trying to help. But I don’t care what you think.” In the way you’d talk to a friend that you just can’t agree with.

I read and hear about treating yourself with goodwill, grace, kindness, and gentle curiosity; but this was a major area that I had overlooked. I’ve been thinking about our conversation since then, and I hope this can be the start of more positive growth for me.

Thing I Saw: A friend of mine sent me this listing from our local online Classifieds:

…and I was like, this person is my exact opposite. We should probably never meet in person, for the preservation of the universe. (I have a long history of badly disliking this game — so much that I overcame my fear of dating in order to avoid playing it)

Thing I Learned: I’ve finally started listening to Reply All and just finished this fantastic two-parter about CompStat, the NYPD’s accountability process and its modern-day problems.

I’m Grateful For: Dare I say it? Rock n’ Roll Racing. If I can embrace Marvin as being necessary for my journey, then I have to accept RnRR as well???

Not relevant, I just like it