While I'd hoped the previous entry would have helped heal some of my heartache, I found that even today I was still thinking about the time spent online. It is something I keep rather personal; I feel other people can't understand or maybe cannot see past the initial idea of a video game being a means to help someone begin to understand religious life.
The biggest reason I dwell on this as an issue is because it will not be the last time I have to deal with such feelings. What happens in 5-6 years when I miss going through the formation process with my classmates? What happens in 20 years when I miss a parish or ministry that I presided at? What happens when I'm old and can't get out of my wheelchair...trapped in the memories of the past that I cannot return to?
I spoke of this in generalities with my formation director. He was wonderful in not pressing details, and gave me a few things to think about as I continue to work through this rather unique time in my life.
Many of us remember things in our life that when they are gone, it is like losing someone we loved. The experiences, the memories, the change in our life which are the fruit of such things...all of those are linked with with grieving process. While his words made sense, even I found it hard to really try and grieve for a character made to exist in a fake world.
He continued to talk about healthy ways to express the good that is found in such things. He mentioned that because I liked to write, perhaps I could put such things down for me to read, and put them in the sense that they are not sad, but wonderful memories to be cherished.
He also talked about a symbolic death for whatever I was longing for. He explained that when I was ready to make peace and be able to let go of the past, that a symbolic death could be a way for me to kind of deal with the issue once and for all. It wouldn't be hard to just delete my character (which still exists in Sony's database). I don't know if I'm ready for that quite yet, even though I haven't seriously played the game in years.
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this issue, although I am still not proud to talk about it in public. I think what I will do is log in one last time to visit the many places I remembered during those past 4 years, grab a few screenshots along the way, and begin to put down stories that I remember from my time there. While it may not be of interest for many of my readers, perhaps it will be something that benefits me and my journey to become closer to God.
My formator also told me he heard a lot of symbolism in my discussion of this topic; he said he could hear my reverence for whatever I was describing. He offered (gently) for me to begin and share that with the community here in Milwaukee, since I considered it so important to who I was. I told him of my fear of vulnerability, and that my personal EQ experience was like a special flower I kept hidden from the rest of the world. It was something I protected, something I cherished but refused to let others see for fear they would not understand. To share this part of my life is scary.
But perhaps that's where my catharsis will lie: in the telling of my entire story with pride and joy. To deny any part of my journey on this long, winding road is simply to lie to myself. To not say that a video game impacted my life is to deny everything about me that I never liked before finding my vocation. What I've learned is that God works with our faults and our quirks, and uses them for whatever means he sees fit.
Maybe I'll keep the stories here, perhaps I'll create a new blog for the gaming community; a place where such stories and memories can be shared with others who hold their EQ memories close like I do. I don't know exactly what my plan of action is, but I know I will do something I haven't done in a long time: face my fears, admit my weaknesses, and find a way to put this important time in my life down for others to see.