“What started as a harmless hobby, transformed into a life-destroying addiction. One that ultimately led to me getting discharged from the military and having a marriage ending in divorce.”
I’m from a small town in Virginia. There wasn’t much for us to do apart from the annual get together at the local park.
I remember my dad bringing home a PlayStation one day when I was four years old. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
Best of all, I was allowed to play pretty much anything.
What started as a harmless hobby, transformed into a life-destroying addiction. One that ultimately led to me getting discharged from the military and having a marriage ending in divorce.
I don’t blame my parents one bit, though. They didn’t know. How could they?
Gaming Was Always A Part of My Life
Since the original PlayStation, I always had a gaming console. I went from that to the original Xbox after I was introduced to Halo. That’s when it really took a hold of me.
I played non-stop some days – even during the school year. It really affected my grades.
This was before parents could go online and see a detailed report of their child’s schoolwork so when I told them my homework was done, they had to believe me. I never failed a grade, but I certainly didn’t live up to my potential. I always passed with C’s or D’s.
In 2004, Xbox Live was introduced, and I could finally compare my skills to other people around the world. I loved it, and I thought about it constantly.
I craved it.
It even took precedence over football, which was my main focus at the time. I was offered scholarships from major Division-1 schools.
But I couldn’t escape video games. I couldn’t leave my house for more than a day. When I went on family vacations the Xbox came with me.
Related: How to Deal with Cravings
Gaming Addiction Caused My Divorce
It took a divorce to make me stop gaming. I didn’t really take notice until I enlisted in the military, and my thinking was “if I’m forced to do something, then the issue will take care of itself.”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After two months, I was deemed “unfit for service” in the Army. My addiction ruined any chance of a successful military career.
After getting home, a short time after, I met my now current ex-wife. If you couldn’t already tell, we ended up in divorce.
We had a child, a house, and everything seemed to be looking up. I did this all while gaming in my spare time. However, gaming was always my number one priority. Over my wife, my child, and the countless jobs I had squandered away.
The divorce was mainly due to my addiction. I was neglectful. To her and my son. This is when I finally said, “enough is enough.”
Breaking Away from Video Games
After the separation, I decided to do three months of “no gaming detox”.
With help from friends and family I sold about $20k worth of video games and separated myself from technology completely. I didn’t even use my smartphone during this time. Friends had to fill out my job applications on their own computers
I bought a house. A new car. I even restored my relationship with my son. My ex-wife and I are now some of the best co-parents you’ll ever see. I even felt comfortable enough to buy an Xbox again.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Are you crazy? You’re going to fall off the wagon!!”
Those 90 days did wonders for me. 90 days turned into 180 days. 180 into 245. I picked up a controller for the first time in April and…
It just didn’t feel the same.
I didn’t have the competitive drive I once had. I didn’t feel like I had anything to prove. It didn’t feel like an escape. I enjoyed it for what it was for about 30 minutes. I sat the controller down and went outside to join up with some friends to play basketball.
My life is finally back under control.
Sure, every day is a struggle. And the temptation will always be there. But I won’t let it take control of my life again. It’s meant to be a hobby and enjoyed in small segments. That’s all it’s going to be for me.
Sure, I might play once a week. But I have found that it’s much more rewarding to be an outstanding father, to have a career, and to have a meaningful relationship with someone.
To live a real life.
It’s Possible to Make Real Change
Gaming addiction is real and it won’t go away until you decide to take control.
You have the power to do it.
Here’s how my life has changed since I quit:
- I own one Xbox, and I use it mainly for Netflix.
- I’m an Engineer for a building supply company.
- I own my own house and brand new car.
- I have my son every other day, and he loves to spend time with me.
- My ex-wife is proud of my accomplishments.
I even have a girlfriend who’s supportive and understands my daily struggle.
Life is so much bigger and more rewarding than what any game can offer you. I’m living proof that you can overcome your addiction and really create a life worth living.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it helps you in some way.
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