Done(?)

I deleted the games that I had on my phone (Plant v. Zombies 2 and Candy Crush). They served their purpose and I enjoyed them, mostly, but I am done(?) with relying on them to distract me from the world outside. I am happy to look for other meaningful ways to fill my time or distract me and, yet, part of me feels like some of the defaults I was taught as a child are at play.

My dad has a gaming addiction and has been shamed many times for the time that he spends playing games instead of interacting with people or doing something else “productive”. But then, the first thing he often does when my mom leaves the house is jump on his computer to play more. Growing up, I was more concerned with my mother’s approval so I shunned games too. I felt guilty if I wanted to play games on my computer, and if I did play, it was always in secret. Even if I wanted to do something potentially equally unproductive like look at gossip magazines/websites, I did that in secret too. I was ashamed of engaging in any activity that did not contribute to personal growth.

It was not until I went through eating disorder treatment that I learned things like playing computer/phone games or looking at magazines are self soothes that can be necessary part of taking care of yourself (apart from the whole issue that images in gossip magazines can contribute to eating disorders). In treatment, I learned “unproductive” time is actually useful “me” time for unwinding.

When I went through eating disorder treatment, I stopped hiding it when I wanted to play a game. I still felt a little guilty (when do I ever not?), but I allowed myself to play phone games in front of people. I brought my phone to the dog park and crushed candies while Ben chased after the dogs. It was a good way for me to distract myself from my exercise restrictions and to keep my circle of movement smaller. But, as the exercise restrictions were pulled back, I was stuck playing my games. I staged interventions of leaving my phone in the car to remind myself to interact with Ben and the dogs at the park, and now I have completely deleted the games from my phone.

I’m not completely sure yet why I still have an all-or-nothing attitude with games. The walk to and from my work parking lot, which is long because UCSD has a terrible parking setup, is now more boring, which makes me miss my games. But, I also do enjoy the days at the park more when I’m not trying to multitask with a game, which makes me grateful the games are gone. I may have to challenge myself with re-installing the games on my phone so that I can still play them during boring times like my walk to work and trust that I can ignore them when I go to the dog park now.

 

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