You Can’t Keep It Within You
by: Patrick Scott Patterson
I’ve been there. That feeling of being alone, feeling like the world wouldn’t care if you were around or not. Oh, yes … I have been there, and it is a big reason why I got into gaming in the first place. I could dive into a game for a while and only have the pressures of that world to worry about until I was out of continues. Then it would creep back. While I loved my games, they were never a fully suitable substitute for a person who you felt might understand, or even if they didn’t understand would at least try to listen.
Those who know me now might see a sometimes-cocky gaming personality behind a pair of blue shades and designer jeans power walking across the floor of a gaming event. Underneath it all, however, are backstories where that persona simply didn’t exist.
I was badly bullied in middle school, often walking home from school each day feeling defeated and alone. My parents fought almost every moment they were together. They were so busy finding reasons to yell at each other they didn’t have time to even try to understand my problems. I was an only child to boot, so I didn’t have anyone at home to turn to. To my parents, my down days were simply part of a “phase I was going through” or whatnot. Inside, I sometimes hoped I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and didn’t even feel like anyone would care.
I had another bout of this as an adult. I was at a crossroads in my life. I was walking away from something that I’d put my heart and soul into for years, not certain what I would end up doing next. A lot of the people I thought were my friends during this period of time turned away from me, I suppose because I was no longer of use to them. Just how the entertainment field goes sometimes I guess. The few friends that didn’t turn away were super busy or just not the type that were good at being there when things weren’t going well. I don’t blame them, even though I sure as hell needed them. Instead, I turned to the bottom of a bottle and a line of shot glasses almost every night, again not caring much when or if I woke up the next day.
What got me out of those situations each time, you ask? Despite the fact that I felt so low and alone I somehow found people who offered to be there when others weren’t … when I needed an ear or even a shoulder. That would actually listen rather than just give me a “snap out of it” attitude or walk away only to judge me from afar. In both instances, these people got me through the tough times, staying the course with me until I was through the tunnel and into another chapter in my life where things were different and better. Both times, too, it got better. It always does.
No matter how much it feels sometimes like nobody gives a damn, there is always someone out there who does. Maybe they’ve been through the same dark and empty feelings and can guide you through. The only trick is reaching back out when they extend that hand and opening up. You can’t keep it within you. The body is strong but not that strong. Let it out, and let people be there for you when they offer.
I’ve actually never shared any of this with the gaming world. I’m neither afraid of it nor ashamed of it. If anything I’m proud to be able to be that guy with the blue shades and the power walk today. A good friend of mine calls it “stoking” through a gaming event. Believe it or not, it was these down times where I felt my weakest that taught me the lessons on how to be at my strongest. Sure as heck didn’t feel like it at the time, but it sure enough holds true.
I instantly related to this project. It’s as if it was written for me in 1989 or 2005. If I had read such a thing then I would have reached out, eventually, to it. Since I’m where I’m at today instead, I want to be the guy who is reached out to if needed.
I’ve been there. Now I’m here. Talk to me.