Terminally Nerdy’s Note: This was written by my brother from another mother Saevrick. He wrote this to show how D&D helped him overcome quite a bit of horrible shit in his life. This is raw, this is emotional, and frankly had me tearing up. But I felt this needed to be shared. D&D, and really gaming in general, has helped so many people deal with issues they could not have handled on their own. It helps us find friends, find family, and express ourselves in ways that we could not before. I am proud of him for doing this. Oh and for warnings? ABUSE, SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, DEPRESSION. Keep this in mind BEFORE READING.
There is no easy way for a story like this to begin–no fluid way to weave some whimsical words to hide any sort of convoluted sense of fantasy. Like most things, it is just best to lead with the beginning, however dark or morose it may be, and let the unraveling strands of this spiderweb fall where they may.
I was a four year old, completely ignorant to the world and its ways of course, having not yet truly established a sense of right or wrong. I was a quiet child, more locked away in my own little world of drawing or games to take notice of the happenings around me. Too ignorant to know when perversion was not an act of care, but a devilish seed implanted in the darker souls, to take for selfish want and feed the sinister need of desire.
This all leads to a four year spanse of sexual assault on my being. I knew the man (he was a relative), yet I did not understand the purpose. Years of therapy has distilled the idea that it was my way of thinking I was being accepted or cared for–that such things were normal, and it was attention that a quiet child like myself required. Four long years of abuse, till the child in me started to grow up a little too quickly. Started to understand the true breadth of real evil.
The feelings of disgust took root. The feelings of abuse took root. The knowing of how wrong and awful it all was took ROOT. There I was, an eight year old child, my innocence long taken, freely given without understanding, and leaving nothing but a tortured little soul in its wake. I felt damaged and ruined, and took little solace in the world. I feared speaking of it, as my upbringing was harsh (not abusive, but stern under a keen military eye), and I did not desire the confrontation or disappointed eyes. I was alone with this. I could not deal with this.
I now have a son of my own who is eight, and I couldn’t imagine him holding onto the feelings that I felt. I had matured quickly in mind, and there the younger me sat, and dreamed of suicide–dreamed of the pain ending, dreamed of the world ending, and just dreamed of living a normal life beyond this mortal coil. Reality was a terrible existence to live in, and I hid as far as I could in the depths of the background, shunning all around me, and finding only solace under a bed or inside the warm blackness of a closet–where no one could hurt me.
I didn’t speak much. I hid from my relatives–and I trusted no one. I refused to let anyone touch me again. I would not give anything of myself freely. I could not look at the body in the mirror. Not this disgusting, ruined flesh. The world was a beast always over my shoulder, and I would rather be dead than fear a lingering hand on my shoulder. Everywhere reminded me of those terrible moments–and nowhere was safe outside myself in the dark alone.
My older brother around this time had found a catalog, and we had decided to order this “cool” little game called Dungeons and Dragons. When it came my eyes were falling on this beautiful, glossy red surfaced box with a terrible creature eye to eye with a sword wielding man. It looked so empowering and awing. I remember just staring at that cover for the longest time, curious as how one could show so little fear in the face of such a monster.
Then when it came time to play, I just fell into a whole other world. The nightmares during the abyssal night were replaced with tales of this heroic elf, squashing injustice under his heel. No one could challenge him and not feel the consequences. No one bullied him, or took what was his to be had. This figment of creation was all that I wanted to feel again in life. This little elf was just me trying to rebuild myself all over again–kobold by kobold, adventure by adventure.
When it came time to play with his friends, I was more than reluctant. I had so much fear in me of others, and it took so much prodding and whining to get me involved. Oddly enough, I finally did bend to the wants of the group, and decided I would try. Long sessions had me speaking so little words. I feared being looked down upon. I feared saying something “stupid”. Little by little, that elf emerged. What would begin over the years following was a turn around in my views of the world.
I learned to trust people again in the real life as I trusted my fellow party members. My creativity grew more fanciful as I began to weave new cloth into the tapestry of my own being, the threads pieces of the make believe life. A part of me became that elf I had once started, and the shield in his hand became my strength against the self loathing and the flashbacks that would terrify my visions. The sword would become my guiding light, and with it, I took the road less traveled by my peers. I braved the brambles of all that abuse, descended into the dungeons of my scarred mind, and slayed my own dragon with the sword of this budding young man that emerged from the fold.
I learned that life could be more than just a series of painful moments to be tortured with over and over again. I learned how to have my own voice. I learned how to make friends. I learned that I didn’t have to be alone. I even learned to love.
I owe it all to the adventurers around that table and to a little red box. It not only changed my life–it saved my life. Here, at 37 years of age, I still hold this little game so very close to my heart. I became it, and it became me. It tore me from a child on the edge of the abyss, into a man who today has become honest, hard working, creative, and loving towards his own son. Without it, he would NOT be here–I would NOT be here. For this, my thanks is never enough, and my love for this art eternal.
So when the days are long and hard, when I dislike the image in the mirror and hide it away, when I fear others and distrust them expecting only lies from their lips, I can turn to that elf inside me, and know that I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I give myself credit for. I did the hardest thing I ever had to do, and that was just make the choice to keep on living, right onto the next adventure.
Thank you for reading, and do me a little favor. If you ever have the chance to share this gift with another, do it. Who knows, it may just save their life. Until next time, may Selûne guide your steps in the night, and bring them to the new dawn.