© W.David Hoisington, Ph. D.

Wednesday 02 | 08| 2017

Hiding Under the Blanket

 Intense grief, like that from losing a loved one, can be very difficult.  I have always been a deeply sensitive person, one who feels his way through life first before turning to reason.  The experience with intense grief left me with no room for more feelings.  I had thrown a metaphorical blanket over me to act as a barrier to experiencing any more emotion.  In doing so I became blind to the feelings of life, especially those in relationships.  Relationships are heavily laden with emotion, even ones in virtual reality.  Navigating them while wearing the emotive blanket was problematic and yet was noticed clearly only through hindsight. It seemed to me the protective blanket was survival gear.  The grief was so intense that there was no more room for anything else other than the bare survival functions of life.  I had just enough mental and emotional resources to stay active, to enter the virtual reality game and work on the goodwill center there.  Everything else ground to a halt, including getting ready to move our home across the state line in two months.  Moving, a big event in one’s life, was still distant and under the blanket I was numb to it.  There just was no more room under the blanket for anything else but my sorrow. Recently the blanket has been removed and those emotive receptors are sensing the world again.  Having those receptors blanketed was much like being blindfolded.  There are so many people who experience trauma, grief and sorrow.  Each find their own ways of providing insulation from the pain of it.  In the beginning the pain is so loud that there is no way the average person can sit with it freely and also openly, emotively, connect with the world.   Even with all the human service training behind me it still was not possible.  It’s just a part of the healing, like placing a bandage over a wound the blanket allowed time for emotional healing. As I type this blog the experience imbues a sense of enjoyment, whereas during the intense grief there was only numbness and being petrified, frozen in life.  The blog writing is filled with emotive content, while also being a rational argument for living a compassionate life.   One of the main arguments often presented against such a life style is stated as “you can’t live that way because people will walk all over you and you will be hurt”.  This statement comes from a fear of emotional pain.   It comes from living under the blanket to avoid that pain.  But having the blanket as a permanent feature comes with a cost – disconnections from others. As I was in the virtual world building the goodwill center I had the help of others. It is a big project. I spoke of my intense grief.  Some were supportive, some said nothing, and some were neglectful of the delicate nature of my condition at that time.  Perhaps this is just the way of things. Perhaps I expect too much from a group of compassionate players.  Maybe it gets chalked up to “that’s just normal human behavior”.  It all came into sharp focus for me during an encounter with “power player”, whom I had not met before. Some background first:  as an avatar I choose not to advertise my status in the game, because I wish to make new players feel as comfortable as is possible, so on first appearances I look like a new player.   Also my avatar is a Paladin – holding all life (humanoid and mammal) sacred while also helping to send the undead (skeletons and ghosts) on to the afterlife where they belong.  There is no logic, strictly speaking from the mechanics of the game, to support a Paladin role play.  This power player was quick to point this out, with statements like “You are a new player and don’t know what you are doing”.  My buttons were pushed here because I do have over 2400 hours in the game.  But his point of view was different from mine and it might have been better for him to say “you are not playing like I am and thus you do not fully understand the way I play”.  The conversation lasted an hour and we parted on cordial terms but it illustrated to me how people can be quick to make assumptions.  Do we make assumptions about people who are suffering, who may have their own blankets?  This power player had no clue about what was happening in my life and how that was impacting on the role of the avatar.  His assumptions and his agenda led the discourse.  I saw myself reflected in that, how often had I done the same thing.  This entire encounter showed to me that the blanket was no longer there because in this encounter feelings were not only sensed, they were processed and reflected upon.  The blanket had been folded neatly and placed back in the closet. There is still an empty space there for the loss of a loved one, but I can look at it, sit with it.  Couldn’t do that before because it was too overpowering.  There is still a deep sadness, an empty place of longing, but it is now being tempered by fond and gentle memories – a shared quiet space. .
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© W.David Hoisington, Ph.D.

Wednesday 02 | 08| 2017

Hiding Under the

Blanket

 Intense grief, like that from losing a loved one, can be very difficult.  I have always been a deeply sensitive person, one who feels his way through life first before turning to reason.  The experience with intense grief left me with no room for more feelings.  I had thrown a metaphorical blanket over me to act as a barrier to experiencing any more emotion.  In doing so I became blind to the feelings of life, especially those in relationships.  Relationships are heavily laden with emotion, even ones in virtual reality.  Navigating them while wearing the emotive blanket was problematic and yet was noticed clearly only through hindsight. It seemed to me the protective blanket was survival gear.  The grief was so intense that there was no more room for anything else other than the bare survival functions of life.  I had just enough mental and emotional resources to stay active, to enter the virtual reality game and work on the goodwill center there.  Everything else ground to a halt, including getting ready to move our home across the state line in two months.  Moving, a big event in one’s life, was still distant and under the blanket I was numb to it.  There just was no more room under the blanket for anything else but my sorrow. Recently the blanket has been removed and those emotive receptors are sensing the world again.  Having those receptors blanketed was much like being blindfolded.  There are so many people who experience trauma, grief and sorrow.  Each find their own ways of providing insulation from the pain of it.  In the beginning the pain is so loud that there is no way the average person can sit with it freely and also openly, emotively, connect with the world.   Even with all the human service training behind me it still was not possible.  It’s just a part of the healing, like placing a bandage over a wound the blanket allowed time for emotional healing. As I type this blog the experience imbues a sense of enjoyment, whereas during the intense grief there was only numbness and being petrified, frozen in life.  The blog writing is filled with emotive content, while also being a rational argument for living a compassionate life.   One of the main arguments often presented against such a life style is stated as “you can’t live that way because people will walk all over you and you will be hurt”.  This statement comes from a fear of emotional pain.   It comes from living under the blanket to avoid that pain.  But having the blanket as a permanent feature comes with a cost – disconnections from others. As I was in the virtual world building the goodwill center I had the help of others. It is a big project. I spoke of my intense grief.  Some were supportive, some said nothing, and some were neglectful of the delicate nature of my condition at that time.  Perhaps this is just the way of things. Perhaps I expect too much from a group of compassionate players.  Maybe it gets chalked up to “that’s just normal human behavior”.  It all came into sharp focus for me during an encounter with “power player”, whom I had not met before. Some background first:  as an avatar I choose not to advertise my status in the game, because I wish to make new players feel as comfortable as is possible, so on first appearances I look like a new player.   Also my avatar is a Paladin – holding all life (humanoid and mammal) sacred while also helping to send the undead (skeletons and ghosts) on to the afterlife where they belong.  There is no logic, strictly speaking from the mechanics of the game, to support a Paladin role play.  This power player was quick to point this out, with statements like “You are a new player and don’t know what you are doing”.  My buttons were pushed here because I do have over 2400 hours in the game.  But his point of view was different from mine and it might have been better for him to say “you are not playing like I am and thus you do not fully understand the way I play”.  The conversation lasted an hour and we parted on cordial terms but it illustrated to me how people can be quick to make assumptions.  Do we make assumptions about people who are suffering, who may have their own blankets?  This power player had no clue about what was happening in my life and how that was impacting on the role of the avatar.  His assumptions and his agenda led the discourse.  I saw myself reflected in that, how often had I done the same thing.  This entire encounter showed to me that the blanket was no longer there because in this encounter feelings were not only sensed, they were processed and reflected upon.  The blanket had been folded neatly and placed back in the closet. There is still an empty space there for the loss of a loved one, but I can look at it, sit with it.  Couldn’t do that before because it was too overpowering.  There is still a deep sadness, an empty place of longing, but it is now being tempered by fond and gentle memories – a shared quiet space. .
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