So, the reason I've archived a bunch of stuff from my guild forums is that I may have to leave that guild. I hope it won't really come to that, even now, but I have my doubts. There's a reasonable chance that doing so would not cost me my “members only” access to the stories I've written. Well, at least not right away. Eventually, guild membership and especially leadership changes. At some point in the future, I could lose that access. So, having had to think about that, I decided I'd copy things into this blog just in case.
I'm not going to go into full, specific details about what the problem is. (In other words, I'm not going to name names, post exact quotes, etc.) Partly, that's because I want to keep this post ‘public’. Also, however, it wouldn't be fair to person with whom I'm having an ongoing conflict, especially not in a friends-locked posting (eliminating all chance for a reubuttal). For all that the childish temptation is to scream “<name redacted here> is driving me from the guild!”, I know that that's childish — and wrong.
If I leave it at that, though, I also know that I'll have piqued some people's curiosity enough that they won't be satisfied with that. So, given that I don't want to go into the sort of details that might vilify someone, what can I say? Hmm. Some background is in order, I think.
I am bipolar. My condition is mild enough that my insurance doesn't want to pay for the drugs that would help me manage to be more normal. So, I have to cope by knowing my symptoms, and trying to manage situations so that they (I?) don't get out of control. Sometimes that fails. I know that many people don't really know what the symptoms are in general. Then there's the fact that I've just said my case is “mild”.
Okay, then. Symptoms of relevance. Yes, I have cyclical ‘mood swings’. The cycle is a bit closer to five weeks than to four. Sounds like a relatively familiar interval for a cycle, hmm? The actual duration is often directly affected by stress, mostly lengthening the time spent in the depressive phase of it. There are a couple of days each month (on each side of the swings) where I'm practically normal. In this case, by ‘normal’, I mean that I don't necessarily show the other hallmark symptom.
Most of the time, though, the big symptom of consequence for me is present. I overreact to things. To everything. I have to fight back tears of joy at simple compliments. I fight against crushing despair at mild criticism. And, the most surprising to people not familiar with the condition, I fight killing rage at casual insults. Okay, I am exaggerating a little bit there, but I think it helps set the expectations the right way. I'm an involuntary passenger on an emotional roller-coaster. Every reaction I have to anything is stronger than it ought to be, and I know it - but I'm helpless to affect it.
So, how is this relevant to the situation I find myself in within my guild? Well, the more overreactions I have, the longer things take to settle out to an even keel again. If they keep coming from the same person, it makes me that much more overly sensitive to things done or said by that person. Also, being bipolar isn't the only thing in my background that makes part of, well, like the term or not, an oppressed minority. It's not even the only psychological condition I have of note. Thus, I react pretty badly to language of marginalisation — racist, sexist, or classist remarks in particular. I do mostly recognise when they're not being used seriously, but many people who use them with humourous intent honestly don't realise that it's only so funny to many of the usual targets of such statements. Often, in fact, not funny at all. Even just overhearing too many such remarks is not good for my stress level. Yes, I do hold in my reactions (most of the time, with a few notable and regrettable exceptions). But that just adds to the stress.
So, on to this one guildie in particular. He's (technically) of an oppressed minority himself. Some of his marginalising language is self-directed, which provides a certain measure of how much he really means it. Which is to say that he doesn't really mean anything by it. However, while the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has, in its strict sense, been thoroughly disproved, it's still also pretty well established that language influences thought. Thus the whole notion of categorising and combatting marginalising language. This guy's conversation in the out-of-character guild channels (we have one for just our guild and one for other guilds and general ‘frinds and family’) is peppered with things where (using made-up names rather than real examples) we see: “Fred did X, John did Y, and the woman did Z.” In modern business-speak, the ‘take-away message’ here is that men are real people who have names, and women are objects.
Again, I don't think he actually believes that. Much of the time, I'm sure he's using that phrasing to get the goat of his girlfriend (who is the referent for “the woman” in such statements), and she gives it back to him quite well. As a third party who's present to have to overhear such, though, and who's already sensitive to such language, it's a constant irritant. Correlate that with some of the above about overreacting to things and what it means if it keeps happening from the same person a lot. Bad juju.
Still, part of coping with my condition means recognising such situations as involving exaggerated reactions on my part, and letting them go. Maybe too much so, since I was also socialised to avoid confrontation. This means I have to be pushed too far already, on top of the overreactions of my condition, before I'm really willing to call someone on such things. That's really bad for doing so in any sort of rational manner. So, I just swallow the irritation and go on. We're peers in our guild, and there's nothing he can really do to marginalise me, despite how much I dislike such word choices. It's not the right battle to try to fight.
Unfortunately, other things happened between us in-game that lead to a distinct lack of trust on my part for him. Rightly or wrongly, they have. Here I won't go into details, because that would be hideously unfair to him. I need to get to a rational enough head-space about things with him to try to talk with him about them first, at least. Sorry, but I don't want to make him out to be ‘the bad guy’. Or, to paraphrase something I heard once: In almost any ‘psycho ex’ story, there are two psycho exes. I don't actually think he's a bad person, and I don't want to be leading anyone else to think so. I wouldn't bring it up at all if weren't relevant to what comes next.
He gets made an officer of the guild. Now, we're not longer strictly peers. This changes the ‘power structure’ of what's happening, and how I perceive the marginalising language. It wouldn't, much, but for there also being an issue of trust.
Worse yet, for me, he's the new raid coordinator. If I can't trust my new raid leader, and am constantly annoyed at him, how am I to keep raiding with my guild? But if I want to raid at the level I've been doing, I pretty much need to be in a guild raid. On the other hand, I like role-playing in the game even more than raiding. On the gripping hand, the tension with this guy as an officer, and the side effects the stress have been having on me, are such that staying and just not raiding may not be viable either.
So, despite how much it would hurt (and it would — I've made some good friends in this guild), I might have to leave. I have too much emotional investment in this guild to like that answer, and I haven't given up completely just yet. But this is the background for why, just in case I do have to leave it, I've posted copies of forum posts to this journal.