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Flight Level 3-5-0


AntC172
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Journal: Day 1

Detox:   Day 1

This is not the first time I have tried to quit. This is however, the first time I have tried to quit publicly, joining a group, seeking help and advice, and opening myself up to the world. So lets begin.

I game, to escape. Its not that I have a bad life or bad marriage or bad kids. Rather, I love my life, my kids, and my wife. But gaming has ruined me for them. I would say my escapism, my real addiction started in May 2010. Before that date, I played video games, but not to escape, or to fulfill a need, but because they were fun. I could take them or leave them. They were there, but not a defining part of my life. In April 2010, I got married. I was married to someone who is my best friend, and I was so happy to be married. In March, we moved overseas for my work, and by May, we found out she was pregnant with our first. 

I WAS NOT READY. Now, don't get me wrong, I am so proud to be a dad. And I love my kids. But in that moment, I absolutely freaked out. I started playing video games to escape. Gaming became habitual, cathartic, and a way for me to ignore the ENTIRELY changing landscape of my life. No longer was I going to be a guy. I was now supposed to be a father. What the heck did I know about raising another human. I could barely keep my life together. My brand new wife was changing physically, emotionally, and I didn't want to. I escaped into gaming.

Feb 2011, by son is born. The best day of my life. Easily. But gaming didn't stop for me. I needed time to myself. I needed to recharge my batteries. I needed to escape the chaos of a newborn. Diapers, and breastfeeding, and oh yea, starting a new job back in the States! My wife, with the heart of a saint, gave me space. And the gaming grew. The need to play, to win, to improve, gnawed at me. Yes, our family grew. But each time, so did my addiction, until finally, I realized I was ALONE. I had escaped, but to what end. 

I had engrossed myself in games, that I missed family events. I spent family money to feed my addiction. And I wasted time that I will never get again. And it all came to a head last year: Nov 2015; the day that I realized I would lose my job over gaming. My addictive personality had pushed me so far out of my life my wife and I disconnected. I was so out of touch, that my employer asked me to resign. Although the process was extended over 7 month, it was in that moment in November that I knew I needed to change. I promised my wife I would change. She gave me a chance. And for 7 months, I worked at it. And I read all the google answers, to limit your gaming, to control yourself. And I did. Or rather I tried. And I was good at it. 2 hours at night, after the kids were in bed, 3x a week. And I felt in control. No problem for this guy. And my employer was gracious enough to allow me 7 months to remain employed while looking for another job, while they completed the administrative portion. I was lucky. 

I was offered employment with a new job. One where my wife and I could move back home and be closer to both our parents. So we did. We uprooted our lives, and moved back to the North East. And we began to reassemble ourselves. But, then I had to go away for 3 months for training. My wife and kids stayed at home and began to settle in, while I studied in the new job. And I stopped gaming, because I could not afford to lose this job. I studied hard. And I was good. By the end of the training, instructors were telling me how good I was, feeding my ego. Well-- it can't hurt to take a little bit of time for a quick game now. I am good. My instructors said so. My ego said so. 

And so it began -- the beginning of the end. This new job requires that I travel. 18 days a month, I am on duty for work. Some times at home, but most of it on the road, traveling internationally. I spend weeks at a time traveling -- Europe, Asia, the Middle East. And during these travels I am alone. And I game. There is only so long that I can stare at the walls of the hotel. There are only so many times I can go to the Souk, or the ruins, or the museums. What am I to do while sitting in a seat at Flight Level 350 crossing the Atlantic for the 4th time this month? So I made excuses. And the playing turned into paying. Small micro transactions, grew into larger ones. And all of the sudden, my sins are catching up to me. 9 Jan 2017 in Kuwait City. Or rather 8 Jan 2017 on the East Coast. That is the date that my 7 years of addiction finally broke my family, ruined my marriage, and cost me one job. It was also the day I woke up and realized I don't want to escape my family; I love them.

I need help. So I am here. Doing the work. Starting the journey, journaling every day I can (some days disappear on you when you cross the dateline). I don't want to relapse. I don't want to go back. But I am afraid that it may be too late to save my marriage. And I am so ashamed. And I am so scared for my kids, because I don't want to lose them. They deserve a better father. And my wife, she deserves a better husband. I know I can be the father and husband my family needs. I just need to get there. I just need to level up myself. 

 

Edited by AntC172
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Welcome and thanks for sharing. Having a community supporting the quitting really helps. I'm on day 5 now and one thing that keeps me going is that I don't want to let these great people down by giving in to gaming (even though really the only person I would let down by doing so is myself).

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They deserve a better father. And my wife, she deserves a better husband. I know I can be the father and husband my family needs. I just need to get there. I just need to level up myself. 

That automatically makes you better than my father. It's quite ironic as the reason I am here at gamequitters is because of my escapist father and the effect that had on me. So, you have to do this for your kids otherwise they will end up like me. I know you can do it. Welcome to the community and best of luck with your family.

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I can recommend also sharing this journal with your loved one, if she's ready for it and willing. My hubby reads my journal and it's really helping him understand what I'm going through, how I'm willing to change, what's on my mind, etc. Sometimes I write down things that I do not automatically share with him, or I assume he knows, which is not always the case.

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AntC172 - I agree with @Mhyrion, I urge my wife to also read my journal and she does, it's very refreshing to be completely open and she is extremely understanding. She enjoys reading it. It's important in a marriage to be truthful and transparent, it's been for the better.

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Welcome to the journaling sub-forum Ant! 

I like how you explained gaming was "take it or leave it" in the beginning. Then it took over a part of your life. 

I've been on here for a while, but I love to read other people's experiences. We all share very similar experiences. And each stage of the process shares similar struggles.
How you said "take it or leave it" is how I now feel about gaming, but there's always an allure even after not playing for 70 something days. 

I wish you the best in your journey! You can count on us here at the forum, whenever you feel down. 

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Hey thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the forum.

Some thing you could do on travels are to read/do excercise/ learn new things/ have skype calls with your family/ meditate/write. I am sure you know that that was just an excuse to dive back into gaming but I'll just wanted to make clear that their is a lot of things you can try now that you decided to stop gaming. It is indeed not only a decision against gaming but a decision for a lot of great new things you could do.

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Journal: Day 2

Detox:   Day 2

 

Shit, Day 1 sucked. The boredom of the hotel almost broke me. I hit the gym twice, but never really felt the euphoric exhaustion that I get when I really work hard. I will fully admit that I half-assed two workouts... so maybe that might count as 1 real workout.

Anyway, I took your advice @phpsmith and @Mhyrion and I invited my wife to read the journal. I also delved into activites to occupy myself that I can do while traveling with minimal equipment and other activities I can do at home when I am not on duty. 

I broke them down into four areas -- Physical, Social, Mental, and Skill.

The easiest things to find were things I want to do when I am home not working. I have always had an affinity for carpentry and woodworking. I loved building my wife raised planters when we bought our first home, or building shelves, or running small home improvement projects. I would like to get back into the woodworking and hone my skills. To be honest, we are looking at buying another home since we moved back to the North East. We want one that is a fixer-upper and I would like to be able to do some if not most of the work myself. I just don't want to do plumbing or electrical work. From a personal preference and safety wise, plumbing can ruin your day if done wrong and I have almost killed myself twice by not using proper safety protocols when dealing with electricity. (oh, its just a quick rewiring job i thought, and then next thing I know is that I am waking up on the floor and the fuse is blown and Oh SHIT, did I just almost kill myself! "Don't worry honey, I am okay. Kids, go get daddy the first aid kit")

Secondly, I played hockey all though high school. It would be nice to join an adult league for the social and physical aspect. Plus, I love hockey it is a great sport and the physicality of it excites me. Once a week adult league would be awesome. Something to look into when I get back from this trip.

Finally, I have thought about teaching an online course. It is something I can do to bring in a little extra cash, I can do it from anywhere (at home or on the road), and it would be mentally challenging and rewarding for me to share some knowledge with others. I don't even know where to begin on this one. Who hires teachers for online courses? Do I need a certification? How do I get a teaching certificate? Things to do. Things to look into. (If anyone reading this has some advice in this area, I'll take it.)

That covers all of my needs when I am home. But what to do while I am traveling? That epiphany came to me today while hanging out in the aircrew lounge of the hotel waiting for the afternoon feeding of the manimals. COOKING!

Airline crews eat garbage while on the road. Look at how many pilots are overweight next time you visit an airport. Its not easy to keep healthy or eat well while traveling. Most packaged foods on the plane or in the hotel are loaded with sodium and preservatives. I have seen an airplane meal last for a week unrefrigerated and not mold/go bad. However, the planes we fly have ovens. These ovens are not your standard electric oven. They are an oven in the sense that your hairdryer is an oven. They are designed to reheat prepared meals that you get on the plane. However, with some ingenuity and skill, flight attendants have been know to cook ACTUAL fresh food using these ovens. So while I am traveling, I want to learn to cook real food with the equivalent of a hairdryer. I want to learn how to do it so I can eat healthier while traveling. I have seen Flight Attendants cook everything from eggs to steaks to brownies and cookies. If I can get some recipes together, plan a cooking list, shop for ingredients, prep them before the flight and cook healthy/fresh meals on the plane for myself and the other pilots upfront, I think that will satisfy my desire for finding activities that are based on a skill, while combining a social, physical and mental aspect to the project. And I won't need much to accomplish this while on the road. Planning recipes is mentally taxing for me. Shopping for ingredients will get me out of the hotel and exert some energy out of the gym and the actual cooking will either win me friends with the crew or make permanent enemies if I burn the food, but hey, I am fulfilling my social need! If I can learn to do this right, maybe even write the recipes down and share them with others. Working Title: Blowdrying Steaks and Tin-Foiled Eggs -- How to Cook at 40,000 Feet. I am open to suggestions on the title and any recipes you want to share or might think of to get me started. 

Anyway, Day 1 is done, its 2am in Kuwait. I am starting Day 2 by going to bed.

Edited by AntC172
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Journal: Day 3

Detox:   Day 3

Wow, yesterday was very difficult. I had the shakes, the temptations, the urges. It was very difficult. But, it was worth it. I made it. That is one more step forward. And I focused during those urges to accept them, understand the feelings, and then make the conscious decision to move forward. 

I was able to get my application in for a possible online adjunct teaching position. I was also able to do my laundry and organize myself. It also happened that I got a call from another airline, who is a direct competitor of my current company, inviting me for an interview. It was an amazing feeling to get that moment where I can possibly move to a better airline with more money and better benefits. 

Anyway, I'll keep this short since I don't feel like writing a lot. Yesterday was a very tough day with some awesome opportunities that made the struggles seem much easier in retrospect. 

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Hey about your online teaching idea:

In reasearched Abit and there are some sites where you could teach personally to students and get payed fo it. There is upwork  for example.

I personally would advice you to think about creating a blod where you teach things you can do well. If you manage to get some frequent Readers it can helpa  lot of People. You could also make YouTube Videos and link them there. You can monetize These things with ads for example. Or you write a Little ebook/course and sell it over the page. This is the way Cam makes money for example. The important aspect on this is to find a niche. If your interested in this I am sure cam could give you some pointers.

Another possibility is to creat a udemy course

 

Also good job on staying strong. These urges  usuall are the worst in the beginning of the detox.

 

 

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Day 7 (i think)

 

Well, its been a few days since I posted... don't worry, I didn't relapse or fall off the face of the earth. Rather, I have been preparing for the job interview with this new airline on Tuesday. Its pretty intense and the resources of other pilots who have interviewed before is fairly extensive. There is a lot of information to study. But all in all, this airline is a MUCH better place to work, in terms of pay, benefits, work rules, and prestige.

I arrived in Ireland yesterday after flying for 12.5 hrs and working for 18.5 hrs. We had a couple of issues leaving Kuwait and were stuck in Qatar for 4 hrs. After a beer and dinner with some of my coworkers, I fell asleep and was awoken to a phonecall from another airline asking me to travel for ANOTHER interview! WTF, for a year I got no love from most of the big airlines, and yet here after a few months I am getting phone calls in the middle of the night. 

I am preparing to leave Ireland today in 3 hours to fly to Nashville NC and will then fly to Miami for the interview with the first airline on Tuesday. The difficulty now is that I won't have a suit for the interview on Tuesday! I was supposed to be back home today to pick up my suit and go to Miami on Monday, but because of the delays in Kuwait and Qatar and getting into Ireland, I was re tasked to operate the flight this morning into NC. I think I will need to find a place to rent a suit in Miami. Any ideas?

I have been able to keep my workout routine going until last night. I was just too tired. I am still tired, but when the sun comes up in Ireland (HAHA), I will be awake. Hopefully, I can get back on schedule tonight when I land in NC.

As far as teaching, @WorkinProgress, I am going to look into Abit or Upwork when I get home and have a few minutes from the craziness. The good news is that because of all the changes to my schedule and the upcoming interviews and the general chaos, I haven't had much down time to feel the urges and the shakes. I am concerned because when things slow down again, if these feeling will come back. I did miss having a puzzle game to play while we were cruising from Qatar to Ireland. Usually, I like to do a crossword or some sort of puzzle game while we cruise across the pond, but since I deleted all my games, I was missing it. It is just something to do to stay awake and keep my mind fresh while we cruise. Anyway, I am going to eat breakfast, which is always a nice way to start a day especially since I am tired and haven't fully caught up on my sleep.

 

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Day 11:

 

Again, I have been lazy keeping up with my Journal. Finally made it back home to NYC on Tuesday night following my interview with the airline on Tuesday. It went very well. Needless to say, there was A LOT of effort that went into making that interview happen on short notice, to include buying a new suit in Nashville TN on Sunday night because I was not going to be able to make it home to pick up my suit on time. It all came together with the help of my friends and family and I do appreciate that. It was a lot of running around to find a suit that fits, getting it tailored properly, and then after all is said and done, I ALMOST forgot it on the plane from Nashville to Miami on Monday morning!!!! At the end of the day though, the interview went very will (I think) and I was told that if I get the job, I will get an e-mail next week. Otherwise, I should expect to get a FedEx envelop with the rejection letter telling me I can apply again after a year. So we shall see. But if this all works out (fingers crossed) the pay and benefits will be the last stop for me. I won't have to worry about going to a different airline unless this one goes bankrupt. 

Anyway, I got home and the wife was sick. So, I quarantined her and have been managing the kids solo. How she does this while I am away I will never know, but this craziness has left we with minimal time to even think about gaming. However, I am concerned that when thing settle down in a few days, I will get the urges again because the normalcy will return and the craziness with be at bay. The wife said I should probably be proactive in countering that instead of reactionary. She is right. I will probably work on that recipe book and follow up on the online teaching applications I submitted since I postponed those until after the interview. Here is to waiting until next week for an e-mail! I will be all levels of excited if I get the new job. Off to write post-interview thank you cards.

 

-Ant

 

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Glad to hear the interview went well! Good job taking the effort necessary to make it happen. It could have been easy to just not follow through but you did and that's something you should be proud of. 

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Thanks @Cam,

Day 12: 

 

I spent most of the day asleep. I started getting sick in the middle of the night. However, after sleeping for the majority of the day (thanks to my wife for managing the kids to let me go to sleep) I am feeling much better. The urges today were definitely replaced by something else -- not of the good kind. HOWEVER, on the best note -- I should have probably started with this -- I got offered the job at the new airline. Its very exciting and good news. My wife is not as thrilled as I am, but I think that is because she doesn't know much about the benefits and perks of the new job. She is correct in stating that the pay and benefits are "marginally" better; however, the pilots union is currently in negotiations with the company for a new contract which we are hoping will bring us in line with other air carriers of similar size. We agreed to move to the new job when the training spot becomes open. 

This removal of the games from my life have been a huge help in getting my life refocused and moving in the right direction. This has been the toughest yet almost instantly rewarding decision I have taken. Thank you all. Tomorrow I will refocus on finding a potential teaching job/additional job to do while on the road. 

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Day 13:

Today I took the kids to a Children Museum and spent the first half of the day out of the house playing with them. It was great watching them use their imagination and play with all the different setups at the museum. It reminded me that video games atrophy the mind and our ability to play and imagine outside of the confines of the pixels in front of us. 

After the museum, we got my car washed and had lunch. As soon as I can get the kids down for a nap or maybe have some quiet time, I can finally get to some of the work items I have been delaying like online teaching applications. Or maybe I can spend some quality time with the wife. Either way, the day started off strong with the kids and reminded me why I am doing this. 

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So I delved into figuring out ways to cook and eat healthily on the road. However, again, my wife isn't as keen on some of the ideas that I have latched on to, mainly because either they require some initial capital, or that it is a lot of invested time and work. Anyway, one of the ideas I read and would like to steal would be to pre-pack dried/dehydrated soup ingredients and then (in a large thermos) mix ingredients with hot water for a quick and healthy meal to eat on the plane. Everything I read is that I need to reduce liquid ingredients by 80% in their dried forms (2 cups of milk = 1.6 cups of dehydrated milk). Anyway, I can pack a TON of baggies into my flight bag, they have a long shelf life, and that has to be healthier than eating this:

HKG-Catering-1.jpg

or 

Screw-in-catering-1-300x169.jpg

 

The bottom image had a sheet metal screw left in the food -- cause you know, people need more iron in their diet. Anyway, anyone want to share their favorite soup recipe?

The ingredients can be either bought dried (expensive) or I can get a dehydrator and dehydrate my own meats and veggies (costly in the short term). I will just need to buy dried bullion and maybe dehydrated milk for any cream based soups. Wife said more research needs to be done. I guess back to figuring out what to do. At least the mind is kept occupied and not overwhelmed by the gaming. I deleted more games today from my desktop (i wasn't able to do it on the road) and it was not as hard but it was still painful. I also sold one of my game accounts -- the sale went through yesterday and it was difficult to know that something I had invested so much time into, WASTED so much time and money into, was just gone like that in an instant. I mean, I am glad it is gone, but there is a part of me that is sad. 

Anyway, I better wrap this up, the kids are screaming and I am needed. **Sigh** Just be nice to each other boys. Just be nice. 

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Day 15:

 

I made it two weeks without video games, which is awesome for me. I am still getting the pangs of withdrawal at times, but every day feels like an accomplishment. I almost relapsed yesterday. I started down a rabbit hole and got caught up in something and almost justified buying a new video game. I stopped myself and thought "What the hell are you doing?" I mean, there is no need for it. If I didn't need to bring my laptop with me while working for all the required airplane manuals and tech specs and operations procedures which I am required to carry and access either digitally or in paper copy, I wouldn't bring the laptop at all. Anyway, I leave on Thursday morning for Tokyo to fly a trip from Tokyo to Seattle; I am excited -- there is an awesome noodle shop by the hotel they keep us at and I am really craving some good noodles. 

My wife told me today that I look like I lost some weight -- which is nice to hear. Anyway, here is to another day of not giving in to the temptations that surround our lives.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Day 21:

I am on the road again. I have been for about 6 days. First chance I had to post these thoughts. Things were getting easier until today when I sat next to a guy playing an iPhone game and I was unable to stop myself from just watching. It must have been almost 2 hrs on the plane just watching him play. I was so entranced by it. It almost feels like a relapse. 

I tried to turn away or sleep or do anything to distract myself, but I am stuck in economy for 9 hrs traveling to Tokyo. Other than today, it has been a good trip. I have been able to eat less workout more. 

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