It’s Summertime, and the Addictions Flow Easy

“My name is Shelley and I am a Words With Friends-aholic.”

Like most addicts, I was unaware that I was one. “Playing” was simply something I enjoyed. All the time. With up to ten people. Simultaneously. I checked the site first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and often in between. I kept my phone plugged in by my pillow, within easy reach in case insomnia struck.

My new best friend was a grammar school classmate who had tracked me down on facebook. Buddy and I would sometimes have five games going at once. We were constantly in cyber-contact. As soon as I played a word, he was right back. Thrust and parry. Not a moment in between until I would look at the clock, and cringe at how long I had been glued to the screen, lost in time and space.

I was a moth and this was my flame.

I started cursing others, out loud, when they racked up a high point word. I began bearing them ill will. These were no longer my friends. They were my adversaries. I checked the leaderboard after every play. Number two was not an option.

It was on a week internet-less vacation in Maine when my spousal equivalent first voiced his unhappiness with my behavior. As soon as we were within WiFi access, I whipped out my phone and checked out. Deprivation at the cabin resulted in unbridled binging. I was entitled. I ignored bucolic scenery. I preferred interactions with my fellow WWF-aholics to interacting with local lobstermen. He said I was rude, obsessed and unsociable. I said he was petty, selfish and needy. He said I spent more time with Buddy than I did with him. I said he was ridiculous and jealous.

Still, I didn’t stop. Instead, I began sneaking.

I stayed in the car at gas stations, lingered in the grocery store and “rested” at rest stops. I thought about WiFi. All the time. And stewed with resentment.

On that tense ride home, I realized I had better at least pretend to see the light. I admitted that I needed to stop, or at least to moderate my consumption. I acknowledged that my hobby was becoming an “issue” in our relationship. I would be more sensitive and less obsessed. I could do this. I would do this.

Not so easy, I discovered. Especially when my buddy Buddy-the-enabler was not on the same page. I finally conceded I couldn’t beat this alone.

Fate was on my side. WWF Anonymous had just started weekly meetings at my local Unitarian church. I saw the ads in the paper and began circling them, first in pencil and then in red pen. At last, one day I went.

The group was small and sat in a circle. I recognized a few faces and tried not to register surprise or relief. I took a seat and listened.

“Welcome to Words With Friends Anonymous.”

To be continued.