A Day in Sim City
Lauren discusses how, on the day she planned to commit suicide following years of living in an abusive family, The Sims helped distract and comfort her, preventing her death.
My family was the poster family for instability. One day our mom would threaten to leave us and the next she’d apologize, only to find herself arguing with our mentally ill father. It felt like a day couldn’t go by without them arguing themselves to sleep. I was only 8 when they asked me who I wanted to live with once they divorced.
They didn’t go through with the divorce, but their endless fighting persisted. I sometimes heard screaming and smashing things in the kitchen, but my 10 year old mind had no idea how to react. So I ended up growing into this twitchy kid that was struck with severe anxiety at every turn. Once I was forced to switch schools, I started being bullied by a good part of the class, who couldn’t stand that this new kid that had suddenly entered their territory. Whenever I’d ask my parents or relatives for advice on dealing with my growing social anxiety I’d always get the same answer: get over it. This constant rejection just made me more and more wary of people.
But I did my best to just ignore the problem. Whenever I was at home and things got out of hand, I’d just play Tomb Raider 2 on my dad’s ancient PC. My parents despised video games, and TR2 was basically the only game I had at the time. I didn’t mind replaying that game over and over again because, for a few hours, it helped me forget about everything.
But once high school rolled around I was a bumbling mess. The constant fighting was still going on in the family and that just added to the tension building up. I don’t remember how it happened, but one day I simply shut down. I slipped into depression and for almost an entire year all I did was sleep, go to school, then come home and stare idly at the wall behind the TV. I even started skipping classes and my grades slipped, but my parents didn’t even notice. Soon enough, my motivation for anything just disappeared, even my TR2 replays.
I felt like there was no point in going on, and my head was soon filled with thoughts of suicide. I spent about a week thinking of a method to kill myself that wouldn’t cause too much mess, and I eventually settled for drowning myself in the local lake. I had planned it for a Tuesday morning when my parents were both away from home. Two days before that, I woke up to see my cousin, who had come over to borrow my dad’s toolkit. Before he left, he handed me a CD case that read “The Sims”, saying that he thought I’d like it more than he did.
With zero knowledge of this game, I decided to give it a try. And once I did, time just disappeared for me. I was completely engrossed in this new world I had never seen before or thought possible. My family was just two members, but I was instantly attached to them and felt like it was my responsibility to take care of them. I remember even laughing for the first time in months because I thought I had installed the game wrong and all my Sims were speaking in Chinese. By the time my head was back into the real world an entire day had passed, and the clock showed 11PM.
The Tuesday I had planned eventually came, but I spent it all gaming.
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