After a few days, I think I’ve managed to get the words together to say something about this. I left my guild. Yeah… the one I worked so hard to be a part of. The one everybody was so proud of me for managing to stay in. I left.

Here’s the thing - The problem wasn’t the people. The problem wasn’t me. Sometimes the problem really is “we just grew apart”. I think the problem here, to some degree, may be a little bit of “we never really meshed properly”.

I accidently ended up in that guild. I was just going to visit Apple over on Azuremyst for a weekend. Apple hadn’t logged in yet and someone else sent me an invite to the guild. I panicked! Rather than having to explain that I really wasn’t intending to join a guild, I just hit accept. I figured I could leave quietly once everyone else had logged out that night. I actually liked the guild and it was going to be disappointing to leave, but I knew it would be the best thing to do.

Except I didn’t leave.

I logged in the next day and had a wonderful conversation with someone who, much like Apple had done, completely bypassed my “adjusting to a new person” phase and didn’t make me even the slightest bit uncomfortable. Here I am, months down the road, and I count them as a friend. It is because of them that Magritte says “RAWR!” in combat.

I kept it in mind that I might leave the guild if I just wasn’t comfortable in a social setting, but I didn’t plan on leaving immediately. I stayed. I enjoyed the people. I made plans to do something someday other than just wander Azeroth questing. When Magritte was still a lowbie cat druid (kitten druid?) I talked about getting to the point where I could at least do alt night raids with them. I understood my inability to use Vent because of a hearing problem, combined with some of my relfex and mental processing issues, could be a liability for progression raiding. But I felt like I could raid with these people. Besides… how else was I going to get the staff that would turn me into a flame kitty?

Time passes, things change. The guild changed a bit. We lost several people to SWTOR. One of them was someone who had been supportive of my wanting to do more and needing to learn how to work in groups. My druid changed. I went bear just to survive in Northrend. I could do fine going back to cat once I got to Hyjal, but why would I want to? BEARS! <3 I love bear so much that I made myself accept that I couldn’t be a bear unless I was tanking and would need to learn how to fill that role. The cat abilities faded in my mind. At this point, I couldn’t go cat even if I wanted to. I just have no clue what to do besides prowl and walk away. I respecced a bit and tanked something for the first time during Hallow’s End. It turns out I not only love the bear, but tanking is the one thing that makes any amount of my anxiety in groups fade. Sometimes disappear. It fades during trash. It disappears on a boss.

(I panicked while driving on the freeway one day, took the wrong exist just to GET OFF THE FREEWAY, and then couldn’t figure out how to get where I was going on regular city streets. Even though I knew where I was, where the place I was going was, and what the streets in between were. I ended up having to call my dad for directions. I explained to my husband THAT is the same panic being in a group in WoW causes. Every. Freakin’. Time. I’ve tried every class and every role. Bear tanking is the only thing that helps.)

Heroics have been difficult for me. I don’t think Blizzard can make some of the people who complain about how easy WoW is happy. Not without designing a game that is so difficult that they’d turn away a larger segment of the playerbase than they’d keep. I know there are people who just take to certain things more easily than others do, but I also think there are a certain number of people who have just played games so much that raising the difficulty level for them would be about more than simply creating encounters that are more difficult than current content. It would mean creating something they can’t easily adapt to with their wealth of previous gaming experience.

It’s like asking someone to making tying shoelaces more challenging. If you succeed in doing that for most of us, I’d hate to be a kid who has to learn to tie their shoes at that point. It’s already difficult for a lot of kids to learn. Once you’ve got it, though… shoelaces aren’t likely to challenge you again. (Assuming you have no mental or physical impairments that complicate shoe tying.)

So I’ve been struggling in heroics.  When I say “heroics”, that’s not just the new five mans. That includes the ones that came out of the box with Cataclysm. I have to learn those mechanics that aren’t present in the normal dungeons. And that was actually going well for a while, because having seen the dungeons on normal meant this wasn’t completely new to me. I was able to learn with just one person I knew queueing with me and the other three people being random folks.

Then my ilvl got to where more heroics were available to me. Heroics that don’t have a normal version.

I freaked out one day. I don’t even know why. The dungeon had been going just fine. It was Well of Eternity, and I’d even managed to tank Peroth’arn with no healer because they stood in the wrong thing and got themself killed very early on in the fight. My confidence may have been shaken a bit when, after the Azshara add fight, one of the dps very politely asked if I wanted him to tank. It didn’t seem to come from me doing anything wrong, though, so much as it being clear that I hadn’t done this before. The friend I had queued with said that he was teaching me to tank the fights, and that I couldn’t really learn that without tanking. The dps agreed that was true.

But then I just freaked out on the last fight! We didn’t wipe, but I wasn’t really tanking. I was crying. I was having trouble breathing and couldn’t see my screen as anything other than a swirling mass of colors. I screamed. My husband came over and sat next to me, but very little could be done to calm me until it ended. I kept begging out loud for the whole thing to just end and let me turn in my quest, and I was just randomly swiping at things without actually knowing what was going on. I may or may not have used Survival Instincts. I hope I “RAWR!”d.

I haven’t been able to finish a heroic since then. That was a couple of weeks ago. I’ve tried to do heroics again, but we wanted to avoid me panicking like that, so if I started getting too uncomfortable I just had to go ahead and drop out before it got worse. I hate that. I generally don’t drop out of dungeons. It happened maybe twice in Wrath, and I did a lot of dungeons then. I once left a dungeon because the healer had gone afk and stayed afk for so long that everyone else left the group. I waited a few more minutes and finally left a message apologizing for having to leave him there before I dropped. If I get into a dungeon I hate (Lookin’ at you, Oculus) I just go ahead and do it anyway. I’m not a group dropper.

I just can’t learn the heroics that have no normal version with random people in the group. I don’t get to ask the questions I need to, or move at the pace I need to. And that’s what brings us back to leaving the guild.

This isn’t the guild’s fault. No, I was not getting what I need there. I needed to at least learn these dungeons in a guild group so then I could do them with just one or two people I know and some random folks. Until I learn them all, I’m terrified to queue for randoms. Guild groups were not happening. That’s because it’s a raiding guild for people who don’t have a whole lot of time to play. Some of them only log in on raid nights. Some of the people who do have more time did help me out a bit, or were willing to if we could have gotten a full group, but there just weren’t enough people on for that.

I didn’t want to leave. I had a conversation with one of the members one day about my goals and needs and the guild’s goals and how it works. There didn’t really seem to be a solution, but I said I wouldn’t leave immediately since I didn’t have anywhere else to go, anyway. I explained my situation on the guild forums and asked for some help. There were people who were willing, but personal schedules just weren’t letting it happen.

It became miserable for me. I finally convinced myself that I was just going to have to do LFR to have a shot at the Kiril polearm. I decided I’d be willing to go cat and be low dps who doesn’t know what she’s doing just to have a chance at it. My gear ilvl isn’t enough to get me in, though. I can’t get better gear because I’m not running dungeons. And I would have been running dungeons, but I just wasn’t in a guild that could support my needs for learning the dungeons.

I wasn’t getting to have a voice about new recuits. I can’t use Vent, so I effectively “wasn’t there” when the guild talked to these people. And I wasn’t a raider, so it’s not like I could have had anything valuable to add about whether or not they’d be good to have for raiding. I was going to have to adjust to them as guildies, but I had no say in it. And I was resenting being introduced to new people as the “social member” because I felt I’d been trapped in that position by circumstances, rather than choosing to be there.

I didn’t want to play anymore. I had started avoiding Magritte, logging her in to do my dailies and then switching to an alt. Magritte wasn’t really what was making me unhappy, though. It was making me miserable to see guildies getting to do things I couldn’t do. Seeing them plan for things I wasn’t going to be a part of.

I didn’t want to leave, and I can’t really achieve my goals any better without them than I could with them, but at least I don’t have to sit in a corner while they have fun at the party anymore. It’s not a bad guild. Not at all. It’s just that once I mostly got over the social hurdle of being in guild, it turned out I was in one that didn’t really fit my needs.

I can turn off guild invites, but I can’t stop people from just asking me if I want to join a guild. I solved that problem on my old server by being the leader of a guild that was made up of my main, my alts, my husband’s alts (his main was in another guild) and I eventually let in a couple of people I knew I could trust. It was the < Cheese of the Month Club >, in case you’re wondering. It looks like that’s the point I’m at again. Apple started < Rainbow Bears > for me, handed me leadership, and all my Azuremyst characters have been moved there. Apple is there, too, and Asherrylie’s druid moved in. My husband is still a member of Eff the Ineffable. There was no reason for him to leave.

We have a very cunning tabard. Bear walks down the street in that tabard, people know she’s not afraid of anything. Except, y’know, that she is… and… RAWR! Just RAWR!

What could have prevented this from happening? A lot of things, probably, but most of them just aren’t reasonable to ask for. There’s something Blizzard could do that would have prevented it, though. I need VP. I would have been fine queueing for heroics I’ve already learned without a full group of guildies. I would have even been willing to queue for at least one of them all alone. But I don’t get VP if I don’t queue for randoms. It’s that fear of ending up in a random heroic I’ve never seen before with random people that it the problem.

If I could get VP for the first seven heroics I do each week - not the first seven random heroics - then I could queue for the ones I’ve already learned when there aren’t people available to help me learn the rest of them and still get VP.

While we’re at it, I’m tired of being pushed to skip trash. I am not a bad tank because I don’t skip trash. There are plenty of things I need to learn to do better as a tank. Move things a little faster and smoother when moving them out of bad stuff so dps can get back on them faster. Gather adds better. How to pull near CC’d mobs. (Although, to be honest, part of that is a dps problem. Would you just freakin’ WAIT for it to come to me once I pull it? Do not start dpsing when it’s halfway between the CC’d buddy it just left and me! Give me half a freakin’ second longer!) But I am NOT a bad tank because I don’t want to slip past trash and hope it doesn’t notice any of us, or that we don’t accidently back into it when I pick up this other group near it.

I’ve seen people say before that clearing trash should be required for finishing the dungeon. Like, the boss won’t show up unless you clear all the trash. I’m not really in favor of that idea. Sometimes you just don’t get ALL the trash because there’s one mob standing in a corner somewhere you didn’t go near. And in general, I’m in favor of things that reward you for playing content, not punish you for not playing it. I wouldn’t want to end up in groups with people who are even more “Go!Go!Go!” than now because they still wanted a fast run but knew we had to clear all the trash.

But maybe there could be points attached to killing trash? Obviously, gold and whatever stuff trash drops isn’t enough at some point to keep people wanting to clear it. But there are plenty of people who are only running the dungeons for points in the first place. How many of them are pushing for fast runs because they want to get in, get their points, get out, get requeued to go get more points? Put insome bonus JP/VP (dependent on whether you’re running a normal dungeon or heroic) based on percentage of trash killed. At 50% of trash cleared, a bonus could start being added. Bonus points get added at 10% intervals, up to all trash cleared and all bosses down being the max amount of points you can get for this dungeon.

Maybe that’s not a perfect solution. I often have ideas that I’m not able to see the bigger picture on how it would affect the game. I do think it sounds better than “make clearing all the trash required for the boss to show up”, though.

I’m trying really hard here, Blizzard. I really am. I’m fighting severe anxiety every day just to be able to play the game because you’re really limiting what I can do unless I do it with other people. I get it… it’s an MMO. I love your game enough to fight my own personal demons so I can play. But can you cut me some slack here on the “must do RANDOM dungeons to get VP” thing?

My chances of finding a guild that fits me socially and for what I need to play the game aren’t very good. I’m not even looking. I’m too afraid. And it didn’t really have to end up this way. A little more flexibility in choosing dungeons to get VP from would have prevented it.