Computer Mental

Whaddya Mean I Gotta Stop Using ‘Absorb Pain’?!


So therapy has been interesting. As I hit more and more health snags, hubby’s frustration in various areas grows stronger and I finally take on some losses and some progress on my stirred-up past, we are also surrounded by some of the most important people in our lives going through such pain, grief and turmoil as to be unbelievable.

All of this has caused many unknown Dark and Uglies to surface. Strangely and understandably given the circumstances, my City of Heroes gamer girl training kicks in, and I use the various tools available to me in the given situation to try and “heal” or “buff” the troubled person or animal. For those that never played a Defender archetype in the specific MMORPG I’m talking about, you can find the entry from the City of Heroes Wiki below my blatherings.

Essentially, one of the most powerful heals you can deliver using the empath defender powerset is “Absorb Pain.”  I played the powerset almost exclusively as a “Healer” for several years and learned through many failed Atlas Park sewer runs or missions scattered across the Hollows — that you never, ever take Absorb Pain as early as it is offered (level 2, FFS).


Unless you are well-practiced, you are just likely setting up your team for at least one complete wipe, if not countless wipes because you targeted and fired off AP on someone in trouble right before a Vahzi or street thug hit you from behind. Down you went, no longer able to keep your heals going to power the team. No buffs. Nuthin’ but “Sry guys!”  They are disastrous, confusing, hilarious team wipes, if you are lucky and have good team mates. (I was quite lucky in the team mates that we played with the most often and I learned all the most fun ways to end a battle in a cataclysmic way that left us laughing and w00t’ing long after went back for another attempt.)

This was especially true because, not surprisingly if your moniker is T-Pain (pseudonym of my therapist), I would watch everyone else’s health bars except my own. My hubby’s most frequent statement during a balls-to-the-wall battle royale? “Watch your bar, Shuro (my main’s shortened name)!” Everyone else would have full bars, but I’d be on the edge of wiping. I finally had to rearrange my entire screen layout, to ensure that my wipes were less frequent, and to prevent from negatively impacting the team.

Make no mistake, I’m a lapsed player and I have no idea if anyone even does those xp rich runs anymore. I’m sure there are better places now to muck about in my favorite way in that game. I miss the intense chaos and my pulse racing as we danced near the edge of a team wipe and Super Hero Greatness. And it was a full year at least before I risked my own health bar to vastly enrich a targeted player’s health bar. It sounded like suicide, and this was my only my second MMO. Once I finally girled up and chose Absorb Pain as a power, I never looked back and it became a game changing and favorite tool in my empath tool kit.

The point is, during therapy last week, T-Pain was trying to break through one of my core beliefs in a way that would allow me to reconstruct it in a healthier way.  As we talked, she expressed that instead of feeling bad for someone when something bad happens, I actually make myself feel their level of pain, as fully as possible. I’m not 100% convinced she’s right, but it is certainly seeming more and more likely.

Even just last night, I had to remind my immediately broken heart that the death of the grandmother of one of my best friends was not my death to grieve. This reportedly amazing woman that I never met was not my grandmother. I had to remind myself of this because I was shutting down and starting to deeply grieve the loss of a woman completely unconnected to me as if she were my own flesh and blood and lifelong source of love.

[Sidebar: I think the timing of our discovery of his grief is somewhat interesting. I had been having extremely intense feelings of loss and grief of closeness with the couple in question, so powerfully that I messaged them, trying to express that I loved them and hoped for more fun with them in the future.]

Hell, when watching Game of Thrones this season, I was beyond devastated by the death of Lommy, an inconsequential-yet-named character on the show. (Note: If that’s a spoiler, sorry. But when you read here, that may happen. Also, WTF, get caught up so you can listen to my GoT podcast, Presents – Beyond the Wall: A Game of Thrones Podcast! (Or as I like to call it, SFM.comP-BtW:AGoTP.)

Here’s the crazy lady part: My magnificent nephew has hair (when much younger) that was identical to Lommy’s. When they showed him, I would smile to myself and think of his blond curls and wonder how he’s doing. When he died, I lost my shit. This nephew, who I have always referred to as GK, is in the military and although stateside, my fears for him are not difficult to figure out. I cried and cried and cried and cried. Chooch heard me say, “They killed (GK)…”, and he said, forcefully, “That is not (GK). He is safe and fine.” I repeated that over and over until it sank into the dark corner it needed to, and then felt like a fool.

Well, when T-Pain finally made her point in a way I could process, I started laughing and said, “Holy shit. I’ve been using Absorb Pain instead of Ally Heal.”
T-Pain gave the expected puppy dog head tilt and I explained it to her quickly. She clapped her hands and said, “Yes! Exactly! That’s it!” She then leans forward in her rocking chair and says, serious as a heart attack, “Don’t do that anymore.” I cracked up, and a discussion followed on how to halt an (who knows how long) unhealthy habit.

While I’m proud of myself for catching those — a result of her making me examine every negative reaction to determine the appropriateness of my natural response –, I feel as though I short-changed the friend and the grief his family is experiencing. So in exchange for dodging possibly debilitating grief at a time when there are things in mid-air about to crash to the ground in some areas of our life, I ended up in a shame spiral. I still call it a win, because I caught and adjusted the framing of the loss. And I’ve finally worked through the shame, thanks to My Viking.

So, yeah. I’m going to burn a respec and drop Absorb Pain from my powerset, until T-Pain tells me otherwise.

And I need to see if I ever posted about my prison yard epiphany. It keeps getting proven true.

Happy July, Dear Readers!


City of Heroes, Defender Archetype

The Empathy powerset is available as a primary set for Defenders. The following table shows which powers are available and at what level:

Power Level Effect
Empathy HealingAura.png Healing Aura 1 PBAoE, Team Heal
Empathy HealOther.png Heal Other 1 Ally Heal
Empathy AbsorbPain.png Absorb Pain 2 Ally Strong Heal, Self Moderate Damage (Special)
Empathy Resurrect.png Resurrect 6 Ally Resurrect
Empathy MindWall.png Clear Mind 8 Ally Resist Disorientation, Hold, Sleep, Immobilization, Fear, Confusion, +Perception
Empathy Fortitude.png Fortitude 12 Ally +Defense (All), +Damage, +Accuracy
Empathy RecoveryAura.png Recovery Aura 18 PBAoE, Ally +Recovery
Empathy RegenerationAura.png Regeneration Aura 26 PBAoE, Ally +Regeneration
Empathy AdrenalinBoost.png Adrenaline Boost 32 Ranged, Ally +Endurance, +Regeneration, +Recharge, Resist Slow
5k Chooch Computer Exercise Firsts Health No Whining

Thanksgiving 5k Race Results

Chooch and I headed out early on Thanksgiving morning for the local Turkey Trot. It was cold, but we’ve run in colder and felt well prepared for it. I had my mittens and my hoodie over yoga pants and long sleeve race t-shirt. I had been tempted to wear shorts, as I’d overheard a hard-core runner tell incredulous friends at a January race in 25 degree weather that he runs faster in shorts because after a while he can’t feel his leg soreness due to numbness. Luckily, I’m not that insane. I haven’t baby stepped my way back to 5k’s by taking risks that could cause a long-term setbacks.

I was super excited because this was my first race since all the silly health drama started. We had to forfeit our registration in 2009 as that was the beginning of my health issues and I was having a ton of tests for scary illnesses being run. I was not running, exercising or psychologically prepared in any way last Thanksgiving.

This year’s race was held at a new location on an unfamiliar route, and I secretly hoped there wouldn’t be many hills since I seem to have knee pain more on the hilly routes. I’ve altered my stride when going down hill using lessons learned while covering hilly lands in the Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG. Laugh if you like, but in game you can run up hills as fast as you like, but running downhill at the same speed you’ll get a “broken bone” injury.  I now take what I call “gentler landings” and I’m already seeing improvement. Genius that I am, it took me forever to put the two together, and maybe they are unrelated but I’m certainly having less knee issues since I’ve made the change.

We made our way to the race start to pick up the optional race time chips. These are small, lightweight loaner chips you strap to your ankle to track your start/finish time since it’s impossible for everyone to cross the start line at exactly the same time. It also allows you to track your pace. After the race, the results are provided with your race time and pace. I have no expectation of having a winning race time, rather this is how I track my progress across races, as do many others.

We next headed over to the start line along with the other racers and walkers. We again survived the push and shove of over-adrenalized and aggressive runners wanting to start as close to the front as possible. Having been stuck behind walkers and strollers in the past, I can understand wanting to ensure you don’t have to try and run an obstacle course to keep your running pace. Still, there is no need for such rudeness. Personally, I would prefer if they said, “Excuse me, but you’re clearly not an elite athlete so I’d like to get in front of you now so I won’t have to run around you in a few minutes.” I’d find it far less rude than people averting their eyes as they elbow past. Chooch and I just shook our heads and laughed at their need to be “first” at the start. They should consider arriving earlier next time. Just sayin’.

The race started and off we went at a steady pace. Chooch was having trouble breathing because of his recent illness, and we’d already discussed the possibility of me continuing running if he needed to walk. I’m supremely proud of him pushing past the 1 mile marker before stopping to catch his breath and I continued on alone.

I had no music with me, so I just ran with the street noise and conversations of runners around me. I told myself I could stop when something hurt. I told myself I could stop at the water station at the 1.5 mile mark, but only for 10 seconds. I never had pain, only muscle fatigue. And I was stopped less than 5 seconds at the water station. Adrenaline wouldn’t let me stand still for long while the clock was ticking, but I truly needed water for my throat. The cold air had my throat very sore and very dry, but three sips were all I needed and off I went. Honestly, if I didn’t think it was bad manners to snatch a cup from a volunteer, suck it down and throw it on the ground as so many other runners do, then I wouldn’t have stopped at all. I make sure and say thank you and put the cup in the trash next to the station and continue on my way. Nope, I’ll never win any races that way. And nope, I don’t care.

I’m very happy to report that I ran the entire 5k for the very first time. And the race results showed that I solidly beat my previous best time by more than six minutes. I still have a very slow pace, but I’m thrilled with these improvements. Chooch also had a great improvement on his last race time and I’m proud of him for going when he had an excuse not to go. He’s got a warrior spirit, just as I’ve always known.

I also want to give a Universal thank you to those that cheer for runners along the route. As with all the races I’ve done, there were people that had put up signs or were standing outside on the streets or their porches lending their strength to us as we plodded past. I’ve always appreciated it, as it does indeed add a spring to this gal’s step.

I know hubby took a tally of the oddly costumed folks at the race, and I’m hoping he’ll post those in the comments. There was one very memorable one that had us laughing and wishing we could snag a photo, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The next race is in 2 weeks, and I’m not so cocky as to feel that my successful completion is assured. Even if I’m a bit slower, or can’t run the whole damned thing, I’m just happy to be in motion again.

Baby steps, indeed.