Play had a critical role in my development from a young age.
One of my favorite pastimes as a child was engaging in imaginary games with my brother. We would spend hours creating make-believe worlds where we destroyed evil and save the day. During our play, nothing else mattered. The abuse we endured temporarily disappeared from our minds, and we enjoyed the fantasies in our backyard. As the years passed, I substituted reading, drawing and creating crafts for the backyard games. I loved stories about knights, castles and medieval culture and often imagined being rescued by a knight in shining armor. My love of art, creating and playing continued as I navigated through the long journey to healing from the childhood trauma. My drawings were graphic and sometimes dark, but they helped me get through some difficult moments. When my husband, John, passed away I returned to crafts, drawing and writing to mend my broken heart. I could get lost in creating and find moments of peace.
Recently I remembered how important play is to my well-being when I began playing Minecraft.
Yes, this grandmother is playing Minecraft and loving it! My family got me to try it a few weeks ago, despite my reluctance. I could not understand what anyone got from playing a game where everything is made from blocks. I soon discovered Minecraft allows me to create. I plan my building, watch tutorials and build something my imagination created. By doing so, I am rejuvenated and forget the chaos of the world for the hours I spend moving around my Minecraft world. On occasion, I interact with family members who play on the same server. In these days of social distancing, those interactions are precious to me. I give them a good laugh because I am so bad at navigating the game.
Playing Minecraft has helped me focus my energy on creating rather than dwelling on the latest crisis.
Oh yeah, I’m building a medieval village.
You may wonder how a discussion of Minecraft relates to healing. The answer is quite simple. Play is a part of the therapeutic process for many survivors who were robbed of their childhood. Learning to play reawakens lost innocence and joy. Imagination energizes my soul and brings life to forgotten childhood joy. Not every moment of my childhood was horrible. I played, I laughed, and sometimes I just imagined a better world. I’ve recaptured some of that through my Minecraft moments.
What can you do to reawaken the child within you?
Note: Picture is of my Minecraft world in progress.