58 – Main Tank

Another one for my wife. She’s having a tough time with her own mental and physical health journey right now, and I know that I’m not easy to deal with while I’m in this process also. I’ve tried to stop dumping so much of that on her. Then too, we both have a tendency to shame-hide when we should ask for help. The thing I’m trying to absorb is that, when I perceive a deficiency in myself, an inability to get something done or give an answer or be what someone needs, the fastest way for them to get what they need and me to stop feeling awful is to admit what’s going on inside me. I want us both to be able to ask for help without shame.

I find this very difficult, so I look at it through the metaphor of raiding in World of Warcraft, because that’s something we used to do together and a metaphor we use quite a bit. At the time, she was playing a Paladin tank, and I a Paladin healer. I’ve been playing my Paladin Mahavira as a healer since Wrath of the Lich King, when I learned from probably the best healer I’ve ever met in WoW. At a time when Paladins had switched from spellpower-driven builds to stacking straight Intellect, Levin and I were the last two Paladins on our server building spellpower, ignoring the huge, long-cast-time heals in favor of Holy Shock and Flash of Light. It was a spiky, risky way to heal, and relied on having a tank that trusted Levin utterly. See, if a tank doesn’t trust their healer, they might get scared when their health gets low and pop one of their own defensive skills. Some of these skills can make the tank lose control of the boss they’re tanking; some of them are simply on long cooldowns and will be unavailable in a few seconds when the shit really hits the fan. Either way, a tank that doesn’t trust their healer to save them can wipe a raid as fast as a bad healer.

Mahavira, also known as “Healmom,” because apparently that’s mom hair?

Levin was a very, very good healer. I saw a few raids wipe because newbie tanks didn’t know to trust her; I never once saw a raid wipe because she failed to save someone’s life. I tried to be at least half as good, even though Pally healing has changed a lot over the years. And when I met my wife, we did a lot of raids together that involved me quietly chanting, “I got you, I got you, trust the healer… okay, NOW!” She was a brilliant tank, and had a brilliant off-tank at her side, and that’s the experience I think is relevant to real life: that feeling of listening to the raid channel, mostly quiet because we are working, son. There’s just the two tanks every few seconds: “Taunt. Four stacks. Five stacks. Taunt. Can I get a cleanse? Thank you. Taunt.” When she gets low, my wife’s voice doesn’t change, she doesn’t panic. She trusts her healer. When we wipe, she has to make an effort to die, and I have to make an effort to let her.

I want to work on this kind of dialogue in our real life – just the steady updates on how it’s going, the instant, “Hey, I need help, you got it?” The trust that asking is okay, that your friends are there to help you, that you all want the same thing and are working together, not against one another. “I can’t hold this, need another person on this quick quick – yep, thanks.” There’s no shame and no criticism during the fight. Just trust and communication. It’s tougher in real life, during a real fight with something scarier than a self-important Blood Elf in a fancy hat. But we also trust each other more than I ever trusted anyone I raided with, and I believe that will get us through the damage spikes. We don’t need cooldowns. We got this even if it goes sideways. We can two-man this thing if we have to, baby, you and me.

The green bar gets down to just a sliver –
still, the paladin grits his teeth and taunts.
Only looks back over his shoulder once,
praying that his healer will deliver.

The man who hesitates will lose his life.
Trust your luck when you can’t trust the dealer;
most of all remember
trust your healer.
The tank raises his shield and trusts his wife.

The cascade of light nearly strikes him blind
with a sound so sweet it calls tears to his eyes,
the fading spell leaves his wife’s touch behind.
They have wings, but not the kind that know the sky –
the treasure is this fight, not what they’ll find.

Check out the rest of the 100 Sonnets

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