As I write this, it is 8:56 am, and I figure now is as good a time as any to finally put to words what I’ve been thinking over the past year. I have written about the trauma I sustained due to child abuse I experienced and because of this trauma, I have struggled for years to be comfortable with the idea of fatherhood. I was unable to disentangle “fatherhood” the concept from memories of my own abusive father. For years, the mere mention of the words “dad,” “daddy” and “da-da,” would provoke feelings of disgust and anger. Truth be told, “daddy and “da-da” are still unpleasant to hear or say aloud, but now it is more of a lexical critique than a trauma response. This in itself is a major breakthrough that I have been working for years to achieve.
This brings me to the all-important question of “how?”
How did I overcome two decades of suffering through the aftermath of abuse?
At the risk of sounding like a click-bait article, the answer will shock you.
The role-play to which I am referring relates to the act of in character, text-based dialogue between two or more people for establishing and maintaining a shared fictional world. If all of this sounds lofty and complicated, the simplest explanation is that it is LARPing, but via text instead of in person. LARP is an acronym that means Live Action Role Playing.
After watching Good Omens, my happy obsession grew into being immersed in what I would describe as the greatest fandom in existence. I connected with wonderful people from all over the world who share the love and joy of both the book and the TV show.
And that was when I met him.
Aziraphale. My Aziraphale. The Aziraphale who is the greatest portrayal of the character other than Michael Sheen himself.
For about a year now, I have been writing with Aziraphale and we have constructed a shared universe where he and Crowley are my parents, and they live in a beautiful cottage in South Downs with a garden, a pond, and an assortment of waterfowl.
Within this fictional world, I am able to experience all the things I lacked during childhood: A home filled with happiness, loving parents, and an environment that is safe and healthy. This fictional world gave me two dads who have subsequently replaced the individual who contributed half of my DNA in the real world.
This fictional world has given me everything I could have ever hoped for, but never thought I would actually receive.
Most importantly, this fictional world has given me healing.
Prior to any of this, I could not even say the word “dad,” let alone even imagine what it would be like to have a loving father. To me, it felt like a foreign abstract concept—wholly in the realm of the impossible. I know it is all pretend for the sake of a couple of über fans to indulge in a fun pastime, but so far, it has been therapeutic for me. I genuinely get emotional when Aziraphale says that he and dad (Crowley) are proud of me.
In addition to being a source of healing, this RP is an exercise in collaborative writing which has strengthened my writing skills. It has made me a better storyteller. I have been able to unlock creativity I didn’t know I possessed.
Aziraphale may be fictional, but the admin of this character’s account is very real, they have become a lifelong friend who has helped me tremendously without even trying. They have a kind, generous spirit and I am exceedingly grateful for their compassion and friendship.
To them, I can only offer my sincerest gratitude for giving me the gift of healing.
I also thank Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman for creating Good Omens, which has profoundly touched the lives of so many people.