My Xbox is haunted.
At least that’s the explanation that makes sense to me right now.
When I moved into my newly purchased condo, I took the Xbox (along with a remote and a controller) from my parents’ house. I knew no one would miss it. Pair that with my outdated TV with one working HDMI port, and it’s not a bad setup. I can stream apps as well as play DVDs and old games. That’s all I really need.
One morning, I walked into the living room to find the white indicator light of the Xbox on. Weird. I probably left it on from the night before. I can be pretty forgetful, after all. I’d remember to turn it off next time.
But a few days later, I heard the familiar trill of the Xbox powering on while I was washing dishes in the kitchen.
I waved it off. The remote was probably stuck between the couch cushions. I’d move it after I was done.
I walked from the kitchen to behind the couch and leaned over to look.
The remote was sitting on top of the cushion, nothing touching the remote or near the power button.
Maybe the remote batteries needed to be changed out. There. That should fix it.
But a few days later, I saw the console’s light on again.
Maybe there was something wrong with the controller.
Oh. The controller didn’t have batteries yet. So that couldn’t be it.
Maybe it was a common glitch with this Xbox model.
Nope, didn’t appear to be a problem on any of the forums I looked at.
It must be somewhat broken, even though it still appears to work ok otherwise.
I don’t remember the Xbox being haunted when I used it more frequently a few years ago. Perhaps it was, and I just didn’t notice. But let me tell you, as a woman living alone (listening to far too many true crime podcasts, no less), I notice when things aren’t the way I remembered leaving them.
At first, it was a little disconcerting. I’d get a little freaked out when I’d see the light on after coming home from work or hear the start-up sound from the other room.
But after a while, it was just another quirk to get used to. Just like with another annoying eccentricity I picked up involuntarily recently.
I have anxiety.
It wasn’t ever a noticeable problem for me until adulthood, and even then, I kept it under control for the most part.
But 2022 happened, where nothing seemed to go right. Still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, I was the precarious punching bag in a boxer’s gym, continuously being jolted and swaying without reprieve.
I managed to make it through the rest of the year, hoping and pleading that things would let up in 2023.
Then came the week from hell. The knockout punch.
And for the first time in a year, I had to admit that I was not ok.
Healing when nothing is “wrong” is strange because it feels like everything is wrong. But everything isn’t the problem. The problem is me.
My anxiety, like my Xbox, keeps turning on, with very little rhyme or reason, and I can’t fix it.
A few weeks ago, the Xbox turned on by itself multiple times within a 24-hour period. Nearly every time I came back into the living room, I saw the white button glowing on the bottom shelf of the TV stand.
At first, I would turn it off right away. No need to waste the power when I didn’t need to.
But after a few tries, rather than shut it off immediately again, I paid more attention to it. I turned on the TV and picked a show or a YouTube video to watch before I tried shutting it off again. And you know what? Maybe it was in my head, but it seemed to turn on less frequently.
The other night, I came home from having a hard conversation I was dreading but knew I needed to have, and I noticed the Xbox was on again. But, for the first time, I was empathetic with it.
We both had a rough day, and we just wanted someone to notice us when we thought we were forgotten. All things considered, we handled our situations pretty well.
So I left it on.
I am tired of my anxiety making me feel so many things. Obsolete. Forgotten. Buggy. Still in working order, but not as noteworthy as I used to be. And I’m tired of anxiety just showing up. Turning on at inconvenient times. Not turning off easily. Staying turned off for long periods of time. Startling me when I’m washing dishes in the other room.
But I’ve realized it’s not going to stop.
And I’ve learned to accept it and deal with it, even though that has taken some time to do. To unlearn everything I thought I knew when it came to dealing with emotions and to learn new healthy behaviors and reactions with the help of a therapist.
It’s a process, and I’m not perfect.
However, I feel less haunted and more myself than I’ve felt in over a year. And I think that’s something to celebrate.
So do what you gotta do, Xbox. Turn on and off when needed. I’ll deal with it, and regardless of this little quirk, you’re not going anywhere. You still have a lot to offer.
Aleesha Bass is a technical writer from Utah. When she’s not reading books or playing volleyball with friends, she’s either cultivating her old lady hobbies (quilting and knitting) or planning her next trip to Disneyland.