There was a time not so long ago that I enjoyed SL, I actually had fun each time I logged in. These days, I log in and I just feel like being alone. Is it weird of me to log into a social networking “game” and not want to actually network or chat with anyone? I’ve always been a little bit odd, so this doesn’t really surprise me.
But if you’re on my friends list and you’ve tried to contact me in-world lately and you’ve gotten that “sorry I’m too busy to chat with you” message (or whatever it says), don’t be offended. It’s not about you, it’s about me. Really.
I’ve been feeling restless because one of my closest friends in SL is missing…again. But this time I have a feeling he may not be back. I know enough about his RL to know that this is definitely a possibility. Of course, I totally understand. Life happens and logging into SL can quickly fall to the bottom of one’s priority list. I know this, but it still hurts.
But I’ve been in this place before, and this time I find myself contemplating what SL would be like for me without him, and then I ask myself how I let my SL become all about this one person and why, what the hell am I doing, and how exactly did I get here? Then I feel pissed off.
I feel pissed off because I think about all the time spent with this person and the emotional energy I put into this “friendship” and I have nothing to show for it. I mean really, what did it get me? More importantly, what did it get me in RL? I sit here with empty hands, nothing real to show for it. Nothing.
Yes, it felt real, and my feelings for him still feel very real. But the bottom line is that it never really did anything positive for my Life. At the most, maybe our friendship helped me survive the emotional roller coaster that is the current state of my marriage. Maybe that’s significant, but I want more for my life than merely survival. I want to be happy.
It’s not that I haven’t tried to fix my relationship. Believe me, I’ve tried. I've tried to the point where I was emotionally exhausted and literally felt like I had nothing left to give. After a couple of years (ok, maybe more) of trying, I finally came to the conclusion that avoidance was far less draining than conflict. So, that’s what I did. I avoided. That’s when I found SL.
I remember those first days in SL. I wandered around like a wide-eyed child, excited to see and experience as much as I could in this strange new world. And the best part about it was that while I was logged in, I completely forgot about all of my problems. For most of my first year in SL, I fooled myself into believing that all my time here enhanced my RL, that it’s all about fun and friendships, etc, etc…really, all it did was help me avoid. It didn’t really enhance anything or make it any better. The pain from my problems were still the same, just made numb because that emotional void in my life was now occupied by SL.
So with that realization, what do I do next? I could quit SL, but then I wonder what I would I do on all those weeknights when my kids are in bed, my husband is working yet another 14 hour day, and I am at home by myself. Alone. Again. What the hell did I do before SL? When i put it that way, SL feels like a tough habit to break.
I don’t really want to quit SL. In the past year, I have met some really interesting and beautiful people, and made some really great friends – some have even transitioned into RL friends, having my RL contact information. I’ve been blessed to get to know people whom I never would have had an opportunity to meet in RL. I’ve laughed and cried, and giggled until my ribs hurt. There are still many elements of SL that I love. Exploring, fashion, taking in all the beautiful creations by SL residents. I want to contribute to that too. I still want to be here.
But I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t avoid my problems any longer. Maybe avoidance was a good strategy to get me by, to keep me functioning like a normal person in the real world, but it’s reached a point now where all the emotional energy I sink into avoiding conflict feels even more draining than conflict itself. RL needs my attention. Can I give my full attention to my RL problems and still stay in SL? I doubt myself because I feel like my whole SL has been based on avoidance. Can I change that?
I need some time to re-evaluate and reassess. I might wake up tomorrow with some answers, or I may meander along a little while longer. I don’t know. Perhaps the answer is obvious to some of you who may be reading this. All I know is that it is something I am going to have to come to on my own.
As for my friend, I really miss him, and I hope he is ok and that his whole world is not falling apart. I am in no way trying to dismiss anything meaningful from our friendship. If it wasn’t meaningful than I guess it wouldn’t hurt so much. It’s just that his absence has forced me to take a good hard look at the stark contrast I feel between my SL and my RL, and I don’t like it. It's time to do something about it. I don't know yet exactly what it is that i am going to do, but i trust that some answers will find their way to me soon.