Saturday, July 4, 2020

Be Beth

That's advice for me, by the way... not you. You be you, because you're already fucking awesome just the way you are.

No, "be Beth" is my new mantra. Should have been my old mantra. Should have always been my mantra. 

I joined Second Life to be able to have the kind of open sex life that isn't possible in the real world. That is the reason I signed in for that first time more than a dozen years ago. Since then those reasons have morphed and evolved, but sex has always been in integral part of it. 

In those early days, early years even, it never occurred to me that people could, and would, fall in love. It never occurred to me that it would happen to me, but of course it did. I've fallen in love many times in SL, said the words, even took the vows a couple times. I meant it when I said it, and most of them I still care for a great deal (and a couple that can fuck right the fuck off) but looking back, there have been three that will live in my heart forever. 

These three men have very little in common, but each of them taught me so much about myself. 
First was Hugh, of course. He was the first man in my life to not only accept and understand my appetites, but fully encouraged them. He gave me wings and urged me to fly, knowing that he'd always be my safe landing point for as long as it was possible. 

And there was Finn. I actually knew him prior to knowing Hugh, but we didn't fall until after Hugh left. He showed me, and has for something like a decade now, that there is a bond there that won't be broken. We're friends now, and not anything more - he's in love with another now and happiness is everything I want for him.  He gave me unconditional love and encouraged me to step outside my comfort zones and explore new things. 

And then came this most recent gentleman, and "gentle man" is the perfect description of him. We were private and I won't name him. He's not given me that permission and I respect and love him enough to honor that. He gave me stability and consistency in a crazy world. He anchored me. Perhaps I needed that at the time. My world completely changed with him, and while that happened, the real world completely changed as well. Instead of being sexual with him, I was able to be controlled. Not by him, but by myself. Being with him meant I had to have the discipline to keep my sexuality tamed. I'm still turning it all over in my mind. He showed me a different part of Second Life. He opened my world in so many ways while keeping me safe and secure.

I knew from the day I found out that sex was off the table that there would be problems. I truly thought that I could move beyond it. To have an intimate relationship with him that didn't involve orgasms. And I might have, but there was also the issue, and need for, extreme privacy. I never met any of his friends, he never met any of mine. Our time together was nearly always completely private, and that was necessary. No one needs to know the reasons for that, and I can almost guarantee that it's none of the reasons you're thinking of. Still, though, it got harder and harder. We knew many of the same people. The problem was that I didn't know who those people were we had in common, and none of them knew he and I were together, and he didn't really share with me when he knew someone unless I explicitly asked. I felt like I was constantly tiptoeing through a minefield - one misstep and everything could explode. 
He has a beautiful soul, though. He one of the kindest people I've met in an anonymous virtual world when people can be jackasses without much consequence, and insanely intelligent and well-read. I don't think we ever discussed any topic that he didn't have at least some knowledge of. He was, and is, a sweetheart. 
I did what I needed to do for myself in ending things, but that doesn't mean I enjoyed doing it. It really hit me hard last night... just a sudden wave of sadness for what's gone. I let go of a really good man. One of the best men. I'm not proud of that or happy that I may have hurt him. The thought of him being in pain crushes me, but I had to be free. I have to be free. To be Beth.

At first, I was intensely sexually attracted to him. I thought that over time, he'd come to feel that way for me as well. That's the idealistic Pollyanna in me. Having my advances rejected time and time again, though, left me gun-shy. I began to feel undesirable... I quit blogging and mostly quit taking pictures because I didn't feel sexual. I even quit masturbating for a while. I wasn't able to get myself off. I'd try, and it wouldn't work, nothing would work, and I got frustrated and just stopped trying. My sexual attraction to him, and pretty much everyone else, died. 

Me. Sexually dead. I was just... I don't know, going through the motions of being myself, but I wasn't being me at all. In the beginning, I'd wear sexy clothing and lingerie... by the end, I was wearing sweats or jeans. There was no point in trying to look good for him. He didn't even notice. I knew talking about sex made him uncomfortable so I quit trying. He put up the big stop sign and I stopped trying to get around it. 

I gave up. 

It affected my real life, too, because when I love someone, it doesn't end when I log out of SL. I stopped caring about what I looked like in real life as well as Second Life. Makeup? Why bother? I lived in leggings and a big oversized shirts for a year. Kept my hair tied back in a ponytail instead of taking it down and styling it. Gained weight - and I wasn't a small woman to begin with. 

I became a shadow of myself at the ripe old age of 50. That happened as well during my long absence. I turned 50, and put on a brave face in RL and SL, but it affected me more than I wanted to admit for a long time. I hit that magic number and became the stereotypical frumpy 50 year old woman. 

I didn't like myself very much - or at all. I know myself and my depression well enough to know the signs of oncoming darkness. My doctor and I changed, added, and modified my medications. Hormones added for menopause, and some massive adjustments to my antidepressants. The hormones stopped the freaking hot flashes and mood swings, and I started having periods again (god damn it!) but the adjustments to the other meds didn't really do anything. I found a psychiatrist to deal with those particular meds instead of my GP, knowing he'd be better equipped with psychiatric knowledge. With him, I'm going through a slow process of weening off what I'm currently taking to start something completely new. 

It started to become more and more obvious that I wasn't being true to myself in the relationship I had. I am a 50 year old, but damn it, I'm not a frumpy 50 year old. In reality, my birthday was just a day on the calendar and nothing changed. I'm still Beth - sexually-open, free-spirited, and in control. 

In order to continue my journey back to being who I am, I knew I had to end my relationship. I dreaded it. I delayed it. I acted like everything was just fine with him. I hated doing it... hated it. Every word. Every lame attempt at an explanation. Type, erase, type, erase... put it off for another day... start all over... type, erase, type, erase.

When I finally hit the send button, I felt both fear and exultation because the sense of being free washed over me. I could be myself again. It wasn't a matter of being like Beth. I am Beth.

I am Beth. 

Maybe I had to stop being Beth for a while to truly fall back in love with myself? To be able to step outside of myself... and look at her, me, really look.  

I fucking rock. Every flaw, every inch, inside and out. I'm a bad ass boss of a woman. I am extraordinary when I stop trying to hold myself in, or hold myself back. 

That's not vanity or narcissism. Trust me, I see the flaws. They make me who I am. 

To quote my girl T-Swizzle (and my adoration of Taylor Swift has been the one constant... lol), "I'm the only one of me, baby, that's the fun of me..."

Je suis calme. Je suis Beth. Vive Beth!

I suppose it's only fitting that I'm posting this on Independence Day - a day when we Americans celebrate our freedom from British rule, and much like my feelings about American independence, I'm conflicted. Oh, sure, it was the right thing to do but being on your own is scary. 

Ending a relationship is never easy - it shouldn't be easy. If you care enough about a person to have started a relationship with them, you should care enough about them to suffer when it's time for it to end. This isn't a decision I made lightly, and even though I've been, er... let's just say a bit wild for the last few days (yes, there are tons more photos coming, but not appropriate for this entry), I get a little (or a lot) weepy when I see his name. I've got a message from him right now that I can't bring myself to read because when I saw it pop up on my phone, I started crying. 

And that's okay. His presence in my life had a profound effect on me, and his absence does as well. Right now, thinking about him hurts. I know time will heal and I'll be able to focus on those great times with him, and there were plenty, and hopefully continue our friendship.

But for today, I'm letting myself feel the melancholy and uncertainty that comes with any big change, even if it was the best of changes. There is always some sadness... some mourning... for the past that has been lost, and knowing you can't go back. 

I have to be Beth, though. I have to. I am. I'm the only me I've got. 

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