Monday, March 29, 2021

Neither Here nor There

 I'm in Second Life Limbo.

I've not logged in for months. It wasn't on purpose. I just... haven't. Sometimes I think I want to but I don't. I've got the login screen open right now and haven't clicked the Log In button. 

Why?

I don't really know. 

Second Life used to be something I took such great pleasure in. What happened to that? SL didn't change, did it? It must be me. I think I must've changed?

I make that a question because, again, I don't know. 

It's been weird fucking year, hasn't it? In so, so many ways. The big elephant in the room is COVID, of course. That has changed literally everything. I'm still working from home for the most part and it's very likely that will be a permanent situation. I know this has affected my SL time because after I sit at my desk at home all day working on my computer, at 5pm I'm done. I don't want to log off my work desktop and log into anything else. I don't want to be in front of a computer anymore. 

So that explains weekdays, but what about weekends? 

Before COVID, I had decided to start seeing a psychiatrist - not because anything was wrong or because I was having trouble handling my depression. I wanted to see one to talk about my medications and make sure that my GP and I were on the right track and see if there were any new/different/better options. Psychiatrists are rather thin on the ground as it turns out. I finally found one that was taking new patients AND accepted my insurance but it was months before I could get an appointment. Then COVID hit and I kept pushing off my first appointment because I didn't want to do telehealth. 

I finally had to, though, because clearly we were in it for the long haul with the damn pandemic because stupid fuckers refused to wear masks, stop having parties, going to church, blah, blah, blah. 

I hate anti-maskers with the burning hot passion of a billion suns by the way. Fuck every one of you selfish shit-stains. 

Anyway, I finally started seeing this guy through telehealth and we decided to make a change to my medication at my request. It wasn't that what I was on wasn't working - it's that the withdrawal side-effects were a bitch. If I missed a day or two, it was a fucking nightmare of brain zaps - and brain zaps suck ass. So over a period of several long months, I weaned off of that and started something else that doesn't have the same withdrawal effects. YAY! 

Of course, now that I've been seeing him for less than a year, he's decided to retire. That's fine. He was okay and I'm thankful I was able to get off the Cymbalta, but I didn't feel we ever really clicked over our 10 minute telehealth appointments where we only talked medication, so I'm back to my GP. 

Some other things also changed over the past year, too, namely that I got a huge raise. That is, of course, a good thing. It's allowed me the freedom to both fix my credit and also start living in a way I wasn't able to for a really long time. The biggest change was buying a new car. 

I love my new car, y'all. I can travel and not be afraid that my car is going to break down. It's gorgeous. Bright cherry red. I love getting in it and just driving. I started going to visit family, especially after I got vaccinated. Working in the healthcare field, I was one of the earliest groups to get the shots. 

So if my option was staying in my apartment and logging into SL, or getting out of the damn house and going places, my choice was to go places. Second Life started moving further and further back on my list of priorities.

One thing my psychiatrist pushed me to do was start therapy. I've been medicated for years, but the only time I ever visited a therapist was one visit after my father died just to help me get a grip on things.

I found a therapist a few months ago, and I love her. She has helped me SO MUCH just by being an advocate for ME. She's helped me deal with some things that I'm really not prepared to get into, but suffice it to say I'm so much healthier in several different ways than I was a few months ago. I've been working on a bunch of projects in my apartment since it's now both my home space and my work space. The raise has helped me be able to buy things and change things I never could before and I've been loving it so much.

I haven't told my therapist about SL yet. I will - there have just been bigger fish to fry. I'm struggling with how to talk to her about it, though. Second Life has been such a huge part of my world for well over a dozen years now, but there's the issue with how to explain that to someone who has never heard of it, right? It's not a game, but... what is it? It's on the computer and so people who've never heard of it will think it's a game when you call it a virtual world. 

I'm also having a hard time trying to figure out how to put into words the relationships and friendships I've had in SL, especially the BIG ONE.

Hugh. 

No, we haven't talked in years - not since the final email where we broke up, but he's still My Big One. I love him. That love hasn't diminished one single bit. He was, and still is, just such a good man, and we were so damn good together. Nothing else has touched that. I have tried so hard for so many years to enjoy Second Life without him - sometimes successfully, and sometimes not. I've had other relationships since him - I have loved other people since him. 

But I've never loved anyone in the same way. 

This is absolutely something I'm going to have to tackle with my therapist. Is Second Life healthy for me or not? Is there a way to enjoy it in a different way than I have in the past.

I feel guilty for not logging in. I have a loyalty to Second Life. Hugh was Second Life, and if for no other reason, I owe Linden Lab greatly because I was able to meet him and have that amazing relationship because of them. I'm not spending the money I used to in SL, and I feel guilty about that. I abandoned a huge chunk of my mainland and got rid of three of my four premium memberships. 

Is one person cutting back going to break LL? Of course not - I'm not that important, but I still feel very guilty abandoning this entity that has been there for me for so very long. I love Second Life, and I love Linden Lab. I consider Patch Linden one of my favorite people in the whole world - not to mention a certain Mole that occupies a HUGE place in my heart. I truly don't believe that SL would still exist if it weren't for the passion Patch has for it. I could go on for pages about what I believe Patch has contributed to keeping the doors open, but... maybe another time.

Bottom line - I believe LL is a good company with good employees and I want to support that no matter what. Have they made missteps? Of course. What company hasn't? But I truly believe they are good people and are providing something through Second Life that is utterly invaluable to a lot of people. 

But have I outgrown it? Again, I don't know. I've taken breaks from SL before. I once left for a year and came back because I wanted to try mesh clothing when it became a thing. And when I came back, I met Hugh and my entire world changed for the better. 

Second Life has evolved, and I've evolved. I'm not sure we've evolved in compatible ways, though. My SL was flipped on its ear with the creation of Bellisseria. I learned, really for the first time, that there was a whole huge side of SL that wasn't about sex. I had so much fun that first year of Bellisseria's existence. I met Patch - and I met Quartz. My friendships with them, as well as other Lindens and Moles showed me a whole nother side of things. The sense of community was huge and I loved it. I loved it so much that I became absolutely addicted to the community of the SL forums - and that, my friends, was a mistake on my part.

Of all the things I love and adore about SL, the forums are poison. The drama is untenable and I got caught up in it in so many damaging ways and I have to be honest and say that it tainted my view of Second Life or, at least, the residents of Second Life. It was such an ugly experience for me that it was a very big part of why I started drifting away. It was unhealthy for me and I didn't like the person I was becoming by being part of the forums. People hurt me, and even worse - I hurt people. 

Some of my behaviors made me ashamed. I should have been mature enough to just walk away from conflict instead of diving right into it. You see, there are a handful of white supremacists who showed their true colors in the race discussions that cropped up in various threads. Several of them were people that I had previously really liked and respected. When I realized what they were, rather than just walking away, I fought. Sometimes I fought ugly. I've never been one to pull my punches, and I firmly believe in speaking my truth, but the rage I felt led me to just swinging wildly without considering how they landed. 

I did more harm than good. On a personal level, I feel - felt - ashamed of that. Once I realized it, I was able to walk away from the forums. I just stopped. 

The damage had been done, though. My view of the residents of SL was tarnished by my interactions with these few people and though that's unfair because that handful of people are absolutely not representative of the whole of Second Life. 

Along with that, and my pulling back from the Bellisseria community, my sex drive pretty much dried up. 

And... as you all know, my sex drive has been a huge driving force for my entire existence in Second Life. 

Why has it dried up? I'd say there are a variety of factors. The damn pandemic, all the upheaval and unrest in the world, changing medications, being basically isolated for a year, growing older, concentrating on therapy, being involved in all my ongoing RL projects, etc., etc., etc.

(As a side note to all this, but certainly not the focus of this post, I have recently found my orgasms again, so that's nice.)

Anyway, without Hugh, without sex, without being involved in the community aspects of SL... what is there for me? 

And THAT is where my struggle is right now. I want to be in Second Life, but I don't freaking know what to do anymore in Second Life. 

I don't want to really deal with people in SL. After being on Zoom calls, and Teams meetings all day, my introverted self needs to recharge so I don't really want to be sociable in SL. 

That's a thing, too - when you look to see who is online and realize that if you log in, someone is going to want to talk to you because you've been missing for so long. So you put off logging in even longer which means it'll be even more noticeable when you return. 

I don't want to go to clubs and feel like I have to make small talk. Shopping and photography is still a draw for me but can I do that without talking to anyone? It isn't that I don't like the friends I have in SL. I do. I love them. But I just don't want to go through all the exhausting explanations. Maybe that's the purpose of this post - to explain using all my thousands of words what the tangled mess in my head is telling me?

So what do I do? What's the answer? 

And that's why I called this post "Neither Here nor There"... because I'm not here in Second Life, but I'm also not NOT here because SL is never far from my mind and is certainly in my heart.

I'm at a loss and I'm not sure what to do. When I first realized that I didn't want to log in several months ago, I didn't worry about it too much. I firmly believe it's healthy to take breaks just to get a reset. 

But the longer it's gone on, the more troubled I am, and the more difficult I'm finding things. I don't want to abandon Second Life and Beth Macbain. I want to be in Second Life and be part of Second Life but the energy for it just isn't there. 

I want it to be there. How do I recalibrate my world to make room for RL and SL? Do others ever feel this struggle or is this just a problem that I'm inventing? Do I just keep paying for my premium and my tier to support Linden Lab without using the product simply because I believe in it and just quit worrying about whether or not I actually log in since I'm still giving them money? 

But what about the people? I don't consider my SL friends to be just that - SL friends. I don't differentiate like that. Friends are friends no matter what world they are in, and I feel like I've abandoned them. I hate feeling that but the idea of logging in still feels like a chore for me. 

And I don't think Second Life should be a chore. I think it should be something I want to do, not that I feel like I have to do. 

I want to want to log in. 

How do I find that desire again?

2 comments:

  1. As with almost everything else: By not actively searching for it! :D
    No, seriously, if you don't actively WANT to be online or do something, then don't. You cannot, shouldnot, force it. Especially not if you have things you rather do. Your friends, whether or not they're in SL, RL, or somewhere else, should understand. And I'm sure they rather want you having fun than just loging in because you feel obliged to do so. If they feel like they can't keep in contact, you could maybe offer some alternative way to keep in tough.
    And hey - if you want to come online just to shop and snap your pictures without talking to people, that's fine too! I spend the VAST majority of my SL in absolute solitude, either on my little mainland plot, or on a premium sandbox. If I don't want to talk, I set my viewers autoresponder to busy, and it'll let people know that I don't wanna talk.

    As for the forums, yeah, I understand. I pretty much left as well a little while ago - may have visited once or twice, but just because google led me there in my scripting ventures, lol. Otherwise, I'm not looking back at all. I'm not saying I'm some sort of innocent little flower - I sure contributed more than a few times. But at one point I just felt like.. dunno, people where arguing for arguings sake, because no one ever really tried to understand the other person. And no one changed their mind, ever. So yeah, the arguments where pretty pointless. And repetetive. And toxic. Also, the moderation sucked. Sorry, I'm sure the mods are only people, and trying, but it took entirely to long to get rid of someone who was extremely disruptive, toxic, and harmfull.
    There are good apples in that rotten basket, no question, and I do wish them well, and hope they enjoy themselves, but I found ways that work better for myself.

    Also, glad to hear you got good things going on. I hope that continues! Drive a little round for me - I will never be able to afford a car. ;_;


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    Replies
    1. Hi Sukubia! Thank you for responding. I probably went in a little hard on my displeasure with the forums - not everyone is awful, but the few awful people overshadowed the good ones. As for the moderation, I had a couple heated conversations with a Linden or two voicing my anger about how things are handled but the truth is, they're in a lose-lose situation. If they micro-manage, people are going to be mad, but if they take a hands-off approach, people are also going to be mad. I just wanted all the white supremacists banned but I understand that was a slippery slope, too. You hit the biggest problem right on the head, though. Too many people trying to type as loudly as possible at each other with no one actually reading or thinking.

      As for coming back into SL, I'm sure I'll get there eventually. I'm on vacation this week so I have plenty of time to ease myself into it if the desire strikes. It's just really odd coming back after an extended period away. What's changed in three-four months? Is my avatar already outdated now... lol? What major thing hit the grid that I've totally missed out on? I'm sure if anything huge had happened, I'd have heard about it one way or another but it's just really weird finding that rhythm again.

      Anyhoo, thank you again for responding! I think I'll go for that drive now for you! :-)

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