I’m just going to go ahead and apologize in advance for this one. Warnings include but are not limited to: Tl;dr, WTF, and idkmybffjill… just to make sure we cover all those bases.
So, the holidays are hard for a lot of us. That’s originally what this post was going to be about…but not anymore. Because there’s just a few things that happened this week that have blown my pixel mind, so we’re going to come at this from another angle.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: SL is so wonderful because it allows us to do so many things we can’t do in RL. That’s one of the many draws to it. I can’t count how many people I’ve met over the years in SL who have said they stick around because SL lets them be themselves. And I’m not even talking about appearance, y’all. We can rewind that mix tape, because I’m certain not every one of us looks like Barbie and Ken with access to a no-limit credit card in real life. We’re not going there. But this week? This week really got me going.
A couple years ago, my mom was in an abusive relationship. It was bad. I got some money down there and took a bus, intent on bringing my mom back home with me. I can’t drive, but he-who-shall-not-be-named had left the house – she was alone, and I had my chance. Unfortunately, he showed up the night I got there. There was a period of several months where I was stuck – with my mother – in this hell-hole. No cell signal, no television, no internet. I had no way to get word to anyone for a long time, and it scared me, because something I thought would not be a horrible thing had become a horrible thing and I didn’t even have a way to let anyone know – in RL or SL – that we were okay, in a manner of speaking.
When we finally did get away, we landed ourselves in a hotel. We had a phone. We had television. We watched the news. We had internet. We had access to food. It was… overwhelming. Eventually, I got up the courage to reach out to friends both here an in SL and let them know that everything was okay, that I was sorry I was gone so long, that I was sorry I couldn’t reach out, etc. There were very few people in either world that weren’t mad, that didn’t demand an explanation, or treat me like sh*t because of something that was out of my control. Back then, my mother would apologize to an empty room if she stubbed her toe… and I was much the same, because if something I did made him mad, he didn’t take it out on me – he took it out on her. Constantly walking on eggshells like that does terrible things to a person, but what’s worse is when the people that you love and trust and count on when you’re at your lowest pull away from you because of something out of your control. That feeling, that constant fear – it doesn’t just dissipate as soon as you leave, and no Lifetime movie can explain how that feels. Even with my step-father in prison, we were terrified for quite a while. He had friends, he had family. We spent the first week in that shitty hotel eating Little Debbie snacks because that’s what we could get out of the vending machines, checking and rechecking our phones because we were afraid that our location indicator would turn on, scouring the news in our former town to make sure that my step-father was indeed still in custody… it was exhausting.
So I finally got up the nerve to make some phone calls one day, and I finally got a moment where my mind wasn’t racing and I wasn’t repeating the mantra of, “It’s okay, Mom, we’re going to be fine,” over and over again, and I logged in to SL, and I was immediately bombarded. Friends who were pissed I’d dropped commitments. Friends who were pissed I wasn’t back when I said I’d be back. Friends who were messaging me in all caps, paragraphs about what I’d missed and why I should have been there and what was going on. And then, there were the friends who took a step back. They messaged me. They sent me virtual hugs. They asked how I was doing. They asked if we were alright. One of those at the time was someone I was in a relationship with in SL. I figured he’d be just as pissed as anyone else, but he wasn’t. He asked if I was okay. I answered. He asked if it was safe for me to talk. I answered that, too…and he didn’t press it. He didn’t blame me for being gone. He didn’t get angry. He didn’t remove me from his friends list. He didn’t act like my being gone was a personal affront to him or anyone else. He was simply glad I was back, and glad I was okay. And you know what? We aren’t in a relationship anymore, but people like him and the friends who didn’t drop me like lead when my life was falling apart? I will defend them tooth and nail until the day I die. Those are my f*cking people. Relationships take work. They aren’t all about one person. Those people that were there for me after the bottom dropped out? They knew that. And I was grateful to have them when I had so little else to cling to.
Look… I get it. SL gives many of us that instant gratification that we can’t get in RL for some things… but for fuck’s sake, please treat your loved ones well in both worlds. Yes, sometimes real life will steal us away. Sometimes, shit just happens. And you know what? It sucks, and it’s hard. But nothing that’s really worth a damn is going to be as easy as hitting the Staples EASY button, and anyone who told you otherwise was a damn liar, or they live under a rock so big they haven’t seen the sunlight in ages. Relationships are work. People are work. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel lonely. I know these feelings…but none of them make it okay to treat someone like they are disposable because they don’t or can’t conform to your definition of reality…especially in Second Life.
Every avatar you meet is controlled by someone in real life who is facing struggles that you may never be able to understand. So, if you feel yourself feeling salty this holiday season, fine. Do you. Make some new friends. Explore some new places. Grinch it up if you must. But don’t be an asshole to the people that you love. Don’t be that kind of petty. No one needs that, and it doesn’t do you any good, either.
Sorry this one wasn’t funny. I mean, I guess I could tell a knock-knock joke or something…?
Shape][Divine Transformations]Nova Shape **custom**
[Head][LeLUTKA]Simone v. 3.4
[Skin][The Skinnery]Paris (Toffee)
[Lips][Izzie’s]Matte Love Lipstick
[Eyes][Pink Fuel]Queen Eyeshadow (A)
[Top][Blueberry]Elisa (pixie stripes)
[Bottoms][Blueberry]Melanie Jeans (Ocean Dark)
[Chair][Chez Moi]Sleigh Bed
[Tune][Ruth B. – Lost Boy]