Chapter 2|I Know You Can’t Remember How to Shine

Second Life is good for a lot of things. You learn new things, make new friends, and, if you’re lucky, build up an amazing amount of confidence. I have been a resident of Second Life for years, and over the last one or two, I think I’ve increased my confidence ten-fold.

A lot of people I know in Second Life are battling something – illness, loneliness, lack of community. I have found those things here in Second Life, and after a lot of healing, have managed to find my light again, so to speak, in real life. So, it’s possible!

This time of year can be rough for a lot of us. It’s going to be a rough Christmas for me, too, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re one of the people struggling this year, focus on that. Reach out and talk to people. Seek out your friends and family and remind yourself how awesome you are. Do it every day.

I’ve never felt better than I have lately, even if this season is going to be rough. And I want to thank you all. Thank you for your love and your support. Thank you to those of you who have cheered me on. I hope all of you are able to find your light as I have.

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Chapter 1|Once Upon a Time…

So, I decided to start this new blog and explore some different things. Second Life has always been an interesting place. It’s been a place where I have met so many people and learned so many wonderful things, and over the years, as all of us do, I have grown and changed.

When I first joined Second Life, things in real life were a little hectic. I was dealing with a lot in school and even more at home. Things were stressful at best, and downright dangerous the rest of the time. I took comfort then in a wonderful woman I met in Second Life. She was intelligent, articulate, and she really seemed to care about me and what was going on in my life. I clung to that relationship and allowed myself to grow in it and feel safe, even when real life wasn’t at the time.

But things changed. Soon, what was going on in my real life became a hinderance to this person. When I had to leave suddenly, I was a disappointment. I was letting her down. I wasn’t keeping to my obligations. When I had to leave school, this scrutiny became worse. It was cloaked as concern. “You aren’t living up to your potential” or “You aren’t the person I thought you were and I believe in you but you aren’t doing x or y.” I began to internalize these thinly veiled jabs at my life, my choices, and my character, until there was nothing really left. Real life was imploding, and this woman–this woman to whom I had devoted years of my Second Life, defended, loved, and who of course claimed to care about me–crushed me when I was at one of the lowest points in my life. For a time, I was so down on myself that I wasn’t sure what to do. I stopped hanging out with certain people in Second Life because I’d been told they were disappointed in me, that they thought I was a problem, or that I had made a bad impression. I sat school aside and focused on health and family in real life, but that voice remained in my head.

After finding my bravery, I confronted some of those people and learned that I had been lied to. I began rebuilding my relationships here in Second Life while my family worked to rebuild from tragedy in real life. This person who essentially stomped on my chest at one of my lowest points was still magically popping up in Second Life–mimicking things I did or showing up at my new haunts, following new social media accounts. .I let myself think that there was no escape from that, and for a long time, I let myself believe that she was right about me.

But I’ve grown, and I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve learned that this person was only supportive of me in a capacity that made her look good. Telling me I wasn’t living up to my potential had nothing to do with school or how hard I worked, but with things she thought I should be doing for her. Eventually, I realized that it was all about her. When I was doing well, she could brag about me. When things weren’t going as well, she used it to point out all the things she saw wrong with me, whether they were related or not. As long as I agreed with her, it was okay. When I began to refute her claims, to try to defend myself, I immediately became the enemy.

This was the definition of toxicity, and I didn’t realize that for a long time, after my mother and I went through a lot involving a domestic violence situation, and counseling, and began to recognize these kinds of signs. Things have, admittedly, been very rough since then, but I have grown and changed so much, and I am getting ready to start a new chapter in my life. I’ve got my new beginning.

I’ve just found out I’ll be starting my dream job–the actual job I have wanted since I was a little girl. The reason I bothered to go to school in the first place. Because of hard work and ingenuity, I’ll be able to go back to school. To finish my degree. To go even farther in the field I’ve dreamed about working in since I read my first chapter book at four years old. I’ve reached my star, and I am going to chase it through the sky for as long as I can.

See, the thing is, in Second Life, some find it easy to forget that there are actual people with actual feelings behind the keyboard. They belittle and bully because they have the protection of that screen. In that way, Second Life can be a literal breeding ground for the toxic kinds of people that those of us who have experienced an abusive relationship have been taught to ignore. Some people even go so far as to brush this kind of behavior off because Second Life is “just a game.” But at the end of the day, we’re still people. And everyone needs to remember that.

I am starting this wonderful new chapter in my life in spite of what I was made to believe in myself. I’ve made wonderful new friends, started new business ventures… and I was able to do that because I learned to ignore that person’s voice in my head. As we approach the start of the new year, I’d encourage everyone to do the same. Apply for that job you’ve always wanted. Start that new hobby. Finish that class, or talk to that person you’ve been making doe-eyes at for months. Don’t listen to that little voice inside of your head, no matter whose it is. Soon, it will be a new year, and it’s time for all of us to wipe away the negativity and start our stories anew.