March 21, 2020
Yesterday I removed the last of my virtual creations from Second Life and took down the Gallery – it was an odd feeling. Unlike the shops, build platforms and workshops – there were some emotional tendrils pulling at my solar plexus. Mostly, I came into full awareness of how much time, imagination and work I had put into all these creations – 8 years of my life!
And here I was … with NOTHING to show for it. Nothing – zip, zilch, zero, nada – I stood there at the end of it empty-handed having collectively paid thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of hours for the experience of … what? Nothing. It felt so surreal and a tad melancholy. Like I had beaten this dead horse BEYOND the point where it could even fit into my psyche. I’ve spent the past 8 years pretending to do something – the whole thing took place in my mind … for 8 years … that’s 2,920 days … or better yet. 70,080 hours of my life – gone and I have nothing to show for them except the memories of things I pretended to do … and a couple close friends who crossed-over into my real life.
I’m trying to unpack these feelings as best I can by writing about them here. I really don’t have anyone to talk to objectively about this and being alone in quarantine doesn’t help. So, I ask that you, dear readers, indulge me here –
I got into Second Life very deeply when my soulmate died of cancer. I even made a film about it – originally released in 2013, the year she died –
But rather than just grieve my loss and move on – I got stuck there. I realize there are several other reasons besides her death that kept me there – I was in a job I loathed and so it became an escape for me and then became a platform for my coming-out as a transgender male. Which was followed by my attempt to physically transition through medical therapy and surgery – which was soon thwarted by health issues and so, my acceptance of NOT being able to physically change became mitigated by my choice to remain a “Virtual Man” – I reasoned, mistakenly, that THIS would be enough.
But it wasn’t enough. Not fully accepting one’s reality is never going to be enough for any mentally healthy person. Refusing to fully accept reality becomes the breeding ground for bad decision making. Trust me. I know.
It took the unconditional love and acceptance of the woman I am currently in a relationship with to open my eyes to the fact that I was okay even if I was in the wrong physical body – I was not some grotesque, genderless monster. And seeing myself through her eyes began to make me feel less hideous, less of an abomination. I began to look in the mirror more often, take more photos of myself, and not feel shame, body dysphoria and revulsion.
Gradually, over time I needed to see and have the visceral experience my virtual male body less and less for reassurance as I began accepting my real body more and more. Until one day I realized I didn’t need to see it at all anymore. I was finally okay with me – the real me.
Sometimes it takes the unconditional love of someone else to teach us how to love ourselves.
So that’s pretty much the story of how I came to live in a Virtual World for 8 years. In a way, I was trapped there by my own feelings of grief, anger, lack of self-esteem and positive self-image.
There’s nothing I can do about the past 8 years except chalk them up to a learning experience about coping skills and accept them for what they were. No more, no less.
For me, personally, it’s time to fully embrace the present moment in all its myriad shades of light and dark and on this present day, and every day hereafter, have the courage to move forward.
Until next time …