There is no question

The problem with guilt is that it does not coexist with joy. It cannot. But the joyfulness is part of who I am, part of the woman he fell in love with.

We had agreed that RL is more important. He had his commitments with his RL relationship. What I didn't realize was that my principles are part of my RL and deserve as much attention and respect. Sacrificing my integrity is too high a price to pay for a fantasy. No matter how wonderful that fantasy is.

So, last night, I set the cricket free and I set him free. The heart aches; the tears flow. But it was the right thing to do.

The same RL friend who had once given me good advice also said, "If there is a question, there is no question." If the cricket does its job well, the question "Do I burn in virtual hell or real hell?" will no longer arise.

There is no question. Not anymore.

Illicit

Since I was a young woman, I had promised myself that I would not mess with married men or men who are otherwise committed.

In SL, he is not partnered, but he just got out of a relationship. In RL, he is not married, but he is in a long-term committed relationship.

The question I did not resolve in September comes back to haunt me. If I have an affair in virtual reality with a man who's married (or committed) in real life, do I burn in virtual hell or real hell?

How separate, really, is SL from RL? The emotions are real; that, I know. And those emotions that come out of SL affect our moods in RL and, therefore, affect RL. Time spent in SL relationships is time taken away from RL relationships. Likewise, our beliefs, our behavior, our individual culture, our upbringing, our attitudes, all these come from RL and affect SL.

So I think I've learned something else about that mysterious line between SL and RL. It is not a foot-thick lead wall. Instead, it is a porous membrane. Things seep through, both ways. The membrane stretches towards one side or the other. And, yes, the membrane can burst with enough pressure.

That is why the guilt is there. I am stealing his time away from his RL gf and I am stealing my time away from myself.

And, for several days now, I've been swatting Jiminy Cricket away. Then, last night, I put the cricket in a jar. Last night, I started an illicit affair.

The loony bin

(Markoosha left a comment in a previous entry. In it, he advises that I should "focus on 'First' life." I figured I'd respond to him here.)

Markoosha, thank you for the advice. No, it does not offend me. In fact, I've heard that advice many times before. So I hope it would not offend you if I don't take it. :-)

The problem with pat answers is that what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. We all have different circumstances. In my case, the last couple of years of my "First" life marriage was incredibly painful that I have stayed away from serious intimate relationships for years. And yet I know that I need that emotional intimacy with another, a deeper kind of intimacy that platonic friends cannot provide.

Second Life is something of an emotional "sandbox" for me. A place where I can dip my toe in the pool, so to speak. A place to figure out what I did wrong, what I can do better, and whether I am emotionally ready for a full-time relationship. Usually, commitments in SL tend to be valid only in-world, so it's not as risky. But, at the same time, I'm getting my emotional needs satisfied once in a while.

So, the reason I'm not taking your advice is...

If I can't make it work in a (somewhat) controlled environment like Second Life, what makes you think I can make it work in real life?

:-D

Or to make the question more relevant to you...

If a driver hasn't learned to avoid orange cones in an empty parking lot at 15 mph, are you sure you want that person sharing the road with you at 65 mph?

;-D

/me plans to create a group called "Characters who should not be let out into the real world." After she comes up with a shorter name. lol

Forgiveness and gratitude

They say we cannot start healing until we forgive. And that entails forgiving the other and ourselves. However, it is easier to forgive another person than it is to forgive ourselves. Maybe it is because, in order to forgive ourselves, we first have to confess our sins. And to confess our sins is to admit that we are not as perfect or as good or as virtuous as we deem ourselves to be. So we have to first forgive ourselves for being imperfect before we can even forgive ourselves for our transgressions.

And when all the forgiving is done, we're still left feeling that something was taken away from us. As though we were denied future happiness, as though our dreams were snatched away. We lose trust in the other; we become defensive. And we close off a part of ourselves from the world. Instead of opening up to new loves, to new joys, to new experiences, we become more cautious. And we shield ourselves from precisely the experiences we're looking for.

But, now, I realize that forgiveness is only the first step. Perhaps even an unnecessary step.

You see, it doesn't matter why a relationship -- whether romantic or platonic -- ended. Not at all. That's because the whole relationship -- from the moment you meet until the day you part ways -- is a gift. A shared gift from both souls to each other and to themselves. All the joys, all the laughter, all the memories. Even the ending of the relationship, the transgression, is part of the gift, as well as all the other lessons that came with it. The ending of the relationship teaches us to appreciate the gift in its entirety and all other gifts we share with other souls. It teaches us to cherish each moment of that gift because it is transient, as all wonderful gifts are.

When we are given a gift, we don't say, "I forgive you." No, we say, "Thank you." And when we say thank you, when we are grateful, our hearts remain full and overflowing. Nothing is taken away from us; everything is given to us. There is nothing to forgive; there is no lack either in ourselves or in the other; there is no transgression.

And the next time we are offered a gift, we reach out and accept it gratefully. Because we remember that the last gift filled our hearts with joy and our minds with wisdom.

"To err is human; to forgive divine." -- Alexander Pope
"To err is human; to forgive wise; to be grateful divine." -- Opal Lei
;-)

Gracias. Mahalo. Danke. Tak. Merci. Arigato. Dziekuje. Meda wo ase. Diolch. Doh je. Komapsumnida. Grazie. Efharisto. Shukria. Xie xie. Salamat. Obrigada. Thank you.

My Valentine

I've made up my mind. I've chosen my lover for this month.

Since the day I was born in SL, I've had one lover each month. I tried to end the curse, but I failed. So I'm just gonna go with the flow -- one lover each month, it is. However, ...

For February, Opal is Opal's lover. Yup! Me.

I know it's ironic that I chose the traditional month of love to go solo, but there it is. This is the month that I pour my love out... to myself.

Narcissistic? Well, not really. Just a healthy dose of self-love.

Yes, I'm still aiming for universal and unconditional love. Yes, I still believe that loving someone else is loving an aspect of God. But, since I am also an aspect of God, don't I deserve to be loved by me?

So, sorry, guys. February is booked; I'm saving this month for my best love affair yet.

“To love one's self is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” -- Oscar Wilde