Fight or flight

The bet

August 14, 2012. Impy was talking about Guild Wars 2. It was supposed to come out on August 28 and he was excited about it.

[2012/08/14 16:59:16]
Alt#24: After you buy GW2, I won't see much of you anymore.
    That's where your time will go.
Impy2: no, i dont think so
    i will not go fully into GW2
Alt#24: I should make a bet.
Impy2: lol, you will loose
Alt#24: I think you'll be too tired to come into SL.
Impy2: no, this is 'diferent', it is not a game
Alt#24: And after your eyes get accustomed to the great graphics in GW1, you will not want to come  back to SL.
Impy2: laughs
    XDDD  no way
Alt#24: Make the bet then!
Alt#24: Okay.
    Here's my bet.
    By October, you will drop down to once or twice a week in SL.
Impy2: nope
Alt#24: Make the bet and I'll track it.
Impy2: what do you want to bet?
Alt#24: 1,000L
    You can afford that.
Impy2: :D ok
Alt#24: ok ... Deal.
Impy2: deal
Alt#24: One day, my darling, you'll learn never to make a bet with a Filipina.
Impy2: haha :D

November 9, 2012. Impy logged in after my presentation at the Non-Profit Commons. He had logged in a week before, but we didn't log into our dedicated alts then. This time, we did.

[2012/11/09 10:28:20]
Second Life: [Impy2] paid you L$1000.
Alt#24: What's that for?
Impy2: remember our "bet"?
Alt#24: I forgot.
Impy2: :) laughs.
Alt#24: What was the bet?
Impy2: don't remember..."I bet you will log less and less....till  one day in the week
Alt#24: oh
Impy2: i said no...
Impy2: you won :S
Alt#24: In that case, you owe me another 4000L

I won that bet because that's typical in my Second Life. Lovers fading away. Some disappear without a word. Some fall away, but they keep in touch by email, until eventually the emails disappear too. Some *do* return. Rapido did. And now, Impy did too. Even Yes Man had contacted me recently and we had a brief chat by disembodied IM to catch up on news with each other.

In the past, I figured I would always be abandoned. I have abandonment issues and they say that you would always get the same lessons in life until you learn them. I imagined that was the lesson I had to keep learning.

After all, I was always the one who was more immersed in SL. And my lovers were more focused on their RL. So it was only natural that I'd be the one left behind.

In fact, that was how I viewed every lover. He was just there for a short time and, eventually, he'd fade away. I could bet on it with confidence....

I don't think about to leave you

Later that same afternoon, I saw Wolfgang#2 logged in when it was already very late for him. He said he was on his way to bed. I asked for a hug before he goes to bed; he declined. I was very disappointed.

I imagined he was with his sub, and I felt bad that he spent the whole evening with her, but I couldn't even get five minutes for a hug. After he logged off, I couldn't focus so I logged my social alt and went to Frank's. I hid in a corner while listening to the music and working on other things outside SL. I said hi to a friend and another friend caught me. The second one proposed RL sex after finding out that we actually live near each other. I declined. He's less than half my age.

The next day, Wolfgang asked how my day was, as usual. And I mentioned taking my social alt out and the conversation with the young friend. I also mentioned that I spent a little time with Impy and that he's back. Then he asked me how Rapido was, and I said he was fine but I hadn't seen him for a while either.

[2012/11/10 02:26:25]
Alt#32: It's been just you for a long time.
Wolfgang#4: yes i know ... but it looks to change soon
Alt#32: I don't know.
Wolfgang#4: i think it will anyway as you show the wish it does
Alt#32: How do I show the wish?
Wolfgang#4: because all that, the dance with [social alt], the impy around, rapido too

I told him that I didn't really dance. I was just standing in the corner. Then I explained, "Sometimes, I just need to be around crowds because I feel lonely. And sometimes I feel lonely and rejected when I can't even get a five minute hug."

And the argument started.

I tried to appease him. I tried to prove I was thinking of him even as I stood at Frank's because a song played by the DJ made me think of him. He continued to think I was trying to make him jealous, simply because I didn't get a hug. I was trying to explain that it was just a slight disappointment and I went out to soothe myself.

I kept repeating what I said in so many ways. It was as though he wasn't listening or he didn't believe me. At one point, I felt like the argument was going nowhere, and I said, "I am at a point where I am seriously thinking of giving up." I was seeing red.

And that became another point of contention.

The argument continued through email the next day. Even while he was at a family gathering.

I said, "I always believed that love should be the only reason to be with another person. Maybe I’m a romantic idealist. I’ve wanted to run away because of our differences. I stayed because I love you. But, if my love for you is not a good enough reason, then what reason is there to stay?"

He replied, "I always believed that when you love someone, you don't have to search a reason to stay, because then, you don't wish to leave. And i believe that when you wish to leave, the meaning is that you don't love that much, or not that much anymore. ...

" Love is a good reason to not leave someone, it is just so bad that some reasons need to be found to decide to stay. ... Romantic words are words, reality is reality. ... You, the romantic, want to leave because [of] 2 argues and our differences. ... Me ,the not romantic, was here and stayed here without thinking about to leave, although our argues, although our differences which are for me constructive and not a problem. ... You, you say to me you love me. I, I don't think about to leave you."

My own reply was much longer, but essentially, "Running away doesn’t mean I don’t love you. Sometimes, it just means I am feeling more pain than I can handle. I can deal with arguments; arguments can be logical. I have a very difficult time dealing with emotional pain, because emotional pain often irrational. Feeling jealous is irrational. Feeling rejected just because I didn’t get a hug is irrational. ...

"You get hurt because of the argument. I’m already hurt before the argument starts. For me, the argument is like pulling out the arrow and cleaning the wound. It hurts more, but it’s necessary for healing. ...

"The will is not stronger than love; the will gets its strength from love. When I say I love you, I am saying that my love powers my will to stay and it overrides my impulse to run away from the pain. That impulse is the fight-or-flight instinct. When I cannot fight anymore, my instinct is to flee. But fleeing would not make you happy, so I stay."

We had a couple more exchanges by email before we met inworld again. And we made up.

But this argument has opened my eyes. As he says, I look for a reason to stay, but the thought of leaving me never even occurred to him. If he's right, maybe the impulse to flee is also triggered by fear. Fear of commitment. Fear of the relationship going further than I am prepared to go.

Somehow, a shift happened inside my brain. Somehow, I see him differently now.

Maybe I should save my Lindens. I'm not making any bets with this one.

“We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”
Dr. Seuss