Love, Like ... the Main Entree

A year ago yesterday, I surrendered.

It was in roleplay. The culmination of an intense two-week chase para-RP by email and offline messages. But that day, we met inworld for the capture part of the RP.

In the RP, he found me in my secret hideaway.
In the RP, I shivered from nervousness because he was so close.
In the RP, I realized that I had fallen in love with him.
In the RP, I cried when he leashed me.
In the RP, he fed me bread and I tasted his fingers.
In the RP, he changed his mind and wanted to release me because he felt protective.

But I felt all that, as though it were real. As though it were a wedding.

He too felt it strongly. "I felt like that man who gave you bread in your lips and from whom you caught fingers... loved, wished, and that you wished to be his," he said.

Then, yesterday, I surrendered.

With a different alt. To a different alt. To the same man.

I had asked if I could take Alt#6 out because I needed to vent, then I realized I couldn't. I met Impy through Alt#6, but I know that when I log her in, it would be Wolfgang that I would be reminded of.

Because he wanted her. Not in the way that other men wanted her. He wanted her to be part of our "family," to be cared for, to be protected, while allowing her her freedom, like the baker's cat.

He was already thinking up solutions to help me find my balance after losing Impy. He was convinced that I need another lover for balance, because he couldn't fulfill all my needs. (Sometimes, I'm surprised that he pays attention to what I say and remembers them long enough to repeat them to me later.) He reasoned that it would be good for us, because, if I'm happy, we'd get along better. He  tried to convince me to get another lover, because he knows me well now. But I think he just doesn't want to be blindsided. And he doesn't want to be the reason why I look for another.

But I already made up my mind the night before. I decided I don't need another lover. Not for a while. Maybe a couple of months or so.  We spend as much time with each other as we could, and I don't want to give that up. Besides, I don't really have a reason to grieve, because Impy never really came back. I lost him a long time ago, not this time. And I already grieved for him then. All I lost this time was my pride, but it's all my fault anyway, because I chose to be blind.

On the other hand, I gained two more pairs with Wolfgang. Three different relationships with him where we explore different possibilities, different roles, different ways of relating. If relationships were umbilical cords, I'd have more cords linking me to Wolfgang than with any other lover in all my SL. Relationships that were made stronger by our arguments and honest discussions.

Maybe I'll eventually find another lover or two. Who knows? But right now, I'm happy as we are.

Alt#31: You are definitely changing my SL.
Wolfgang#6: sl is not in one way only
Wolfgang#6: there are people inside :)
Alt#31: yes, but I had plans!
Wolfgang#6: hmm difficult to keep plans in human [relationships]
Alt#31: /me smiles.
Alt#31: Actually, I thought it would always be a certain way.
Alt#31: My SL, I mean.
Alt#31: I even wrote the book about it.
Wolfgang#6: you'd maybe change some things now you are more [experienced] ;)
Alt#31: LOL
Alt#31: "Love, Like ... the Main Entree"
Wolfgang#6: lol

Bon appetit!

The taming of the stray

A while ago, I wrote about the other cat, Alt#6.

Alt#6 had a special purpose that is darker than I had previously admitted. I had always said that she was just for one-night stands. She was my sexual outlet with no attachments to allow her to experiment and explore.

When Wolfgang started his "campaign" to win her, I had to explain the deeper darker reason for her existence, because I wanted him to understand that I wasn't denying him capriciously, that I was preserving her for when I would need her. And that need is not necessarily sex.

After a heartbreak, I would log into her for a few days, not to find comfort and solace in a stranger's arms, but to take my revenge on the male species while I also destroyed myself for being a fool. I used men while I allowed them to use me. I objectified them, in spite of my protests about women being objectified. And at the same time, I allowed them to objectify me.

In a sense, Alt#6 was a throw-away persona. The perfect persona in which to feel miserable and self-pitying. The perfect persona in which to thrash around in anger and throw tantrums and have rough sex and be mean. And I felt justified because I did it to men who only wanted me for sex anyway. I'm pretty sure it was more damaging to me than to them, but I imagined I was taking them down with me.

It was like going through mud to be cleansed, ironic as that might sound. After the rages dissipate, I wearily come back to "normal" life and move on.

Alt#6 was a coping mechanism.

But Wolfgang wanted her. He wanted her because she is my shadow side. He wanted her because she has more of my soul. He wanted her because he resonates with her. "What i didn't want was to lose you again," he said one day. I argued that he couldn't have lost her because I never gave her to him, but he remembers an incident when we were arguing about her place in our relationship "and it ended bad ... you left my arms ... and left."

"Do you feel me now?" he asked, meaning if I could feel his soul through that alt. I said yes, he was slightly different, more serious. "And i feel you also," he added. "differently, but i feel you."

Then he said, "I feel your wounds also ... and the distance you keep ... to keep [Alt#6] secure."

He gave me another quasi-dormant alt to be Alt#6's companion and consoler. But he promised that I would still have my freedom as I had before. Like a stray cat. I could go out to town and have fun, then come home for my bowl of milk and the warmth of his arms. I took it in stride; I took it for granted.

Then yesterday, I realized a betrayal that had long been going on. And I needed to take Alt#6 out again. I needed to thrash and to throw tantrums and to fight and to objectify and to self-destruct. I had my freedom; I could have just gone out. But I didn't.

Instead, I emailed him and said I needed to be with Alt#6's companion, then took a nap before I met with him. The nap mellowed me out. And when he found out the reason for the heartbreak, he understood. He saw it coming, months ago, even with the scarce information he had, but he felt it wasn't his concern, so he was discreet. Then he took me in his arms.

He reiterated that he wouldn't have minded if I took her out. He could close his eyes willfully and ignore it. As long as he wasn't the cause for my rage. All I have to do is tell him that I need to take her out to vent and he'd "kiss your lips softly and change milk bowl for later when you'll be back and prepare towel to bathe you." I nearly cried.

I resisted changing Alt#6's home position. She's a stray, her home is out there. But, yesterday, I set her home position to the home we shared. She's no longer a stray cat, who occasionally visits for milk. She's now a family cat, who occasionally strays.

No one in SL has given me the tenderness and the care that he started giving me since Alt#6 became a cat. No other lover has spent as many hours with me for as long. With what he gives me, Alt#6's old purpose becomes obsolete. At least until he and I part ways. If that happens, I'd probably be too devastated to come into SL at all anyway.

Embrace arguments

About a month ago, I was chatting with a dear friend (whose name I will not mention to preserve her privacy as well as her partner's), and she said that her partner was tired of her arguments, and she was afraid that he was pulling away because of those arguments.

I told her about my numerous arguments with Wolfgang during the start of our relationship. Very violent arguments, full of fire and brimstone, full of anger and passion. For him, arguments sour the relationship; every argument takes something away and eventually there would be nothing left. For me, arguments are like a literal storm with pouring rain and strong winds and, when it's over, the air is clear and fresh and sweet-smelling.

My relationship with Wolfgang has been the hardest and the most painful of all my SL relationships. With all those arguments, it was highly improbable for it to have lasted this long.

But surprisingly, he kept coming back. Even as angry as he was. And so have I.

A long time ago, in the middle of a difficult argument where we were just going around in circles, I called for a timeout for two weeks. He reluctantly agreed. I was ready to leave. But after a week, I decided to go back. When I returned, he was a very different man. He was less serious, he was actually happy, almost giddy. I remember thinking it was the first time I saw him say "lol". I didn't think much of it; I just thought one of his other lovers made him happy that day, and that I luckily caught him in a good mood. I refused to think that his happiness that day had anything to do with me. Maybe I was wrong.

After our last argument, he said that he was ready to walk away. He was taunting me to get me over the edge and push him hard enough. I didn't take the bait; I called for a timeout for three days. If he really wanted to leave, he would have just left. Instead, he left it up to me. In an email a couple of days later, he said that, if I was taking that long, I had already decided to leave. That's when I realized that being away from me hurts him as much as it hurts me to be away from him.

The relationship is a lot of work. There's still a lot of pulling and pushing. Not as many arguments anymore, but many discussions. But he actively participates in analyzing our relationship, just as we analyze our roleplays.

We now have one "rule of engagement" that we abide by when we argue. We agreed that we would always keep in mind that we each have good intentions and good will toward each other. And if anything sounded the opposite of that, we would clarify, because it's likely the wrong interpretation.

There are still no reassurances. No promises. He could walk away any day. And so could I. We could have an argument that could violently tear us apart. And we are both aware of that. Because we both know about the transience of SL. Because we've both been here a long while.

He took the time to argue with me, and that's one of the best gifts a man could give a woman. He fights for me, so I fight for him, and we fight for us. What are the odds I would give up on a man who allows me the storms I need to clear the air, even if he doesn't like them?

Spot once said, "People in relationships are fighting to *keep* the relationship... it's so much easier to walk away."

I recently read an article that said, couples who argued a lot in the beginning tended to stay together for a significantly longer time. According to the article, that's because they have worked out their differences in the beginning, so they know what to expect and how to deal with those differences. On the other hand, couples who avoid arguments for the sake of peace tend to sweep problems under the rug, and the resentment slowly poisons their relationship until they finally give up.

Yesterday, life unfolded just like that.