In the height of my Second Life addiction, I used to lie to people about what I did on Friday night…. “Oh me? I just hung around home, watched a chick flick, couple of wine’s ya know – just relaxed…”. But, in my mind I hadn’t stayed home. In my mind I was out partying all Friday night in Second Life, hosting at a club, talking to friends for hours over skype or SL voice, and visiting adult sims , trolling to test how long it’d take to be ejected.
I used to try and explain Second Life to people like my family and colleagues, and downplay it as “It’s like the Sims except my name is Nikki there too”. (My RL name is Nikki – if that’s not obvious). But it wasn’t just a game, it was my life. I would get through the drudgery of the day to rush home and log in. Meals were franticly put together so I didn’t miss a minute, and real life friendships fell by the wayside as I excused my way out of evening and weekend commitments to spend time online with the latest boy who’d flattered me.
I used to tell people in my real world “Oh it’s harmless – I partner this guy so I don’t get hit on – that’s all there is to it”. But that was a lie too. In my mind, they loved me, so i’d overlook being treated badly by SL men because I was so desperate to feel loved, and that fuelled the addiction further. I told them I loved them too…. lying to them, and to myself.
So while I was protesting to the world that Second Life was harmless… what was I losing. My friendships, my job (logging in while I was supposed to be working certainly came back to bite me), and thousands of dollars spent to gain virtual currency, that I predominantly spent on other people. I’m sure anyone thats logged into SL can agree- Second Life opens the door for alot of loss if you’re dumb enough to let it – which I was.
I discovered Second Life and became hopelessly addicted because I was looking for acceptance, for reassurance that I was ok, and to find people that cared about me. I was an attractive girl, with a good job and a failed marriage in the real world, and as a result of that I had a crisis of confidence. Second Life became my hiding place, my sanctuary, my crutch.
Now that’d all be a depressing story… but thankfully mine doesn’t end there.
What non-SL’ers don’t understand is that Second Life is about people. People meeting people, engaging with people, loving people. Simply said, I met the right people, and my life changed because of them.
Kay Weston picked me up on the side of Help Island and has been my mentor ever since – for years she’s been answering my questions from “what’s a cache” to “how do I terraform” to (sobbing) “how am I going to cope”. Every question i’ve asked – she’s answered. I call her my Second Life mother – but she’s part of my reality. My RL family know who i’m talking about when I share with them advice she’s given me, and her perseverance in the face of adversity, battling of circumstances, and endless stream of hope shines a light in my dark points. She’s an angel – and I know to more people than just me. And through Kay I met Ally Ryne, who makes me smile every day – truly one of the most sweetest and supportive people I’ve ever met.
Kjenn Rexen became my SL sister when we bonded over peanut butter cups at Help Island. She’s now my confidante. We spam each others RL facebooks with things noone else would understand, we’ve posted letters just to share our country’s currency, and when tragedy struck – I mean, heart wrenching horrific tragedy, loss like no othe – we were there for each other, sobbing together on skype and just letting the hard times hurt. Through and through she’s a best friend to me in both worlds, and shapes who I am.
And I suppose Chris qualifies for this. I met a boy. A boy in Second Life who DIDN’T want to pixel-sex me up. Who wasn’t trying to get me to disgrace myself on Cam. Who wasn’t interested in anything but being my friend. And he became my best friend. Then he became more.
6 months after partnering in Second Life, he flew 5hrs accross the country to see me with “no expectations”. It was love from the start, and it still is. Three days together, and the second he landed home he phoned me saying a few hours apart was more than he could bear. He dissolved his company among his staff and handed them the reins taking nothing for himself, he packed his life into one suitcase, and three weeks after our initial meeting he moved in to my home, my heart and my life for good. 18months on I still pinch myself that I wake up next to the man of my dreams.
Today marks three years in Second Life. So was it worth it? The wasted time? The huge amounts of money down the drain,? The RL friends that walked away? Hell yes it was!
I found friends that will be with me a lifetime through thick, thin and thinnest. I found a man who is my constant best friend and the love of my life. I now have a challenging, rewarding and exciting job in the real world, a store in SL that’s beginning to flourish, and the conviction that the future will hold amazing opportunities, and that i’m now strong enough to take them. Above all, I found myself. In a virtual world where I could be anyone or anything – I’ve found that ultimately whether i’m online or not, i’m happiest being me. I know who I am, what I want, and while I was looking for people to love me (which I found), I learnt to love myself – and isn’t that the most important thing?
Would I do it all over again?
In a heartbeat.
Second Life saved my life.
BIO : In Second Life, Nikki is the owner and creator of Demise of Flight and makes poses, props and mesh fashion, and also blogs, creates for KaTink poses and props, and from time to time DJ’s for friends (Actual mixing on deck’s). In Real Life Nikki is 28, lives with her boyfriend (and SL Partner) Chris in Brisbane, Australia with their 2 dogs, and works in Government (If I told you I’d have to kill you).