Friday, November 19, 2010

My first ACES post....

Hello, my name is Janine Portal in second life. In fact, my real-life name is Janine. In whatever world I'm operating, I try to be as open and honest as I can. Not that it's the "right" or "best" way to be at all, but it's "My" way. It helps me to remain honest with myself and, hopefully, humble. My RL and my SL have been, as most lives are, full of adventure and learning and I’m committed to personal growth and self-awareness in their many and varied forms from whatever source they may come.

As an expressive arts therapist and sometime workshop facilitator, I approached second life from the perspective of it being a place in which we could co-create our personal mythologies, live the heroes journey a bit, fly and build cathedrals out of thin air. Like an intensely captivating lucid dream I noticed that people in SL were so entranced with the experience that, at times, they were loathe to log off. I, myself, have at times been guilty of missing meals and bedtimes and family outings to partake in the magic that is second life.

The most relevant part of second life, the thing that keeps most of us there, seem to be the relationships we have with others. I was told, early on, “Just think of it as a big chat room.” Well, it is that, but our minds fill in blanks and create sensory memories based on what our avatar is up to. It doesn’t really know the difference between “real” and “virtual” reality. When our minds and vulnerable emotions meet each other in such a place, there is the potential for bonding stripped of artifice even if our environment and proxy image is artifice itself. Some people say they come for the game, but if they stay, they usually stay because there are people there that “know their name” and, perhaps, understand something about them that no one in their first lives do…

That brings us to the phenomenon that is second life’s huge bdsm community. Belonging to a community committed to interpersonal relationships is thrilling enough. Belonging to a community that has bonded over, for the most part, mutual sharing and tolerance for what is so often taboo or in the closet…our deepest darkest desires, dreams, fears and delights…makes it, in my opinion, the hub of the most exciting place in second life. I feel so blessed to be able to facilitate discussions within this community, to meet so many different and varied people, hear their truths, their fears, take part in their process of personal growth….I learn something from nearly every person I encounter and am always grateful for the opportunity to do so. Being a part of the ACES consortium is an incredible opportunity to reach out to as many people and opinions as possible and I realize I’m lucky to have access to such a dedicated cross-section of the SL bdsm community.

If it looks like I Domme my discussions, look again…I see myself more as a hostess, hoping that everyone is pleased and has a good time. I may have a strong personality, but I revel in the ability to hand the reins to someone else. I’m one of those “lucky” people in that I’ve somehow managed to meet my “soulmate” in second life. If anyone wants to scoff at that term, I won’t take offense. Despite marriage and relationships, I find myself, now, in my mid forties, finally experiencing what love is, looks like, feels like… and it’s nothing like my jaded notions had led me to believe.