One thing that I have learned about people is that we’ve all been through some sort of trauma in our lives. And that trauma, no matter
how big or small, has brought us to SL. The beauty of SL is that no one can see our scars unless we allow it. They see the avatar that we create
to represent ourselves, and then, through conversations and interactions, they begin to see the inner workings of our minds. In SL, we have a chance to be the people we’ve always wanted to be. And that is a wonderful thing.
What I’ll never understand is why, with the freedom to be who we want to be, we allow our past trauma to define us in this beautiful virtual space that we create. So many times, we run into someone in world who is wholly defined by their past trauma. And it’s understandable, until they try to use their past trauma to justify bad behavior.
One’s past may have been traumatic and devastating. It may well have been emotionally crippling and caused irreversible psychological damage. But that time has passed. And while you may still be dealing with some of the residual effects of that trauma, you HAVE gotten through it.
I had a friend who had a terrible childhood. We initially bonded over the fact that our childhoods were so similar and we worked together to help each other heal. However, as I grew stronger and worked harder to leave the nightmare of my youth behind, my friend seemed to cling to it. Whenever we would meet, she’d rehash the same experiences. When I spoke of new hobbies and life adventures, she’d counter with “Did I ever tell you about the time when….” Cue the sad music, the waterworks, and the Kleenex. As much as I wanted to be a supportive friend, I could no longer endure living in her past. And as much as it pained me to cut ties with her, I felt like — for the sake of my own sanity— I had no choice. We still speak on occasion, but the bond that we used to share is no longer there. And I, at times, wonder if perhaps I let my friend down.
The answer is no, I did not.
If she is unable to function as an adult because she refuses to let go of what happened to her, why should that make me or anyone else feel bad? If she is using what happened as a reason to be an emotionally irresponsible asshole, then she deserves to be locked in the prison of loneliness and selfishness that she created.
There comes a point in time when we have to learn to forgive. First we forgive ourselves, and then we forgive those who hurt us. If we’ve caused the hurt, through reckless behavior based on a past trauma, then we need to be willing to learn from our mistakes so they aren’t repeated.
We are all expected to mature as we get older. Part of maturing is knowing when to hold on, and when to let go. The way I see it, when it comes to your life and your past, you can be a VICTIM or you can be a VOLUNTEER. (100L to the first person who can tell me what movie that’s from.)
I refuse to be a victim. Not to my past or to yours. And I further refuse to allow you to muddle my colorful present and bright shiny future with the emotional weight of the baggage that you refuse to let go of. Don’t be angry, just let it go. Crumple it up, throw it away, and then we’ll find out who you’re going to be. In both worlds.