I hope I'm in the right place.
Since 2008, I have struggled with addiction to the online game of Second Life. Since my first day on, it has been a nightmare. When I started, I simply acted as myself as an avatar in the digital world, and I enjoyed the lack of inhibitions, specifically the lack of sexual inhibitions. As time went on, however, I found myself not enjoying being myself as much. That's when I created my first alternate.
I built a life around this other character, building this character into another person, both as far as the people I talked to in Second Life and inside my own mind. I felt beholden to this person I built in my mind and to the relationships that she had built (I'm male, but my alternates tended to be female). My mind knew that each relationship was a lie, that the elaborate stories built to serve as a "life" for these characters was a lie, that every word out of my keyboard was a lie. But for some reason, I simply couldn't stop. I felt like these relationships needed to be maintained, that these people who valued a person that didn't even exist NEEDED my attention, and that I NEEDED theirs.
I tried several times to quit. I deleted my first alternate, and almost immediately began another. Each alternate that I created was further from who I am, each took up more time from my life than the last, and each pushed the envelope further toward more perverse fantasies that I could never admit to the outside world lingered in my mind. This spiral of addiction contributed to the failure of my marriage, and yet it still didn't stop. Two more times, I deleted my alternates and swore to stop second life forever. Both times a new alternate sprung up in its place within days. I had some success in removing myself from Second Life as I focused my energy on growing in my faith, reminding myself that what I had been doing was wrong, and that I am not to be a slave to Second Life or the desires that it brings out in me.
A few days ago, I moved out of my parents' home following my catastrophic divorce in an attempt to piece together my life that had been ruined, in part, by this addiction. Tonight, I found myself logging on to Second Life again, with my original account (the one based entirely on myself), and this time I spent money, which hasn't been part of my Second Life activity in years.
This has to stop. I need to stop signing on entirely. I need to cut it off cold. But I'm afraid that I can't make it. I'm afraid that I'll log on again and that I'll keep being a slave to it. I'm paranoid that some of the things that I slid into on Second Life will be linked back to me and come back to haunt me in the real world. I don't know how this fear, which should be enough to keep me away from Second Life forever, only draws me back in. I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it, and I'm desperate for some sort of relief from this agony.
I know this was long, but I needed to get it all out there. I've never spoken openly about any of this before. I need help, and I need to know I'm not alone.