I am afraid.

It’s garden-variety terror, on one level: as I wrote recently, there is no real-world danger. I wrote that I’m afraid of the requirement that I defend my writing. My work. My thinking. But I wonder if that’s an accurate identification of what it is I fear.

As I reflect, I can see a number of possible objects of my fear – not mutually exclusive, very much “yes, and…” I imagine:

– Death

– Discomfort

– Subordination/submission/weakness/vulnerability

– Ego depletion/wound

As I do (addict at heart, that I am) with the scariest, least welcome feelings, in this situation, I work hard – through action – either to replace the unwelcome feelings with something like their opposite (power, pleasure, excitement) or to numb them (alcohol, THC, sleep, pleasure).

I can see, what with how pleasure showed up twice there, a bit of the workings of my historically problematic relationship with/to sex/uality: I’ve somehow associated the sphere of sex with my vulnerability in a way that makes my ability to structure and control a sexual interaction in the moment a powerful antidote to the most uncomfortable emotional situations.

Add to that: sex, and the particular species of commercial sex, provide an almost tragically (comically?) efficient – if ineffective – response to all this. I see, looking at the fears I itemized above, a bit of this. To begin with, death: I have several strategies for feeling alive in the face of the sometimes-overwhelming fear of death, of loss. The benign/adaptive/effective strategies include establishing/maintaining/reinforcing connection with others – phone calls, seeing friends and family, etc.; writing; being of service to others; making things; implementing plans. The more dysfunctional strategies typically feature at least some dissociation (disassociation): porn, sex, drinking, smoking, doom-scrolling. They all have in common a sort of delusional fantasy that I can control death, whether with action/suicide (smoking), denial (sex), or knowledge (doom scrolling).

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