I write bits and pieces of stories, a paragraph here, a title there, but none of it feels sustainable – I don’t have the energy, my characters are automata, my scenes are dusty and hackneyed. More than anything, I can’t muster the lustful glee that turns thought and phrase into an escalating feedback loop, can’t be bothered to chase the thrill, can’t concentrate enough to get myself in the mood, let alone imagine anyone else wanting to fuck right now.
I feel shut down. Numbed and inertial. I should get out and exercise. I should do tidying, cleaning, decorating, filing, sewing, writing. Instead I scroll and scroll, skim-reading for a spark but finding only deeper and deeper reserves of resistance. Yes, resistance. I find myself pushing away mental images of sex and avoiding conversations about sex. Writing about sex seems to be out of my grasp right now. Or rather, writing about it for titillation. I can chat random shit about biology and endocrinology, gender politics and technology all day long, as long as I don’t feel it.
I realised, at one point last week, that it wasn’t sex I was avoiding, it was intimacy. I’m actually still having sex. Less frequent sex, vanilla sex, slow and tender, or urgent and hungry. No impact play. No bondage. No power exchange – in fact, none of the themes that have been a core component of my sexuality since it first developed. This is no deprivation, right now I just don’t feel kinky. It feels like hard work.
I’ve taken some good nudes, but I’m not sharing them right now because the thought makes me feel exposed in a way I haven’t experienced for years. It’s uncomfortable and surprising.
I scroll past content that elicits my sympathy or compassion and don’t express any of it because doing so feels like too much hard work. Much easier to criticise and snark, accuse and campaign. Eventually, I recognise, it’s not weariness that holds me back, it’s wariness. I’m here, but I’m not all here. Something in me is missing. Something is hiding.
I don’t feel like me, except for my anger; a familiar companion but an overbearing one, like a friend who hijacks every conversation and centres themselves in it. Anger saps my lifeforce; when I’m not venting, I’m simmering and when I’m not simmering, I’m acidic. Wresting back control of myself from the hate-screeching harridan I share headspace with, requires solitude. I read novels. I play Solitaire. I sleep a lot. Every time I open the shutters and let the rest of the world in, it stirs my anger to life again. Rinse, repeat.
Behind anger, there is guilt. Guilt that I have so much privilege. Guilt that I am culpable of so much of what I despise in others. Guilt that I am being unsupportive and neglectful of my friends. Guilt is tricky stuff, if you mix it with enough shame, and add a catalyst – contradiction or censure, for example – sullen, smouldering lumps of resentment start to form.
That’s why I have been broadcasting more than engaging, why I’ve been slow and terse in response to messages. I’ve been expending my emotional capital on anger and frustration, my mind peals with coldly-detached analysis; the rest of myself kept huddled and insensate in self-protection. I don’t feel like me, except when I’m angry.
Time for a game of Solitaire, I think*.
*not a euphemism