The Transactionals

“Maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll give you dick later this week.”

Man…I did not want to hear that. For like ten million reasons. First of all, I rue the transactional nature of that statement. It’s as if to say my good behavior or generosity or patience are what merit me five to ten minutes of sex. Like sex is something I have to earn. Because otherwise, sex on its own is…what? Not fun? Has no inherent redeeming qualities? Why is sex a reward that is dangled in front of me like a carrot? Plenty of people are willing to give carrots away for free. In fact, plenty of people would pay me to take the carrot. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I ain’t no Dick Chasey. I can really just roll over and go to bed myself if that’s the current attitude towards sex. I’m not really feeling it.

Secondly, like, damn. I was really hoping that the commodification of the body was something that could be avoided here, but I guess not. I guess it’s ironic because traditionally it’s the other way around – usually I’m the one bartering my body for better treatment, more stuff, time and attention. Which is probably why the irony isn’t lost on me here. In fact, I’d go so far as to say: does this person even want to have sex with me, period? Or am I only fuckable after I check a couple boxes and do a few favors? Am I not, on my own, fuckable? Oh, Jesus, this is not good for my self esteem. Again, it’s probably better for me to find someone that is going to trip all over themselves in order to fuck me than to loiter around hoping for sex from someone who doesn’t seem eager to give it.

And, thirdly, damn things have changed. We’ve changed, this relationship has changed, our libidos have changed. I am (apparently) “not fun” anymore, which honestly doesn’t really bother me in terms of critical feedback because I’m not some god damn rodeo clown, I’m a woman trying to make a life for herself and all the people who care to join me on this ride. The petty games of withholding sex don’t really intrigue me these days – that shit is fucking joyless. I wanna fuck cuz I wanna fuck cuz I wanna fuck – there’s no need to dress it up in quid pro quo or make it a chore. Or make me feel like I’m the chore. It’s supposed to be fun, and if it’s not fun, then let’s not do it. There’s nothing quite like the threat of perfunctory fucking to make me feel like: no, thank you, now or ever.

Which isn’t to say that I’m unwilling to accommodate other people’s libidos or sexual needs. I like to fuck a lot – but I realize that sometimes I’m the only one. It’s not going to break me to scale it back. Yes, ideally I’d like to fuck every day, but if we only fuck once a week, that’s fine, too. In fact, there’s no obligation for us to have sex whatsoever! If the last time we had sex was the last time you actually wanted to fuck me, I can deal with that. I won’t complain. I’m not into coercing sex out of people who don’t want to give it. Willing participants only.

What Is Game?

I was talking to Gangsta Boo about my recent frustrations with different men’s game. In particular, an episode wherein a would be paramour threw a mild tantrum when I didn’t want to spend time with him.

Gangsta Boo sagely told me, “He’s gotta not throw tantrums. How is he going to get a second chance if he throws a tantrum? I went out on a date with this girl one time, and she ran out in the middle of the date, but instead of throwing a tantrum, I went home and dealt with the rejection in private. Next time I saw her, I played it cool. Now that girl drinks my piss. That’s game.”

I looked back at Gangsta Boo, and before I could even finish thinking, “Who the fuck is this bitch?” It occurred to me, “Oh…that’s me.” Which also made me feel like: goddammit, did I get gamed? I mean, whatever, that was years ago, and it’s not like I’m here despite my better judgment or a lack of interest. But, yeah, that’s fucking game.

I’ll admit it – usually when I’m seeing someone I like to toss a little bit of rejection his way just as a litmus test. Not a major amount of rejection, mind you – I’m not trying to be cruel. I’m just trying to gauge: if I pull away a little bit, what happens? The tantrum? The cold shoulder? Contrived indifference? Emotional melt down? Or can you play it fucking cool? And still go after what you want? Determination, confidence, emotional agility – all the building blocks of game.

Dwellers in Hell

I don’t really believe in regret, but now that I’m experiencing it for the first time in my life, I must admit: this shit is a fucking bitch.

It’s hard for me to express the exact details of my new, big regret, mostly because I’m still coming to terms with an unfulfilled blood lust that fills my veins. I thought that if I ignored it forever, pretended it wasn’t there, morphed into a softer, milder version of myself, that this overwhelming rage would simply peter out. It hasn’t.

Instead I am steeped amongst the living, peering into Hell, and looking at all the familiar faces that are burning just beyond my reach.

How do I tell you that it hurt me to watch him die – not because of grief or loss or pain or a mere lack of closure – but because I didn’t get to do it with my own two hands. As I sit here, on Planet Earth, I realize that I allowed myself to be robbed of the pleasure of doing it all on my own. Taking his life. Watching him suffer. Yes, I know that he suffered, but I didn’t get to watch it. I didn’t get to inflict it. I didn’t get to bask in the pain of someone who hurt the people I love.

I regret this.

Instead, I am going to show up at his funeral, and there will be no satisfaction for this unmitigated rage. All I well get is the finality of death. There is nothing pleasing about it. I should have killed him when I had the chance. But I will never have that chance again, so instead of peace, I am filled with a blood lust that can only be sated…by something worse than all of this.

Anxiety

This anxiety is ultimately a trust issue. As I lay there bawling in my bed, feeling the tightness in my chest and the shortness of breath, I realized: I don’t trust myself very much, do I? Which I guess runs in tandem with a lack of self confidence. So I lay there, writhing, unsure of what to do, my phone clutched in hand, and flooded with self doubt. Hello, stultification. Am I going to do the right thing here? Or am I being impulsive and on the verge of ruining my life again? Why am I my own greatest enemy? Why am I always the person who hurts me the most? Yes, it’s the anxiety. I don’t want to move, I don’t want to leave the house, I don’t want to exist. I want to wither away from a place where I can hurt myself with my own bad decisions, which is something I have been doing over and over again for years. Whatever happened to the survival instinct? Why can’t I tell the future? Do I text him? Should I call him? Or am I staring down the barrel of my own ignominy yet again? Anxiety, because I don’t know how to avoid the pain. I never knew how, which is why I wound up with him in the first place. I was guided by a passion and impulsiveness that was at odds with own basic happiness. I enjoyed hurting myself with him. But now? Now, I’m trying to live, and the mere idea of him is killing me. I have been trying to choose life, but old habits are hard to break, so I shrivel up inside my own anxiety and wait for the worst to come.

Dominant Men & Dominant Women

I was on a date with a man who can only be described as incredibly intelligent and incredibly successful when he dropped the line, “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t trying to be too dominant.”

“What!” I perked up. “I love dominance.”

I couldn’t help but think: damn, he has totally misread this entire situation. He had been fumbling with his phone, trying to pull up the QR code for the movie tickets, and I had been standing by, idly. What he had clocked as unwarranted dominance hadn’t even registered as anything with me.

Perhaps it was ironic, given that we had been discussing feminism at length a few moments earlier. I have a lot to say about the feminist movement in its current iteration, more than I feel like disclosing here, but suffice it to say there are a few tactics and cultural shifts that I really, really disagree with. That being said, I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t want to use any platform to challenge the feminist movement because, well, what’s good for the goose is good for the goose. We haven’t reached a point of “the feminist movement is so deeply problematic that I feel compelled to say something,” so I’m going to keep my thoughts to myself for now and see how all this pans out because it’s probably going to pan out in a way that benefits me without hurting anyone else.

With that in mind, I realize that there’s a current cultural delusion about what it means to be attracted to a woman who is identified by her peers as a feminist, or even just a “strong woman.” The coupling of dominant-submissive is quite classic, and the assumption seems to be that a dominant woman wants a submissive man who will tend to her needs, take care of her, and let her be top dog. This is what I think my date picked up on in our discussion about feminism.

But I’m not like that. Sure, a lot of my friends are like that. But not me.

I’m a confident person who responds positively to confidence in other people. I’m a powerful person who is attracted to other powerful people. I’m a dominant person who likes to be around other dominant people. I want to be with someone who will sit with me at the table. I don’t need a lackey. I don’t need a mentor. I need an equal. A partner in crime. I’m looking for someone who compliments me, who makes me better, who will pull me up when I feel weak. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not looking for someone whose back I can walk upon. I’m looking for someone who will fight alongside me in the blood of the battlefield. Kings do not apologize for their strengths.

No, I do not want to be ruled by men. But I don’t want to rule them, either. I just want to be free, together.

 

The Impact of Depression on the Every Day Experience of Beauty

Ideally, I would like to live my life in a state of ceaseless joy, but I’m not, so here’s my litany of complaints about the impact of depression on my daily life.

One day, I woke up and realized that I had stopped doing a lot of things that brought me joy in my day to day life. I had logged off of all social media, which at first felt like a step in the right direction for my mental health, but which ultimately severed me socially from a lot of people I know but don’t talk to on any other format. This was the last thing I noticed that had changed before I realized that everything else had changed, too. That was the last thing that had changed before I noticed the chasm of emptiness that had engulfed my heart. Because for no real good reason, I had also stopped doing things like going out to parties, hanging out with my friends at bars, reading about art, experiencing art, listening to new music, watching new movies, exploring fashion trends. Just – I had stopped generally exposing myself to new experiences in the world, and I had forgotten how to find those experiences and enjoy them.

Instead, I had drowned myself in grayness because it felt safe. I had closed my eyes, too, so it took me a really long time to realize that I had become a permanent resident in the doldrums. I had willfully unwrested myself from a life that was otherwise filled with beauty, and I camped quietly in a thickness of fog that kept me safe from feeling anything other than semi-somnambulatory. I guess it’s hard to feel other people’s feelings when you’re busy escaping your own – it was too dangerous to try to feel anything at all, lest I brush elbows with my own emotional paucity.

I became a master of hiding. I hid in my room where I did nothing at all. I hid behind someone else’s face that I painted on every day so no one could see me in my state of sheer terror. Coming home and doing nothing at all for days on end started to feel natural, normal. The idea of leaving the house to, say, look at art at a museum sounded onerous and pointless. I haven’t learned anything new about the world in months. I am afraid to touch anything new in the world because there has been too much pain thus far. So I made a home for myself in the familiar, and no one noticed the difference.

I have noticed the difference. This is not who I am, this is not who I want to be. My depression took my creativity from me – slowly, piece by piece, so that I would never notice. Suddenly, I was a drone. Everything that I could have put towards my writing – which I love so much, and which defines me – got put towards working. I guess I can give my depression credit for that – I found solace in my ability to produce, albeit not creatively, but as a member of a capitalist society that (let’s be honest) I totally resent.

But, whatever. I think today is the first day that I’ve started to slowly tip toe away from my depression, and a quick glance back over my shoulder is threatening to stultify me with the shock of: why the fuck did I let my depression do that to me for so long? How did I forget to enjoy the world? Why did I stop finding joy in this existence?

Answer: whatever. It happened. It happens from time to time, and I see you, depression, creeping around the back, trying to dress up as guilt and regret. None of that for me today. I’m leaving you here, and I hope you suffer without me at least as much as I suffered here with you. Not that it matters, because I am trying to never cross paths with you again.

Depression

I’ve been avoiding writing about this for a long time, because like most normal people I was hoping it would just go away.

It hasn’t.

Instead it has just gotten a makeover, like a punchy 90’s teen comedy, except instead of finding love in the end, I’m still depressed.

Although, I’m not trying to discredit all the wonderful things that have happened in my life and all the beautiful people who bring me happiness. It’s just that it’s time to admit: the baseline of depression is still there, no matter who and what I cover it up with.

What has changed is the rage. Which is unfortunate because the rage was an appropriate if somewhat toxic foil to the depression. The depression sits quietly and alone on the couch and is filled with self doubt; the rage ran out into the streets screaming and smeared itself in the faces of anyone who was unfortunate enough to watch. Me without my rage is a person dealing with the monopolarity of something that is quite unpleasant.

The rage was a comfort zone, a warm buffer against the cold nights of depression. It motivated me. It got me out of the house. It made me loud. Without rage, and with onl depression, I am facing an iteration of myself that I’m entirely comfortable with. It’s dissatisfying to always be a person who loses her sense of self in sad emotion, even when the rational part of me says, “Come on, stop that, it’s not helpful.” Rage was the demon that kicked depression in the ass, and if common sense is the only rope dangling down to save me from this hole, I have to admit: common sense isn’t a rope at all, merely twine that is, at the end of the day, a farcical and cruel imitation of the rope that could save me from this place.

I miss my rage. I don’t know why it has escaped me. Perhaps it was merciful – when I had my rage, I never had to look at my depression. Without rage, it’s just the two of us in this pit, fighting it out to the death. Perhaps this is why I miss my rage – without it, how do I know that I can win against my depression? Or, with my rage, I never would have even tried to fight.

The rage was just too dangerous. I ran away from it because it hurt me. It hurt me many times over the course of my life, in little ways that felt good in the most masochistic sense. But finally, one day, it tried to kill me, and it nearly won, so I had to run away. I did not want my rage to kill me, so I abandoned it. And now here I am, alone with my depression, and missing the fighting chance that rage gave me.

Perhaps this is why I cling to my depression. I’m afraid of the person I would be without it. Ah, yes, the trap of depression: I have let it become so much of myself that I don’t know how to function without it. What do they call that? Oh, yeah. Codependency. I sit here and moan that I would do anything to live without it, but as soon as it starts to leave I cry so that it knows to stay.

Depression, in its most quotidian form, is not good for me. It’s certainly not good for my writing. But I just don’t know how to kick it. It’s been damn near three years of straight depression, in this quiet, caring iteration. It’s made me do so many stupid things against my will, without my consent. It’s made me love people who never loved me back. It’s made me abandon my dreams in the hopes that maybe my dreams were what made me sick. Now I’m still sick, and I have no dreams, and it’s miserable.

I am going to escape you one day. I’m not quite sure how – the brain fog of depression is stunning, but I am still in here, somewhere in my mind, and I will peel away thin layer after thin layer of depression until finally I find the crack in the darkness, the pinhole of light. I’ve been a prisoner here for years, and I will be a prisoner here for many years to come, but I will not die here. I can feel inside my heart, in the darkest corner, which I have hidden from depression – I can feel a fleck of the will to survive, of confidence and beauty, a small, sallow bead of something different still living inside me. It is anemic and pallid, but it is there nonetheless, and I am guarding it with my life because it is the only thing that can save me. Even if it takes years. Even if it takes decades. I am waiting here with my grain of invisible hope, and I am planning my escape while depression, my captor, prances around in my clothes and my body and my mind, pretending to be me, like a fool, but that will never last. I have always been weak, but one day I will be strong, and on the first day I am strong, I will break out of here alive.

And I will see the sunshine, and I will taste the fruit, and I will experience beauty, and even if I die immediately thereafter, those few moments of life will make it all worth it. Do not give up my seat at the table of the living – I will be very late, but expect me.