I walk toward the sea cliff and sit upon the sun bleached trunk of a fallen tree. I trace my fingers over it enjoying the bumps and cracks and the way the dust makes my fingertips feel silky. I lift my head and watch the sea foam embrace the fierce craggy rocks on the shore. I close my eyes and listen to the waves, the howling wind and, in the distance, the high pitched voices of people calling lovingly to their dogs.

All week I felt the pre-verbal terror of annihilation or–to put it less dramatically but more paradoxically–an emptiness filled by anxiety. And yet here I sit.

I was initially taken aback when you called Thursday night but it soon became apparent that you were high and aroused and seeking relief. Though I was in a different place, I wanted desperately to be distracted from the anxious to-do list plundering my brain so I decided to engage with you.

I slowly and gently described how I would touch you and taste you and, when I heard your breath quicken, I knew you wanted to hear more about what I would do to you. I added intensity and tension to the narrative and eventually you came. After catching your breath you asked me why that was so easy for us. I said:

I don’t know about you but for me…maybe it was the first sparks. Something as simple as liking your eyes and your mouth. Then maybe it was seeing how you parented your child and or how much you cared about your work. And then when we finally got together…maybe it was about how embodied and open you were and how that made it easy to tune into your body.

I didn’t ask you your thoughts because in that moment I wasn’t interested. I said what I said because it was true but not because I actually wanted to reminisce. You imagined I had enjoyed our phone call in much the same way you did. I confessed that I had actually been sitting on my couch and that my experience was more akin to telling you an adult bedtime story. You laughed joyfully. I knew that you would find that amusing; that you would not misunderstand me. Had I thought of it I would have said: I feel as much lust and excitement as you do, but I haven’t quite been myself lately.

The next day you called again. You said you were embarrassed; you worried that you had used me. I explained that I didn’t feel used and that it was a fun escape and a creative outlet. And as I check in with myself now, all of that still rings true. Then we talked about the day-to-day. It felt nice to do so.

Lucidity can be freeing but it can also leave us empty-handed when our identity and survival is based on unconscious lies and strategies. It was fun to play with her. It was was nice to catch up. But I keep waiting for the longing and fantasy to fill the emptiness and it does not happen. The illusion that someone will step in and save me resides exclusively in my false self. The reality is that I will never be found. I will never be saved. The time for mother’s milk has long passed. I can love and be loved but there is no salvation in that; it is, at best, a balm. Maybe even a foundation. Love from the outside is a gift, not a cure. Saying this creates a nagging pain in my chest but leaves me with the reassurance that I am free to seek something more substantial than illusions.

The clouds amble across the sky, blocking the sun and lessening the glare on the water. I stare straight at the ocean and am drawn to its terrifying vastness and power. I want to be held by it; to be carried along like a piece of driftwood. I want to give myself to it in the way that some people give themselves over to their gods; to let go of everything I hold tightly and trust that I will be carried to whichever shore is meant for me.

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