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Lusty Lady

BLOG OF RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL
Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The lure of worthlessness

The below was written last night, before the full on insomnia hit. Off to Times Square to report on cupcakes this morning, and despite a very long night, I have a good feeling about this crazy week. Speaking of which, if you're in New York tomorrow night, August 1st, and want to hear a professional acting out my bondage story "Foot and Mouth," forthcoming in Best Bondage Erotica 2013, check out Liars' League's Sex and Drugs Show at 7 at KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street. First few sentences: "Shiny silver bondage tape. Dangling bells at the ends of matching nipple clamps. A black leather paddle. A Wartenberg wheel, that tiny, mean, metal medical implement. Pink feathers. And an evil grin." Also, my book Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories is still on sale for only $1.99 on Kindle! I have no idea how long it'll be on sale (I was shocked that it was still at that price) so a heads up. Hopefully more ebooks in the works.

I go back and forth, clearly, on my resolve to try to be professional and not write about the inner workings of my brain and heart. That feels scary, but when I do write, it feels more scary to keep it all inside. It's tricky, because I have more to say but it isn't really fit for a blog post, and not only wouldn't I know where to start, I don't want to start at the beginning. I'm ready for the end, the part where things go back to some semblance of normal. I've been hoping 2012 would be the year that happens and, so far, well, the year has laughed right in my face about that, repeatedly.

I keep feeling this need to apologize, and I think it's part of what I want to write about, which was this perfect storm of anger and jealousy and sadness and, at heart, worthlessness, that rushed over me this weekend. I've never been surfing so I don't really know how to make that analogy, but it felt kindof like I was walking along a warm sunny beach and all of a sudden a wave of all those awful things jumped over the smooth, pretty sand and tried to drown me. Not permanently, but just enough to ruin my walk, to throw me utterly off course. So, points to the wave for that. The more I ponder it, though, it wasn't really like that at all. The wave built, and at first was just a splash of water hitting my feet. It wasn't even menacing, it was just a little inconvenient. And yet it was so familiar, so intimately familiar, that feeling of worthlessness, of being worth less, that I was the one who in some ways threw myself into the wave. It didn't feel like it at the time, but I let myself go there. I let myself sink into that because, I guess, for all the work I've tried to do on myself, there's a small part of me that believes that I am worth less, not just relative to this specific situation, but overall.

It wasn't quite the vicious jealousy that seemed sharp as an arrow before; it was more an overall not quite jealousy, but just sensation that nothing I do will ever be good enough, and conversely, everything this person does is perfect. Of course I know that's not really true, but that's what I told myself for so long it's still hard to see the difference. And I believe that the stories we tell ourselves, whatever mix of fact and fiction, are coping mechanisms. They are as vital and real, in their way, as anyone else's perspective. You can try to tell me why that's inaccurate, and trust me, many people have, but that doesn't change how it feels when I'm in the middle of it.

Purging that feeling of being worth less has nothing to do with seeking outside approval, not for me, anyway. I've learned through trial and error that you can't snort, starve or stuff your face to vanquish it. You can't rip off your clothes and expect to somehow toss it in with the wash. You can't run away from it no matter how far you go, because it's there, waiting for you, when you're done with whatever self-destructive activity of choice you've decided will placate it. Maybe all those things simply let it fester, lying in wait, until a moment like this weekend.

It's funny too because we're so inundated with the idea that love will save us from, well, everything else. That being in love will make all those feelings of worthlessness disappear, like some magical cure. Maybe it works that way for some people, but not for me. In fact, in some ways it's harder to receive that love when that feeling is still there, waiting for me, because I'm not sure I deserve it, I wonder when whatever it is he sees in me will dissolve like a mirage and reveal the real, flawed, fucked up person inside. That's happened, actually, on more than one occasion. I've fallen apart and I've hated, passionately, doing so in front of someone else, no matter how close to them I am, no matter how much I plan to spend the rest of my life with them. I still want to save falling apart for just me. It's too raw, too much.

My boyfriend said to me this weekend, "Not only don't you have a poker face, you don't even have a poker body," and he's absolutely right. I can't hide it when I fall apart, when I'm distracted or upset or anxious. I certainly couldn't this weekend. It was like it was not only coursing through my veins, but multiplying, getting stronger, like I could hear it start to take over, demanding my attention in the most bratty, brassy way. I so wanted to ignore it, to do my "real" work, which is funny, because while I'm trying to branch out and write about travel and events and topics unrelated to sex and dating, those are always what I go back to, not because I've built whatever career I have on the, but because they're what interests me, and clearly, the rest of the world (hi, Kristen Stewart scandal). I don't know where that line is between what I'm supposed to write about and what I'm not, though I'm dead fucking certain that it's a line I am the only one fit to decide its width and length and boundaries.

Today felt more normal, perhaps because I came back home. There is something so welcoming to me about New York, about its vastness, its simultaneous indifference and seduction. I could walk for miles and miles and not have to talk to anyone if I don't want to, but as someone who spends a large amount of time in coffeeshops, I've also been privy to so many beautifully random, unexpected conversations with strangers. Even when I don't talk to them, they're my coworkers, for an hour or two, my neighbors, my fellow New Yorkers, even when they are clearly tourists. Sometimes it's easier to let them judge me than it is anyone a step closer.

That's all I know. I'd love to say that I hope I never feel that perfect storm again, but that seems unrealistic. I definitely learned a few things that I hope will aid me in future similar situations, ways I'd try to react differently, to fight back my own feeling of being worth less, whether it's real or imagined. I'm not sure what that will involve on a practical level, and I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm glad shit went down, but it definitely gave me some insights into my own issues that I need to work on, ones that long precede particular messiness. At the end of the day, I can only work as hard as I can to figure out how to make better choices, how to not react quite as impulsively, how to prioritize myself so I don't fall into the exact same very sharp trap I kept practically leaping into gleefully the past few years.

That makes it sound worse than it was, because it's not so black and white. The trap is often hidden behind layers of soft, fluffy beautiful clouds that look so inviting, so pure and welcoming I just want to lie down on them and have them hold me there, resting on what amounts to the softest bed ever, floating on air, a natural high. Sometimes I even got that blissfulness, but the crash back down to earth was never, in hindsight, worth it. It's a sad paradox and I kept and maybe keep, to a degree, trying to separate them. Those clouds, for a long time, held so much promise to me, they were mystical and breathtaking and so pure, they obscured anything else below them. There was nothing else, there couldn't be, and yet when it came time to actually rest on them and take advantage of what they were promising me, it was like a cartoon where the dim-witted animal is suddenly swiveling around and realizes they are suspended in the air, helpless, and no sooner does that happen, then they crash. Despite having spent, I don't know, a conservative estimate of hundreds of hours pondering all this, I have no idea what the right answers are, how to hang in midair and not have the ground rush up to meet me, littered with sharp objects, ready to devour me. Maybe I'm not supposed to know, and I'm okay with that. I have grudgingly accepted that maybe whatever "right answer" there is is beyond me and my petty narcissism, my greedy selfish heart. I just know that I have to try new ways of dealing, new ways that maybe have a chance of bringing the thing I was looking for in the first place: closure.

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