Love’s an excuse to get hurt, and hurt. Do you like to hurt? I do! I do! Then hurt me.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on in your own head, isn’t it? It’s like you can’t see yourself through the dim fog and low light of desires and anxieties, and you wonder if you are really there, if you are really anything more than those wants and worries, and that if they disappeared, who would be standing there, looking at you? At least, that’s how I’ve felt recently.
Desires and anxieties are inextricably linked. In the Age of Sail, when great galleons and ships of the line faced off against each other in warfare (for the oceans were battlefields), their infernal engineers developed ever more ingenious weaponry with which to fight. One was the chain shot: a cannon ball split into two half-spheres and linked with a length of chain. It was intended to decimate the rigging and masts of their adversary; when fired, each half would be propelled into the ropes and sails, entangling itself and ripping them to shreds. My desire and my anxiety are like chain shot, looped into each other, spinning through the air amongst smoke and saltpeter, one flinging the other away with centrifugal force but unable to break free of the other’s orbit. Splinters everywhere.
I used to be scared of my desires. Or if not scared, frustrated by them. In my twenties desires were the things lying just outside the boundaries of my depression, taunting me. Not realising them was frustrating enough, but beating myself up for not realising them was worse. I wanted to live in the world, but it was just out of reach; some years, my fingers brushed against life, but as I would lay in bed the day after the party, the fuck, the fight, I would think how far away experience still seemed. The frustration of life just out of reach, and the bargaining I did with myself to try and get as close as I could to it without falling in, is something I still struggle to explain. I think anxiety is the true mark of my generation; we lie in bed doomscrolling other people’s pleasures and experiences, overwhelmed by wanting but being unable to grasp. FOMO, or fear of missing out, structures our resentments, poisoned by too many images. I’ve written before that anxiety is a negative hope, and sometimes it accretes like limescale around actual hopes. I wish to feel this, and I know I never will.