I came to a new understanding about myself recently. At my session last week, after hearing me go on and on about a recent bout of man-related depression, my therapist cut me off with a revelation. “You know what you are?” Dr. A said. “You’re an extreme emotions junkie. Some people are adrenaline junkies — they get off of some sort of thrill, like jumping out of a plane — but you get off on feeling really good or really bad. It’s what makes you feel the most vibrant, the most alive.”
She’s right. I had been telling Dr. A that I was resolving to drink less on dates because that way I could talk myself out of giving into my overwhelming urge to have sex. “It’s not that I think it’s a bad thing to sleep with someone right away,” I explained. “It’s just that I don’t think sleeping with someone so quickly usually results in a relationship. And I want one. But I really enjoy having sex too.” She wanted to know what I liked so much about having sex, outside of the obvious physical pleasure of it.
“Well, it makes me feel powerful,” I said. “I feel in control and beautiful and just high. I f**king love the feeling of intimacy with someone. The problem is, the next morning that feeling goes away and I start to fret about whether the other person felt the same high I felt. And then I get depressed. I feel like s**t.” This isn’t always the case, of course. Over the last year, I had a rather successful run of sexual partners whom I had fun with that didn’t produce such a high-high or low-low. But there had been a few who did and the soaring and plummeting emotions associated with them were quite debilitating.
When I’m flying high for someone, I feel like I can conquer the world. My job makes me happier, I feel successful, well-liked by my friends, proud of the life I’ve carved out for myself in my small little studio. Life has more color. All because I felt reciprocal feelings from someone, I see myself through their eyes and I think I am beautiful and smart and hilarious. You know that scene in “500 Days (Of Summer),” when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has just had sex with Zooey Deschanel and he’s walking down the street the next morning and the birds are flying into his hand and he’s doing a dance routine down the street? I feel like that. I call it “blissing out.”
When that high goes away — and it always does because it’s attached to something that has nothing to do with me — I come crashing down, like a heroin addict coming off a bender. I feel lonely, unloved, unattractive, unfunny, utterly blah. (Things I know are not true, when I’m in a more rational state.) I lament that something is missing in me, that I lack something that makes others feel just as extreme about me as I do about them. That I don’t matter. I cry uncontrollably over the loss of a feeling that was never mine to begin with. Sometimes when I’m having a crying meltdown, I go into the bathroom and actually watch the tears pour out of my eyes and the grimacing wail take over my face in the mirror. Seeing myself feel so deeply gives me another kind of extreme vibrancy that rejection threatens to take away.
To not judge myself based on how I think someone sees me, but rather to be more secure in who I am through my own eyes. To get satisfaction and enjoyment out of the more mundane moments with someone, without expectation. To feel vibrant and alive each and every day, whether it’s been a good or bad one. Because even on an OK day, when I’m not doing a blissed-out jig or sobbing until my eyes are red, I am still here, I do still matter, I am still totally alive.