What’s So Scary?

It’s a little late for New Year’s resolutions, but I have been trying to try a new thing: less time on mindless websites, more time reading real books, or writing, or basically existing in the world in some substantial way. Earlier today I find myself scrolling through nothing again, and decided this was a perfect opportunity: close the laptop, do some reading.

I was surprised by the first emotion that came up: actual anxiety. Real, albeit mild, fear at the thought of possibly, in a small way, engaging my brain. I don’t think it’s the outside world that’s giving me grief right now. I’m pretty sure I’m afraid of my own internal world at this point – not worried about what I might see, or what might be done to me, but what I might feel.

Psychologists have written about the practice of self-desertion, a common issue for people with avoidant personality disorder. It means distancing yourself from your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. For me, it has often meant choosing fantasy and escapism to the exclusion of actually getting to know myself at all. And going back to that internal world where the genuine thoughts and profound emotions are is a scary prospect.

What am I afraid to find? A bad, hobbled person, a useless person in pain. And hell, maybe that’s exactly what I will find. But if I’m ever going to help this person, I’m guessing I’ll need to make some kind of contact with them first.

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