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Fear and love

I am lonely.

My life is prosperous enough financially. It is in the realm of human companionship that it is wanting.

The strongest longing, inevitably, is for an intimate relationship with a woman. Something in me craves for someone to hold me late at night, someone to smile at in the morning, someone to hold hands with on a cool fall day.

It is late at night when this hits the hardest. At that time, the desperation for a hug is overpowering. I long to have a woman in my arms, long to have someone whom I can feel warm and safe with, a warm female body content just to hold me and be with me.

This desire is not really sexual, although sex is a part of it. It is a craving for love, for closeness, for the feeling of being oneself, open, and vulnerable, and yet still loved and cared for. It is a desperation to know that despite mistakes, despite troubles and woes, there is a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, an ear to listen.

Therapists can blather on about how self-love is all I need. But I do love myself, and it is not enough for me. Touch is what I crave for most, gentleness, and tenderness.

Of course SP is a virtually impenetrable barrier to this, and neither Prozac nor therapy has yet proven effective against it. Asking a woman out on a date is something I have never done, something that merely thinking about brings tears to my eyes, knots into my stomach, blind, raw fear and terror.

I fear women as much as I desire them. I fear the power their bodies have over my eyes, fear the capriciousness with which they can play with my emotions, fear the power they wield. The capacity for joy their smiles, their caresses, their laughter seems to convey to me also gives them power to destroy me by withholding it. They are not human beings to me, they are goddesses.

The idea that man must go cap in hand to woman asking for favours, while she is free to reject with no more hesitation than brushing away a street beggar, strikes terror into my soul. Many have tried to reason with me that this fear is unjustified. But SP does not listen to reason. It is one thing to talk about it and quite another to put my life on the line and actually ask a woman out.

I could try to live contentedly single and forget about women. But I cannot do even this. Browsing in a favourite bookstore, I see a couple walk by, holding hands, and the feelings of longing flood into me. Hot on their heels is the anxiety, the terror, the desperation, the sense of utter hopelessness that things will ever change, that life will ever improve, that affection and love have any place in my destiny.

I worry about the issue, worry too much. I try to surround myself with other things, with work, with books, with the web, with dreams. But sooner or later the veneer crashes and I stare in helpless fascination at a lovely woman, with horror at the thought of attempting to start a conversation.

So I remain, frozen in sad equilibrium between relentless longing and equally relentless fear.

Soc-phob, Oct. 9, 1997.