It occurs to me that sensation is an odd thing to crave.
I don’t feel it all the time. When I’m happy, I rarely feel it at all. Physical human contact usually makes me uncomfortable–the only exception is when I’m with certain friends and family members.
But when I’m not happy, that tends to change. When I’m sad, I want to be hugged. When I’m angry, I want to feel some sort of physical pain. It’s not even the pain itself, though. It’s the sensation. Pain just happens to be an easy sensation to make. I hit something–the floor, the wall, the bed–and it stings. It’s as if, suddenly, it’s real. I’m real. I’m here.
Someone once told me that people cut themselves because the pain helps ground them. For just a moment, the physical pain is greater than the emotional pain. I guess, in a way, the pain I need to feel when I’m upset serves the same sort of purpose. But I respond the same way to pain as I do to holding hands or hugging. So, I guess, it’s not the pain itself that grounds me. It’s the sensation caused by the pain. The feeling that this is real, that I am real.
This showed up on my Tumblr dashboard recently. At first I just ignored it, because it’d been a long day and I don’t self-harm. But then I saw the second comment. I went back up through the post.
And I realized, when I saw that, that I wasn’t the only one. I thought of all the times in my life when I was so upset I had to feel something, anything, and the pain was the easiest thing to feel. All those times where I told myself that it’s loud and it stings and it makes me feel better. The arguments with people, the conversations where people explained that it bothers them, that it’s too loud, that I needed to stop. But I couldn’t stop, because it made me feel better. The sensation of pain and the sound that came with it grounded me to the point where maybe I could begin to process everything.
“Craving sensation, feeling unreal.”
That’s it. That’s me. That’s me hitting the door, banging the walls, slamming my hands on the table. That’s me on the long days, the days when I’m tired and frustrated and lonely. The days when the only thing I wanted was a hand to hold, someone to hug. That’s me when I wish for a sunny afternoon at my friend’s kitchen table, eating ramen, lying on the couch watching One Piece and Black Butler and Inuyasha and Ghost Hunters, cuddling platonically.
A craving is more than a want. It’s a need. It’s an impulse. It’s something that absolutely must happen or the world will collapse. Or keep collapsing, as the case may be.
My world has been collapsing around me for the past nine months.
It’s really no wonder, then, that when I’m lonely I crave touch; that when I’m hurting, I appear to crave pain. It’s not the pain itself, it never was. I’d react just as well to a hug as I would to slamming doors, to hitting the walls.
These are the things that tell me I exist. That something, anything, is real. The ground beneath my feet, the table, the walls, the door to my room. I feel like the only person in the universe, so I go throw myself into things just to make sure the rest of the world exists, too.
It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who experiences that. It’s nice to be able to put a name to it, to have someone acknowledge that this is something that happens sometimes. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it definitely doesn’t manifest in the same way for the people who do experience it. It’s not something I’m proud of, or would ever wish on other people. It’s just something I live with, something I have to deal with when it happens.
It’s just nice to think that in one respect, at least, I am not alone.