I get scared of the unknown sometimes and start using pleasure to manage my fear.
I might pick up a coffee habit—first because it helps me get through a few busy workdays, then because it becomes a comforting presence in my life, like a warm friend with whom to greet the day.
I might start eating food when I'm not hungry—first a piece of chocolate here and there to help keep my energy up in the afternoon, then I begin to forget what hunger feels like and confuse my body’s cravings with emotional cravings.
I might start to drink—I’ll have a glass of wine with a friend, and the next few nights I'll finish off what’s left in the bottle by myself. The next thing I know, I’m drinking a beer or glass of wine (or more) every night as a reward, another welcomed friend celebrating the completion of my day.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of this. At all. All I know is that for me, these pleasures can easily turn into fear-inducing habits. Fear-inducing because they make me think I can't do reality without them. Through making me feel good, softening my perception of the world, and distracting me from what doesn’t feel so great—loneliness, boredom, fear of the unknown—I can start to believe that life is too scary on its own.
So I stay fearfully connected to my pleasures—food, coffee, alcohol, phone, Netflix, sometimes even work. Again, none of these things are inherently bad or wrong. And as someone who loves and advocates pleasure, I will never totally give these things up (thank goddess). I will never deny myself what truly feels good.
Fearing life does NOT feel good. So when I see that I start to fear being with myself without distractions, I take a break. I start a new cycle of coming home to myself. I let go of my comforts to realign with reality and remember that I will not be destroyed by silence. I will not be destroyed by loneliness, boredom, by the unknown.
And in the emptiness, in the space without distraction, I return once again to the sweet truth that there is nothing to fear.