Confession: Up until fairly recently, I was quite reckless with myself – because I didn’t feel particularly accountable to anyone, because I didn’t feel that I owed any more work to the world than I had already done, and because I had already been so close to suicide that endangering myself seemed to fall pretty close to where I already felt on the life or death spectrum.
Today I had lunch with someone who knew a person I was involved with some time ago, a person who was well-liked by the media but with whom I shared almost zero mutual acquaintances during our relationship because I had met him PUA cold approach style and we had mostly kept our relationship a secret due to his high profile career and low profile divorce. When today I confessed this to my lunch companion and admitted fear that my bad experience might threaten her regard of him, she immediately answered, “No, he’s not a good person. I wish I’d known sooner; I would have warned you.”
It didn’t occur to me that dating someone only vetted by the media (and not at all vetted as a potential dating partner) might end up being potentially harmful to me. And if it had, that wouldn’t have stopped me. I didn’t have a strong regard for my life. I was doing parkour and krav maga without health insurance, I had spent my early 20s in some incredibly dangerous (and, unbeknownst to me at the time, not entirely legal) work environments, I had accidentally sliced my arm open doing some stupid performance art for which the risk of bodily harm I took was totally unnecessary and not at all worth the five-figure hospital bill. I never actually attempted suicide, but I didn’t exactly hold my life in high regard.
I feel a little chilled tonight by how closely I brushed with danger on multiple occasions, and I can’t ignore how the conquest culture of the PUA community proved a silent encouragement for me to put myself in unfamiliar situations with powerful men who didn’t care about me and who had no mutual ties to me. I prioritized danger and adventure, and while successful risk-takers are worthy of admiration, I no longer need to prove that I’m tough and fearless. Because I no longer want to be tough, and in the event that I have fears come up, I want to be able to ask for them to be heard.
I’ve started feeling accountable for my life and my body. It’s weird and unfamiliar and it makes everything feel frightening and sensitive, and I’m having a hard time letting go of my attachments to certain goals or values simply because I’ve already invested so much in them. But the change is happening, and I’m starting to believe that my life is worth more than the sum of the badass stories I can tell about it.
So pardon me while I channel my inner Kim Kardashian crying on the zipline platform, but sometimes fear exists for a reason, and I don’t want to contribute to my own endangerment anymore.
(Note: for anyone psychiatrically inclined, I first noticed a decline in my fear response in early 2012 as I was titrating onto Lamictal. I was coming out of a bad depression which almost certainly also contributed, but I wonder how much the medication affected my feelings shutting off. It was certainly pleasant to feel fearless coming out of a depression, but it also made me disregard my own safety in many ways. Interesting to think about.)