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Viewing impulses to play The Binding of Isaac or Into the Breach for hours at a time as symptoms rather than decisions: I can’t decide when the feeling to lose myself comes over me, only how to respond. I feel “bad”—when I give in to it, but I feel “bad” before giving into it, too. I feel bad that I want to waste my life in this way, but at the same time it doesn’t quite feel like a waste. Only a kind of postponement (I have mentioned this feeling recently).

A meeting and a dinner on Monday. At the meeting people talked about volunteering with various leftist organizations… I thought, don’t I have time for that? Don’t I have time for that, and don’t I waste all of my time on compulsions? Then I went home. I was exhausted. I wanted to work on the story that I’ve been imagining myself working on, but I couldn’t. I wanted to watch television or a movie, to release something inside me and then go to sleep, but I wouldn’t let myself. (To release something inside me through writing fiction, too.)

I didn’t go to sleep until one-thirty in the morning, I exhausted myself saving the world perhaps three or four times. There were moments of perfection in that experience that I can still hang on to. Not as a kind of glory or triumph but a blankness. A pleasing blankness. But I felt worse.

Before going to sleep I asked myself: Why am I like this? Why am so depraved? Why can’t I spend my time volunteering, putting myself to good use? And I had a dream that night which seemed to directly answer the question. In it my paralysis and fear were one and the same: the dream described how I was never able to get answers. My mother shifting the blame, until she collapsed out of exhaustion. Movie monsters were shown, embodiments of my fear: tame, behind glass. I was invited to yell at them, tap knives against the screen. It was explained to me that the latter came from the former, from neglect, from violence, from lies and refusals of responsibility.

It all seemed so easy, something that could be fixed by knowing. But understanding is not the same as doing. I’ve written about this before. And perhaps I have never even understood.

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