Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Of Pain And Pleasure

His fingertips were so sensitive that it felt as though his nerve endings had crawled right up to the surface and were touching his skin from the inside. Knock, knock! They were at the door, ready bust out like large, angrily looming and pulsating cartoon characters. At times it felt as if the nerve ending fairy from the Ren and Stimpy show was gnawing at his fingertips. The sensation was an amplification process akin to having your ear pressed up against a mega speaker at stadium sized concert. It was intense and painful.

It wasn’t just his fingertips; the rest of his body was similarly sensitive, but it was particularly noticeable in his fingertips, and as he played with his new notebook computer, which had a faintly prickled touchpad for a mouse, it almost hurt him to move his fingers over it. He wondered if others experienced similar discomfort when using the touchpad or if he was just too sensitive to the feel of the faintly raised dots on the pad. Curious, he could not help but ponder why someone had designed such an unusual touchpad.

His entire being was always too sensitive. Physically, he felt everything more intensely than others, and emotionally he was so closely attuned to even the slightest hints of affective changes within those around him that he could immediately sense when someone’s mood shifted, no matter how subtle. At times, he felt it was a gift to be so intimately in sync with those around him, and at times he resented it because he spent such large amounts of his emotional energy worrying about those around him. Most of those people were not as sensitive as he was and did not spend nearly the same level of energy concentrating on their own emotional states the way he was focused on their emotional well being.

As for his physical being, the last time he had made love to a woman, his entire body shook, almost violently, whenever she had run her fingers gently and playfully down the sides of his abdomen. He couldn’t control it. It just happened. She had seemed to enjoy the strong response her touch elicited in him, but for him it was a fine line between intense pleasure and physical discomfort.

Because he experienced everything with such intensity, he often found the average day exhausting, both physically and emotionally. As a result, he would withdraw into low stimulation environments where his senses would not be constantly bombarded and feel overwhelmed. This meant that he spent a great deal of time alone, or alternatively with one or a couple of select friends. But, because he spent most of his time alone, that’s what most people thought of him; that he was a loner who didn’t care much for people. This simply was not true. If anything, he cared more about people than they actually cared about themselves. He took all their feelings and sensations and internalized them as his own. However, since this was imperceptible to those with far less evolved senses than his, he was perceived as cold and uncaring.

He did not mind. He enjoyed his time alone. But, despite finding comfort in his aloneness, he craved human companionship and intimacy. It was something he struggled with constantly. In a society that idealized the pairing of mates, he often felt like an outcast. Because he sensed pleasure so intensely that it was bordering on pain, his entire being was intertwined with the polarity of deeply desiring emotional companionship and physical intimacy yet craving independence from any and all human interaction. He accepted that it was a battle he would never win, but that he would continue to be tormented by this internal struggle for the rest of his life.

At times, he would make a concerted effort to seek out a mate, but he would invariably find himself enmeshed in a relationship that he ultimately felt suffocated him. Emotionally, he would feel overwhelmed, and physically it was simply too much for him to endure. Sooner or later, his craving to be alone would win out and he would end the relationship, only to find himself feeling an island once again.

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