I increasingly think that the point of all the emotional work I’ve done is, roughly, this:
Or, in the words of Mark, “when safe, let it hurt.”
For much of my life, pain wasn’t just aversive to me, it was unacceptable. Because I loathed myself, for most of my life, I took feelings of loneliness as a sign of my unacceptability—‘only a piece of shit would feel this much like a piece of shit’. When this variety of self-consumption became too much, I’d switch to rationalization and fantasy, fleeing from the pain of, for example, rejection, with some fantastical narrative about how everyone would love me someday.
And for a long time thereafter, when I became capable of doing so, I built my life on avoiding pain, which, in my case, looked like constant movement, adventure, flirtation, consumption, company, Internet. This worked fine for a while, it’s probably what you should do if your life is mostly suffering, and, looking back, it’s surprising just how pleasant a life I built for myself given the initial circumstances.