He awoke to an email that read, “Our sex made my body feel like it was on drugs. I felt both out of body, and yet so in my body, our body. I’ve never felt anything like that.”

There was a time when such a message would awaken his desire and flatter his ego. But he felt no desire and his ego was a barely audible voice in a distant room. His eyes were transfixed on the words “our body”.

Our body. He wondered why that fascinated him; why it was both soothing and painful. Our body. He walked carefully and studiously around those words as one might a sculpture in a museum.

He had spent so much of his life feeling apart. He saw people as separate beings. Connected by love, yes, but connected by a thread. The idea of merging—even if only momentarily—sounded exciting and dangerous. He began to realize how much energy he invested in fighting off this longing. In hiding that part of himself from others. From himself.

To a product of neglect the need to feel connected can grow so great that it threatens to overtake one; to turn one into a hungry ghost: a devourer—a violent and possessive thing. He was one of the lucky ones. He looked in the mirror in young adulthood and saw the ghost staring back at him. Horrified, he vowed to do battle with this ghost. It was unrealistic to think he could consistently overpower such a foe but he learned he could keep it contained by caging it when it was out of control. The cost was high since to cage the ghost was to cage himself along with it.

It was a primitive solution but as he grew older he grew more resourceful. He learned that the cage was vast; that be could invite anything and anyone into it so long as the ghost was uninterested in it or them. He could read. He could write. He could bring to life anything that was around him. And then, eventually, the hungry ghost would fall asleep and he could let himself out.

Our body. He understood now. He needed to keep the hungry ghost away from that, to make sure it was asleep. Once asleep he could let himself enjoy it for a brief moment. He saw the truth of it. The specialness of having experienced that.

The ghost began to stir. It smelled an opportunity to take over. It loved to see him lose himself in memory and fantasy. He knew he could not respond to the email; that he needed to wait a month or two to let things cool off again. He needed to bring himself to the present. He felt sad. He felt proud. He had never allowed the hungry ghost access to her. He asked nothing of her. He never begged for more. He never asked her to change her life for him. He knew that she loved and respected him for that. He could bear the thought of losing her love, but not the respect.

He could feel how deeply vulnerable he was; how lonely. He knew that he was not strong enough to fight it these days. And so he sat on his couch and placed within reach a book, a beverage, a pen and a journal. He thought of those he loved. He wished to connect but he could not speak aloud. The day was dark. Gloomy. Attuned to him. He felt held by that. For that he was grateful.

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