my neighbor's fucking truck

This is a post about managing your feelings in a relationship. It’s also about sexual dysfunction.

My neighbor has a long-term overfunctioning relationship with his truck. Every weekend, he and his truck spend quality time in their driveway; he shouts at it and calls it (and I quote) a fucking slut, while it consistently fails to run healthfully.

He’s angry with his truck.

Except he’s not, really.

Don’t get me wrong, if you ask him about it I’m sure he’ll tell you he’s angry with his truck, and if his truck would just RUN the way it’s supposed to, he’d be perfectly calm and satisfied.

And he’d be wrong.

He’s just angry, and his truck is there and malfunctioning, so he vents his abundant, generic rage in its direction.

In fact, his truck is serving an important function in his life: it’s an excellent, intractable distraction from the ACTUAL cause of his range, which probably stems from christ only knows what long history of emotional pain, along with the disappointment, loss, and basic existential range that serve as a foundation to pretty much every life in modern, western, industrialized culture.

Our romantic partners and our own bodies often serve the role in our lives that my neighbor’s truck serves in his.

We have anger. We have hurt. We have losses and griefs and failed self-protection in our histories, alive in our bodies, waiting for an open door to escape our skins.

And we have partners who, we have been taught to believe, are responsible for making sure we feel safe and comfortable. Kinda the way parents are supposed to? So when we feel uncomfortable, it’s really easy to conclude that our partner is supposed to do something about it.

And we have bodies vulnerable to failure. Especially in their sexual functioning – the complex and delicate interactions of excitatory and inhibitory processes readily disruptable by stress, depression, anxiety, and frustration (all of which are variations on the same neurophysiological theme).

And it’s easy to decide that our bodies are broken because they have fallen short of our expectations. It’s easy to embrace a structural diagnosis, pointing to the body part that’s misbehaving and saying, “This part of me is malfunctional. I am broken. I need to be fixed.”

Sometimes there’s a nice straightforward structural problem; sometimes the truck just won’t run and when it gets fixed, everybody is happy. But very often the problem isn’t the behavior of the sexual system; the problem is how uncomfortable and dissatisfied we feel about the sexual system; it’s how mad we are at the truck.

And if the truck ran just fine, we’d just get mad about something else.

My neighbor blames his truck. I’ve blamed, variously, the electoral system (in 2004), my partner, traffic, refined carbohydrates, the rain… any number of external factors. But all along it was my own central nervous system trying to deal with itself.

There endeth the lesson. Go in peace.