Sally was in the guest bedroom, sitting at her sewing machine listening to a podcast on her headphones. I came up behind her and hugged her neck. She took off her headphones and paused her podcast and began to tell me about what she’d been listening to. Something about probiotics.
“Aren’t you interested in why I came in to hug you?” I asked.
She smiled. “Yes! Tell me.”
“I was having these feelings,” I said. “I was just liking you.”
“I think that liking you is more important than loving you,” I said.
She laughed again. “Right,” she said. “Because if you’re liking me, you’re less likely to stab me.”
I nodded. “It’s true,” I said. “People do all sorts of nasty things to the people they love. Less so to those whom they like.”
We said some other things, and I came back out to work on the edit.
One thing this brief conversation shows is my relationship with the ideas and language regarding love, about which I’m often confused. But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.
I want to talk about that stabbing thing.
It’s an old joke between us, one that arises from the fact that, often, when we are together in the kitchen, and I have a sharp knife in my hand, I have an impulse, or a thought, of plunging it into her stomach.
Now, before any of you get all worried and call the authorities and shit, please know that this is not an overwhelming impulse in any way, and it’s not one I’ll ever indulge. (If I stabbed her, Sally would kill me!) But it is a thought, a strange sensation, and I find it fascinating.
I have another strange sensation. When I’m up high, on top of a mountain ridge, say, or a rock outcropping overlooking a deep valley, or a bridge, I have this impulse to run to the cliff and leap out over the abyss. So strong can this feeling be that I rarely get close to the edge, and usually take a seat as quickly as I can before I gaze out over the view.
I did a bit of research on these strange sensations. I found that regarding the jumping impulse, it’s common enough that it has a name: the high-place phenomenon. I didn’t find a term regarding the stabbing impulse, but I did find a discussion about a variety of strange impulses on an anxiety website, and an article about a form of OCD that gives one the desire to murder one’s loved ones.
But I don’t know the reality is, in my case. I don’t feel called to either suicide or murder. I just have these extreme, strange thoughts and sensations in certain situations. It seems that many people do.