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Phone sex is holding me back, but I’m still afraid to leave it

You can't jump "a little bit." You can only scoot closer to the edge.

You can't jump "a little bit." You can only scoot closer to the edge.

I may be burning out. I can't tell.

I mean, I'm definitely hating on phone work right now, but I can't tell if it's situational, because I'm in the middle of a two-week run of a show and also fighting off sick, or if it's just the long-term effects of being in a service industry. I also don't know if I'm in the process of burning out, or if I'm already burnt. Is this low-grade, chronic irritation reversible, or is the damage done?

This is irritation, in almost everything. That much I can identify. That's exactly the feeling that I am getting every day now, on a sliding scale of 1 = reflexively muttered "fuck" and 10 = suppressing tears during the first 10 minutes of a call with Extreme Top. Even though I need those calls, I need that money, I am irritated by phone calls coming in when I'm just dicking around on Facebook. I am irritated by calls coming in when I'm cooking, or working on blog posts, or trying to memorize lines. I am irritated by the fact that I seem to be the only reliable "older girl" on at my company right now, and by the pressure that puts on me to be on call way more than I can or want to be. I am beyond irritated when I attempt to have an online date with my UK lover, and a call comes in from Extreme Top.

I can feel that irritation sinking deeper into my bones and simmering my marrow—the heat of my frustration is coming from the inside—and then I feel like an idiot for it. I mean, what did I expect? If I didn't know what I was getting into at the beginning, in terms of the toll this work takes on my energy and time and private life, I learned pretty quickly and I don't feel misled. My working conditions have not suddenly changed. My life has.

When I first started doing phone sex, I didn't know what else to do. In that recession of early 2009, I honestly didn't feel like I had any other options. I hadn't yet discovered solo plays and my own strong draw to performing, let alone that some people, a lucky few, actually manage to scrape together some sort of living out of that. Now I know it, and I kinda wish I didn't. If I didn't know it, then I wouldn't feel obliged to push for it.

I feel so much fear, when I face the prospect of leaving phone sex, that I don't know that I can really get a bead on my feelings right now. In the last year or so, I really woke up to the fact that I have filthed my way into a corner. I am approaching six years off the "square" job market, doing phone sex. My playwriting and performing, in spite of also being fairly filthy, are the most legitimate things that I do to make money. I have to succeed in those, and/or in some writing-related gigs (i.e. stressful and freelance), because there is no longer anything else that I am qualified, on paper, to do out in the 9-to-5 world.

Phone sex is what I really know how to do, in terms of just holding down a job. I mean, it's barely a job, except it is because someone else is earning a lot of money from my labor and they have the ability to interfere with the rest of my life. This is the definition of a job, in my book, and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep doing it. With writing and performing, yes, I am working as hard, if not harder, but at least I get to control things. I can be my own mean boss, and then turn out to have a marshmallowy heart of gold.

So, yeah… I don't know how much is run-of-the-mill frustration and how much is existential angst, but I'm pretty sure that a large part of it is the inevitable friction between the demands of this job and my slow-growing awareness of what I actually need to do. It's the fear of flying. It's the ache in my leg from trying to keep my feet in both worlds for so long.

Phone sex is holding me back. Phone sex is burning me out. At the same time, phone sex is holding me up. Of course I'm irritated. Because I'm scared and confused as fuck.

*****

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