When I was little, I used to play a game with roly-poly bugs. I felt safe playing this game, since roly-polies were neither aggressive, poisonous, nor creepy in the ways of, say, roaches. They were so non-aggressive, in fact, that any unsettling of their little world resulted in an immediate evasive response: their tiny jointed armor bodies curled up into a ball.
The game went like this. I'd find a roly-poly (under a rock, usually) and start caging it in with my hand. Only I'd never really cage it in; I'd just make a new barrier when it changed position. The roly-poly moves to the right, I cut off its path by putting my palm in the way. It explores the barrier for a few seconds, rolies its way over to the left, and ta daa
, its plans to walk left are thwarted!
I never felt particularly cruel, doing this to the numbly stumbling bug. At any given moment, there was never an encasement around it.
And now, I play that game with myself. I am free, freer than I've been in a long time. But self-made barriers are going up wherever I turn. My "shoulda-coulda-woulda"s are being made "shouldn't-couldn't-wouldn't"s, and I know not whether my assessments are right.
So I roll myself into a ball.