Cowardice

I’m a cowardly human being.

I’ve known this about myself since almost as far back as I can remember. I’ve had days and moments or even year-long spans where I’ve felt and been brave, but ultimately I’m a cowardly human being.

Cowardly people are deathly afraid to stare down any demons they might have or face their own discordant music or press on, even though they know that something horrible could happen. Cowardly people know that there is always a reason to be afraid and feel pessimistic about what reason will crop up next. And wonder how they’re going to deal with it.

I’m afraid of a lot of things – and not very many of them are practical fears. Walking around after dark? Not scary. Meeting strangers? Not scary. Throwing caution to the wind and driving to a strange place? We’re getting there… but even so, I did it. And pushed through the fact that I was utterly afraid to do so.

Needles are one thing I’m deathly terrified of; from the anasthetic smell to the extraordinarily violating idea of this somehow futuristic medicinal tine piercing through your skin into your bloodstream by a total stranger, needles are something that, like driving to faraway, strange places – I do because I have to – but that never makes doing so any easier. Every time I get a needle I’m shocked afterwards that I didn’t have an anxiety attack on the way. And whenever I leave, I get this thumb-sucking pouty feeling whenever I see the tiny bruise resting on my arm or feel the sensation which gives me this feeling of violation throughout my body.

Another thing I hate a lot is mice. Their tails and the way they scurry just gives me shivers. I was in the LRT station one morning and I saw two of them scurry across the tracks and into a small cavern hole in the wall and I wanted to die. They’re disease-ridden, creepy, ugly disgusting mongrels and I don’t know what their purpose is on earth at all. When people say they’re cute, I can’t even handle it. I was watching Hoarders once and this guy kept thousands and thousands of rats which were eating through his home and nesting in the walls and in his mattress and furniture and there was no escape from the mountains of rats that were running ramped in this man’s house. Watching this at the gym, I was surely making grimacing faces watching the rats and working out… it’s kind of this disgusting, maudlin image, cross-training and at the same time, watching this poor man with a dead wife and house infested with enormous filthy rats…

But the thing I’m most afraid of, more than the Goddamn rats and the eerily sadistic concept of a shot… is failure. I strive constantly in my life for that moment or moments of perfection, achievement, recognition, success (however it’s measured in the moment that I want it). And I’m so afraid that suddenly I’ll be 85 and look back on my life, both written and imagined, and realize that I’ve accomplished nothing. I’m afraid of coming in last, I’m afraid that I won’t get the gratification that others seem to for whatever reason believe that I deserve. I’m so, so, so, so, afraid of having to call my mother and tell her, “I didn’t make it” and even more than that, I’m afraid of MY reaction to not making it. I don’t want to find out what it is. I’m so, so, so, so, so, so afraid. Paralyzing fear. Deep-rooted, agonizing, painful, torturous fear. I can’t clear my head of said-fears because they’ve been looming behind me all week long and I want them to go away. And so so so soon, they will… and I’m not even sure if by that point, I’ll have wanted them to go away or not. So I’m damned either way, and afraid of both outcomes.

I’m a cowardly human being.

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