By Elias Witherow
Have you ever hated yourself? I’m not talking about minor frustrations with your character. I’m talking about really fucking hating yourself. When you just bubble up inside with the most venomous self-loathing madness to the point where you inflict self harm, consider suicide, or even try to kill yourself? Hopefully not many of you have experienced that.
Anxiety is a bitch. That’s usually how it starts. It’s an unsuspecting shadow that creeps up on you and begins to swing at your psyche with a big ol’ barbed-wire baseball bat. Each time it connects, it rips a chunk out of you. Small ones at first, but then the flesh begins to weaken and the damage gets greater with every swing.
And once the beating begins, it can be impossible to stop. Soon, you’re curled up on your bed, on the floor, or in the bathroom, weeping your eyes out and hating yourself. Really hating yourself. Or at least, that’s usually how I end up. Why do I have to be like this? Why do I have to think the things that I do? Why can’t I control my own thoughts? Why am I constantly drawn to the negative? Why can’t I be stronger? Why am I such a fucking weakling?
Like I said, the anxiety inevitably turns to self-loathing and then the really bad shit starts coming. The hatred. The desire to feel something, anything, beyond the crippling despair. Suddenly you’re looking in the mirror with a razor blade in hand, eyes ablaze with desperation. I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried to kill myself. But I’ve come close. The thoughts are there. And they are beautiful, in that moment. That’s what makes them so dangerous. When you’ve sunk to the bottom, surrounded by the acid of your own poisonous thoughts, death has an appeal that cannot be understood by someone on the outside.
I’ve undergone these tortures. And I’m deeply ashamed of them. I don’t wear my weakness proudly, like some do. I don’t tote my imperfections so that others may sympathize. Please don’t sympathize. Don’t feel empathy for me. That’ll only make things worse.
Scoff if you want, but don’t empathize with me. I’d rather you damn me for being an emotional wreck. I can take that. I get it. Not everyone is like this. It’s often viewed as immature, attention seeking, or just plain weak. Maybe it is? Who knows. Who knows why we’re the way we are.
So who gives a fuck, right? Boo-hoo. Poor me. What’s this got to do with anything, right?
Well, unfortunately, this has to do with everything.
And the body of black and gold.
I paced my living room, hand absently tapping my leg. My mind was racing and it was bad, I knew it was bad, but the cork had been removed hours ago. What was she doing right now? Who was she talking to? Was she thinking about me? Did she ever think about me? I stopped pacing and checked my phone. It stared back at me, blankly.
I huffed a frustrated sigh and started pacing again. I knew I needed to stop, knew I needed to calm down, but I just couldn’t. I was deep in it tonight.
“It doesn’t matter, you know it doesn’t matter,” I growled suddenly, “Who the hell cares? You know she loves you.”
And I did know. Sophia loved me unconditionally. She was wonderful, the best girlfriend I could have ever dreamed of. And she didn’t deserve my paranoid insecurities. She didn’t deserve to hear them, see them, or even know they existed. This was my own shit, concocted by an emotionally abused mind. And I would be goddamned if I let it ruin our wonderful relationship.
And yet, the disease persisted. Some days were worse than others. Tonight, it was worse. I sat down on my couch and gripped my phone with both hands.
“Stop thinking about her,” I hissed, “Stop thinking about what she’s doing. You’re going insane.” I looked down at my phone, “No,” I whispered, “Don’t text her either. You’re going to sound desperate and weak.”
Sophia was a fairly recent addition to my life. A beautiful, smart, amazing addition. We had started to date a couple months ago and had fallen hopelessly in love since. Things were perfect with her. Things were incredible. She was funny, smart, gorgeous, motivated, and incredibly compassionate.
The complete opposite of the nightmare ex’s that had instilled and imprinted this awful anxiety and paranoia I now hosted. The creeping feeling that something would go wrong, something had to go wrong, things always went wrong. And what would I do then? How would it make me feel? How would I react?
“Shut up,” I begged, clutching my head, “Please just shut up.”
What if I found out she cheated on me? What if I found out she had kissed someone else? Would that be enough to end it? Is that a forgivable offense? What if she was kissing someone else right now?
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” I screamed suddenly, eyes bulging, “PLEASE STOP IT!”
But the disease was hot tonight. It was horny. It was ready to bend me over and fuck me until I was completely spent.
“Oh my god, you’re pathetic,” I spat, pacing again, “You have no reason to fear ANY of this! Get a fucking GRIP, man!”
She’d leave me. She would absolutely leave me. Especially once she saw this behavior. This psycho display of unjustified, insecure anxiety. Who wouldn’t? This wasn’t something someone shouldn’t have to deal with, especially when it was completely unwarranted. And that’s what made it all the more frustrating. Because she was incredible. So why was my mind torturing me with this bullshit? There wasn’t a red flag in sight, just the fluttering mast of my own sinking ship.
“Just turn off,” I pleaded with my mind, “Just turn off and leave me alone. Please.”
They all cheated. They were all attention seekers. She was probably out somewhere right now, pawing drinks off some guy that wasn’t me. But I would never know. Not until it was too late. Isn’t that was the others had done? Isn’t that what they all did?
“LEAVE ME ALONE!” I screamed, head splitting, “SHE’S NOT LIKE THAT AND YOU FUCKING KNOW IT!”
I fell to my knees, gasping, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I could practically hear my mind laughing at me. And why shouldn’t it? It was crushing me. This wasn’t a battle, this was a mental slaughtering. I was so deeply afraid and ashamed of myself. Why couldn’t I stop? These were the worries of a child. An insecure, little boy. A horribly conditioned little boy. One who saw a belt and thought “pain” instead of “pants”. My fingers dug into my skull, tore at it, clawed at it.
I wanted to text her so bad.
I turned my phone off. Nothing good would come of it. I needed to learn to deal with this shit on my own. If I reached out to her, my fears would be obvious. She didn’t deserve to see that. I had constructed these fears and I needed to learn how to tear them down on my own. There’s no reason to be afraid of shadows you project on the wall. You can see your hands, you can see the shapes they’re making. You know the shadows are of your own doing. You know they’re not really the monsters your fingers contort them to be.
And yet, they terrified me.
I clutched my face. Pain flared behind my eyes.
Like they were filling up with something.
Peace swirled through me like a fuzzy mist. I had seen her earlier today. Sophia. She always calmed me. Consumed me. Filled me with confidence. She pushed away the fears and I knew they wouldn’t be back for a couple days. She had the power to do that. I prayed that one day, mercifully, she’d have to power to destroy that part of me.
I knew that was on me, though. Only I could rid myself of the staggering anxiety that assaulted me on an almost daily basis. The irrational, intrusive bullshit that plucked and picked at my mind without an ounce of evidence or fact. Some days, I wondered if I’d be happier if I were single again. Without fail, the thought made me want to vomit.
I rolled over on my bed and checked the clock. It was almost midnight. I was tired. Tired and thankful I was being spared an onslaught of paranoia tonight. I would sleep well. Just like I always did when I got to see her. I closed my eyes and pictured her face. Her beautiful, perfect face. The way she smiled. The way she smiled at me. There was such care and kindness in the way she did that. That special smile reserved just for me. How could I fear against something so pure? So true?
“Because you’re a lunatic,” I muttered, feeling sleep approach. “And you got bags and bags of shit clogging your stupid mind.”
Just the thought of all that, all the trauma I had gone through in my life, made me wince. My face burned. I felt pressure behind my eyes.
Like they were filling up with something.
I knew it was going to be a bad day. I could feel it in the back of my throat as soon as my alarm clock went off. I sat up in bed, rubbed my eyes, and already felt a weight in my chest. My mind buzzed, like it had been preparing for my awakening with great anticipation. I tried to block everything out, if only for a moment, if only so that I could scrub my surroundings into focus.
Did Sophia even like me? Maybe she was just using me to get over something. Maybe when I wasn’t around, she had a completely separate life. One that I wasn’t a part of or even aware of. Maybe she laughed about me with her friends, the fragile, emotionally unsettled loser?
“Oh my god, please don’t start,” I begged weakly, “Don’t start with this shit already.”
It was my day off. I wouldn’t even have a distraction today.
I looked over at my alarm clock. Why had I set the stupid thing? Habit? I wanted to go back to sleep, but the furnace of thought was already roaring. I slumped back down onto my pillow. I closed my eyes. Why was this starting already? Why did I wake up like this?
You’re pathetic. You have a perfect girlfriend who loves you to death and you spend half your time wondering how it’s going to go to hell. Is that what you want? Is that how you want to remember your time together in these early months? Why don’t you fucking man up, grow a goddamn pair, and stop being such a weepy eyed little bitch. How about that? Can you handle that, cupcake? You fucking fragile flower you? Jesus, why don’t you write it all down in your little diary so you don’t forget, yeah? Why don’t you write a poem about how sad you feel. Then you can mail it to “FuckOff-ville” where all the emotional wrecks go. They can start building you a house and you can move there. You weak, pathetic, frowny-faced fuck. Christ, I mean what is WRONG with you? You know what? You DO deserve to be alone. You don’t deserve her. You don’t deserve anything. Fuck you. Yeah, I said it. Fuck. You. Why don’t you kill yourself? Spare the world your sad little bitch tears and just fucking kill yourself. Just walk into the bathroom and fucking slice your wrists open. What a cliched piece of shit that’d be, huh? The abused disaster finally ends it in a dramatic blood bath. It’s almost hilarious if it wasn’t so fucking disgusting. Christ, are you crying? Are you fucking crying? Get a grip on yourself, I mean Jesus H. Harold. You think crying is going to fix your shit? You think sniveling like a little baby is going to make things better? Go fucking die. How can you stand yourself? You have so many good things going for you and you’re fucking curled up crying over some MADE UP SHIT!? You sir, are insane, unwell, weak-willed, and fucking useless to everyone. Why are you still in bed? Get the fuck up, go to the fucking bathroom, look yourself in the mirror, and fucking say goodbye.
I clutched my head, the pain, overwhelming.
I couldn’t breathe.
My eyes burned.
Like they were filling up with something.
Sophia was on a business trip. She had been gone for three days and I was dying. I sat in my car, face in my hands, and tried to steady myself. Work was over for the day. It was just me now. Me and my empty, quiet apartment. Alone with my thoughts. My cancerous thoughts.
As usual, my mind was racing. It pummeled me from all sides with every possible scenario. Every awful, terrible fear I had.
I knew it was self made. I knew it was all in my head. I knew it was all just my cruel imagination. So why couldn’t I control it? Why the hell was I so powerless against it? I thought again about all the horrible shit I had gone through in my younger years. I thought about all the malicious cunts I had dated and all the terrible, abusive shit they put me through. I thought about how they use to make me feel. About the things they’d say to me. I thought about how they would leave for days when things got bad. How they’d come back in someone else’s clothes. About how they’d lie to my face and expect me to just eat their shit. And I did. Christ, did I ever. I thought about how they’d throw things at me, scream, hit me, spit on me, laugh at me.
I curled my fists at the thought. It was a goddamn miracle I didn’t kill those fucking animals.
“You know they made you like this,” I muttered. “You know you’re afraid because of them.” Just saying it out loud helped a little. “Don’t let them ruin this amazing thing you have. Sophia doesn’t deserve that. You don’t deserve that. Don’t let them control your future because of what they did to you in the past. Fuck them. Right? Yeah. Fuck them.”
I got out of my car and walked inside, feeling slightly better. As closed the door behind me and tossed my keys to the counter, I felt my phone buzz. A text message. I pulled it out and saw it was a text from Sophia. Smiling, I opened it.
It read: “That’s hilarious, I’m looking forward to it! See you soon!”
Confused, I responded: “Looking forward to what? You coming home earlier?”
I grinned at the thought. What a wonderful surprise that would be.
Buzz buzz. New message. I opened it.
“Oops, sorry babe, I sent that to you by accident. Love you!”
I stared at the screen, feeling my heart sink into my stomach. Who…who had this been intended for? Who was she meeting up with?
Claws closed over my mind.
“No, stop it,” I said quietly, “don’t start. It’s probably just a work friend and they’re getting a drink together or something. No harm. It might not even be a guy. Even if it is, who cares? People do that all the time, right? Nothing weird or suspicious about that. I trust her.”
But did I trust the person she was meeting? Sophia was an extremely attractive woman. Men were drawn to her, without fail. Not only was she beautiful, but she was fun. And smart. And loved to talk to people. What if this guy started pumping drinks into her? What if she started drunkenly flirting with him? A hand here, a look there, a whisper, a chuckle, a kiss on the cheek.
“STOP IT!” I screamed, roared, throwing my phone across the room, “I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE THIS SO PLEASE JUST FUCKING STOP IT! GODDAMN IT, PLEASE!”
My head ached, my vision spun, and there was an awful pressure behind my eyes.
Like they were filling up with something.
She’s probably going to flirt with them. Why not? You’re not there to see it. What’s the harm in a little flirting? It doesn’t have to mean anything. Until it does. Until she’s leaving you for him. Isn’t that what they all do? Every man, woman, and piece of shit that infects this world? They’re all just a bunch of slimy, disgusting, slithering monsters. A conglomeration of selfish, blood-sucking vampires that are out to drain anyone who gets near to them. They bring you in, hug you close, and then sink their teeth into you. But you won’t know it until you’re almost dead. Until your blood is almost gone. Until you see their fangs and know it’s too late.
“THAT’S NOT WHAT I THINK!” I howled. “STOP THINKING THAT! I DON’T WANT THIS! GO AWAY!”
Fuck you, you pathetic pussy. Can’t you handle your own thoughts?
“FUCK OFF!” I screamed.
I suddenly slammed my face into the wall, hard, bringing stars. It was just enough to falter the flow of poison, if only for a moment.
But it came back. It always came back.
What can’t you be like everyone else? Why can’t you think rationally like everyone else? Why can’t you just be happy? Why do you overthink fucking everything? Why can’t you get over your own bullshit? The fuck is wrong with you?
“SHUT-UP!” I cried, slamming my face into the wall once more. I tasted blood on my tongue as my nose bounced off the hard surface. The shocking pain brought tears. I felt them overflow and spill down my cheeks.
And that was all it took.
I slumped down onto the floor and covered my face with my hands. I cried, shoulders shaking, defeated, broken, empty, and alone. I was so deeply ashamed of myself that I wanted to die. I just wanted to fucking die and empty myself of this vicious hell. I didn’t deserve anyone. I didn’t deserve happiness. How could anyone be expected to put up with this circus of madness? This insecure, wrecked, sniveling pile of flesh?
Cries crawled from my throat and I curled up onto the floor, unable to stop. It was all so meaningless. I would never get better. This would never end. I had been molded into this pathetic excuse of a person and there was no escaping it. I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t change the way I thought. I could only cope and cope and cope until I couldn’t cope any longer. There was an end to this road and that end was dark and full of death.
“Fuck this,” I wept, crawling to my knees. I wiped my eyes miserably and staggered into the bathroom. My whimpers echoed off the tile and filled my head, a reminder of what a weak, hopeless human being I was.
I reached for the medicine cabinet and retrieved my razor. I ripped the plastic head off and held up the slim blade. I stared at it.
And then I stared past it, into the mirror, into my own eyes.
Horror ripped through me like a bullet.
“What…the fuck?” I sputtered, leaning towards the mirror.
The whites of my eyes had gone completely black.
My iris’s glowed gold.
Specks of that same gold slithered through the midnight scleras.
“What is happening to me?” I croaked, pulling my eyelid up to examine the terrifying transformation. I rolled my eyes in their sockets to examine the change. Black and gold. Forever, black and gold.
I raised a finger and pressed it against the bags beneath my eyes. I winced and recoiled, pain shuddering through me. There was an immense pressure around my eyes, the skin tight and pregnant with fluid.
I blinked at my reflection, my golden eyes swallowed around a mouthful of ebony.
I looked down at the razor blade in my hand. I gingerly prodded the skin around my eyes with my other hand. Something was in there. Something was beneath the flesh.
Slowly, I raised the razor to my face and placed the blade beneath my left eye. Slowly, I began to part the skin.
I moaned painfully as fluid began to release. Thick, tar-like ooze drizzled down my cheek as I separated the skin. Hesitantly, I dabbed it with my finger and raised it to my eyes.
I almost screamed.
The fluid rose up on my finger and squirmed with life of its own. And then it began to foam and grow. It puffed up like it was a storm cloud filling with rain.
Panicking, I flicked it away into the bathtub. It landed with a splat and continued to foam. When it reached the size of a baseball, it stopped expanding. I got down on my knees, eye still oozing, and watched.
The black orb split along the top and suddenly, the alien mass began to whisper.
I recoiled and stood back up, “What the fuck…?”
I looked into the mirror. The flow of oily pus had stopped.
And to my amazement, I felt a little better.
I switched hands and brought the razor up to my other eye. Slowly, I began to carve the flesh around the other socket. More pus vomited from the cut, a gurgling flow that I caught in my hand and placed in the bathtub. The mass foamed once more and grew bigger. More mouths formed and began to whisper.
“Useless…kill me…pathetic…sad…very sad…”
My voice grated across my teeth, “Are you the one that’s been torturing me?”
“Shut up,” I cried, “Just shut the hell up.”
“SHUT UP!” I screamed. I sliced the razor at the mass of foaming substance and it shuddered, a whimper escaping the many mouths.
And that’s when an idea bloomed in my exhausted mind.
I spun back to the mirror. Breathing heavily, I began to carve up my face. Ooze poured from a dozen different lacerations and I collected it all. I gathered it off my face and flung it into the bathtub to conjoin with the rest.
When I thought I had enough, I tossed the razor aside. The ruined flesh on my face burned fiercely, but I paid no mind to it. I chanced a single glance back into the mirror and my glowing golden eyes stared back. But they weren’t as bright as they use to be.
I got to my knees and plunged my hands into the goo.
And then I began to shape it.
First the legs. Then the arms. Then the head. The shit was like putty and when I was finished, I stepped away.
I watched the wriggling body, a golden flaked mass of pitch black darkness. It flopped and called out to me, a hundred odd mouths whispering poison and loathing.
I cast my hatred down upon it.
And then I went to the hardware store.
I don’t know how many hours had passed. I sat against the far wall of the bathroom, an array of blackened tools splayed out before me. I had started with the hammer. And then the pliers. And then the pick axe.
I had smashed, cut, stabbed, burned, sliced, and mutilated the abomination in my tub dozens of times over. And each time it died, I had revived the razor and emptied myself of the poison. Each time I had re-molded the figure.
And then I got to work once more.
Sweat coated my body. My discarded shirt lay stained and soaked through on the tile. My hair clung wetly to my forehead. I gasped down air. My muscles burned from the torture. Oh, how it had screamed…
Slowly, weakly, I stood. I looked into the mirror one last time.
I barely recognized myself beneath the mutilation.
But my eyes were my own once again.