|Yep, he may have been a big old lily-livered-lefty-hater, but I'm afraid (see what I did there) John knows his onions when it comes to cojones...if that's not a mixed metaphor too far|
I was having tea (peppermint, natch) with an old work colleague of mine who also has serious GAD issues (which, incidentally, I only found out about because I 'outed' myself to him on a whim, and he shocked me to the core by revealing he TOO suffered horribly with it), and is going through a bit of a bad patch at the moment. As we swapped war stories in the meditation centre cafe (ha, natch again), he shook his head and said my advice was all well and good, but that I was much braver than him, so he wasn't sure he could take it.
And this was enough to pierce through my panicked haze and make me forget my trembling hands on my teacup (still staggering up the Prozac ramp) momentarily, and I proceeded to give him a very stern lecture about bravery - the gist of which I will outline now, but in a much more lucid and Cicero-ish manner than I managed at the time.
No. NO! Listen up, Woody! You think you're a coward because you can't do things other people do without batting an eyelid? Think about it. The very concept or definition of bravery entails fear - it doesn't make any sense at all without it. As some bright spark once said, 'bravery is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of fear' (or somesuch) or as John Wayne had it - 'bravery is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway'. Let's be clear: there's nothing remotely brave in not being frightened at all. Courage is peering into the jaws of the beast - whether imaginary or real - and walking forward anyway.
Consider the person who travels in to work on the tube of a Monday morning, blissfully chomping through a pain au chocolat and listening to a comedy podcast. Would you call them brave? Or courageous? Of course not; it doesn't make sense to, because they are not afraid. They may be easygoing, or relaxed, or happy, or peaceful, or any number of things. What they are not, is brave.
Contrast that with the person with panic disorder, who arrives at work at the same time as person A, and says 'hi' to them at the coffee machine. This person set out for work maybe half an hour before person A, and was pacing the house a full three hours before that. This person woke up terrified after a few hours sleep, and was so full of fear and dread they were sick before breakfast. This person cried before leaving the house, because they were so petrified of getting on the tube and of what the day would bring. This person walked to the tube anyway. This person got on the tube, had a panic attack, believed they were going to run out of air and die, and got off again a few stops along. This person took a pill, phoned a friend, cried in the corner, waited for half an hour, and got back on the tube again. And off again, and on again, until they finally made it into work to start their day.
And this person thinks they are a coward. This person berates themselves for being weak, and this person worships person A for being brave.
This person is not a coward. What this person is, is an eedjit! This person is conquering terror and fear EVERY SINGLE DAY on top of living the life everyone else finds so hard! This person does ten rounds with a slavering hell-beast before breakfast! This person has fought more truly, genuinely courageous and brave battles than person A has had happy, hot dinners! This person needs to wake up, smell the bloody coffee, and realise they are SUPERHUMANLY, OBSCENELY BRAVE, and could by all rights wear a cape and undies on the outside by now!
This person is you. So suck it up, SuperYou, and stop calling yourself a coward. Or I'll come round there and knock some sense into you. And you don't want that, because I've fought the kind of demons that would make Buffy drop her stake, wet herself, and run home crying to Giles.
|'Just got to quickly wrestle these before work, won't be a sec....'|