​Dani Cojo

Rants of an Emetophobe

                                      -Published in Swallow the Moon 2015

My parents say when I was one year old
I projectile vomited across the crib.
One cherry Popsicle too many
Made it look like a crime scene.

I don’t remember it ever happening.
If only I didn’t remember the rest.

At six I saw my mom sick in the bathroom,
And seeing her so ill terrified me.
The next day, I got sick, too.
I learned how to starve myself,
Except for Tums which I pop like chalk candy.
I lost 15% of my bodyweight that year.

Eight years old. Third grade.
"Don’t spread germs, wash your hands!”
I’m scrubbing the skin off mine.
They are red and raw. They crack and bleed.
It’s better than throwing up.

No carnival rides. No movie theaters.
No sleep-overs. No eating after 8:00 p.m.
No chance of getting sick.
Not for 8 years.

Sixteen years old. A stomach bug brings back
My anxiety and paranoia.
Old habits never die. 

They take control once again.
It’s harder this time.
I need therapy.

I try to cope. I try to explain.

“Don’t worry so much!”
“Calm down already.”
“What’s so scary about throwing up?”
“I don’t like it either, but it’s no big deal.”
“That’s not a real phobia.”

They just don’t understand.