Today’s Daily Prompt: Frightening
I do not like fear in any way, shape or form. My fear of fear used to be slight and I would try to deny that I was easily scared as a kid and flat out defied it in college. I would watch horror films around Halloween like everyone else and pretend to enjoy them. But I never read horror or even suspense, for that matter, because my imagination could not handle the images that were always worse in my mind than in film.
I remember my first realization that “scary” was not a feeling that served me in any way that was good when as newlyweds my husband and I went with friends to see one of the many re-made versions of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” I had closed my eyes and imagined bunnies throughout much of the film when about halfway through the film, I got up and walked out of the theater. I briskly walked into the ladies room where I rushed into a stall, sat down and bawled my eyes out. I could not handle any of it, the empathy I felt for the victims was too much for me to bear. I could not handle the evil in such raw form. I sat in the stall for at least 20 or 30 minutes before reluctantly standing up to walk back to the theater. I didn’t want to be the big cry baby who couldn’t handle the movie while the rest of the group shared nervous laughter and enjoyed the sensation of being scared or pretending not to be. As we left the theater to get drinks, my new husband asked if I was ok since my eyes were red and puffy. I confessed my emotional diarrhea in the bathroom stall and asked him to keep it between us while we all talked about the movie over drinks and I philosophically discussed the ridiculousness of the film. I had to save face somehow.
After having children, my fear of fear grew beyond measurable proportions. I could not handle the nightly news anymore without crying or feeling anxiety. I tested my sensibilities again about three years ago at Halloween time. I thought it would be a fun date for my husband and I to go to a haunted house. I imagined a little bit of excitement and adrenaline before a nice dinner date; it seemed like a fun way to break out of the parenting routine. We arrived and as we stood in line, I felt my palms begin to sweat and my heart’s pace pick up until I could almost see it pumping in my chest. As we entered the building, I knew I couldn’t turn around and run because there were 10 year olds laughing in front and behind me. Instead, I grabbed my husbands arm and held on for dear life almost leaving finger marks in his arm. This haunted house was really “well done.” It was beyond scary, absolutely horrifying. My husband even admitted that it was a bit shocking but he loved it. I, on the other hand, spent about 30 minutes getting my heart rate back to normal which it never really did that night. We went to dinner and I barely had an appetite. We drove home and went to bed where my husband fell sound asleep within seconds. I lay there, palms still sweating, imagining the awful creatures and evil people who must be lurking in the shadows around my house. Finally, I slept and had nightmares. Yes, I am a complete scaredy cat.
I am not sure what gives some people the constitution to handle horror or face the awful truths of the world. I can handle difficult situations with a sort of numb determination so it isn’t that I want to live in a pink bubble in denial. It would not be fair to ignore situations that I wish not to be true but it is the fear of loss that drives my fear of fear. It is the possibility of something sudden and awful happening to me or my family, even if completely remote, that scares me to bits. I have gotten better in my abilities to handle difficult situations with my family. After ER visits with my daughter, a scare that turned out to be night terrors (a whole other post) after tests and spending a night in the hospital, a divorce in the family that had a far bigger ripple effect than anticipated and other such life events, I no longer lose my head wondering where my child picked up germs and how to avoid it in the future. I have finally accepted that life happens and you have to move forward dealing with anything in your path.
Even today, fear crept into my psyche though I had been pushing it aside for days. My husband is in recovery as I type for outpatient surgery. I woke immediately this morning to my alarm that on most days I hit snooze at least two times. I scurried around getting everyone ready for the day and furiously tidied up the house. It is a reflex when I am nervous, excited or scared, I tidy with a vengeance. The good thing is that piles get organized and things get put where they belong but the down side is that I am practically panting and shaking until the thing I fear is over. Add to the worry of my husband, I had to check my daughter out of school for allergies, I think. She’s had a couple of colds since school started because elementary school germs are relentless. Fear of losing my family to an umbilical hernia and allergies dissipated as the minutes ticked by. My husband is recovering and my daughter is home coloring with her Nana. I am going to get him a big cup of coffee because he almost forgot his name not having it this morning and then take my kids to the zoo to rejoice that for today, we are all okay and fear can take a rest.