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“We are all afraid of something. But that shouldn’t stop us from going on every day. We should not always walk in fear of the shadow while we are in the light. It is certain we will not know when or how the difficult and bad times will come, but if we accept that they will come, then they are easier to face when they do. And always remember that anything that causes the shadow is smaller than the source of light”. Joseph M. Marshall III

May 17, 2013

There was a television show in the 90’s called “Are you Afraid of the Dark” where a group of  kids (the Midnight Society) get together in the woods, and tell ghost stories. AYAotD_logo   (Okay it was on Nickelodeon and I am not 100% proud that I watched it but I did.)

So my answer to the question asked by the title of the show would be a resounding YES!  I am afraid of the dark and quite frankly so many other things that I am fairly certain I could not list them all.   I have always been a fearful person.  At a very young age I remember sitting in the living room with my mom, staring out the window, wringing my hands sick to my stomach wondering when and if my dad would get home from work in the snowstorm.  (He was a fuel oil delivery man).  Remember if you can that this was a time in life (shudder) before cell phones, computers, GPS  tracking devices, etc.  There were phones (rotary) but not easy access to them if you were on the road and so it would be hours if at all that a loved one called.  Hard to believe with my addiction to text/email and messaging and social media that I survived way back then, but we did not know any better.  There are times when I wish that we did not have the technology to stay connected today – but,despite that, I find myself unable to disconnect.  I am THAT person who will text/message/call and email if I can’t find someone while my heart races and my mind instantly goes from fifty (I don’t live at zero) to a million bad things that probably happened.  In my head it is always the worst case scenario.   ALWAYS.  Perhaps I should buy this book …


The thing is I am a smart enough person (graduated college with honors, yo) that there is some miniscule amount of LOGIC in me to know that this is not always going to be the case despite what my racing heart and head tell me has happened.  There’s a part of me that is consumed by the illogical worry that something bad has or will happen.  I can tell you that I don’t choose to be this way, despite what some people think.  Its not for attention.  I am simply afraid.  I am afraid of  flying, both riding in and  driving a car, boating, yes, most forms of transportation, being alone, being in a crowded place, atomic bombs, all kinds of wildlife, ghosts, things both logical to fear and also illogical … you name it –  Probably the only thing I don’t fear is starving to death.   I find comfort in food unfortunately.  Of course, since I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy I fear that somehow food is going to be cross contaminated and I am going to get sick. I don’t think I fear alien abduction, but watching  The Men In Black movies did give me some pause to consider extraterrestrial life.  Sometimes I feel like I am the figure in The Scream…

Edvard Munch The Scream

Edvard Munch
The Scream

There are many days when  it feels like the fear of “something bad going to happen” consumes my every thought.  It’s like there is a giant black cloud following me around waiting to explode like the Hindenburg any moment.

Hindenburg Explosion

Hindenburg Explosion

The news fills our heads with images and it’s difficult if not impossible to turn the television off.  Recently, at the Boston Marathon, three people so far were killed and over a hundred more suffered horrible injuries when two bombs went off near the finish line.  My three children went to Boston College, my daughter lives and works there.  My son was on a train to Boston to a hotel in the area of the bombing.   We have friends who live in Boston.   They are all thankfully safe and unhurt physically and I am grateful to those that reached out to say “hey are your kids ok?”

The results of how it makes me feel poses some challenges.   Bottom line – “I don’t choose” to live a life of fear.  The difficulty lies in that is easier said than done.  You don’t change a life time of thoughts and behaviors in a day, a week or a year, its a work in progress.   Sometimes two  steps forward and one step backwards.   Sometimes two steps backwards.  I read an interesting article a few months back on “fear driven life.”   Contrary to what one might think one does not plan to be afraid,  and the logic of “the pilot has the same personal interest in arriving safely as you do”  doesn’t always suddenly cause an “aha” moment.  The author, David Cain says.

“Most fears keep us at arm’s length like that: we back down at just the idea of doing something nerve-wracking. The fear has done its job — to keep us from going there — and so we don’t look any closer at what it is we’re really afraid of about that idea.”

The author’s thoughts are insightful and profound to me.   Fear of the future is fear of the past, makes sense to me.  As well as his idea that things will never unfold exactly as you expect them to anyway.

The tricky part is how to internalize the logic into my head which I haven’t figured it out.  I’m making progress, albeit slowly.  I’ve learned to deal with some fear knowing that “nothing bad has happened yet.”  Thanks to an amazing therapist.   I also know that I am not broken and don’t need to be “fixed.”  Many of my fears are driven by love and concern.   I simply want those that I care about to be okay.  My friend Patty said to me one day – “It’s not that you don’t want your kids to go places and do things you just want them to be safe.”  There are times when I just want to pile my loved ones in a giant bubble to keep them safe.

Bubble World

Bubble World

But I know that’s not right and they would miss out on life’s best experiences.  My children, despite having me as a parent,  are brave and strong and adventurous. Among their many brave accomplishments here are just a couple: Dan journeyed for a couple of weeks throughout Europe all alone,   Becca traveled weekly for years braving strange airports and cities risking her life on TPOD’s ( tiny planes of death),  Kristen did a semester abroad not knowing anyone else in a country where American English is not the primary language, and Ann Taylor, (though I can not take credit for this)  moved alone from her comfortable southern home to New York!  And for all that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

tip of iceberg

So what does the future hold for me and my companion anxiety? I am not really sure.  She’s a fearful sort and I am not sure if she will ever leave my side.  I feel hopeful and that helps me to try to not be so afraid.  To be better yet not lose what makes me who I am.   Recently I drove myself to the train station and took a train alone and met my friend Grace  and spent the day in New York.  A few days later I took the train to Boston and spent the day with my daughter Becca.  Small steps for most of mankind, big ones for me.  neil-armstrong_large

“When the world says, ‘Give up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”

– Anonymous

From → fear

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