Snakes, spiders, tornadoes, heights, death, the dark, the number 13.
The fear of colors, the fear of music, the fear of wrinkles, even the fear of the belly button.
Fear, fear, fear. Dear, dear, dear. There are so many things to fear.
My mother is a fearless woman. She taught us not to fear by not being afraid herself. Her sister on the other hand, whistles when she’s in the dark. My dad was a mighty fearless guy but got the heck out of dodge if there was a snake around. I’ve been told of my uncle who was so afraid to sleep outdoors one night that he kept a firm grip on a knife while in his bedroll, only to roll over and stab himself in the gut. We all know the types: the fearless or the afraid of their own shadow kind.
Franklin Roosevelt told us there is nothing to fear, but fear itself. But really? The world is full of rapists, ax murderers, and scientists attempting to recreate the dinosaurs. I’d say there’s plenty to fear.
I am a “what if” person. I wish I wasn’t, but something crazy will come into my head, and before I can stop myself, a whole scenario has played out. What if I received a call that my husband had died. What if I contracted mad cow disease. What if Sara Lee stopped making pound cake.
My former boss once told me I had an “adversarial relationship with the fates.”
In other words, If I can imagine it, then by just imagining it will stop it from happening. I think she nailed it. I also think by imagining things, we can overcome our fears. To say I have no fears would be crazy, I have a few, but I certainly don’t dwell on them, that would be crazy.
I do have a real fear of snakes. At least I did. I don’t like them. I don’t want to watch them on the Discovery Channel striking at the camera, I don’t really mind them if they’re in a cage at the zoo, but I certainly don’t want to coil one around my arm and I definitely don’t want to be bitten. My first real encounter with a snake was traumatic. We lived in our little trailer house on the prairie, it was spring, and there was a snake in my dirt driveway. I was panic-stricken. Because it was spring, it hadn’t shaken all the cold out of it’s belly yet, and was moving slowly. I didn’t know what to do. Panic overtook me. My thoughts raced. I paced the drive. I called my husband. I stewed. I fretted. Knowing I couldn’t rest until something was done, I built up the courage of David the little shepherd boy and with a shovel, I whacked that baby snake to death. Yes, I said baby snake. Baby bull snake at that. Not even a danger to me. It didn’t go as I thought. Instead of one good whack and a lost head resulting, my shovel bounced off that snake like a game of wall ball. I had to remove myself from within myself, and go all ax murderish on that bad boy. I became one with an ax murderer. It was not pleasant, but I knew I could do it.
Afterwards, my fear and the reoccurrence of snakes in the driveway and front yard caused me to learn to differentiate between good snakes and poisonous snakes. I googled pictures, I read articles, I researched what to do in case of a poisonous bite. I learned to ignore the good snakes. Eventually to overcome my fear, I had to play out the entire scenario of being bitten by a rattlesnake, if I were 3 miles from home on a walk, 10 miles from a hospital, without my cell phone, pushing my baby in a stroller. I envisioned it all. Would I run and risk the venom cursing faster through my bloodstream, would I slowly walk to preserve my life. What if I passed out on a dirt road and nobody came by for one hour, 3 hours, 12 days? What would become of my baby? It sounds crazy, but if I imagine the worse case, then it’s not as frightening and I face it.
Right up there with fear of snakes is my fear of water and my fear of illness. I don’t like the deep water. I think the ocean is a beautiful, miraculous, intriguing place, but I would be scared to death to be in it. Give me a kiddie pool please and I’ll use my imagination. I also fear a long, drawn out illness befalling me. I fear losing my health. I don’t want to be remembered as someone who was strong through the suffering.
Most mothers fear something might happen to their children, but I don’t allow myself to go there. I won’t allow myself to play out the possibilities. They are too vast and not to be toyed with.
There’s a fine line really. We can’t live in fear, yet we can’t be so fearless that we become foolish.
A person can drive themselves crazy with fear. When I have the kind of experience when I’m afraid to be home alone at night and begin imagining all the episodes I’ve seen on America’s Most Wanted happening to me, I hold tight to the promise of God who says to Fear Not for He is with me.
Sidenote: Did you know, 365 times the Bible tells us not to fear. One for every day of the year. The most frequent Biblical command. So, yeah, stop fearing!
Sidenote #2: I’m not afraid of belly buttons, but I’m afraid of not being able to find mine real soon.
This is # 2 on a list of 30 things. list 3 legitimate fears.