Day 6: What am I afraid of?
When I was a child, I had recurring nightmares. There were two scenarios, but both essentially involved being chased by something hideous. Since I dream in color, these nightmares – which I would have every single night for months on end – were as real to me as my waking hours. Sometimes more real, since I can still recall them in great detail while my memories from kindergarten on are generally foggy and riddled with blind spots.
One beautiful summer afternoon a few years after my last recurring nightmare, I overheard my mother and my aunt talking about a book called Wolfen. The tiny portion of storyline that I heard was enough to stoke my overactive imagination into a frenzy, resulting in months of night terrors in which I was convinced that I could see a werewolf slip into my darkened room once the rest of the house was asleep.
As a teenager, I spent the night at my aunt’s house on many occasions. One morning, she told me that my screams had awakened her in the middle of the night. When she checked on me, I was sitting up, eyes open, and even had a conversation with her. I don’t recall any of that incident because I was asleep the entire time.
I have fears – lots of them. Sure, they’ve evolved from childhood nightmares to the more realistic fears of an adult, but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying. For instance, I always take a mental note of what my children are wearing before they leave the house on the very remote chance that something might happen to them on their way to school. I have irrational fears about a traffic accident or something just as mundane taking my husband from me. I fear what losing any of them would do to me almost as much as I fear what I would do to anyone that hurt them.
Sometimes fear holds me back, keeping me from saying or doing things that would offend others or cause them pain. I also struggle to put emotions into my stories because I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in experiencing the burning anger, haunting despair, or primal fear that would give my words life.
Sometimes the fear makes me stronger. It pulls me outside my cozy realm of familiarity and forces me to look it in the eyes, to stare it down and grow from the experience. Only by facing your fears can you overcome them.
At one time, I had been deathly afraid to share my writing with anyone. Those days are far behind me, but still there are times that I feel a cold hand grab hold of my heart and squeeze, all while whispering in my ear that I am not good enough, not real enough, that I will only fail and embarrass myself. Those are the fears that steal my confidence, make me feel like a fraud, and sink their hooks so far into my soul that facing them results in an almost physical pain.
So what makes me most afraid? Loss. Losing my family, my sense of self, control of my emotions, or even a loss of credibility is enough to keep me awake at night. Every day, I battle these fears, thankful that I even feel frightened in the first place, for it seems to me that the only way I can truly get over my fear is to not have anything left to lose.
Tomorrow’s post, my top five songs, will be much more lighthearted than today’s topic, I promise. See you tomorrow!