Fear is a funny thing. Completely irrational, impossible to escape entirely. Everyone’s afraid of something.
Of course, as a mother, I have the deep-rooted, indescribable fear of something happening to one of my children. That was born the same moment they were, and I imagine it will not go away until I do. That, I think, is a reasonable and understandable fear.
But I am also afraid of crickets. All types. And when I say afraid, I mean I am terrified. (I can’t even post an image here because it gives me the creeps. I can only link to the wiki pages and hope you have the courage to look.) I have been afraid of them all my life. I know they are harmless–they do nothing but hop and chirp. But I will rip the clothes off my back and the skin off my body to get away from a cricket or, God forbid, get one off of me. I have no explanation for this fear. I am not afraid of grasshoppers, which are a lot like crickets. I am afraid of a lot of other bugs, but none so violently as the cricket.
I am afraid of monsters. Zombies, werewolves, vampires (not the sparkly kind though), and all sorts of boogeymen. I cannot watch monster movies. At all. Once in high school, I watched From Dusk Till Dawn at a friend’s house, then had to drive home alone in the dark down a very remote, twisty, scary road. I definitely drove too fast and practically hyperventilated. When I got home, I took the crucifix down off the wall of my bedroom and slept with it under my pillow for two weeks. I’ve learned to stop watching those movies if I want to sleep or function.
And I am afraid of the ocean. I love the beach. It’s one of my vary favorite places on earth, a total Zen spot for me. But the water–that scares me in a way I cannot control. I am afraid of the power of the ocean and the strength of currents that I cannot possibly ever hope to out-swim. And I am really, really afraid of the things that live in the ocean. Sharks. Crazy giant squid. Enormous whales. Mostly sharks though.
I will gladly go in the water at the beach, about up to my waist. Any deeper than that, and I spend each second swallowing down fear. I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone in the ocean over my head. Once I went snorkeling in Hawaii. It was beautiful and amazing. And then a wave knocked me up against the coral and knocked the mask and snorkel out of my friend’s hand and suddenly I couldn’t swallow the fear I had fought down in order to even get where I was and I panicked. I can still feel that fear rise up in my throat and choke me as I picture the whole scene right now.
When we go to the beach every summer in Maryland, Matt loves to swim past the breakers and go way out deep and ride waves in to shore. I spend the entire time standing on the shoreline watching to make sure that A) he comes to the surface every time, and B) that he doesn’t get eaten by sharks. It is not my favorite part of our days at the beach. It scares me. Matt is scuba certified and has asked me before if I would do the certification so we could scuba dive together sometime. I want to. But just sitting here right now thinking about being in that deep water with who-knows-what swimming around me makes my chest tighten up and my breathing change. I’m thinking I may not be a good candidate for scuba diving.
I am not scared of snakes or lizards. Or heights. Or rodents. Or boats. Or flying in planes.
Just crickets, monsters, and an ocean full of sharks. At this point in my life, I don’t know that these are fears I can face and conquer or if I just have to suck it up and live with them. Probably just suck it up.
What are your big, irrational fears? Have you ever faced a silly fear and overcome it?