Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Popinjay - Afraid

The Popinjay prompt this week is “Afraid”.

There are so many different directions I could take this prompt. Fear is a strange thing. We all have different fears, and I think they can range from the basic “eek, I don’t like spiders” to the all encompassing and overpowering irrational “phobias” to everything in between.

I’d like to sit here and tell you that I’m not afraid of very many things, but, well…I’m afraid I can’t do that, for it would be a lie. (See what I did there?)

The truth is, I’m afraid of a lot more things than I’d like to give credit to. Most of my fears, however, I think I can classify as healthy fears. You know, the type that keep you from doing stupid things, or treading dangerous ground. The fear of going out for a run alone, at night, is not an entirely bad thing, as I don’t live in the safest part of the country.

Then there are the less tangible, but just as important emotional fears. I have plenty of those. For the most part, these fears keep me on my toes, constantly evaluating myself and my choices, and for those reason, I appreciate these fears as well. For without them, I might not be as aware of who I truly am.

The little fears, spiders (really, really don’t like them), dogs (which I’ve managed to overcome for the most part, but still not completely), walking into a room full of strangers…those I can deal with on a daily basis. A healthy dose of adrenaline now and again, and then head held high, I remove said spider (ew), walk by that dog (sometimes more cautiously than usual), walk into that room and make eye contact with a few people…conquering those fears.

But it is the irrational phobias that I can’t conquer. Can’t conquer because I can’t explain or even begin to understand them. Thus, the irrational part. I have two very specific phobias. With both of these I am completely aware of the futility of said fears. I have no doubt that I could, and likely should battle and conquer said fears. But, just typing these words is making my heart race faster and my palms start sweating. If you’ve never suffered from a phobia, from the panic that mounts in your chest, your mouth, your hands, your mind as the thought of facing whatever it is that induces the fear, well, then you are lucky.

My first, and biggest fear is the fear of being underwater. Let me explain, this is not a fear of drowning. It is not a fear of water. I love water. I can spend hour upon hour in a pool, lake or ocean. I swim, fairly well. No, this fear has nothing to do with water specifically. It is about being UNDER water. Completely submerged, with my full body, and specifically my head, underneath. I shudder at the thought. All those hours I spend in a pool? My face never makes it under water. That feeling of peace people speak of when they go under and can’t hear the world above them? I don’t know it and don’t ever want to. I can’t do it. I won’t go to water parks because at the end of a water slide is the inevitable plunge into deep water. No scuba diving for me (shudder), no diving, none of that. There was an incident with an inner tube, when I was about 11 that set this fear in motion, and I’ve yet to overcome it.

It is my second phobia that I picked for today’s popinjay however. I have a deep fear of ledges. Again, I must explain, I am not afraid of heights. Not in the general sense anyway. Like anyone else, I think there’s a certain amount of trepidation when I’m up high, but it doesn’t really freak me out, as much as I find it exhilarating. But a ledge? Especially an unprotected ledge? It can be 3 feet off the ground and it sends those same feelings of panic (sweaty palms, fast beating heart) into me as the thought of submerging myself in water. And the worst part of this fear? It is not limited to me. In fact, the fear lessens if I am the person on the ledge myself, because I am aware of my intentions and control on that ledge. It is when I witness someone else standing too close to the edge that panic mode flares up. Can you picture me at the grand canyon with all those adrenaline junkies peering over the wide edges of the canyon? HEART ATTACK CITY over here. I’m forced to look away, lest I pull complete strangers back to safety, where no danger was even present. I can’t help it.

That there? Is my little brother and my cousin's daughter standing a bit too close to the edge of a rock at a beach in Gloucester, MA a few weeks ago…what you don’t see is the tiny beads of sweat on my forehead as I snapped the picture.

Fear is a funny thing, isn’t it? What are you afraid of? Let Michelle (and the rest of us) know


~michelle pendergrass said...

I, too, have a couple of irrational fears. One is bridges over water. The other? Going off that bridge in my car and the car being submerged. It took everything I had to watch the episode of Mythbusters that taught me how to survive such an accident.

~michelle pendergrass said...
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