Category Archives: Fears

The List

It seemed like it had only been a few seconds earlier when the semitrailer truck jack-knifed across the icy highway, careening headlong into the Honda that Deborah had been driving. She didn’t even have time to scream.

Tunnel Light ImageOne of the highway patrolmen said: “Poor woman, she never had a chance.”

“It’s a shame,” agreed his partner.

Deborah watched as her body was transferred into an ambulance. She observed while hovering high above the ground. Then she realized that she was dead. At first she thought it was just a horrible nightmare that she’d awaken screaming from at any moment, but that moment never came.

Suddenly she was picked up, whisked away, and the next thing she knew she was flying through what appeared to be a long, dark, pitch black tunnel. She felt like she was being hurled forward at a very high speed which was so fast that she felt short of breath. This in itself seemed odd considering the fact that she was dead. Dead people shouldn’t be experiencing shortness of breath.

Gradually she slowed down. Then she noticed shadowy figures lined up on both sides of the tunnel. They were shrouded in the mists rising up from the bottom of the tunnel, but she was still able to recognize some of their faces. She saw her cousin Margaret who’d died of ovarian cancer five years ago; her Uncle Ned who’d been killed in the Vietnam War; her best friend Jennifer who’d been killed in an automobile accident; and her Grandma Jennings who’d died of a heart attack. They were all there, her dead relatives and friends, smiling at her, waving at her, and reaching out to her. But she couldn’t touch them.

Then a dim light appeared in front of her. As she came closer to the light, it became brighter and radiated an amazing warmth. It poured out a feeling of welcome. And there was something stronger. What was it? Yes – love. Unconditional love. She desperately wanted to go further toward the light. She knew that was where she was supposed to go. But it seemed she was only going slower.

“I want to go faster!” she pleaded.

“Not yet,” answered a voice.

She turned around to see who had spoken, but no one was there. There was only silence.

“What do you mean?”

The voice spoke.

“You must wait.”

“Why?”

“First we must check to see if you are on the list.”

“What list?”

Silence.

A very long time passed before the voice spoke again, and now it spoke like a patient teacher would speak when giving a student an answer that the teacher feels the student should already know.

“The list to get in.”

Deborah was shocked. The list to get in? She’d never thought that this was a possibility. She’d always assumed that when she died, she’d pass with ease into that realm where her loved ones were waiting for her.

Her mind began to reel with the reality of the situation. What if she wasn’t on the list? What if she couldn’t be with the people who loved her? How was she going to face such an awful fate by herself?

“How does a person get on the list?”

More time passed before the voice answered, as if trying to decide whether or not to tell her.

Finally the answer came.

“Good deeds.”

Good deeds? Was that all? That seemed so simple. Deborah was certain she had performed good deeds at some point in her life. She began to frantically search her memory, but couldn’t remember a single good deed.

Involuntarily, she began to move slowly backwards through the tunnel.

“No! Please, don’t take me away!” she pleaded.

“We’re sorry, but we don’t see your name on the list,” the voice boomed.

Deborah felt total despair.

Then she heard a bark and the panting of a dog beside her.

“Molly! Hi girl!” Deborah called, relieved at the friendly sound.

Molly was Deborah’s golden retriever who had died nine years before. Deborah had found Molly half-dead by the side of the road when she was puppy. She’d brought her home, nursed her back to health, and became her beloved mistress. Deborah had saved Molly’s life. And now Molly was going to save Deborah.

“Wait! My good deed! Molly’s my good deed!” Deborah cried out.

The voice boomed once more, and this time it sounded as though there were a smile within the voice.

“You are correct. You are on the list. Welcome home!”

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Writing 101: Day Seventeen – “Your Personality on the Page”

Day Seventeen – Your Personality on the Page:  

* Today’s Prompt:  What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. 

* Today’s Twist:  Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

 

I don’t think that there’s a single person in the world who doesn’t have a fear of something. If there is someone who says that they’re not afraid of anything, then he or she is truly unique. Either that, or they just don’t want to admit it!

According to Psychology Today: “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger – if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats. But often we fear situations that are far from life-or-death, and thus FEAR1hang back for no good reason. Traumas or bad experiences can trigger a fear response within us that is hard to quell. Yet exposing ourselves to our personal demons is the best way to move past them.”

Being afraid is healthy. Being afraid is normal. Being afraid is part of being human. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s something that we all experience, and therefore, it’s something we can all relate to. The only difference is that we don’t all have the same fears.

I am no different from anyone else. I have fears of my own. And I can also tell you what I’m not afraid of. I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m not afraid of spiders. I’m not afraid of clowns. I’m not afraid of thunder. And I’m not even afraid of dying.`

My number one fear is the fear of heights, otherwise known as acrophobia. In my research of acrophobia, I read that everyone who suffers from acrophobia experiences it in their own way and may have different symptoms. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread. This fear of heights can be dangerous, as in situations where the person has a panic attack in a high place and becomes too agitated to get themselves down safely. Some acrophobics also suffer from urges to throw themselves off high places, despite not being suicidal.

Acrophobia 200In researching the causes for acrophobia, I discovered that the most widely accepted explanation is that acrophobia stems from the natural fear of falling and being injured or killed. A phobia such as the fear of heights occurs when fear is taken to an extreme, possibly due to unintentional learning, generalization of the fear response, or the result of a traumatic experience. Like other fears and phobias, acrophobia is created by the unconscious mind as a protective mechanism, which agrees with the article that I read in Psychology Today, as mentioned earlier in this post. It could be that at some point in my past, there may have been an event linking heights or high levels and emotional trauma. My mind could be seeking to protect my body from further trauma and that is what is causing an extreme fear of the situation, in this case the fear of heights.

I have racked my brain, trying desperately to remember what event could have caused my fear of heights, but to no avail. As a matter of fact, in my youth, I had no such fear. I remember going to the fair or to the amusement park and absolutely loving it when I could ride on the ferris wheel. I also remember going to the top of the IDS Tower in Minneapolis and looking out over the city with its beautiful view, reveling in the feeling. And the IDS Tower has a total of 57 levels! Never once was I afraid in any of those situations.  But the very first time that I had to fly on an airplane, I was terrified. I almost didn’t get on the plane.conquering fears 100

Now I’m afraid to look out the window of a two-story building. Even worse, I’m afraid to stand on a chair for fear that I might fall. But what’s even stranger is that I have flying dreams. Now how do you explain that? Wouldn’t you think that a person who is afraid of heights wouldn’t have a dream about flying? Or maybe the two aren’t even related.

But I guess it could be worse. I could be afraid of people, intimacy, or even love. And yes, those are real fears that real people are afraid of.

So what to do about our fears, whatever they may be? I’ve thought about this and I think that the answer is not really all that difficult. First, I think that a person has to realize that they’re not alone. There are probably millions of people who have the same fears that you do. Then the next step is to face your fear by exposing yourself to it. And I realize that this is the hardest step. But if you do it, just a little at a time, then maybe one day you can conquer your fears.

ferris wheelAs for myself, I’m hoping that some day I can ride the ferris wheel again without being afraid. It would be so nice to sit in one of those ferris wheel cars with one of my children or my husband and enjoy myself as it goes up and down. And then when it stops at the top, I can look out over the fair grounds and think: “Wow! I did it. I’m not afraid anymore. Isn’t life grand?”

blogging-university-blogging-101 1000

The Scariest Movie I’ve Ever Seen

I am not a big fan of horror movies; mostly because I get too scared! I know that logically it’s all “make-believe,” but for some reason they still scare the bejeebers out of me, which is why my husband and I have NEVER gone to see a horror movie in our entire life together.

The last time I went to see a horror movie, I was seventeen. My boyfriend at the time promised me that I’d like the movie – he’d already seen it and thought it was pretty good, and since I thought I was so in love with him, I agreed. Ah, the foolishness of youth. The movie was The scaredExorcist.

I guess what really frightened me about this movie was the fact that I knew that people have been possessed by demons – did not Jesus cast demons out of a young boy? And I’m sure there were others. But I thought that with my big, strong, handsome boyfriend sitting next to me in the movie theater with his arm around me that I wouldn’t be scared at all. Was I ever wrong! About halfway through the movie, and I think maybe it was at the scene where the young girl’s head spun around 360 degrees, I told my boyfriend in no uncertain terms that I wanted to leave right then and there. We made a hasty exit out of the theater and he had to bring me to a nearby coffee shop and buy me a cup of coffee to calm my nerves, and I didn’t even drink coffee! I had a hard time sleeping that night and also for about a week after that experience, and I vowed then and there that I would never go to see another scary movie again.

And I never have. I’ll watch just about any other kind of movie: adventure, action, drama, comedy, romance, sci-fi, western, musical, religious, historical, documentary, family, even animated films. But I will not watch horror films! And I have kept my promise. I’d rather watch the entire movie without having to cover my eyes!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”  ~ Andre Gide

 

 

Fear in Moderation

According to the Oxford Dictionary, fear is defined as: “An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” We respond to physical and emotional danger through fear. It is a way of protecting ourselves against these kinds of threats. Fear can be a good thing. But sometimes too much fear can be debilitating.

I know someone who is terrified of bad weather. We live in Minnesota, which means that we have our fair share of thunderstorms and tornadoes. And even though this person has never even come close to seeing a tornado, every time there’s a severe thunderstorm watch, her emotional response is that she is certain that the severe thunderstorm watch will turn into a fearful eyestornado warning. She paces up and down while watching the weather channel, ready to flee into her basement at a moment’s notice. If there’s a tornado watch, her fear practically paralyzes her. And if the tornado sirens do blare, she is inconsolable because she is certain that a tornado will tear through her neighborhood, down her street, and whisk her house away with her in it. This is how afraid she becomes. So whenever there’s a severe thunderstorm watch, I know that I’ll be receiving a call from her, and I do all that I can to reassure her. I talk her through it, but she’s never truly convinced that everything will be okay until all the warnings and watches are cancelled. This is a case where too much fear is debilitating.

But what about those who don’t have enough fear? Is there such a thing? Yes. I have seen it, first-hand. I worked for twenty-five years as a registered nurse in the operating room. And I can’t tell you how many young men’s deaths I witnessed; those we couldn’t save on the operating table because they had been in motorcycle accidents but had not been wearing helmets at the time. They suffered fatal brain injuries which might not have occurred if had been wearing those helmets to protect their heads. They didn’t have enough fear.

As for me? I used to be afraid of dying. I thought about this today; that is, I thought about when I used to have this fear of dying, and it was at a time when I was young, just starting out in life. I was a young wife, a young mother, and I had my whole life ahead of me. I had my children to raise, I had a wonderful marriage, and a job that I loved. But now, I’m not afraid of dying anymore. I’ve been through a lot of pain and suffering in these last ten years, a lot of illness and poor health, and I’ve faced death a few times already. I’m just not afraid anymore. I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve had and still do have the love of my life. I’ve raised my children and they are amazing. And it’s not that I don’t still have things to do, because I do. It’s just that I know that when I die, it won’t be the end for me. I do believe there’s something better waiting for us when we die, so maybe that’s why I’m not afraid. Of course, my faith has a lot to do with that.

The fear that I have is a fear of heights. I was never afraid of heights when I was younger, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more afraid of heights. I don’t like looking out the window of a second-story house. I don’t even like to stand on a chair to reach the top shelf in my kitchen cupboard. But what’s really weird is that even though I’m afraid of heights, I have dreams that I’m flying! Now talk about irony! I thought that maybe having flying dreams meant that I was trying to conquer my fear of heights, but I looked it up and what they really mean is that a person has gained a new and different perspective on things, and are representative of your own personal sense of power. Hmm … I wonder if that means I’ve gained a different perspective on my fear of heights?

I think a person needs to have a healthy sense of fear. We need to be able to respond to the threats of danger and protect ourselves. That’s why it’s a built-in response. But we can’t let it go into overdrive, either. Everything in moderation. That’s the ticket. So don’t be afraid to be afraid, but don’t let it rule your life, either.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety. ~ Henry H. Tweedy