Fear

This is probably the most honest thing I will ever write. I get told a lot that I must be fearless. People act like I was brave for moving away from home at 16. Like I was so courageous for moving across the country at 22. For travelling alone. For hanging from hooks. For all of these things that don't really amount to anything because there has always been a safety net. There has always been protection. There has never been any real risk of failure. And I spend my life afraid. Of everything. I feel like I am defined by it. I have a completely irrational fear of spiders. I believe that they are conspirators who will eventually team up and attack. I know, objectively, when I say this aloud, it's ridiculous. But it's a nagging feeling that isn't chased away by logic. I'm so afraid of heights (or, more particularly falling from heights, but that is a nuance that I cannot even begin to dig into) that I can't stand at the edge of a curb and look down without getting vertigo. Standing still on the middle of a flight of stairs is out of the question. I once fell on a low ropes course from about a foot in the air, and I cried even though I was not the least bit injured. This particular fear kept me grounded when I attempted my first flesh suspension. I can't even snorkel in deep, clear water, because the open space beneath me makes me so panicked that I forget to breathe. I have an intense phobia of anything that attempts to disguise its emotions by covering its face. That's clowns, mimes, mascots, anyone in a mask. This fear is not alleviated by knowing the person beneath the cover. And those are just the small things. Those are fears that I can typically avoid. Sure, I can't have fun at Disney World because I am terrified of the live versions of the cartoon characters. It's okay. I just don't go to Disney World. I just don't climb on tall things. I just get other people to handle spiders. It's manageable. But those fears that are less tangible can't be avoided. The fears of failure or judgment or, worst of all, the unknown. I'm terrified of meeting new people. I'm afraid they will think negatively of me. They will do or say hurtful things. They will judge me or belittle me and I'll be weak and upset and they'll win. They'll feel superior, and I'll retreat and shrink into myself a little more. I don't want to believe this. And once again, I know it's an unrealistic fear. For the most part, people are friendly to me, and when they aren't, I recover. But I can't make myself stop feeling that way. I can't stop that panic that rises in me and keeps me quiet, or turns me into an awful, obnoxious person. The psychology major in me knows that this is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. The human being in me wants that voice to shut its smart ass fucking mouth. And it gets worse. I'm so afraid of failure that I struggle to try if I'm unsure that I'll succeed. I've been working on a grad school application for two months, but I'm only one paragraph into 12 pages of essays. I'm afraid that I won't get in, and that rejection will be crushing, and my dreams will die, and I will never achieve what I've spent my entire life working toward. I'll never get the career I want, and I'll never truly help anyone. I can't focus on what I want to say, because I'm afraid it won't be what the admissions counselors want to read. I've really been fucking myself. But most of all, I'm afraid of what I don't know, or more accurately, what I may eventually find out. About a year ago, my sister was diagnosed with MS. She swears that it was a questionable diagnosis. Her second opinion doctor said there were some inconsistencies, but she lost her health insurance before she could get any real answers. So she quit taking her meds. I still think she has it. And I know what that means for me. On average, 1 in 750 people has MS. Having a sibling with MS means my chance of having the disease is 1 in 100. I'm 7.5 times more likely than the general public to have MS. I've never told anyone that I think I have symptoms. I feel like I am becoming more and more clumsy. I've never been particularly graceful, but I don't remember a time in my past when I have regularly walked into walls or fallen to the ground on a semi-regular basis. I constantly trip over my words. It doesn't seem like much, until I start thinking about the other issues I am having. There's superficial numbness. My skin will feel numb, but I can feel the pressure beneath it. Random, intense pain surrounding my ribs. It feels almost like my abdominal muscles are cramping, but its so centered around my ribs. I try to push on them like it will massage the pain away, but nothing helps. I'll have episodes of pain for several days in a row, and then it disappears for long periods before returning. And in my head... my brain... the thing that I've always been so proud of... so praised for... I keep realizing that I can't piece together events that well. Sometimes I can't remember how things came to be, or in what order they happened. These seem like things I've never forgotten before. And I'm afraid to talk about it. I know someone will tell me to go to a doctor, and they will be absolutely correct. But there are only two possible outcomes there. Either I am wrong, and I've been overreacting and imagining things. Or I am right, and my body is going to become both a prison and a torture chamber. I'm just too afraid to find out.

I like to consider myself fearless, unconquerable, and level-headed. I poke fun at other people who have irrational phobias and encourage them to acknowledge that there's nothing to be scared of.

But there are some things that make my hands shake, voice tremble, and heart beat like it's trying to punch its way out of my chest. Despite any conclusions my brain comes to, my body decides on its own to have this overwhelming reaction. I'm not sure if it's actually fear. "Fear" seems like the easiest way to describe it. "Anxiety" seems a bit more accurate, though.

The easiest and most ironic trigger is interpersonal conflict. I don't shy away from conflict when it's necessary. Though I tend to be easygoing and flexible in the positions I take, I can be intensely stubborn when it seems appropriate, and often when it comes to other people's behavior. If I feel like someone is being rude or victimizing someone else, I typically confront the person about it directly, easily, and without hesitation. I have a peaceful nature, but it doesn't prevent me from initiating or confronting conflict with people who disrupt peace in my environment.

That said, there are some specific people that I can't even think about talking to without my heart suddenly pounding like a cop about to make a drug bust. I can't rationalize it, and I can't figure out why something in me is reacting like that.

Is it because they're authority figures? No, because I have a history of regarding authority figures as my equals and not being intimidated by conflict with them.

Is it because they almost resemble mother figures and father figures? I don't think so, because I've never been intimidated by conflict with my actual parents either.

Is it because I'm afraid of how bad the conflict could get? That doesn't make sense, since the worst-case scenario for any of these situations isn't particularly bad. I'm not even worried about violent conflict or getting killed.

Regardless, these panic attacks give me the opportunity to directly confront that part of myself. While they're happening, I reassure myself that everything is fine now and everything will be fine in the future. I breathe slowly and deeply and focus on relaxing my whole body. I forgive myself for a silly and inexplicable overreaction and understand that chemicals are coursing through my bloodstream that will take time to dissipate. I practice patience.

We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.

I really fear the things that come out of the television. Not radio waves or anything physical. The messages, the ideas and impressions. The glimpses of a kind of 'normal' that doesn't exist and terrifies me. Fucking with who knows how many people's self-esteem, body image, contentment with whatever life they chosen or meandered to. It terrifies me, and it irritates me.

A lot of my fears are for humanity in general. It seems obvious to me that no one should ever go without basic comfort and nutrition. Things like that, where anyone who is anywhere near rational will agree. If they're not rational, I don't need them around. I'm irrational enough.

Personally, I fear the sound of bristles...bristling. It makes my skin crawl. I fear not being enough, by any and all definitions. As long as I can survive and be content, I'm fine. I'm not as driven to return to college and finish as I used to be. I've survived fairly well on... I don't want to say my wits. I suppose I tend to fleece people sometimes. This sounds like a bad person's bad argument, but they seem cool with being fleeced. If some shmuck on Craigslist is willing to pay thirty bucks for a pair of underwear I 'wore,' and I've got bills to pay, then I am stocking up on cheap walmart ass floss and raking it in. I also fear that my father ever finding out I'm an adult, that I've given lap dances, that my tits are out there on the internet somewhere, that I've sold cheap walmart assfloss to nice older guys with disposable income, and intense younger guys who freaked me out. I often fear that some of the beast-nasty sex I've had in hotel rooms when I was 17-19 was secretly recorded.

I fear the hateful hag I could become. A pinched midwestern wife-and-mother or spinster, a hateful thing, operating on sorrow and booze or pills.

Fear will always be a part of my life. Fear is the only chemical emotion I hadn't mastered. Fear likes to deceive you! Fear likes to wear masks, likes to whisper sweet nothings into your ear, and then to laugh at you for paying attention. Time and time again! Fear is a right bastard. I don't want to tell anyone the secret. My secret. My method. It's not that I don't want anyone to find out! I just think it's necessary to work out for yourself if you're trying to become the best human you can be. All biochemicals are sacred. It's easy to forget.

Writing prompt from creativewritingprompts.com : "Write a story, poem, or other piece based on the phrase 'a plate of fear'."

Here goes.

After slowly dragging my eyes open and rolling off the bed with faint hopes of landing on my feet, I staggered to the kitchen to find that it held for me none of the vittles I'd dreamed of. I called my girlfriend and requested that she bring back some snacks. She replied haughtily that I really should be waking up before 4pm and that I could "go out and get my own damned funch". "Besides," she added, "there's a plate of fear in the fridge." She slapped the cellphone shut and left me wondering about the future of our relationship. Why couldn't she just appreciate me for my talent and loving nature? Why did she refuse to buy me tampons and insist that I needed to grow up? What made me think I could ever live with that awful speech impediment? And why in the fuck did she put a plate of beer in the refrigerator?

The end.

Alternatively:

Upon an early morning drear, with skies so drab and hopes so clear I searched yonder, far, and near, to find myself a plate of fear I'll eat it on a loaf of dead, with a glass of ice-cold dread. When I'm full of negativi-tea, I'll chug myself a cup of glee. And then before the morning's done, I'll have myself a plate of fun.

Okay, never mind. Fuck this writing prompt.

As much as I read, as many glimpses as I've had into other people's worlds, Hunter S. Thompson's use of "the Fear" might strum a chord deep inside me more than any other. It deserves capital letters. It is, more than any other emotion, a separate entity.

I am absolutely terrified. Terrified that she'll find out how I feel. Because everytime they do, I end up being avoided. I don't know if it's better to live in constant terror or wallow in my own self-loathing mental filth. Everyone says just tell her. How the fuck am I supposed to do that? Am I supposed to say "oh, hey, by the way, I kinda have a gigantic crush on you, ain't that somethin'?" What the fuck? Or should I just say "so, uh, I have kinda strong feelings for you." God damn. But you know what? I like it. I like my little pit of self-doubt. As uncomfortable as it is, it's my own. And that's more than anyone else has really ever given me. I take a certain pleasure from it all. I take a certain sick, ironic, dark pleasure from the suffering of every person I'll never get to meet; a jealous flame rises in my heart for every defenseless innocent killed at the hands of someone in the name of their god. At least they have the martyr's death. And what am I bitching about? How I'm afraid to tell some chick I like her? Fuck you, me!

View Thinker #000000's profile

Think of it this way. If someone had a gigantic crush on you, regardless of how you felt about them, how would you want them to handle it? You'd probably want them to just be forward about it.

Many times in my life, I've said something to the effect of, "Hey, I dig you a lot. We should hang out." It's easy. Then, either hanging-out happens or it doesn't, but either way it's a lot easier to sort the situation out in one's head from that point on.

View Thinker #277dd3's profile

How it's always ended though, is that the girl ends up avoiding me after that, like, she just doesn't wanna deal with me. It really has done nothing but shit on my self-confidence. But I feel like this will end okay... basically, she wants a drinking buddy, and since I have the tolerance of a bull-god, I will be this drinking buddy.

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the other night, i was laying next to you in your bed. my head was resting on your chest, feeling your heartbeat. your arm felt so right over my shoulders, heavy and wonderfully warm. i got to thinking about this infamous "us", how well we seem to work most of the time.

and then i thought about losing you. i can't imagine it. i started crying thinking about it. because it seems almost inevitable. you're seventeen; i'm eighteen. we're so young. we're so in love. i know that some things will never last; and there's a good chance this is just one of those things.

someone will mess up. make a big fucking mistake. that's my biggest fear. something stupid wrecking something so perfect.

i hate knowing that someday i might lose you, when i've given so much of myself to you. and you accept so much of me. i can't imagine EVER feeling so comfortable with someone.

i love you so much.. and i already miss you.

(i wonder if you feel the same way)

My deepest fear is to be left alone. I can't stop thinking about it. All the time I wonder what I would do if my mom died. I don't think I could handle that, but it's not just the thought of my mom. What if something happens to my entire family and i'm the only one left? The thoought terrifies me and leaves me with a really cold feeling.

The worst is when the things you fear become a little more true every day.

I've found I have a lot of really irrational fears. Like, sometimes when i'm about to turn on a light I fear that when the light goes on it'll reveal mutilated bodies, blood everywhere, a total massacre scene. I have no idea why I think this will ever happen. But I do.