The funny thing about fear

Have you ever had an irrational fear? A sort of phobia that you just don’t understand, and neither does anyone else. To you and others, it seems like it would be so easily overcome, by just stepping out of your comfort zone, and trying. But you never do.

Why? Did something happen to you as a child, or a toddler? Something that was only so long ago that it is stored somewhere in your memory, but not quite recent enough for you to access. This something creates a fear, because this something went wrong. Seriously wrong.

I’ve had a couple fearful experiences growing up, that have affected me to this day, as follows:

I have a fear of roller coasters. Not the friendly, Disney world type. In fact, Mount Everest is my all time favorite ride. And that one is pretty scary, lesbi honest. But I am terrified of the big, Cedar Point monsters that fling your limbs all over the place and defy gravity. I could never do those, I have convinced myself, unless maybe its with my boyfriend (which I don’t currently have anyway). But why have I convinced myself of this? What even happened to me? The first memory I have of riding any rollercoaster whatsoever was at King’s Island, and it was so much fun! There is no psychological way that this happy experience could have caused a fear. But then I think a bit harder, and I remember my friends and even the media telling me that roller coasters can break down, and you can get stuck on them, maybe even at the top of a hill, and never come down. The cart could fly off the tracks and you could go explode! From a childhood standpoint, these visions were real. And they have remained real to me. Maybe one of my old favorite computer games is responsible for this fear. I used to love playing roller-coaster tycoon with my brother, and we definitely used to create malfunctioning roller-coasters just to kill the little animated people. It was so sick, and so wrong, I know. But we did, and I blame that pastime for my fear of these harmless thrillers. (I use the word harmless lightly, all of the things I mentioned, like death and malfunctioning, could very seriously happen, but only by a slim chance, and because I know very well that these occurrences are rare, I wonder why it is so hard for me to overcome)

I developed a hypo-thyroid problem somewhere along the road a few years ago, and I started going to Children’s hospital to get lab tests just to check the thyroid levels in my blood stream. Now, the very first time I went, they definitely missed my vein. They had it, and then they lost it, and it hurt like HELL. I cried a ton, and I’m about to cry just thinking about it. I still have to get blood tests, and I am not afraid of them. I still go to Children’s hospital, and I’m not afraid of it. But I AM afraid to give blood. Why am I okay with the thing that caused the fear? Why am I comfortable with the place the original fear occurred in, but I’m afraid to do something I haven’t even experienced? I wonder these things, because I have forced myself to be comfortable with lab tests, but I have convinced myself that I will never try giving blood, at least any time soon. I have no interest in prolonging a minute and a half of discomfort and pain into ten minutes of it. I go dizzy thinking about it.

Similarly, my sister refuses to wear anything with buttons attached. She has only forced herself to be comfortable with our school uniforms, because she has to wear them, just like I HAVE to get blood tests. But she WILL NOT wear anything with buttons by choice. She says this is because she choked on something when she was really little, with a shape and feeling similar to a button. I remember this day, when she choked. She was just young enough as to where she could never remember the exact event, but she knows it happened. And I was just old enough so that I could picture the event in my mind to this day. We were with our family friends, in a car, on the way to some event, and I was sitting on the floor of the van, because there were not enough seats. My sister was safely strapped in, thank goodness. The mother of my friends thought it would be a great idea to give all of us (around 5-7 years old or younger, some even 2 or 3) a mint to suck on! In a moving car. What strikes me as extremely odd is that she even gave one to my sister, not even 3 or 4 years old, and my sister choked. She choked badly. I remember us pulling over and my friend’s mom grabbing my sister and dramatically slapping her back (I laugh, because I thought she was just beating the crap out of my sister, and from my point of view, this experience was so odd). My sister was perfectly okay in the end, physically.  But this kind of early childhood experience can psychological scar you, whether you can access the memory or not. I somewhat feel bad for her, because there are a lot of cute shirts and blouses that I want to pass down to her, but she just can’t do it. Sometimes I wish I was old enough to have known what was going on, so I could prevent this traumatic experience from happening altogether. But it is what it is, and if she ever chooses to try, I know she could overcome it. Because I know I could overcome my fear of giving blood, or riding coasters. I just don’t.


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