Tuesday, September 16, 2003

On Fears

I was going to call this 'On Phobias' but I changed my mind for two reasons. 1) I don't think that I actually have any phobias and 2) I'm not sure if phobias is the correct plural form of phobia. So I'm not going to write phobias at all.

I do, however, have a few fears. Things that make my throat constrict, cause me to break out in a nervous sweat and give me a sense of rising panic. These are not normal, mundane things, either. Spiders don't scare me, I've chased mice around rooms and caught them in my bare hands and I'll walk quite happily alone, at night, down dark alleys.

Having said that, they're not as wierd as you are probably now thinking. The first is more common than most people believe.

I am scared of using the phone. I don't have a problem talking to people I know or about subjects I have complete knowledge of but if I don't know the other person or have some doubts about what I'm saying, I will put off talking on the phone for as long as I can. When I do make the call I often get tongue-tied and then start to panic. Thankfully, I have to use the phone quite a lot at work and L refuses to do all the phoning round to set up insurance, book hotels etc. so I am not as bad as I used to be. I still don't like doing it and have to psych myself up to it but I am starting to master the fear.

The second one gets worse as time goes on. I am scared of driving. I passed my driving test just over nine years ago. I had had just 10 lessons plus a few hours out with my parents. Everything was looking good until, the following day, my parents second car died. They couldn't afford to get another car and, since they both lead very busy lives, I subsequently had very little chance to drive anywhere. When I went off to university the following summer, I had driven maybe half a dozen times since my test. I drove a couple of times in my first two years but haven't driven at all since then. That's 6 1/2 years ago now.

The thing that scares me is that, legally, I am completely fine to drive but, because I never had the chance to get any useful experience after my test, I know I am not. If I sit behind the wheel of a car with the intention of driving my mind just freezes up and my heart starts thumping. And this just gets worse the longer it goes on. The solution is plain enough but at the moment L and I can't afford to buy a car and, living in London, we don't need one anyway so it just goes on. There are times (admittedly few and far between) that I feel it's gone on so long that I may never be able drive again.

The last one is the simplest and the least rational. I am scared of my throat being touched. I panic and feel sick even at the lightest of touches. Even if I do it myself, I feel very uncomfortable. That's it. I don't know why I react like that and I haven't the faintest idea how to get past it. It's just there.

What are you afraid of?

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