Aren’t we humans interestingly complex creatures? We’re all comprised of varying natures and traits that encompass our signature idiosyncrasies, quirks and phobias. There are many documented phobias with ridiculously long medical names that make the fear sound even scarier. For example, arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth.
So let’s simplify this for human consumption by calling it what it really is. Some of the fears include: the fear of sleep, vegetables, numbers, slime, chins, anything new, laughter, knowledge, freedom, the color red, taste, turkeys, (that hangy down neck thing is a bit scary) To round it out, let’s not forget the fear of grand daddy long legs. (They do have that creepy, disproportionate walk with those, excessively skinny legs thing going on.)
Our fears and phobias can typically be traced to its original inception. It is usually rooted in some traumatic event that made a profound impression and then rests in the recesses of our minds to resurface at inopportune moments later in life.
As a young child, my parents excitedly took me to my first circus with the anticipation of its being a memorable event. Unfortunately, the well-meaning gaiety of the “big top” backfired for me'”all because of those scary, floppy-footed clowns. That large, bulbous red nose and white face left me with an eternal “clown phobia.” Did I say, “as a young child?” I’m scared right now just thinking about it. Some things, one just never gets over. Give me a loud, growling lion any day over a goofy clown.
I have a friend who, as a child, witnessed her grandmother’s fear of thunderstorms. She was conditioned to the same fear of storms because the memory had made such a strong impression on her. Another friend has a memory from childhood of watching a kitchen fire in her home. She will not sit at a table in a restaurant if the tablecloth has a burnt hole in it. It brings back the memory of that day for her.
I have a fear that originated in one unfortunately rough day in my driver’s education class. I was an impressionable girl of fifteen on the precipice of being an adult — almost. It was my day to take the wheel while two of my best friends sat in the backseat eagerly awaiting their turn. I was driving along innocently enough (or so I thought). I did notice, however, that my Driver’s Ed teacher was sitting in a poised state with his feet on the brakes on his side ready to react at a moment’s notice. I was not detecting relaxation on his part. Got the picture? Now, what happened next is embedded in the recesses of my mind for a lifetime. He told me to merge onto the interstate. Being a “virgin merger,” I was a little apprehensive. I eased my way up the ramp and then pulled directly into the path of a humongous truck. Yikes! As our lives passed before our eyes, my instructor proceeded (with good reason) to blow me out, after having me pull off the road. He said, “You almost killed all of us!”
My fear of merging began at that very moment and “re-emerges” every time I find myself traveling up or down a ramp. My sweaty palms tell the whole story, as I relive the flashbacks from that fateful day. However, because of this harrowing experience, I am an extremely careful “merger-er.” I, however, require total silence'”no radio, no talking. My boys would always say, “Okay, be quiet. Mama’s getting ready to merge!”
We should attempt to resolve issues in our own way and in our own time. Counterbalancing it with proficiency and braveness in other areas is key. While I may have made mild progress in conquering my fear of merging, I see no hope in this lifetime of “clown resolution.”
We, as humans, are filled with various fears and quirks but, of course, we’re mere mortals.
And that makes it all okay.