We all have fears. Fears we vocalize. Fears we only half recognize. Fears we try hard to shove deep down inside so that we can pretend they don’t exist. I have numerous fears that my family loves to tease me about. I can’t climb a ladder and looking down from a great height terrifies me. I’m the type that will stand 50 feet back from the Grand Canyon rim or will hug the center wall of Las Vegas’s Stratosphere and not venture any closer. Then there’s bugs. Cockroaches to be exact. I can’t stand them. And don’t even get me started on rodents. Anything mouse-like and I’m climbing the walls. However, I know where these fears stem from. When I was 11 years old, I fell off the roof of our home. When I was 21 years old, I lived in a country that didn’t know what pesticides are and the cockroaches infested every building. Not to mention they were about the size of the palm of my hand. I still cringe at the sound of their wings in flight. *SHIVER* When I was 2 years old I was bitten by a rat in the basement of our home. Since then, I can’t stand rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, weasels, ferrets, anything that resembles a rat in any way. The Wormtail character in the Harry Potter series causes my flesh to crawl. These fears stem from past experiences.
Other fears are harder to place with a flash point, a catalyst for the fear. I hate enclosed spaces. I hate sounds that have no known cause, especially when I am home alone. I hate the smell of musk and the taste and smell of spearmint. These things instantly put me on the alert where my whole body tightens in a flight-or-fight response. These are terrors that stem from fears that I choose to stuff deep down inside my psyche and not analyze. I fear the thought of determining what they mean.
Then there are my irrational fears. I am a very nervous driver. I get behind the wheel of a vehicle and I have to drive in the lane with a shoulder. I have to know where each family member is at all times. Not knowing raises all sorts of alarm bells for me. I startle anytime someone comes up behind me and I don’t sense their presence before they speak to me. I couldn’t even begin to tell you where these fears stem from. They simply exist.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a paranoid person nor do I consider myself irrational. I simply developed these fears throughout 45 years of life. Common knowledge teaches that all fear stems from an event that induced in us a startle reflex or a response of terror. In many cases, we don’t recall the event but the residual fear remains. Are my fears conquerable? Sure they are. At least the majority of them are. Those that have a determinable catalyst, anyways. Others, well, I may be stuck with them for a lifetime. Just don’t ask me to climb any ladders.