There are so many things to be afraid of these days that I was running out of fear bandwidth. I can feel them all jockeying for space so—I had to give some of them up. I decided that as of yesterday, I will no longer take up valuable brain-space with fears like this:
1. The ocean (or any large body of water for that matter) at night. That fear started with the movie Jaws when I was like 15 and has carried me well into adulthood. It is stupid, irrational and comes into play…never. So, I’m erasing it. Today.
2. Failure. You’d think by now I’d just get over myself. I try, and every failure brings me closer to self-acceptance, but I admit, the fear of failure is a ruthless editor. It cuts out all of the scary, fun stuff and keeps me on the straight and narrow. I hate the straight and narrow—It’s so crowded—so fuck it! Be prepared to see me fail. You’ll hear about here first.
3. Heights. I’m erasing this irrational fear from my brain-drive today. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. And I know better than to get myself into a jam on the ledge of a ninety-story building. But if that happens, well, let it be over quick.
4. Snakes. Just thinking about their smooth, slithery skin makes mine crawl but unless I put myself on the hiking path around dawn or dusk they factor into my life close to never. So, I’m erasing my fear of snakes today. But that doesn’t mean I have to hold one, right?
5. Drowning. I’ve had recurring dreams of drowning all my life. It doesn’t make any sense to me and it hasn’t kept me out of the water. It’s just made me…squirmy. Like if they had adult water-wings I’d probably wear them. So, at this point, the fear feels old—and one-sided—like holding a grudge. I’m over it. It’s done. Today.
6. Forgetting my lines on stage. This is an ancient fear that goes all the way back to grade school and my first play, The Sound of Music. Everyone who gets up to speak has this fear, it’s nothing unique or special, and one time I DID forget my lines—and I didn’t die—so there! Fear be gone! (but if I ever do the MOTH or a TED Talk I’m certain it will automatically kick back in so I’ll just apologize now in advance.)
7. The dark. Yes, can you believe it? When I walk around our pitch dark house late at night, which seldom happens because it involves too much inner dialogue and bargaining, I’m still afraid a demon will grab my foot while I pee or be standing right behind me breathing it’s hot, demoney breath down my nightgown if I turn around fast. There. I said it! Now I’m deleting that fear. If you want water at 3 am you can ask me. I’ll get it! It would be my pleasure.
8. Angry homeless. The keyword here is angry. You know the ones I mean. They are filled with rage and no matter what you offer them (I have given them money, food, compassion, a warm jacket) they throw it at you or get in your face and it’s terrifying. In thinking that they are hungry, in dire need of a shower, scared or somehow impaired I’m projecting MY feelings onto them. I’m also judging them and they can smell ME a hundred yards away. This has happened to me enough to realize that I don’t have the emotional training to interact with them effectively—so I’m going to stop fearing them—and just let them be.
9. The dead. Now, letting go of this fear once and for all does not mean I want to go work in the morgue. Dead bodies still creep me the fuck out. But once these souls have crossed over and have had some time to acclimate and grab a snack they are generally delightful conversationalists. Much better than a lot of living people I know. The release of this fear has been gradual and perfectly timed so letting the rest of it go today is strictly a formality. This fear is now dead to me! (See what I dd there?)
10. Abandonment. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that there has been a steady stream of people, animals, and even jobs I’ve loved—and lost. But it’s also been my experience, and I know this sounds cliché (but some cliché’s are based in truth) that something wonderful shows up to fill the void if I’m not leaving my fingernail marks in the flesh of the thing that’s leaving. Hard lesson, And huge. I’m not saying I have it mastered, I just want to put it on notice. Today, abandonment, I declare that you will not scare me anymore!
Which means I no longer need to run every decision I make through your filter. What a fucking relief!
Whew! I feel lighter!
Now there’s plenty of room for nuclear annihilation, The Big One on the San Andreas fault, global warming, pandemics, nazis, voter suppression, race wars, the zombie apocalypse, running out of space on my DVR, blah, blah, blah…
Wait. I’m so fucked. Maybe I should keep the other fears and delete these?