Courtesy of Erfie.

Fear, and I wasn’t really sure where to begin. So I thought about when I had been most afraid, it’s also the time in my life which put me off bananas though I have begun to eat them again in the last couple of months (associations only last nine years perhaps?)

I was in Ecuador, Puerto Lopez to be exact. It’s on the coast. We had decided to go Whale watching.

Humpback whales swim up along the coast in August, the time I was there.

We went down to the beach, we got in a tin bath masquerading as a boat, there were about fourteen of us, it was about the length of my living room and not quite as wide.

Humpback Whales, when adult (and these were adults) grow from about 32 to 59 foot. That’s LARGE. That’s very LARGE when you are bobbing up and down in a small tin bath and they are all AROUND YOU occaisionally doing the (admittedly very pretty) tail flick beloved of photographers. There was banana bread. I attempted to eat a little of it but I (who never get travel sick, much less seasick) felt nauseous at even a taste. I was bobbing up and down in a little tin bath with scant feet of water between me and some VERY, VERY BIG things.

I have never been more terrified. Or more relieved to get up on dry land. I really thought I was going to die, not coherantly you understand, more in a way of ‘BIG’, ‘LEAVE NOW’ sort of hind brain concepts. As a result, no banana for nine years. Now apparently I can eat it without nausea.

I think Erfie was hoping for something a little deeper.

The thing is I’m not really afraid very often. I am afraid a lot as well. (And then there’s hysteria which I clearly suffer from but is something else entirely). The sort of fear I felt when whale watching I get a very minor version of at the sight of overly large moving spiders. But I have never felt it to that extent either before or since August 2000, to the extent of not being able to do anything about it except sit there and endure. Mostly fear just makes me press on anyway. Fear of spiders can be controlled with a dextrous movement involving a jar and a bit of card (I don’t like killing them). I at first made it so that the slightly hysterical fear response came after having dealt with the spider, now I sometimes even forget I’m afraid of them (until I meet a really big one that moves) and react accordingly. My fear responses can mostly be endured until I can get to an appropriate time/place to react. As an example put me in a classroom as a teacher with a really big spider and I’ll deal with it with no reaction whatsoever and have a huge freak out once I’m home.

I feel fear whenever I put up a particularly personal blogpost and that will drive me to click on ‘submit’. I feel fear momentarily and a desire for it all to be over when I step in the cinema to see an eagerly anticipated film, it makes me buy popcorn out of sheer bloody mindedness. I feel fear when showing artwork or especially writing (I have to work up to those because of the nerves that I get there). I feel afraid just before I do something especially stupid, of the type a climb in strong winds along a ridge, abseiling, climbing etc. It makes me step forward, because the fear is only a ‘just before’ reaction. I have a friend who rides on rollercoasters for much the same reason. These are fears which I push through because fear triggers in me mind-numbing, an inability to think, only hysterical reaction. Which I hate because it isn’t civilised or human or soul-full.

Perhaps I said I didn’t feel fear very often because I feel it so much I’m almost used to it. One of my biggest fears (not really a fear so much as a phobia ie. not fear response but unreasonable hysteria) is of course other people’s parents. That stems from being quite young. It particularly stems from a particular mother, but also from several mothers, a teacher and a vicar.
I am solitary by inclination, have been according to parental anecdote from the time I could crawl but I do wonder if my natural inclinations were somewhat amplified by certain parents of children in my village. I was not liked, in fact I was disliked by a fair few of them. It is not nice when you are a child to be actively disliked by adults. Curiously enough it wasn’t all adults, just a lot of the parents of my contemporaries.

As far as I could ascertain at the time and from looking back since what they didn’t like was a. the fact I didn’t realise I was a child and would join in with conversations if I was in the room, sat down at a table with them, b. the fact that if they said something wrong I would correct them (and I admit this was not always done politely though this was not done with malicious intent I just didn’t know it was rude – I was about the age of seven when I noticed that they didn’t like me), c. I had a reputation as being a smart kid (I still can’t get over the fact that this seemed to make some adults dislike me, I mean really, what is the problem with someone being smart or being supposed to be smart?) I was actually about fifteen when I realised that some adults would expect to be sat at a table with a child and for the child to be expected to keep quiet and not pay attention to conversations had at the same table I still don’t get this. If you’re at the same table as somebody then you can’t have a private conversation. I mean really.

In anycase. Some children were encouraged not to be friendly with me (please bear in mind the size of my village school, when I joined the total of infants and juniors numbered 40, by the time I had left it numbered 60). I only really noticed the once, mostly I just read, played with kids at school and didn’t notice the lack of children playing with me at home. I felt it got a little out of hand when I was about eleven or twelve and a teacher at my school (who admittedly I had been a pain in the arse with as I spent my entire last year of junior school doing no work whatsoever) joined in, as did a vicar a couple of years later once I had decided to become a Wiccan. The fact that my adolescent rebellion wasn’t really about my parents so much as the conventionality of some of the adults in my village probably says something.

But this whole experience has left me with a fear of my friends parents. There are other things added in when it’s a lover or boyfriend’s parents but generally speaking meeting my friends parents is horrible, because I’m waiting for them to reveal that they dislike me. In subtle secret ways whilst I’m in the room and then once I’m gone by telling their kid that they shouldn’t be friends with someone like me. I’m very good with meeting parents, I get quiet and hope that I’m not saying something wrong. I’m often quite unlike my usual self.

Cuddles Mum was brilliant, she bonded with me over The Archers and I barely felt she was a parent at all. Meeting M-i-L’s Mum in her dressing gown was so brief it barely counts so that was also fine. I have mostly gotten to the stage with Take-A-Breath (the Jellicle’s Mum) where I can almost forget she’s his Mum so that’s ok.

Feel the fear and do it anyway, which is more or less my reaction to this horrible mindkilling feeling is something I find very difficult to do with parents. I feel that whatever I do in front of them will be disproved of with disastrous consequences especially if I’m just myself and whenever I think I’m being polite they’ll change the goalposts of what that is without saying anything, setting bizarre rules for behaviour that I don’t know about and couldn’t possibly guess. Give me enough time to build up to it and I’ll endure it but I need the build up time for that one.

Hmm what else gives me fear…I guess the unknown is scary and a lot of things like that if I stopped to truly consider them would have me shaking, but that’s my point about fear. Many, many times I feel ‘this is going to hurt’ but I know I have to press on and do it. I have to share this about myself or I’m just going to be scared and I won’t get anything done that way.

Oh yeah, I’m scared of needles to the point of passing out. It’s not the pain so much as the knowledge that that things is inside of me, has been pushed inside of me. I think fear of needles is the way I learned to control my fears, to live with them and deal with them. Liking to travel as I do vaccines are necessary but I also faint, or get woozy so I learnt to count ceiling tiles or stitches on my dentists shirt working out areas, volumes and the like. There is something wonderfully comforting about metal arithmetic, even some low level maths.

I think I’ll leave you with some of the thoughts that allow me to face my fear, allowing it to pass over me and through me before turning to look upon it, and I do try to although I have yet to do it with some fears of mine.

Circle Circumference=2 pi R
Circle Area=pi R squared

I could go on, but they’re the calming ones I tend to use at any given time.

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