Embracing My Fears

I have been terrified of everything. For forever. As a hypochondriac of the mental health persuasion, I’ve attributed these fears from everything to either amnesia (of some unknown childhood trauma) or to basically the entire current volume of the DSM. When I was little, I would listen to audiotapes before I would go to sleep to avoid any potential nightmares. I would memorize Bible verses that had anything to do with feeling afraid. And at the time, these techniques really helped.

Let me add here, that there are obviously normal healthy fears, the kind that prevent us from doing foolish things or help us avoid potentially dangerous situations. I have discovered though that my unhealthy fears have at times precluded me from being an active participant in my own life. The first time I realized this was in high school. My cousin was in town and we were going to an amusement park, where I was decidedly NOT amused. I rode ZERO rides and then become the designated purse/jacket holder. It was at this moment in my life that my fear of missing out on anything fun actually trumped my fear of roller coasters. So, I did it: I rode all of the rides at Worlds of Fun that day. I was petrified before and during, but the adrenaline rush after the fact was worth it.

I had hoped that moment would make a lasting impact, but after doing some recent self-reflection I’ve realized that even though I’ve made some good strides, I’m still being controlled by my fears. So, here’s the deal. I’m going to start tackling these bastards one at a time. Any phobia that I deem worthy of being overcome, I will post here to conquer at some point in the future. This will give me both flexible deadlines (helpful for my fear of failure) and leeway to not include serial killers, satan (real or not), doggy-nappers, and scary movies. There are just some fears that I am not willing to lose.

Here’s the current list, which is subject to new additions. I’m aware that some won’t make sense to you until I elaborate in the future. Just know they are very real. Thinking about any of them makes my arms go numb. And not just me, I told Nancy that we were going to go skydiving this summer, and she panicked right along with me.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, I present to you, my fears:

  • Roller coasters (I thought I should at least get one shoo-in.)
  • Spiders & bugs
  • Running fast
  • Haunted houses
  • Performing/singing in public (Turning your co-worker’s random comments into a song doesn’t count and is completely normal.) 10/23/1212/20/12
  • Karaoke (completely different than the above)
  • Playing Rock Band
  • Cooking
  • Failure 10/23/1212/20/12
  • Blogging
  • Learning 12/14/1212/20/12
  • Returning emails
  • Bungee Jumping
  • Skydiving
  • Auditions 10/23/12
  • Shaming my Family
  • Theater Interpreting
  • My Basement

Not too long ago, Nancy shared a poem with me by Joy Harjo, which is much more profound than bugs and karaoke, but it applies perfectly to any kind of fear that threatens to govern your life.

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23 thoughts on “Embracing My Fears

  1. Cheryl Fielitz says:

    I love it! And as another who is frequently afraid of SOMETHING (what? Sometimes I don’t even know)…I applaud you and can’t wait to hear of your adventures. And cooking? You’re well on your way (hello, homemade refried beans…). Karoke? You have a beautiful voice and I want to be there when you use it! Skydiving? It is scarier than sh*t, but the powerful feeling you have after having done it is awesome. And creepy-crawlies (as I like to call them..)? Well, they are disgusting and can stay in the fear closet for all that I care.

    You go girl! 🙂

    • Melissa says:

      I loved this reply! It brightened up my Thursday morning! I’m still in awe that you have gone skydiving–with your mother no less! Incredible.

      As far as Karaoke is concerned, I’m going to need your support. Aagh! Would you rather be J-Lo as my judge or xTina as my coach?

  2. mariaholloway says:

    I’m so intrigued by the fact that you have a fear of “returning emails”. I most definitely look forward to learning more about what that means.

    This is a beautiful message, Melissa…and one that I can MOST DEFINITELY relate to!!! I’d like to ‘second’ Cheryl and say You Go Girl!!!

  3. sara says:

    This is such a great post. Thank you for sharing.

    Oh, and I volunteer to help you overcome your fear of running fast!

  4. Shawn Vriezen says:

    I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

    • Melissa says:

      My first thought was how beautiful that was. Then, I thought wait this could also be Shawn trying to educate me further on pop culture!

      DUNE! I guess I will need to see that movie too now because when Google told me the quote was from Dune, I thought of Tron, but they are basically the same film anyway, right?

      • Shawn Vriezen says:

        More than likely a bit of both. It is beautiful and stands alone even without the pop culture reference. I use it as a mantra when I need focus.

        Surprisingly enough the 80’s movie with Sting that you’re referencing I have not seen yet. The book series on the other hand is one of the best series on a whole ever written and that’s pretty strong words coming from me since I can be rather eclectic in taste. The original book was written in 1965 by Frank Herbert who wrote six books up until his death. His son took over right where he left off from his father’s notes. Currently there are seventeen total books in the series and still going.

        Here is a short excerpt from the Wiki:

        The litany against fear is an incantation used by the Bene Gesserit throughout the series to focus their minds and calm themselves in times of peril. The litany is as follows:

        I must not fear.
        Fear is the mind-killer.
        Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
        I will face my fear.
        I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
        And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
        Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
        Only I will remain.

        The Bene Gesserit are a secret sisterhood who have somewhat superhuman abilities by using extreme mental and physical conditioning enhanced by a melange called spice.

        In other words, they are total badasses..

    • Melissa says:

      Well, as you know, I am all for being a total bad ass! I think I will need to channel that mantra when I’m battling my lengthy list!

    • ElectroLund says:

      Yes, the SPICE MUST FLOW!!!! Love the quote.

      Melissa, Dune and Tron are only similar in that they both share a single word title.

  5. Nancy says:

    I can’t even process the rest of your blog because I am numb at the thought of skydiving. ahhhhh!!!

  6. Sarah says:

    Your skydiving aspirations terrify me. Aaaaaaaagh!

    But wait. Cooking? Really? I’ve eaten your food, and it’s wonderful! Truly wonderful! Cinnamon chip scones, black bean enchilada pie, sour cream enchiladas, and black bean burgers- they’re all making me hungry now! Nothing to be scared of. 🙂

  7. ElectroLund says:

    I really loved this post, Mellie. I feel like you revealed a side of yourself that I didn’t know before. You have always given me the impression that you were mostly fearless. So I wanted to assure you that we share some list intersections:

    1) Roller coasters – Nope, sorry, love ’em.
    2) Spiders & bugs – I would still never, ever touch a big spider with my naked fingers, but I do now have an admiration for them. They are such efficient killers.
    2) Running fast – I fear running, period.
    3) Haunted houses – Nope, sorry, love ’em. I actually kind of get a rush from being scared in the context of entertainment: ghost movies, etc.
    4) Performing/singing in public – Oh god yes! Terrifying if done solo. Sing with a group of about, oh, 100 and it’s much easier!
    5) Karaoke – Absolutely terrified of this idea. I will NEVER do this. Can’t pay me enough, not enough beer in the world, you get the idea.
    6) Playing Rock Band – I guess I don’t care enough about this.
    7) Cooking – Definitely. Just got into a fight with Sarah recently, due to my flipping out over a comment she made about my cooking. Yeah, I’m a bit overly sensitive.
    8) Failure – Yes, yes, yes! And yes. Sometimes, when I’m feeling especially fearful, I feel like I’ve never really succeeded.
    9) Blogging – Yep. All the time. That’s why my blog languishes most of the time. And yet, I’m so stubborn that I refuse to let the blog die completely. Does stubbornness count as some sort of anti-fear?
    10) Learning – This is an interesting one! I would have to agree. I tend to procrastinate a lot when it comes to learning, which is a kind of brimming fear.
    11) Returning emails – Hehe, no I don’t have this one. Returning phone calls sometimes, yes, but not email.
    12) Bungee Jumping – Heck no! Done it, and it. is. awesome.
    13) Skydiving – Ditto. You will love it, I promise you.

  8. Gianna says:

    I am afraid of everything, too. I think you have inspired me to ride a roller coaster. Still don’t want to. but maybe I will.

    What I am most afraid of right now is losing my children as they get into their teen years. I can’t tell you how afraid of this I am.

    • Melissa says:

      Maybe we could ride that coaster together! We can cry while waiting in line!

      I can only imagine the fears of motherhood. I think I would be in a panic all of the time!

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