The Sandbox Writing Challenge – The Fear Factor

Oh look! The Sandbox Writing Challenge has arrived, direct from Lady Calen’s most excellent blog, Impromptu Promptlings. I read the first sentence. “This week we’re going to get a little serious again…” Uh oh.We all go through tough times in our lives. Some more so than others. Put your thinking caps on and sort through your experiences, then tell usWhat is one of the worst emotional storms you’ve weathered in your life?”

My first thought: Fear and Loathing on the Blog Trail.

Time to go shopping. I know just what I need. Though, I wonder where it can be bought? Home Depot, I’ll wager.

The clerk took a while to notice I needed help. “May I help you?”
This wasn’t one of those on the floor kinds. He was behind a counter. Couldn’t escape.

“Yes, please. I am looking for a pole.”

“What kind?”

“I’m not certain. I have never actually seen one. I don’t think it matters what it’s made of. But I do have dimensions.”

“Alright. What size will you be needing?”

“I need a ten foot pole.”

“As in I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole?”

I nodded, grinning. He understood.

Of course, figuring out how to get a ten foot pole into a wee half car, that was tricky. I thought for a moment, and realized the one he sold me was a cascading type of pole. Silly me. It had already been at its smallest length.

All the way home, I thought I was SO clever. Of course, there’s that expression, “hindsight is wiser than foresight.”

You see, this little cubby I am in, when communing with my computer, is really quite small. It takes up but a corner of the living room. Think birth on a train, and cut that in half, length wise. A yardstick might be too long.

But here I was with my ten foot pole which I meant to use here, in this very blog, on this very post.

I’m a cynic lately. You wouldn’t believe it if you knew me. I’m all smiles and yakkity yak, flittering from place to place, from here to there. That’s the fae. But there’s a dark forest beneath the skin. It’s a bottomless pit of fear and distress, and filled with goblin mud of the very thickest kind.

While this is all funny, ha ha, this is me running away from that question. That is a miazma of toxic waste, that is.

24 hours later:

I weathered the storm of thoughts which swirled inside and around my head, all the detritus (favorite word lately) of years of trying but not managing to ward off the onslaught of life’s challenges.

In the aftermath of it, I was left with what might be my defining struggle. I think it is normal to go straight to the loss of loved ones hanging out at the top of the charts of the bad days at Black Rock. Yet, I also realized, this being an exercise in my own struggles, with me, the worst that has happened has to be when my panic disorder morphed into agoraphobia.

Going off to think on this some more…

When fear drops by for a cup of tea, it might be simply for a reason. But, like all good leeches, fear can stretch his stay to a season. Fear is like a cloudy day, blotting out the sun, sucking up all the warmth. One day, you realize that fear has moved in, lock, stock and barrel, for a lifetime.

Yes, fear is actually one of those very things which can serve an important purpose in our lives. It’s part of our physiology. It comes when needed, and is bidden by many of it’s constituants, of which we are all a part, more often than not.

The evolution of fear in a person’s life is subtle.
Perhaps one might say that fear is like an addiction. Suddenly, while certainly not wanted, it settles in like a (goa’uld), slips into you and wraps itself around your central core.

That is when fear becomes a constant companion, the main feature in the theather of your life; the main course upon your table. This metamorphosis is what makes fear, anxiety and panic into phobias.

When I was a young child, I had my first panic attack. What frightened me is beyond memory.  It wasn’t often that I found fear to be a constant companion. I’m sure over the next decade or two, I’d had visits, an over night guest, perhaps, or a weekend visitor.

What shapes us to be a host to fear in such a way? I’m sure there are those who, having studied this constant to their satisfaction, feel they are experts. While I don’t have a degree in the study of fear, when you live with it long enough, there is a certain expertise which develops about how it works, what makes it show up, and that it certainly knows how to insinuate itself upon us.

I remember little about the earliest times when fear called upon me. The sense that fear is a pupetteer, and I am its puppet, was a development over time.

The actual day fear became a permanent resident, where I was fully conscious of it, was when I was in college. It was in the final years of my undergraduate work. It might have seemed a normal day when I first opened my eyes, and slid down from my bunk to begin getting ready for class. Somewhere between leaving my dorm, and my walk over to class at the Stuyvesant Street Building (NYU downtown campus in Greenwich Village), I lost awareness – not hard to do actually – of where I was. Literally, I suddenly woke up, as if from sleep. I was in the middle of a street. I looked around, yet nothing looked familiar. I was lost! I was immediately gripped by fear’s massive arms, pulled into it’s embrace. How I managed to find the building, and get inside, I don’t know. Once through the doors, I wandered into the office of the head of the OT department – my major course of study. I stood there, tears streaming down my face and declared that I was lost. The receptionist called She Who Was In Charge, and I was ushered into her office. She was very attentive, and gently questioned me about what happened. She got me something to eat, and a glass of orange juice.

Next stop, when she determined I’d had a dariance with Panic Attack, was the mental health office. They did the similar Q&A, and I was given a prescription for a tranquilizer. By the time I got back to my dorm room, while still shaken from the experience, I felt I could continue with my day and went about the business of being a student.

I sought help from a therapist in the neighborhood, and began a rather long relationship with the professional head shrinkers. I tried to get those I went to, over the years, to understand my only interest was in how to manage this problem. I didn’t need to, then, know the why and wherefore of my co-habitation with fear.

I found out about the phobic aspect of a long term relationship with panic, and anxiety which are simply levels of the measurement fear. Of course, being that everything takes longer for me to GET IT, my dance card was filled with this once and future king. We parlayed across the country, and back. I had not known that I had an accord with the ever ready battery of this mental malady.

The odd thing is, knowing that I was not comfortable in certain places, in the midst of crowds, like at the mall, or feeling the unparalelled need to the the hell out of Dodge – in the form of that eatery of all restaurants, when I was finished with a meal; that I could not stand to sit in the middle of the room – it had to be a booth, near a window, near the door, to make a fast get-away, as if I was there to rob a bank. None of it made sense. My best friend, who apparently knew what was happening, took her time in telling me that I had the panic monkey on my back! This is already forty years since that time of Fim the Early Days.

This was, of course, AFTER I’d moved upstate, and spent the week before the movers brought all the family heirlooms (aka stuff) up, here, just me and the cats, alone.  I found I was unable to actually leave the house. I was a prisoner of zenda. I had no clue why. I just could not make myself open that door. But that was child’s play, I found, because I had an appointment with the mother lode of the agoraphobic set down the road.

That came after I’d been living upstate for at least a year. Who can say when a physical condition is related to the psychological interloper? Not me. Still, I found some physical problems cropping up, and went to see a doctor, who prescribed an anti-inflamatory for what she believed ailed me. That drug totaled me like a car crash between a compact car and a mac truck. I was laying on the floor screaming to make it go away –  it being fear in the guise of a mountain troll. The toll keeper of the front door to my house was Agoraphobia, and I had no cheat sheet to the riddle of getting out of that front door. This time it lasted for a month.

The end result of that was becoming a card carrying memory of the tranq Society.

Thus continues the story, morning glory, of my inability to weather that storm of life. I believe it is my version of the “The Neverending Story.”

TBC – more than likely.