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To be or not to be…Afraid

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been afraid of insects. There was a time when I would play with caterpillars and lightning bugs, but somewhere along the way I became afraid. My mother who was a brave woman and didn’t take any shit off of anyone was deathly afraid of bugs. I’m blaming her for making me afraid of bugs. I was so afraid that I would go to great lengths to avoid them.
In 1985 my sister, Lola and I were cruising in my mother Grand Prix, you know the one with the T-Tops. There we were in Miami cruising in such a cool car. I was driving and Lola was in the passenger seat as we blasted disco music going down the street.
Then a giant spider crawled up the windshield. We both screamed. This was before seatbelt laws and so my first response was to jump out of my window, but Lola pulled me back in my seat, crawled over me and jumped out of my window while the car was still rolling. I was right behind her. We rolled around collecting gravel with our elbows. We watched the car as it rolled into someone’s yard stopping just before their living room window. The homeowners came running out of the house as Lola and I checked out our wounds.
“What happened?” The homeowners asked us. We told them of the giant spider and they were enraged. “You almost ran your car into my house because of a spider?” The man asked us in exasperation. “You jumped out of your car and abandoned it because of a spider? What if the car would have hit someone? What if someone got hurt? How do you just jump out of a rolling car?” The man was angry. “Now get your car out of my yard.” He demanded.
“I’m not getting back in that car.” I told the man. He ran into his house while his wife tried to reason with us. The man came back with a can of insect spray. He sprayed the car until the can was empty. “There, no spider can survive that, now get your car out of my sight.” He demanded.
“If you don’t produce a dead spider I’m not getting back into that car.” I told him calmly. “I want this car out of my yard now!” The man yelled. I grabbed Lola and said to him that he can move the car, but we were walking home. Lola and I walked home and when we told my mother that we had abandoned the car because of a spider she without delay found someone to retrieve the car. It was a “Marielito” named Juan who was a tough refugee from the Mariel boat lift. He wasn’t scared of anything.
Juan brought the car home and we bombed the car for three days straight. No one would get in that car until the dead spider was produced to prove it wouldn’t be there anymore. We would make Juan check the car every day until the dead spider finally appeared. When Juan saw the size of that spider he told us that if he knew the size of the spider was not exaggerated by us, he would never have driven that car.
My mother taught us to be afraid of bugs. She was always plagued by them. It seems I was too, until the day that I lived alone and the only thing that scared me about that was who was going to kill the bugs. I have been known to go spend the night at a friend’s house because of an insect in my house. Then one day I declared my size and advantage over these insects. I started killing them myself and it was empowering. Once I did that, the bugs disappeared. I don’t see them anymore. Not like I used to. They may be crawling all over my house, which I doubt, but I don’t see them. It seems that my fear of them attracted them.
My mother set the hardwiring to be afraid of something that I had total power over. I broke it and live in great harmony with the insects that used to rule my life.
When something plagues you need to investigate it, see it for what it really is and conquer it.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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My Panic Room

When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time in a panic. Mostly the panic was about my death. I was afraid that I would die. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the theory that I should die. I just worried about it constantly until it became routine to obsess about it.  My near death experiences would keep me in a space that separated me from everyone else. There wasn’t anyone that I felt I could tell about this feeling. I would tell my parents that I was afraid that I was going to die and they would reinforce that fact.

I really wanted to share what that place is like. What it is like to be so afraid that nothing else in the world is going on. The anxiety would usually begin with me noticing a change in my skin. I would find a new freckle or mole and off I would go to my panic room. I would spend days obsessing about it. How it would turn into cancer or something else that would end my life. I just knew that this little mark on my body would have all of my attention. I became known to many in my family as “the nun” because I would dress from head to toe covering as much of my skin as I could. I would wear long sleeves, pants and a high collar. My face and hands were all that I could bare.

As I got older the panic was still with me, probably even more so because I was armed with so much more information about disease. I remember on one occasion when I was breaking out of my shell a bit, and I was getting more comfortable with showing skin that I decided to go to the beach with my sister and the kids. I drove all the way to Tampa to find that my sister had invited a friend of hers. Her friend was married to a Dermatologist. I went straight into my panic.  I told my sister that I couldn’t go because she had invited someone who could look at my skin. Even though my sister tried to explain that her friend was only married to a Dermatologist, I kept insisting that I was sure her husband told her things about his work, and if she saw something on my skin she could probably tell that it was bad. So I didn’t go to the beach that day. I didn’t go for many days. I had to ride this out for a while.

Nothing seemed to make me feel better about it ever. If everyone around me got sick, and I didn’t, then I suspected that something had to be wrong with me. I should be getting sick like everyone else. What is wrong? I was constantly asking about myself.If I happened to get sick, well, then I knew I would die of a cold.

I spent way too much of my life in this room. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else when I was in there. I couldn’t watch any movies that dealt with illness because I would be forced to that room and the only thing that I knew about treating this condition was to stay away from things that stimulated the panic. Like a real panic room, I sat separated from everyone in the house. No one knew that I was there, except for me.

Things are different today; I’ve since then had quite a bit of therapy regarding this ailment. It turns out that I was afraid of me. I didn’t want the world to see me, so I made myself invisible by slipping into this room. I didn’t want the world to see just how flawed I was. It wasn’t for the reasons that you may think. You see if the world saw me, they would comment on what they saw and then if I heard it, it would become true. As long as no one said a thing, I would be fine. I spent a couple of decades of my life trying to escape it, only to find I was a hostage to it all along.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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