One Thousand Words on Being Scared

Fear. It can freeze you in your tracks, make you cry, or can give you an edge in a tough situation. It can create an actual physiological response in your body:  sweating palms, racing heart, change in breathing. It’s such a powerful emotion. We have all felt it. But, what causes fear can vary from person to person.

I have a love/hate relationship with scary movies and books. I loved them so much when I was in high school and college, but after viewing or reading them, I would be scared for so long! I wouldn’t be able to sleep or be alone. After watching a horror movie or reading a scary book, I remember saying to myself, “Why do did you do that?!” But a few weeks later, I would do the same thing with a different book or movie. I’m a slow learner.

The unfortunate thing is that I LOVED watching scary movies. I would beg my friends or family to watch them with me (there was no way I could watch them alone). And then my friends and family would have to stay with me after because I would be scared silly! My poor friends and family. I can’t believe that they put up with me.

As a child and now as an adult, I have a fear of going to the basement. We had a finished basement (it really didn’t look scary at all) in my house growing up where we would spend most our time playing, listening to music, hanging out with friends, or watching TV. I was always terrified of going down there alone. Someone would have to go down with me or my mom would stand at the top of the stairs and talk to me the entire time I was down there getting whatever it was I had to get. If there was a reason that I had to go down there alone and couldn’t avoid it, then I would sing Jingle Bells at the top of  my lungs the whole time and get back upstairs as fast as I could!

I had the same problem going upstairs where the bedrooms were. I was afraid that I would see something that would scare me, a ghost or a scary reflection in a mirror were my two greatest fears. I’ve always been  afraid that I would see something scary as I pass a mirror. I don’t know why mirrors create such an intense fear within me? I don’t recall seeing a movie or  reading a book that would case that fear. Anyone know of a book or movie in the late 70’s or the 80’s that  would cause that fear?

After watching Jaws as a child, I would be terrified in the pool! I remember diving in, and then the scene from the movie where the shark pulls the lady under the water would flash in my brain. I could swim all the way to the shallow end faster than you could hum the theme from Jaws! The one benefit from this? I became a very good and fast swimmer!

The time I was the most scared was not even  when I was young, but as an adult. My friend Heather (from One Thousand Words Project) and  I went to see The Blair Witch Project.  That movie scared me so much, that felt sick afterwards. After the movie, we went back to my condo. Luckily, Heather was spending the weekend.  I became so scared at bedtime, that we had to move the guest bed out of the guest room, into the very small hallway and partway into my room because I was too scared to go to sleep!

The Blair Witch Project did not do anything to help my fear of basements. I continue to hate going down to the basement to get my laundry at night. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve had to call my sister, brother-in-law, or mom so that I could be talking to one of them on the phone while I go down to get my laundry.

Now I’m a full fledged grownup, wearing my big girl pants, and I don’t watch as many scary movies or read as many scary books. I try to be careful so I don’t end up having lots of sleepless nights with my clean laundry stuck down in the basement. I tend to not have the desire to watch horror movies like I did when I was younger, but I do love psychological thrillers. But even those can scare me! Yesterday I decided to watch my netflix copy of Black Swan, but I thought I should watch it in the middle of the day in case it was a bit intense for me at night. After watching it, the only thing that really could scare me are the things that happens in the reflections of the mirrors. Almost every scene has a reflective surface in it…mirrors can still scare me!

It’s one thing for a movie to scare us. Something can jump out at you and catch you by surprise, but I think a book can scare you even deeper. When I am reading, I become so lost in the story. When a book is scary, you are creating the fear in your mind with your own imagination. That ability to create fear, just with words, is amazing. One of my cousins had the ability to tell such vivid stories to us that you could almost see the creatures peeking out at us while he told the story.

I also find it amazing that the fears that can grip me to a point of physiological response are the fears mentioned above, not the fear that someone could break into my house. One of my friends gets very nervous walking to her car in a parking garage. That doesn’t scare me. But, in all reality, that is a much more valid fear than a shark in the backyard swimming pool!



3 Responses

  1. Great post today, Nan! Funny you weren’t scared to sleep in the cemetery that time at your parent’s party!

  2. Very true…. but there was a big group of us. I would never do that by myself!!

  3. What a fabulous post! I am not a fan of scary movies (maybe because I’m so anxious in rea life, hello sweaty palms!) but I have made my peace with several “thriller” types when it comes to books, over the years.

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