Fear comes in many disguises that we may not recognize. Some of the synonyms for fear are “afraid, alarm, cold feet, dismay, fright, horror, panic, terror, and worry.” Reading these words gives the impression of how all-encompassing this emotion actually is. Fear ranges from mild worry to stark terror. The knot in the pit of your stomach is an indication of the presence of this emotion. Also worrying about the future is a form of fear.
Joan Sotkin, in her “Pro$perity Quick Tips” writes, “Fear can be your survival instinct kicking in.” Fear tells you when your safety is at risk, and counsel caution. Sometimes, fear gets out of hand when it stops you from living your life. For example, the fear of public speaking is a wildly held fear. However, speaking before people generally does not result in death. But, this fear keeps many people from participating in public life. Instead of speaking out, they remain silent because of their fear, and do not achieve anything for the public good.
My personal experiences with fear are with its panic and gut-wrenching terror aspects. Some of my fears are real, and some of them are imagined. One thing that I discovered is that fear can be contagious. I think that if others are afraid, then I should be also. Our fear then feeds on each other until all of us become paralyzed. For me, it is difficult to break out of this mind set.
My fears today derive themselves from a freak accident that happened to me. A wall had fallen on me, and nearly killed me. My brain bled, leaving me with a traumatic brain injury. This accident has left me with a phobia of walls amongst other fears. Intellectually speaking, I know that this fear is absurd. Except for me, the other patients in the Neurological Unit at the hospital were victims of strokes or car crashes. Therefore, a wall falling on someone is extremely rare, unless they are construction workers.
My phobia of walls is a fear that I deal with daily. Since I am surrounded by walls, I am in a constant state of fear. Because of this fear, I am nervous around bookcases or anything of a structural nature that is higher than me. This makes shopping in stores problematic to me. I often ask myself, “Will these walls fall down? Will they fall on me?”
My experience with shelves in stores is that they are usually stacked with heavy products such as cans and bottles. When I do go shopping, I have to plot out my route. I go in, zip about, and quickly zip out again. I only shop for items that I cannot obtain on-line (including groceries). If there is a line, I panic and leave the item. While waiting in line, I imagine the stacks of cereal boxes, fruit, or cans falling down on me.
The worst store for me to go into is the Home Depot. Seeing the plumbing supplies stacked to the ceiling or piles of lumber make me start to think of falling objects. Then I start to shake. I cannot enter this store because I am paralyzed with the fear of falling objects.
My oddest fear that I encounter in stores is flying crock pots. The last things that I remember about the wall failing on me are the crock pots raining down on me. Whenever I see one on sale, I imagine the appliance leaping off the shelf at me. I regard these store crock pots as “wild, malevolent” entities.