Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What Scares Me

In a nutshell, my biggest fear is losing Conan. I'm not a big worrier in general, but sometimes, especially late at night, it just hits me that it's possible something terrible could happen to him, and a huge wave of fear comes crashing down on me. I work my way through all kinds of things that could happen - from the fairly common (car accident, playground accident, gardening accident) to the hypochondriac (leukemia, SIDS, cancer, genetic disease, e. coli) to the sensational (crazed meth-head home invasion, weird cult kidnapping, dingo attack, terrorist plot) to natural disasters (volcanic eruption, earthquake, sudden rise in sea level) to the downright apocalyptic (zombies, nuclear strike, alien invasion, Large Hadron Collider created black hole).

If I'm really in the grip of a fear fit, I may even start to worry about possible pitfalls in the future. What if Conan makes bad choices in high school, drops out, runs away, and overdoses in a flophouse somewhere? What if he texts & drives? What if he drops dead of heat stroke one day after football practice? What if he's struck by lightning, or a meteorite, or a chunk of the international space station? The list of things I could worry about just goes on and on.

This focus on the horrible and tragic may seem morbid, but I think it's actually an effective coping mechanism. Thinking about these things, accepting them as possibilities and then dismissing them as remote and unlikely, makes them seem somehow less scary. I have good friends who lost their son at 4 months, and know several couples who were devastated to lose a pregnancy. My cousin died in a freak snowboarding accident when we were in our early 20s. My husband works at the city cemetery. Reminders that death is a part of life are ever-present. No one knows what the future holds.

So whenever this most primal fear bubbles to the surface, I spend some time exploring it in my imagination. Then, I take a deep breath and remind myself that the fearsome possibility of losing something wonderful is no match for the joy of really, truly loving every minute that I have with my son.

6 comments:

Syd said...

Sometimes I do this. It does seem morbid and sometimes I cry to. It does seem to alleviate the unknown pressure and anxiety.

Andy! said...

Someone somewhere said "If you are afraid of the dark, be the scary thing that lurks and you will find it not so scary". I guess if you apply that theory you'll end up with a bunch of strange babies in your house and eventually in prison. Welcome to parenthood! BTW: the more you have the worse it gets. :o)

Addie said...

That's funny, as a kid I always pretended to be a princess of whatever I was afraid of - princess ghost, princess vampire, princess monster - and then all the other ones had to do what I said. So then I didn't have to be scared anymore. :)

It doesnt work as well now that my fears are more abstract, unfortunately... but it is reassuring to know that pretty much every parent has the same fears.

Rachel Elizabeth said...

I do this all the time. I feel like something must be wrong with me. My poor daughter gets poked multiple times a night just so I can have the satisfaction of seeing her twitch and know she is ok and breathing.

Aimee said...

In my opinion, the most difficult part of this completely normal fear is not imposing those fears on the children. My kids think I'm the most paranoid freak that ever existed. Meadow wants to know why I don't want her to post her school schedule on Facebook. Well, um, sweetheart...most of the people out there just plain don't need to know that kind of information.

Not to mention all the crazies out there that were at least a lot more incognito when I was a kid...

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the potent reminder in the last sentence, Addie. Remembering to live in the moment is the best antidote to self-induced fears. After all, aside from being cautious and minimizing risks, choosing to live with joy and gratitude is all the control we have in our relatively short existences.