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Rachel calls herself a worrywart. I'm a worrywart, or at least that is what my family has called me throughout my life - especially my son when he was growing up. My fears really irritate the hell out of them, most of which they think are irrational; most of which I think are rational.
When there are things wrong with you, sometimes it helps to poke fun at your own shortcomings. I certainly enjoyed writing about Rachel's screwy fears. They were good for a laugh - at least for me:
"It doesn’t take long for the alone-in-the-woods thought to resurface and the notorious serial killers of the Pacific Northwest to haunt my mind. I can see it now—my poor bones with the flesh picked off by ravens will make headlines in the Oregonian newspaper—unidentified skeletal remains found on Larch Mountain by a hiker."
In my heart-of-hearts, I know that my fears, in an odd sort of way, happen to be another protection and coping method I use in life. I used the word "fear" twenty-two times in Conflicting Heart, trying to convey the fears that often plague adults who have been sexually abused as children -- well plagued me -- I shouldn't drag you into this unless you want to raise your hand and confess too!
Rachel lists for Jack, the psychiatrist, the many things she deals with in life. One of those "things" are her irrational fears.
So what are some of these irrational fears poor Rachel deals with? Well, here is her worrywart list:
Fear of what could happen. "At least I won’t worry about Whiskers overindulging on some toxic plant and me coming home to find him dead by the front door. I scrunch my nose over the thought, because I’m such a freaking worrywart about everything."
Fear of new situations. "He wants me to stay. I want to stay. My fears tell me to go."
Fear of being out of control. "Hopefully, he’s a decent driver, because I feel as if I have no control over my destiny when I’m not behind the steering wheel."
Fear of intimacy. "Old fears shroud me in doubt as he gently holds me. Yes, I want him. Who wouldn’t want him? Handsome, strong, intelligent, kind, and the list goes on. I can’t believe, though, that anyone like him would want me."
Fear of not being accepted. “If I say yes, you won’t think less of me, will you?”
Fear of abandonment. "Ian appears absorbed in his thoughts, and I don’t blame him. He probably wants to know what happened to me as a child, but I’m not sure that I can specifically tell him every detail. The thought of doing so intensifies my fear that he’ll leave me."
Fear of not belonging. "As the event draws to a close, I fear that I will never fit in."
Fear of social situations. “I don’t know if I can do this, Ian,” I say, shaking my head. My body trembles. “I told you how I am eating in front of strangers. You, I can handle, but your brother and parents?” I shake my head again. “This is too much.”
Fear of rejection. "I walk toward Haystack Rock and try to calm my fears of rejection."
Let's face it, I'm a fear-filled worrywart. They say that perfect love casts out fear. I suppose when you know perfect love, you know what it's like to trust, and then your fears of all those things above melt away. However, I've never had perfect love in the physical sense, though spiritually I've tried to believe in it from heaven above but failed to comprehend.
My fears for me have been both positive and negative experiences in my life. I often look at my fear to take risks as a positive thing. It's a given that when faced with a new and unexplored activity, I'll carefully consider whether to partake from every angle. The "what if's" run rampant, and if I think it's too risky to try, or if I know I will fail, I just don't participate. (If I have to die, I take the clean-cut attorney to do me in.)
Shyness and social anxiety go hand-in-hand. I hate being in crowds or unfamiliar social situations. If people ask me to go to parties or big groups, I avoid them like the plague. Sometimes I'm forced, of course, due to situations to participate. I do, but often feel overly anxious and nauseated. I'm not the social butterfly...period.
Frankly, I think fears are a huge residual factor of our childhood sexual abuse. Perhaps it stems from a variety of reasons. We want to protect ourselves from further hurt, so we're overly careful. The need for total control over our lives is paramount, because as children that control was stripped away from us during the abuse. Intimacy can be a problem one-on-one, in a group, or in a crowd. The child within us learned at an early age that humanity isn't always kind or good to us, so we tend to avoid overexposure. My take on the socially healthy are like children running around with their clothes off and having no shame. For the abused, we want to stay covered and hidden. It's a life-long struggle to open up and let our personalities flit around like butterflies.
While writing this book, I tried to be totally transparent regarding my fears. Hopefully, some of you can relate. Maybe you'll read this post and say, "I'm not alone," in my irrational fears, no mater how rational they seem to me. No, you're not alone. Hopefully, this confession will hit home too.
P.S. I'm afraid of spiders, too, but who isn't?