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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Me & My Shadows

I have discussed my phobias before. My many, many phobias. I have made attempts to be braver about things, but I am a work in progress. Progress is slow.

I wish I will one day be able to write a post listing my cured phobias. In the meantime, all I can do is keep writing about them period.

Let's see, there is my fear of heights, bridges, deep water, driving next to deep water, walking on dirt/grass/gravel with or without shoes, snakes, scorpions and photos with eyes. (No, that's not all of them, but these will get us started.)

When you stop laughing, I will gladly explain.



The thing with heights has to do with falling. The idea dropping to the ground even from a shoe heel high enough for a respectable hooker just bothers me. The idea of being several feet off the ground makes me mildly uncomfortable. The idea of dropping off a high balcony or railing just scares the freaking over-yonder-y'all Texas accent right out of me. I have avoided chances for classier seats at theatrical plays because of this fear.

I have had a problem with this when traveling. Of course, there's the whole airplane thing. I have made some very temporarily intimate friends that I bond with during the take-off and landing of flights. There is something about flirting with strangers just so they will let you be a big ole baby and hold their hand during the ascent and descent of your jet travels. (And, yes, I realize there is no real logic to this. It's not like having a hand to hold is going to save a life should the plane crash, right. Well, that's not the point. The point is to have a real flesh and blood piece of the anatomy to squeeze while on your way to a potential death. A hand is better than anything else I might grab in a panic. I think women who give childbirth can relate to this.)

The height thing has also caused problems for me when traveling by ground. For instance, I (as a child)  proudly traveled many times the great Alaska Canada Highway with my military family. I said "proudly" not bravely. As a passenger, I'm not bad. When I was young, I loved that ride. I sat in the back of our old station wagon, ate salami and cracker snacks and got geopgraphy, geology and zoology lessons from my parents. Plus, I got to lay down and say "lalalala" to myself as a coping mechanism when crossing bridges or driving next to water.

As an adult, I had to actually help drive the AlCan. Closing your eyes and saying "lalalala" is not really a safe option when you are behind the wheel of the vehicle. I know because I tried it a couple of times. During one family move, my sister threatened to put me out and leave me on the side of the road once about 70 miles outside Whitehorse.

My soon-to-be ex-husband and I drove from Arizona to Anchorage the second year we were together. I was still so in love and later joked to everyone that we'd survived that drive so we'd survive anything. I really  hate it when crap like that comes back to tell on me. Sometimes when I am tempted poke sharp pins into the head of a little doll named Tim, I calm myself with the memory that he once really loved me. I know he did. The fact that he didn't commit any kind of spousal abuse during that trip says great things about either his patience or the power of my prayers. I was no joy to travel with, let me tell you. First of all, I have a really bad sense of direction. If I had been alone, I'd still be trying to find my way out of Vancouver. Second of all, there are those phobias...

One night, after Tim had driven something like 14 hours straight, I took the wheel to "bring us on into" whatever the next town was. And I was bringing us, baby. I was doing around 80 and just feeling all that loud Rick James funk I had going on the stereo. I was bringing us smooth and steady. Then I damn near flipped the Explorer trunk over hood. That's how hard I hit the brakes. Poor Tim - all 5' 6" of him - almost smooshed against the dash like a cartoon character (which I thought at the time didn't do much for his looking sexy). First, he re-gained some composure (still, not sexy), then he used every non-nice word in the English language to ask what was wrong with me. I'm glad he's uni-lingual.

I gave him my look - the one that was waiting to see if he was finished being so damned rude - and pointed. "Bridge."

I think I saw my possible death in that man's eyes. My mother always told me that God has special angels watching over me. This I now know. I think I might have even seen a feather from Gabriel's wings as Tim got out and came around to the driver's seat.

So, yeah. The height phobia is not good for travel. This is why I couldn't live in Dallas, couldn't drive certain places in Houston and learned every single surface road when I lived around Phoenix. Those Rounds and Mixers and Multi-layer works of concrete art you have to drive on... Nah. Ain't happening.

The other of my phobias that most people don't get right off has to do with my sensitivity to textures. Underfoot textures.

I know that when I was young and staying in Texas, I played with my cousins in the dirt, grass and mud. There is plenty of photographic evidence of my little dusty young self, ashy-kneed and very happy. I don't know exactly when I got so... weird about the outdoors. My brothers tease me and say that I was always a prissy little snit. Whatever. (I have promised my niece and nephew to give one of their camping/fishing outings a try this summer. Of course, it took my health scare and this new appreciation of life to make that promise possible.)

And the strangest of my phobias? The thing about pictures with eyes. I cringe to even think about it. The eyes, not the phobia.

You know how the eyes in photos and paintings kind of follow you? Like they are watching you? Okay. That's the feeling that creeps me out. I don't really like live things watching me like that, and I sure don't want to be tracked by some dead relative or perfect stranger. It was another thing about me that annoyed Tim. He thought it was the most ridiculous thing he'd ever heard when I refused to have pictures in our bedroom. I think he was going to pull some kind of Who's Your Daddy bullshit with me over it. Threatened to go out and buy lots of pictures just to prove his point. He got right over that impulse when I explained that I'd probably go completely frigid at the thought of "eyes" watching us make each other, um,  happy. Like any normal guy, Tim just loves to be happy... He almost hurt himself getting rid of pictures. Damn near threw out precious family photo albums until I reminded him that they were okay because they were in albums.

So, yeah, I have some issues. I know that I should be in therapy, but I have a phobia about opening up to strangers.

I'm just stuck with being me.