In Which I Talk About Fear

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hurrah, it's not Monday! While I'm still occasionally hacking up a lung (I kind of sound like I have TB), I'm moderately sniffly, and the weather is kind of gross today, at least it is not Monday and we are moving forward through the week. Thank God. The other reason that today is so glorious is that Joshua Radin's new album, Wax Wings, was released! I mentioned yesterday that I listen to a lot of singer-songwriters, and he is one of absolute favorites. I discovered him accidentally (which is how i discover most of my favorite artists) when I went to see Anna Nalick in Atlantic City back in 2007. Unfortunately, Anna Nalick seems to intermittently fall off the face of the Earth, but Joshua Radin has put out 5 albums, including his newest. I missed him last time he was touring, so I am super excited to see him on the 21st at World Cafe Live. I'm going by myself, which is a new (and terrifying) experience for me, but I refuse to miss the concert because I'm scared, haha. Yesterday, this happened:

I was so excited! I'm still so excited! Anyway, his new album is amazing, which isn't surprising. It's on Spotify, available for download on iTunes, and if you're like me and don't use iTunes... you can't get it on Amazon yet. Sad. Anyway, go listen to it and love it. You will, I promise. (My personal favorites off of this album are "When We're Together" and "Lovely Tonight"!)

I promise that soon, you'll get a post that isn't a Blog Every Day in May post, but posting every day is hard and usually by the time I have time to write another post, I'm all out of writing oomph. Until then, here is Day 7 of Blog Every Day in May!

My favorite place to hide when I'm afraid.
Second favorite place? Bed.
Third? Bathroom.

You might think I'm kidding, but I have legitimately hidden under the table the times I've been most afraid of something (Ex - The night before my AP exams, the day before I left for college, the night before the first time I took my MCAT, the day before I left for med school, before many med school exams, the day before I left for Israel). If you haven't figured it out, the theme of today's post is "The thing(s) you're most afraid of." As I said in the post about what made me uncomfortable, if you ask 
someone with an anxiety disorder what they're afraid of, you better be ready to sit for a bit. So, here we go...

Being alone
Being in a giant crowd
The dark
Driving (especially at night)
Weird noises at night
Meeting new people
Having a major depressive episode again (a la my breakdown in 2009)
Being chronically ill to the point that I can't work/function
Being infertile (a distinct possibility)
My parents dying
Levi (my brother) dying
Ken dying
Really... anyone dying
House fires
Being mugged and/or raped
Losing my sight
Losing my job
Not getting into med school 
Street performers
Falling (off of ladders, off of subway platforms, out of bed... ok, not really that last one)
Injuring myself when I am home alone and not being able to get help
Alzheimer's Disease
Home intrusion
Being abducted
Natural disasters (I was a wreck during the last hurricane and nothing even happened to us)
Not being able to get to my family in FL if something horrific happened
Spiders/most insects (especially bees... ugh)
Getting/being lost
Never being (personally) financially stable (we're stable as a couple)
Somehow ruining our marriage by going back to school

Ok, that's enough of a list to start with. I think in general, I can separate my fears into categories:

1. Fear of the Unknown - This pretty much a universal fear, I think. I don't know anyone that runs headlong into the oblivion of the future, waving their arms and yelling, "I AM SO EXCITED TO NOT KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!" I guess there are a few people who can view these things as "adventures" but overall, I think everyone has that pit in their stomach when starting something new, or that voice in their head that whispers, "What if it doesn't work?" during those moments that you're trying to fall asleep. I guess "change" can be classed under here, or even "the future" because that's obviously unknown (unless you can see the future, in which case, please contact me, haha).

2. Loss - Again, I don't know anyone who isn't afraid of losing someone they hold dear. For my, it's Ken, my parents, my brother, and really, any of my close friends. Any time I can't get Ken on the phone, I automatically assume that one of the following things has happened:

- He has suddenly died
- He has slipped in the shower and is slowly drowning in the bottom of the tub

- He has slipped in the shower and can't get up to call for help 
- He is being held hostage by a home intruder
- He has been abducted
- He is having a heart attack/is choking/is unconscious for some reason

Usually, the reason he hasn't answered his phone is something more along the lines of:

- He was vacuuming
- He was in the shower (not drowning)
- He was away from his phone
- His phone was on vibrate
- His phone was under the cat
- He's deaf in one ear (literally) and didn't hear it ring

When I can't get my mom, dad, or Levi on the phone in a reasonable amount of time, similar fears start popping into my head and I end up calling every three minutes until I get an answer. I apologize in advance if I ever do this to you, it's only because I care (and have an anxiety disorder).

3. Death - This could technically be classed under "loss", but I am talking more specifically about my own death in this case, and not the death of others. There are some people I know who are not afraid of death and/or dying. My Mom-Mom was one of them. To be fair, though, she was 76, had metastatic lung cancer, and she said, "I'm not afraid of dying, I'm afraid of being in pain," which is also completely legitimate. I guess I am more afraid of the dying process, (which is a legitimate, medical, process) than the death part itself. I'm not sure what I think about what happens after we die. Maybe nothing? Maybe our energy goes out into the world and becomes something else? As my Mom-Mom also said, "No one has ever come back to tell us," so I guess we're left wondering. The official stance of reform Judaism is effectively, "We're not really sure, but if there is an afterlife, it will depend entirely on what we did in this current life, so be as good of a human as you can." To read more about that, you can go here and check it out. So yeah, I'm definitely more afraid of the dying process than death itself, but death also isn't exactly a comforting thing (it's that whole fear of the unknown, again!)

4. Failure - This can be as concrete as "Holy crap, I got a 37 on that calc exam," to "I lost my mind and had to drop out of med school," to "I have failed at being the person I want to be," and everything in between. (Yes, all of those things happened to me.) Ever since I was very young, I have hated failure in a way more pronounced way than any of my peers. Since I equate so much of my self-worth with my accomplishments (working on this), anytime something didn't get accomplished, or even was accomplished in a manner that I viewed as subpar, I had failed... and therefore was a failure. I think the worst of this came when I had to leave med school, because suddenly, I was without a purpose and had no idea what I was doing with my life (this thought process led to the break-down, not surprisingly). The fear of failure (where the definition of failure is "not performing a task to the arbitrary standards that I have set for myself) permeates my every day life. Work, school, money, relationships... you name it, I'm afraid I'm going to fail at it. I think my top two failure fears are:

- Med school related: I won't do well in my post-bac, I won't get in, I'll get in and fail out, I'll get in and have to leave again

- Marriage related: Going back to school will ruin us financially and Ken will leave me, I won't be able to get pregnant and Ken will leave me, (insert event here) and Ken will leave me... basically, I will somehow screw up our relationship and our marriage will slowly collapse like a flan in a cupboard

Even though I know that I am more than the sum of my accomplishments, that my fear of being a completely useless human being is largely unfounded, that my fear of Ken leaving me for any reason under the sun is entirely illogical and bizarre... this fear of failure remains.

So there you go... the things that scare me the most. Everything that can't fit into those categories can be classed as "miscellaneous fears that are (probably) unfounded". Such is the life of someone with an anxiety disorder, haha. This has become one of my favorite comics on the internet, as I feel is describes me perfectly:

So what are you afraid of? Leave me a note in the comments! Check out what scares everyone else participating in Blog Every Day in May by going here to see the link-up!

- A


  1. I agree on so many of these! And the whole phone thing freaks me out. Derek's job has some dangerous side effects and it terrifies me when he won't answer either phone!!

    Three more days left in the May giveaway; A new blog design! Our Journey

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I'm glad I'm not the only one who freaks out when my husband doesn't answer the phone, haha.

  3. i hear you on the phone thing. i've gotten 3 calls in the middle of the night that aren't good, and neither was the time my parents had their phones off. i'm 28 years old and half the time afraid whenever my phone rings at work. oi!

  4. Haha, I hate when my work phone rings! Thanks for stopping by, Laura!


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