Excuse Me, When Did I Get So Scared?

When did I get so scared? Of every f-thing?

Outlaw Mama, the Scaredy Squirrel

Outlaw Mama, the Scaredy Squirrel

I mean, I’ve always been exceptionally fear-based, but they were always abstract and interesting fears like (1) the fear I will die alone with bad hair in a van down by the river, or (2) fear that I’ll end up in purgatory and then God will lose my file like the DMV did when I was 20, so I’ll be stuck in the greatest Limbo of all, while all of you will be in Heaven eating my frozen yogurt and listening to alt-country mix tapes on a restored old juke box.

Now, my fears are pedestrian. Base.  Boring.

It was all highlighted for me last week when I started my new job which requires me to commute to downtown Chicago two days a week.  I was scared of falling on the ice and snapping my hip.  Then, when I was on the train, I was afraid of a disaffected youth sitting across from me, but I relaxed when I saw he was reading Harry Potter.  (If you can’t feel safe with a Harry Potter fan you need more medication.)

Once I got settled in my office, I worried about where I would hide if there is a shooter.  Then, I tested the lower drawer of my filing cabinet and decided I could fit in there.  But, then I worried about how someone would find me if I accidentally got stuck in there.  (I’ve read Sarah’s Key, so I had to think this through.)  That night I gave Jeff explicit instructions about where to look for me (lower drawer, filing cabinet) if there’s a shooter and I go missing.  I(If you don’t hear from me here for a while, remind Jeff about my hiding place.)

I guess it didn’t help that 30 minutes of my 1-hour orientation revolved around bomb procedures and where I should go if the building is evacuated.  My emergency protocol binder is bigger than a phone book.  The upshot is that it’s the same cheery yellow as those “Blah Blah for Dummies” books. (I may be scared, but I can find slivers of hope, people.)

Every time someone knocked on my door I was afraid they were going to come in and hurt me (or give me work).  The poor office services lady who brought me a trashcan is probably still wondering why I screamed when she tried to talk to me as I was walking out of the bathroom.

This whole “life is fragile” thing is such a bummer.  Commuting and communing with the masses bring up so much more fear than playdates and long afternoons with nothing but LEGO and Lincoln Logs to keep the ennui at bay.  The worst part of returning to work, besides leaving my blog children is confronting these fears.  I am sure it’s the anxiety of the new job, but I just hope it dies down soon, because the work is piling up and I don’t have lots of spare energy for all this fear.  And I sort of need that bottom filing draw for all my snacks.

How do you manage fear?  Does your fear spike during times of transition?  Did you ever fear that you would get stuck in God’s customs office and never make it to Heaven?


40 thoughts on “Excuse Me, When Did I Get So Scared?

  1. yep. same. having a hard time this year getting past it. it’s been building for the last few years and now it’s just all over me! i can’t shake it. shake it like a milkshake and do the best i can… i guess i’ll just rumble to the bottom and then hopefully rumble to the top, i’ll turn around and turn around until i make a stop. hahaha. okay, sense of humor still there. sorry bout goin to Kentucky. 🙂

  2. I think it’s our current society, the times we live in, that make an already slightly inanely jumpy person more so. That we have to think, seemingly regularly, about where we’ll hide is proof to that (as is thinking EVERY person, even the tiny fragile lady on the train is out to get us (because she could be a master of disguise and just a short man with multiple weapons WHAT.) I feel much crazier than I used to, suspecting the worst of so many people, wondering when the random bullet is going to come through the window as we sit for dinner. I know worry is normal but I have it in excess and it’s more of a when will it get worse as opposed to something bad could happen. Even if we don’t watch the news regularly, it’s on the cuff of our psyche, I think, and manifests itself into worry. All I can say for certain is my imagination be high, yo.

    • Same here and I don’t watch the news. My first day of work they kept talking about that boy in Alabama who was snatched off the school bus. I was all Wha? I have no idea. Then, they made me google the news stories. It confirmed I am better off w/o the news.

  3. Yes, the life is fragile thing IS indeed a bummer. I have this fear that I am driving down the freeway and following a logging truck. A log flies out and slams into my windshield decapitating me (I think there was an urban legend about this in the 80s or 90s) and that’s how I die. I’m sure that’s perfectly normal (!).

    I say ease your fears by saying hey to Harry Potter if you see him again. At the very least maybe wear a lightning bolt on your forehead and see if he notices. 🙂

    I’ve been meaning to pop by for weeks. Thank you for giving me the nudge!

  4. Good luck to you–relax and try to think of it as an adventure. I know easier said then done. I didn’t go to Chick Fil A for months after all that media stuff with them in the fall for fear some crazed person would come in and blow us away. And I try to never ever go inside gas stations or banks, for fear they will be robbed while I’m there. The list goes on. But I guess we all have fears. Nice to know I’m not the only one.

      • I have no idea, but it’s right by school. Today I heard references to something that happened in New Orleans (I had no idea) and something at Chik-fil-A and something on the southside, but not the majorette that we already know about. For the love of HUMAN LIFE, people, can we please stop shooting each other?

        On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM, Outlaw Mama

  5. I’m not a jumpy person by nature but I could feel it through you. You are going to do GREAT!!!

    And I have spent a whole lot of my life worrying about purgatory (the Catholic thing) which would be my natural resting place based on things from my past and such. Looking on the bright side, and because I’m older than you, I’ll have a cup o’ joe waiting for your arrival if you don’t make it out of the drawer, customs, whatever. Whoa, that went dark and I didn’t mean for that.

  6. It’s definitely the new job, and it will die down once you get settled. I am not generally an anxious person by nature (or, I work hard not to be), but when I started the job I have now, for three weeks I was pretty much afraid of everything. The shady guy on the subway, the ominous water stain on the ceiling of my apartment (obviously the ceiling was about to collapse), the elevator in my new building, getting accidentally locked in the bathroom after hours, not being able to work the coffee machine, and much, much more. You are in good company.

  7. My crazy fears were amplified after having kids because while yes, it would suck if this bridge collapsed while I was driving over it, now I have even more to worry about like a) what if my kids are in the car – how do I get them out? b) what if my kids aren’t in the car – who will take care of them? Life seems a million times more fragile with kids in the picture. But if I ever get irrationally fearful my husband reminds me that all that worry is only going to kill me sooner and then I manage to relax a bit. 😉 Could you really fit in a file cabinet?!

    • It’s definitely the kids. They have really shown me my vulnerability in a new and startling way. And it’s a big filing cabinet. A triple wide, if you will.

      On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM, Outlaw Mama

  8. There is no purgatory…you’re either saved or you’re not. Thank God’s grace and faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit for saving, not our works or deeds to get us eternal life. Still faith without works (action) is dead, but it won’t save. Just wanted to clear that up. Look to the cross, not at yourself.

    • That’s good information. If I am dependent on myself for getting eternal life, that’s bad news. Your news is better. Thank you.

      On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:48 AM, Outlaw Mama

  9. My favorite is your fear that someone who knocked on your door was going to kill you…or in the alternative give you more work, which is a death in itself. I am terrible with transitions and my fears are under a microscope in those moments, I’m hanging on with you. Until you get your footing again it makes for great blog fodder! Silver lining.

    • Right, because murderers are known to politely knock on the door. Seems like fear should be more rational but its not. Not even close.

      On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 10:54 AM, Outlaw Mama

  10. I’m pretty fear-based too, but I’m trying to conquer it. My biggest fear is being trapped here in job-purgatory my whole life. And leading a boring life. I get panic attacks about it on a regular basis.
    It’s funny that you mention Sarah’s Key – that is pretty much my worst nightmare. I think that’s normal fear, though.

    • I know. I am often so offended when people compare quotidian struggles to those encountered in the Holocaust, but I just did that by invoking Sarah’s Key. And there is something about job purgatory that is especially pernicious. I’ve been there….bored to death, worked to death, wrong job, wrong me, wrong boss, wrong hours, wrong pay…my soul stirring and flapping it’s wings. It’s brutal. Here’s to a way out.

      On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM, Outlaw Mama

  11. I can’t get past having to worry about slipping on ice going to work. Not that I’m a stranger to be on snow and ice in the mountains, but going to work…Phew, that goodness for the sunshine and weather in Australia!

  12. I’d love to offer help, but you will know why I can’t since my father nicknamed me “Cautious Clem” when I was about 5. I’ve always been this way. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to not worry about breaking a hip/getting robbed/getting lost, etc. (but I wouldn’t worry about a Harry Potter fan either!)

  13. To answer your questions: 1) Poorly. 2) Absolutely. Isn’t that normal? 3) No, but every once in awhile I try to wrap my head around the idea that there is no heaven and I will just cease to exist when I die. And I become overwhelmed with terror because I that’s really f-ing scary.

  14. Those are all very rational fears. We all have rational fears. . . like mine – being asked to be a contestant on Dancing w/ the Stars. . . it makes me shudder. . . Other than that, nothing really scares me. . .

    • Here’s where we part company because the ONLY reason I want to be famous or infamous (Octo-mom?) is so that I can go on that show. OMG, I would rock Bruno’s world and I would literally fuck Len to get a spot in the finals. My husband knows this. You might say I’m a fan. Passa doble….bring it.

      • You and my wife should hang out on Skype and watch it together. . . she loves that show too! Can we still be friends though if I tell you that my twins were born on the same day as the octos? I guess I’ll always know how old those kids are. . .

      • I think about those octos and their sibs a lot. You can’t help when your babies are born even if you could only muster two at a time. My daughter was born when Roger Federer’s first was born…it may have been twins. Whatever. I just care about Nadal’s babies.

      • Yeah, Nadal is pretty hunky. And, yes, we’re pretty weak only having two. It’s looks kind of cool though to be all insane and stuff like that lady. . . and, by the way, I’m not stalking your blog. . . since we both have WordPress, your replies show up in my notifications, and then I have to make the decision to either be all super cool and not reply back cuz you’ll think I”m a weirdo, or blab on and on like we’re best buds and prove it, and make all your real friends all worried and stuff. . . I guess I chose the latter. . . what’s the etiquette on that kind of stuff?

  15. Congrats on starting the new job, Christie; you’ll settle down and be awesome. I’m more fearful than I used to be, too (and I haven’t watched the news in years) because life is more valuable than it used to be. It sure was fun to be fearless at twenty, but I had nothing to lose (except some excellent mix tapes, of course).

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