Today was, among many other things, Staff Development. Twenty-five of us crammed into a room for a few hours of bonding. The first game we played was a very heavy game, and it sent me into spiral of thinking, which is never good for me. I don’t know what it is called, but here is what it is:
The group gets into a circle. The first person to start has a spool of yarn and they wrap the beginning piece of the yarn around their writ a few times to form a sort of bracelet. And then they answer one of three questions: Your biggest accomplishment, your biggest fear, or your biggest secret. When the first person is done, they toss the ball of yarn to someone else who then goes, creating a spider web. The object is to both get to know your peers better and to visually symbolize that we all have common fears or secrets or accomplishments, but they are also very different and unique, which connects us all.
I always get caught up in my own strife because that is all I see. It was so difficult to watch my friends divulge their biggest fear and secret. I hurt for every single one of them. I felt their pain, I felt the darkness closing in on them while they were trying to sputter out words in between sobs. I felt the darkness inside of them come out of their mouth and fill the air, making it thick. I felt their thoughts and their words clashing in their brain and being shoved down my throat. It was the most raw and beautiful thing I have ever been apart of.
As I was hearing everyone else’s fears and secrets (because almost no one chose an accomplishment, that is hard to do) I was thinking of my own, slowly coming to the realization that I have more fears than I ever intended on having. So I have decided to list them out, so they can stop swirling around in my head like a hurricane and so I can visually see them and come to terms with it.
- I am afraid of not having words. I think this is my biggest fear of all, which is why I put it at number one. My soul is comprised of words, I am sure of it. There have been many nights where I have had terrible nightmares of myself not being able to communicate. Either I am conscious in a coma, my lips are sewn shut, or I feel so much pain that I choke on my words as they try to abandon me. This is why I love to write, and this is why I love musicals. Anytime I am upset, words leave me and I become terrified that they will never come back. When I am upset I sing, and I feel the tension in my throat leave me with the words and melody. I am afraid that my soul will want to scream something out, but it has to agonizingly stay there until I just give up. When I am upset, I can feel the tightness in my throat of emotions and words that want to spill out, and I am afraid they will get stuck there. I suppose that is why I really want to master American Sign Language, so that if I do lose my voice I still have my hands. But even then I don’t find that a sufficient substitute. It isn’t just about the words, it is the tone and inflection, the way it moves up and down. Just by changing your pitch, you can sound angry or soothing . I don’t ever want to lose that.
- I am afraid of losing my mother. I wrote about a nightmare I had a while back where my mother died, and it was the first time I woke up crying. Over the past year or so I have leaned heavily on my mom for comfort and support. We are so similar, and she knows exactly what is in my mind. I remember that back in high school I swore to myself I would never speak to my mother again, and here I am calling her almost every day. Now I can’t imagine living without her. Anytime this fear comes up, I picture myself struggling with some thought or emotion and picking up my phone to call her, but she isn’t there, and she won’t be there ever again. This fear leads me to my third and fourth fear.
- I am afraid of the people I love dying. This is a fear that probably everyone has. I have never had anyone close to me pass away, so I haven’t experienced it yet. I suppose I am mostly afraid of losing myself after I lose someone else. Like if I lose my mom, no matter which way I think about it, I don’t visualize myself recovering. I see all of these people around me who have lost someone and who have kept going, and I don’t understand how. How can they learn to re-navigate the world when someone is missing from it, someone who is supposed to be there? I feel like a piece of me will go with them when a loved one dies, it may be a big piece or a small piece. I will chisel away until I am nothing.
- I am afraid of losing myself. When both my grandmother and my mother were in college, they lost themselves for a little while. They had to drop out and commit themselves into a hospital because they let the darkness suffocate them. I always see the darkness on the horizon, taunting me and reminding me of its presence. Anytime I get upset or angry or panicky, the darkness knocks on my window and it takes everything in me to keep the window shut. Today during Staff Development, the darkness was knocking. All of my fears and words and other people’s pain were crowding my head, and I wanted to cup my ears and scream and cry and never get up. I held it together that time, but what if the next time I don’t?
- I am afraid that no matter how much I love something, I will fail at it. I have just recently failed my second Anatomy and Physiology test. Finding this out sent me into another self-doubt spiral. If two people are tied for entrance into a grad program, A&P is the class they look at to break that tie. I love speech pathology with all of my heart and I know exactly what I want to do with me life (sort of), but no matter how much I love this profession, that won’t translate into better A&P test scores. And if I’m not good at something that I love, where do I go from there? If I can’t better myself at something I love, what do I do? I have been struggling a lot with this question lately, and I will let you know when I have the answer.
- I am afraid of being a bad big sister. A few posts ago I wrote about my failing relationship with my 17-year-old sister. I am terrified of losing her, and I will always put the blame on myself if that happens. I am just trying to be a good big sister, but hell if I know how. After the 17-year old there is the 13-year-old brother, and after the brother is the 10-year-old sister. I’m not at home anymore. I have to be a good big sister from far away, and I think that is even more difficult than being with them everyday. It is up to me to keep in contact with them, and it is up to me to be a role model. That is absolutely terrifying, and I don’t want to mess it up.
- I am afraid of having children. I think I would make a good mom, but I am terrified of having kids, which is why I never will. I don’t want them to inherit my mental instability. I don’t want them to constantly have to struggle through life like I watch so many others do. I want everything to come naturally to them, and if it doesn’t I want them to work at it until it does. I want my kids to be understood and pretty and accomplished. I want them to come to me for anything and everything. I want them to be everything I am not. I don’t want to be jealous of them either. Bottom line is there are too many things that can go wrong with having kids, and if something does I’m afraid I will never forgive myself for it.
- I am afraid of my parents growing old with heavy regret. I know that a person will always have regrets as they age, no matter how hard they try to avoid them. For some reason I have this constant fear knocking on my brain that my parents will die feeling like failures. To me, that is the most awful thing a person can feel, especially when there is nothing you can do about it. I don’t see my parents as failures at all – I see them as survivors. And they are damn good at surviving, and I am proud of that. But what if they still feel like failures no matter how many times I tell them they aren’t? If I can do nothing to change that feeling, then I have failed. I think back to all of the times I have bitched at my mom about something I wanted or complained to my dad about his poor social skills. They are doing the best they can, and that is all I can ask of them. That doesn’t make them failures in the least bit, not in my eyes. I wish they could see it that way.
- I am afraid of staying pessimistic about relationships. I realize that most everyone is petrified by the idea of a long term relationship. But, it has gotten to the point where every relationship that I come across, I only see how it is going to end. With my friends, with my family… I can’t be happy for them. I [think] I know what lies ahead for them, and I am already bracing myself for the impact and aftermath. It is weird to think that just last year I so blissfully ignored the end of a relationship, always thinking that it was perpetual. I jumped into every relationship blinded by gleeful conception of it. Now I can only picture the end, and that doesn’t feel good at all.
I think that is enough fears for now. If feels wonderful to lay them all out in an organized manner. It also gets them out of my head. Now I know they are there, they are untangled, and I can begin to work through them. In the Staff Development game, everyone said their fear and then said what they were working on to overcome that fear. I have never tried to conquer my fears, only understand them. But now the conquering starts, and I will not be held down.