Thursday, November 19, 2009

irrational fears of foxes and ladders

In fourth grade, my teacher shared with the class that as a young girl, she had been terrified that a fox dwelled under her bed and lurked there in the dark, waiting to snap its teeth at her toes when she got into bed. She was, of course, telling us this to highlight the irrationality of this fear. But my 10-year-old mind couldn't shake the possibility that this was true, and so for the next year or so, I took a grand flying leap into bed every night.

Around that time, I was also terrified of mirrors in the dark. My friends loved to go in the bathroom, turn off the lights, and chant creepy songs in front of the mirror. I became convinced that Bloody Mary (and no, I wasn’t aware of the grimy history of King Henry VIII. I thought we were talking about Jesus’ mommy. No wonder I was disturbed) lived inside and was about to murder us or suck our souls out or something. This fear transferred to mirrors in my home, and at night, I would dart past the one in the hallway and cover up my bedroom mirror with a t-shirt before going to bed.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because a new irrational fear has been dominating my thoughts. My current sleeping situation involves a 9-foot high loft bed. Every night since August, I’ve climbed up the sturdy wooden ladder to go to sleep. And I’ve been just fine. But recently, I re-watched a YouTube video that I saw last fall…

Suddenly, I’ve become terrified that as I’m climbing up the ladder, my feet will slip between the wooden rungs, I’ll fall backwards, and my leg will snap in the middle of my shin. I almost think I’m worse off with this fear. It makes me nervous as I climb up the ladder, and my feet feel even closer to slipping off.

Sometimes irrationality is relative. Sometimes it’s absolute. Maybe my fourth grade teacher had legitimate reason to believe a fox was waiting under her bed to gnash at her toes. I probably did not. I could be wrong here, but I’d say it’s irrational for everyone to believe that evil spirits live inside of mirrors. Thankfully, my fear of the fox died out a while ago; although to be honest, I still hate mirrors at night. Additionally, I’m afraid of seagulls and spiders, and I hate driving over bridges. Like we decided at CTG a few weeks ago, every girl is afraid of “the man with a gun”…and I can’t even think about the expanse of the ocean without shuddering.

Unfortunately, the ladder thing might be kinda rational. I could break my leg as I cimb up to bed…there’s not a lot I can do about this fear. I think I’ll just be reaaaally happy when I don’t have to sleep 9 feet off the ground anymore.

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