I have three fears in my life.
First, I am scared of many insects, but spiders especially. Tiny or giant – they all scare me. I try not to let it show when I encounter one, but I will admit to screaming like a little girl when I come upon one in the bathroom.
Second, I don’t ever want to be in prison. I know I would be bad at jail. Because of this fear, I forced myself to watch Scared Straight. (It didn’t work.) I think this fear makes me the rule-follower I am.
Third, I have always been scared that I would never know what love is really all about. I have always been a voracious consumer of pop culture in all forms. So, from a very young age, I have been assailed by countless messages of what love is…and none of them ever resonated with me. Straight love scenes in movies? Nothing. Love songs? Feh. Romantic comedies? Mostly annoying. (You know who you are, Meg Ryan.) In the face of messages about love that made no sense to me, I decided that meant I was not someone who would ever feel that kind of love.
I made choices in my life based on that idea. My serious college boyfriend ended up being a 15 year relationship. I am sure people saw us as a model of loving stability. In fact, I settled for mere companionship, since I didn’t really think there was more to it.
Here’s how I dealt with my fears:
At age 40, I met a man who made me realize that I could feel love. Within moments of meeting him, I knew that all those songs and movies were real…and none of them came close to describing how I felt. I always thought the phrase “You complete me” was hackneyed pap. Now it is the closest approximation of how I feel towards him. Hallmark cards make perfect sense to me now. We were married last year (during the five minutes when it was legal) and I have never been as happy as I am now.
My fear of spiders? My husband removes them for me now.
As for prison? Well, I am still scared of prison. I am the most law-abiding citizen I know, so I realize this fear is irrational. However, if anyone ever makes an all male romantic comedy set in a prison, I’ll be hooked.