When I was about 3 years old, a bee flew into my shirt and stung me three times on the chest. We lived in Coventry and it happened in our backyard. I’ve had an insane fear ever since. Up until a few years ago, I would come close to panic attacks when bees (or anything that could sting me) would fly near me. Embarrassing? You bet. I remember being a freshman in college, spring semester and sitting in history class when a bee was flying around me and it took everything in my not to freak out. That changed me I think, because I’m somewhat better now. (Except when Neal and I went to the cider mill and there were bees EVERYWHERE. I was close to tears the entire time.)
At 5 years old, I was in a kayak that flipped over and I got stuck in it. Cue the fear of boats/water. The Titanic freaked me out. I couldn’t step on my grandmother’s boat when it was docked. I had nightmares about boats forever. The ocean terrified me. In middle school we were supposed to go on a kayaking trip and there was NO WAY I was ever going to go. Fate had other plans for me and I hurt my foot so bad I couldn’t walk for days. Got out of that field trip. I had to suck it up when we started going to Cuttyhunk for family trips during the summer, since we had to take the ferry. One year, it was stormy and oh gosh that was hard. Even to this day I can’t see pictures of boats sinking or anything similar. In The Wolf of Wall Street when they were on the yacht in the storm, I ran from the theater to use the bathroom (I did have to pee really bad, so it was the perfect excuse), but I couldn’t watch it. Spooksville to the max.
My recent big fear is much newer than these other fears that started in my early childhood. My fear of food and gaining weight. It started freshman year at RIC and it’s still something that I actively fight to this day. After losing a significant amount of weight, people telling you about how “skinny” you look is really difficult to process. I have grown a lot since the days I would keep track of every calorie that went in my mouth and all of the calories I burned with every mile I ran. I think about that summer and how I would eat less than 1000 calories a day. I think about sitting in Creative Writing, a year after the worst of it, wearing those very specific tiny-sized jeans. I think about 517 and how after gaining 10 pounds I was much happier and more confident, but still thought I was “fat.” How? Why? What’s wrong with me? It’s tough, but I’m getting through it.
It has taken me a long time to get over these fears. Sometimes they are temporarily erased by more personal problems and sometimes they come back in full force during anxiety. Maybe I’ll never get over them. Who knows.
But I am a strong, independent person, and I have learned that I can make it through.