Fear of Fears

Fear of Fears

Other than a couple of crisis periods in my life, I was never one to go running to a shrink.  But this time, I was convinced there was something wrong with me.  Anxiety?  Social Phobia?  Post partum depression?

I was never afraid of anything, and now, all of a sudden, I seemed to fear everything.  Driving at night; getting lost in bad neighborhoods; not being able to walk long distances; even going on a roller coaster.  So fearing my fears, I ran off to a shrink.

“I need some medication,” I told her.  “I keep turning down invitations because I’m afraid of everything.  I made excuses to get out of going to a wedding because I was afraid I’d get lost driving there.  I turned down meeting friends at a football game because I was afraid my back would give out doing the long walk from the parking lot.  I don’t use my symphony tickets because I’m afraid to drive home from the city at night.  What’s the matter with me, Doc?  I was never afraid of anything.  Now I’m a trembling bowl of Jell-O!”

So like shrinks do—because they can charge you more if they draw it out instead of just telling you the cold, hard facts right away—she asked some pointed, embarrassing questions.

“How’s your vision at night?”

“How does your back feel when you have to walk long distances?”

“What happens to you when you ride a roller coaster?”

Fear of Fears – The Reality of Growing Older So when I filled her in, she lowered her voice to a whisper as if she were telling a dirty joke she didn’t want others to hear, and said “Age.”  Yes, that dirty word we knock ourselves out not to own up to.  She explained the difference between irrational fears and simply being prudent about growing old.

If you get dizzy and lightheaded and lose your balance after you ride a roller coaster, maybe it’s time to give up the roller coaster.  If your cataracts are getting worse and your night vision is bad and you can’t read the signs, maybe it’s not the time to be driving in new places after dark.  At least not until you have the surgery.  And if you have a bad back and bad knee that can be downright painful, maybe walking long distances at stadiums isn’t much fun.  Consider applying for a handicapped sticker.

Maybe I try too hard to be the new 40 at 60.  Too much stress!  I’m all for staying young and vital and living life to the fullest, but maybe a dose of reality and acceptance is in order here.  Aging is a part of life and for me, and separating my fear of fears from the practical choices of growing older was my challenge all along.


By Rosy Prose

Earlier blogs from Rosy Prose’s column, The View From Here, are available on ACT TWO.


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