Work and life have taken a hold of me this past week or so and I’ve sadly neglected Scintilla 2013, but carving out time for writing was a much needed priority this week.
Prompt: Fears come in different sized packages. Tell the story of a time you had a face a fear, big or small.
I would never describe myself as brave or courageous. I’m a practical, logical thinker who doesn’t take big risks or go too much outside my comfort zone. But one of my fears– of haunted houses- was something that was easy to avoid for many years.
My fear of these silly seasonal amusements started somewhere when I was young and my parents would take my brother & I to these ghoulish places- cornfields, converted warehouses, hayrides- as a way to celebrate the season of Halloween. I never liked it and remember on more than one occasion as a child having a full out, crying panic attack before entering a haunted house that would almost certainly end with my mother sitting with me at the entrance while the rest of the family and friends went through. One year, my mom and a close family friend, Sharon, tricked me while walking through a haunted house- Sharon was walking behind me with her hands on my shoulders while I held my mother’s hand in front of me. As we turned a corner, Sharon’s hands came off for a minute and then went back on quickly….except it was not Sharon and it was a random masked guy who Sharon let scare the heebeejeebies out of me. Traumatized for life is more like it.
During the high school and college years, I was peer pressured on more than one occasion into joining a group of friends at haunted houses on weekend nights. Nothing like crying like a 5 year old in front of a bunch of teenagers to make you realize that it’s much better to stay home than have a panic attack and virtual nervous breakdown in front of your friends.
So for years I avoided haunted houses like the plague, but when I was dating my ex husband I was somehow talked into going into this big haunted cornfield/maze/barn/ my personal version of hell with him and his sister and her boyfriend. I spent the ride there with my stomach tied in knots and generally freaking out. But then, when we arrived, my boyfriend’s sister started getting even more nervous and scared than I was. And because the two boys thought it was funny that we were freaking out, something switched in me. I took charge. I wanted her to know it was going to be OK- that no one would touch or hurt us in the thing. I told her I would hold her hand the whole time. And I told her to laugh instead of scream and that we would make it through it together.
And it totally worked– for the first time ever, I made it through an entire haunted experience without freaking out or crying. Of course I screamed a few times and jumped when walking through everything, but I didn’t have a panic attack or end the night shaking like a leaf. It was a real moment of facing a fear head on and realizing it was all in my head.
Of course, that was the last time I’ve been at a haunted house.