Fear is a really powerful thing. Parents use it to keep us from breaking rules when we're little. Marketers use it to convince us to give them our money. Politicians use it to, well, pretty much the same thing.
One of the most powerful pieces of introspection for me was sitting down to really think about what, in my life, I truly fear.
I don't mean the "little" fears I have, like heights under ten feet or spiders - both mild and something I can overcome if I push myself. I don't even mean my claustrophobia, which I deal with on a daily basis in elevators and crowded subways (thank the gods for deep breathing!). I don't even really mean the completely irrational (and totally paralyzing) fear of sharks I got from watching "Jaws" way too young.
I mean deep, dark fears. The kinds of things I don't even like to admit to myself, let alone really pull out and examine and think about. The fears that pull the strings when I act weird, when I react without thinking, when I retreat to a place of instinct and self-defense. These are the fears that were built into my psyche before I was old enough to take a hand in it myself. Needless to say, they're not the comfy kind of fears I laugh about much. (Although I'm kinda jokey in general, so I probably make some cracks anyway.)
I have the usual deep, dark fears of a child of divorce and a victim of sexual abuse....fear of intimacy, fear of commitment, fear of dependence, yada yada yada. This is textbook stuff and not terribly interesting to me. Maybe also because I've made my peace with my issues in relationship and have spent many years working on vulnerability and trust and blah blah blah. So, yeah, I'm not saying I have a handle on this crap, exactly, but I'm working on it and am comfy with where I am in that regard.
My big fear is deeper and darker. I'm scared I might be fucking crazy.
I know, right? I'm a little wild and a little loud and a little, ahem, eccentric...but I'm talking about batshit need-to-be-medicated kind of crazy. My biggest fear is that someday I will lose my fucking marbles, and this fear is something I think about. A lot. See, my mom was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic when she was 35 (following in the footsteps of her dad, who was insititutionalized with the same condition). So I pretty much spend every year wondering if this is the year I lose it. I'm down to five years before I'll finally feel like I have "officially" dodged the bullet.
Is it likely that I'm schizo? No. My mom started showing signs when she was in high school, and honestly, it's miraculous that she managed to keep her symptoms hidden so well for so long. I'll always have doubts about myself, but I think it's pretty unlikely that I'm hiding any more than the regular old run-of-the-mill crazy of someone as far outside the "norm" as I am.
I fear this for a lot of reasons, despite its lack of likelihood. Firstly, of all the challenges I've had to deal with in my life, this one takes the cake. My relationship with my mother is irrevocably complicated by the fact of her condition. Between the symptoms of schizophrenia itself, and the side effects of the medications she takes to keep it under relative control so she can avoid her father's fate and live some semblance of a normal life, the woman I remember from when I was very little, before she was diagnosed....isn't really there anymore, and probably never will be. Anyone who's taken serious psych meds can tell you that there can be tremendous cognitive prices to be paid when strivign for chemical balance in the brain...and I can attest that it's true. While my mom certainly is still smart and creative....there's something she had once upon a time, that isn't really there anymore.
And, in case it doesn't show, not only do I take a lot of pride in my brain and my creativity, but those two aspects of my life are deeply interwoven into my concept of self. I'm not sure I'd want to trade intelligence and creativity for sanity, if I had to make that call....and I certainly don't think I'm some kind of John Nash figure, who can logic my way through the crazy. (Not to mention that, despite the way that blasted fucking movie makes it look like a fucking cakewalk, dealing with psychosis is NOT THAT FUCKING EASY.)
So, yeah, the thought of losing that scares the hell out of me.
I also have this fear because, well, not to put too fine a point on it, I'm kinda out there anyway. I read palms and Tarot cards and believe in intuition and astrology and all kinds of woo woo bullshit. I read a lot of SF&F, and my spiritual practice involves a personal relationship with a Norse goddess (that I sometimes rationalize, and sometimes buy whole hog). I'm walking a fucking line here already...and how much of a leap is it from there to some of the more outlandish stuff I've seen my mom pull under the influence of a psychotic break? Too fucking close for comfort, I'll tell you that much for free.
Some of the scariest moments of my entire life have happened while dealing with my mom's schizophrenia. It's not a coincidence that my biggest fears are tied up in there, too. There are other things that define who I am and how I move in the world, but this fear, this is the thing that I jerk away from, the thing that keeps me up at night sometimes, the thing that makes me distrust my instincts. And, with two generations in the lineage already, it's also one of the reasons I'm not keen to procreate. Passing this fear on would be a much harsher legacy than a fat ass or crooked teeth, and I would have to have some serious changes in my priorities before I would even consider it.
I'm going to stop rambling now. Happy Friday, y'all.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.