Friday, November 7, 2014

Being Afraid

My first memory of being afraid was when I was locked in a basement room at my friend, Jocelyn's, house. I was young - probably five. We were playing in her rec room. I remember it as a big room, with low ceilings. It wasn't dark. Her brother locked us in for what seemed like a long, long time. I wasn't so much afraid of being locked in the room, but I was afraid of getting home late. My mother's curfews were strict. Home by five, or else! Her face would get all distorted when she was angry. It was frightening. And yet I knew I couldn't tell her why I was so late. Somehow getting locked in a room was my fault, something to be ashamed of. I don't remember where my friend's mom was. Maybe her brother was babysitting us. I just don't remember.

In the house in Victoria I was afraid of having to go into the cold cupboard in the basement where the potatoes (and often the roller skate keys), were kept.

In the house in Vancouver I remember being afraid of the basement stairs which were open at the back (who knew what could reach through and grab my legs?), especially after reading the Exorcist (what was I thinking?) and I remember needing to jump from the bottom step to the doorway of my bedroom (not sure what that was suppose to keep me safe from). To this day, I don't like going into basements in anybody's house. (After 32 years, my basement is usually ok. Usually.)

Getting lost on the Chesterman Beach cliffs, in the dark. Without a flashlight. Now THAT was scary. My border collie got me out of that mess. Thank God for the white tip at the end of her tail that I followed to safety.

Fear of parental anger was likely my biggest fear as a child. My Mom's anger, and my Dad's were sudden, huge, and ugly. It is little wonder I do almost anything to avoid conflict as an adult.

Fear - babysitting in the park-house across the street with a gang outside. I called my Mom, and the police. The police said they wouldn't come unless someone breached the door of the house. My mother came over with a baseball bat.
Problem solved.

She stayed with me until the parents came home. Her anger proved invaluable that night. (She didn't actually use the baseball bat, but the threat of it scattered the gang).

And then, of course, the ubiquitous monsters in the bedroom closet and under the bed.

And the upstairs bathroom. That was such a weird place.

Any early memories of being afraid you want to share?

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