October Fear

 

I like to be scared.

I enjoy scary movies. Even if I am spending an evening alone in this big old house, I will still be willing to watch a scary movie. I will regret it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it.

I love a good ghost story. Ever since my slumber party tween years, they have been a favorite. I find the stories of the unknown fascinating. It never ceases to amaze me the ways in which our brains interpret these mysteries; as if we are somehow equipped to understand the very parts of our brain that remains unknown to us. 

I think fear itself is something worth pondering. Why do some people like to be scared, and others do not? Just how many different categories of fear are there? They must overlap for some people. I don’t like all types of fear; only the kind that makes me curious, but seems just unrealistic enough that I still feel relatively safe.

All other fear is unpleasant. A funny looking mole, your child choking for a moment on popcorn, the threat of losing your job….the fear of death. I could see that last one being an overlap for some, and maybe even a reason to hate scary movies. Who needs reminders? The future is another great fear in life, filled with the most unknowns of all. Maybe hope keeps us balanced in the face of fear.

Kind of like a scary movie plot.

What I don’t like about this type of “safe” fear, though, is how I can’t control it. I would like it way better if I could. Sometimes a creepy feeling will remain in spite of my brain finding no reason at all in it. It has, on occasion, made a fool out of me. Because fear, in all forms, can be quite irrational.

 

From the age of eight to fourteen, my bedroom faced our back yard and driveway. When the lights went off at night, the only thing I could see was our shed through the window. Its doors were stuck in a way that they could never slide together all the way shut, and above the doors was a single light illuminating that black opening.

I hated that shed.

It just looked creepy. And, something about the way that it was the only thing I could see made me feel as if it could see me, too. It didn’t make sense, but that didn’t matter. I knew I could not make eye contact with it in any way, and I had no idea what would happen if I did. Oh, nothing would happen (I knew that), but it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t look at it.

The fear didn’t go away just because I ended up in a different bedroom, or got older. When I started driving, I had to park my car in front of that shed! That was my actual parking spot. And sometimes I got home after dark. I ran like mad to get in that house. Why? Doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t make sense anyway.

Years later I would discover that both of my sisters were afraid of the shed, too. All my time in that bedroom was spent sleeping next to one or both of them, and we never once talked about it.

In our adult years, we created our own version of MTV’s Fear by making Dave sit alone in the shed after dark. It was thrilling for all of us, and Dave made a little cash. It also gave him some nostalgia for his younger days, when he and his friends would sneak into his local haunted state hospital (pictured at top). Along with his late night journeys into cemeteries, I would call this typical fear-chasing for boys.

My parents moved away from that house several years ago. For Christmas one year my younger sister gave me a framed photo of the shed. Best gift ever. Now imagine it at night, with only that opening in the doors illuminating from the darkness….I am telling you, it becomes a place where people are murdered.

I’m not really sure if Teghan experiences any fear like this. I know other children at this age have a lot of questions and concerns about life — fear of loss and death start to creep in for the first time. Teghan isn’t there yet. She is definitely afraid of the nail clippers, but that’s not the same kind of fear. She is only afraid of the nail clippers when she sees them, and she knows exactly what she’s in for when she does (unless I’m just messing with her).

Scary movies would be a bad idea for her- and not just because of her age. It would all be too literal. A movie about ghosts would mean that ghosts were definitely in our house and out to get us. When the time comes that she can grasp that concept, I don’t want to have to explain it. But Teghan does like to be surprised, which is quite different. By surprised, I mean sneak up on her and make her jump. She loves it.

Teghan craves sensory input, and I am glad. I always hear stories of kids with sensory overload having meltdowns from sounds, lighting, clothing, crowds, etc. I am thankful that Teghan does not suffer this way. She is just looking for more of it. She loves a loud noise. She prefers watching TV in complete darkness, or tries to hide under a blanket with my computer for the contrast. She will wear anything we put on her (although she will not wear clothes to bed). And she thinks it is hilarious when we scare the hell out of her.

So, if I like scary movies….do I crave some kind of additional input for that part of my brain, while others feel overloaded by it? Maybe. Maybe that part of my brain houses other things, too. I have a need to sort out the unknown; to think about mysteries and confront how I feel about not knowing something. I like being in that place even when it frustrates me. I even stay in that place when I don’t feel comfortable, because I need to find a way to feel good there. I am pretty sure my most irrational fears live there.

I don’t think everyone feels this way. Not everyone needs to know, or even wants to know what they can’t. Not everyone requires more knowledge about the things they are afraid of. The answer for some is to not think about those things at all. And there is no right or wrong. We are all different in basic ways, but we are all different in the most complicated of ways, as well.

So, anyway….I like to be scared.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

4 thoughts on “October Fear

  1. Thank you. I really like ‘gentle murders’ (Poirot, Miss Marple) for the same reason. Brief ear at moments of tension, but unrealistic enough (usually set in a murderous but idyllic 1950s) for those moments to be brief. Also, they don’t usually baffle me with scientific evidence. Scary movies are often rather too realistic and modern for me to sleep peacefully afterwards.

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