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Monday, June 16, 2008

Fear is a foolish game.

This Terrified Me.I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

People fear the strangest things. Almost all of them start in our own minds as silly little assumptions that because something bad happened in a similar situation once, yet we ignore the thousands of times where something good or boring happened instead.

For instance, I might have already explained that I used to have a pretty phobic response to finding mice in my living space. I can identify when it started - when we lived in Dalston in a shared house, we found out that we had mice and were all a bit grossed out, then one morning I went down and saw a dead mouse in the kitchen, yelped in surprise and my housemate laughed at me. A very natural and normal response, but it put in a silly feedback loop in my head that meant I got scared of being scared of mice, which then just meant that when there were mice at the Tragic Little Flat, I couldn't go home for days after finding one jumping out of the bin about a foot from my face in bed.

It took a while to unpick it (Jonotron's hypnotherapy helped a lot) and mice still make me jump, even though I realise it's a silly response that actually stems from a love of animals and the distress I felt at seeing one dead. Seeing mice indoors usually means you then have to kill them and I don't like the idea of killing things when it's not for food (or fun).

So, my fear was a sensible thought that I was inappropriately responding to. It seems like we all get a lot of that, being scared to talk to strangers in case they don't like or understand us, being sure that if someone hasn't replied to a text then they can't be interested in you. That kind of thing. I guess it's sensible for us to fear being lonely or injured, but over the last few weeks, I've been able to examine my fears again. I'd been ignoring the problems with my hands because of a fear of not seeming good enough at interpreting, which wasn't even a job I wanted to carry on with. The tension I felt from wanting to move on was probably why I held my body in a particular way while interpreting, so it became an inevitability that my hands would fail me. Perhaps because I wanted them to. Since then, I've had times when I've assumed I'd be reviled and ridiculed when I cancelled work, that people would get annoyed with me for not being able to open doors and jars. I was sure Jonathan would leave me because I can't bring money into the household and I was certain I'd never find work again.

Goes to illustrate a lot of the prejudices I have internalised, doesn't it, when none of these things have happened. I made a decision last week to stop acting like I was some kind of useless waste of space because I suddenly have a new set of circumstances to contend with. I've had help from Jonotron and Robin to fill out a DLA application. I've no idea if I'll get it, but it would open out all kinds of Access to Work possibilities for me, which then got me thinking that really, if an employer looked down on me as a candidate because of my RSI then either I could sue them or just be very glad I didn't end up working for a place full of cunts.

I've been scared of being a freak; I've been terrified of being ordinary and fallible. It's interesting doing exactly what the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy queens at the Bene Gesserit recommend. Letting that fear wash over you and through you and watching the path it takes as it passes through your mind and by tracking its progress, you allow it to have a pathway out of your mind.

Sure, it's easy to do when you've got the time to stop and think and some of the paths I'm watching my fears pass through are taking me through some dark chains of vortices in the timeline of my life, but already, I'm starting to feel a little less locked up by my past simply by being able to have the ability to talk through with someone why you might feel a particular fear at a particular moment because of the thrumming echoes of the past.

The mouse on the kitchen floor. The dead man's cold hand on the pavement in Leeds.

I'm not hoping for apotheosis to come from seeing a well-spoken clinical psychologist in an unimaginatively-decorated room in a Chelsea hospital, but just like the way that the gentle stretches I'm doing for my arms will help to untangle the jolted nerves along my neck, arm and hands, so I'm hoping that putting my thinking into uncomfortably stretching positions, I'll be able to clear some of those kinks. A life whose biography is bound in a cicatrix of disaster is also one bound in soft vellum.

We are the coterie of zombies; the dead who live on.

I must not fear.

1 comment:

Tom D said...

An absolutely fantastic post Howard. It inspires me to re-tackle my own irrational responses.

Hope your troubles clear up soon, and that you find yourself in a happier position by the time it's all resolved. This too shall pass!