Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Facing Fears

I'm working very, very hard in therapy right now on trust and trying to get over being eternally afraid of everything. This is harder than I can explain. Just working on it requires a level of trust that is beyond anything I've ever done. It requires a lot of either talking about hypothethical situations and what is a reasonable reaction versus what is my fear based reaction, then talking through why, and it also involves a lot of discussing scenarios where I've trusted or struggled to trust people.

It also seems to be making me talk about a lot of things I'm really afraid of. Some are things I've always known, some of things that I know I shouldn't be so afraid of even though I have good reasons, and the worst are fears that I have and know I have, but which I don't know the exact reason. This means I'm facing memories that either I've been ignoring for a long time, since I learned that it's ok to acknowledge some of the things I've experienced but then move on without them being so big, and some are things I know I'm terrified of and I have some reason, but I am also left with a pretty strong suspicion that I don't remember something that happened to me that was a very big deal. Last week mid-discussion I remembered why something upsets me. Makes perfect sense now. Today we talked about something I never exactly realized was a fear I have out of proportion. I knew I was afraid, but not that I was excessively afraid. Or I never wanted to bother analyzing it. The thing about this is that I remember things that are reasons for fear. However, listening to myself talk about it I knew that what I was saying was only part of it. My reasons were too logical, too adult, to be the full reason for the fear. And I was raised in a culture where this particular fear would be unusual due to cultural exposure. (I don't know why I'm talking around this. Well, I do know why; publicly admitting that this is something that I'm fairly sure I had a scary experience with as a child means giving you a somewhat better idea of how horrible my childhood was. I am terrified of guns. Not in the normal sense, the commonsense way, in the way that it was very difficult for me to be near the policeman who helped me get into my locked house the other night, because he had a gun.)

I had a really, really hard time last winter when I had my car accident because the officer had me sit in his car to take the statement and do the paperwork and so I was in a tiny space with a strange MAN with a GUN. I'm unreasonably afraid and have been for a very long time; I remember actually what I know now was my very first panic attack. And it was caused by being near a gun being fired. It wasn't done unsafely (other than the person with the gun was far too unstable to own guns), I was just supposed to be watching target practice and I believe I was going to learn to fire the pistol that day. Instead I completely panicked, long before I'd touched the thing.

And now I'm wondering why. I hate the knowledge that I don't remember something traumatic. Partly I hate it because it means that memory can sneak up on me, and partly because I hate the mystery. It's my life, I just want to remember it. I also fear the memories I don't have, because since I do have good recall of many truly horrible things I've lived through, the ones I don't can sometimes be really bad. This one carries the logic as well of if something happened that caused this kind of fear it was probably really, really bad. I listened to myself talk and there very clearly is something missing in my story. I know Dr. Mind seemed to suspect the same thing I do, that at some point I saw someone threaten someone with a gun. I suspect that I even know what gun, because I know that there was one gun I was much more afraid of than others, and I am definitely more afraid of handguns than other guns. (Hence the terror of cops).

The thing is, trying to remember will never work. And yet it's kind of hard not to wonder, now that I've started. I was rather surprised in fact by my intense lack of curiosity about this one. I don't think I've ever talked about this with anyone, simply because I've made it a non-issue. Except that a disportionate fear is not a non-issue when it stops me from being ok in normal situations. Which it does; even knowing that Dr. Mind owns a gun, something that isn't really a surprise, bothers me to some extent.

So now I just go on for the next week, trying to relax enough that this memory might come out. Kind of hoping it waits until I'm with Dr. Mind. Sometimes these memories I've forgotten can be a bit intense. In college I had some literature course that had required attendance at movies once a week. We were tested on the movies so it was important to know what happened. I was in the middle of one that I actually found boring when suddenly I was hit by a panic attack that caused me to run out of the movie and all the way to the opposite side of campus to my dorm room. It was really unpleasant because I had to admit to the professor that I couldn't watch it at that time and give some explanation, then I had to deal with the memories, then eventually I had to watch the stupid movie so I could pass. And as it turned out I could have skipped it; there were minimal questions about it on the test. I was pretty frustrated that the professor couldn't just tell me that I could easily pass without the trauma. I have no idea what upset me now, but I sure know what I remembered.

For now hopefully I can sleep. Tomorrow is a very big day.

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