For the monthly ChicagoNow Blogapalooza bloggers are given a topic to write about at 9 PM and publish a related post at 10 PM. Tonight’s challenge was “Write about fear, or lack thereof, and the role it has played in any aspect of your life.”
Autonomy has been fairly constant in my life well before I knew what “autonomy” meant. My dad walked me only so far to 1st grade before I insisted on walking the rest of the way on my own. I would disappear around the corner an go that last short bit on my own, unescorted, unmonitored.
Around 2nd grade I started taking the city bus across town to acting classes after school. Once I accidentally got on an express bus and cried when it rushed by my stop, but mostly I was okay.
Later I was a latch-key kid. I wore my key tied around my neck, so I wouldn’t lose it. I would go home to an empty house.
In my career I now often find myself on a team of one. I gather information from others then I return to my desk and do the bulk of my work alone.
It suits me.
My greatest fear for a long time was the fear of losing control. The most scary extreme of this is a scenario like one in the book and movie of Johnny Got His Gun. To be honest I have never read the book or seen the movie. I don’t think I could handle it. I mostly know about Johnny Got His Gun from Metallica’s “One” video. The idea was scary enough to me.
Johnny Got His Gun is about an World War I soldier who, after being hit by an artillery shell loses his arms, legs, ears, eyes, mouth, and nose, but he is still conscious. He is not a vegetable. He is a thinking man trapped in his own body dependent on everyone else for everything, including the decision of whether he lives or dies. A terrifying concept.
No, I don’t live my life in constant fear of becoming a deaf, dumb, and blind quadruple amputee. (Is there a nicer word for not being able to speak than “dumb?” That seems very insensitive.) (UPDATE: Mute. Duh. I totally blanked on that last night.)
What this fear has meant is a sometimes debilitating aversion to asking for help, to letting people help me.
The practicality of motherhood is what finally changed that. I finally realized that I can’t do everything myself. I need my husband, my friends, and others to help with everything from doing the laundry (like I can hear my husband downstairs doing now) to watching my son while I give birth to my daughter to helping shovel not only our walk but our back patio when I was home with two kids while my husband was away after a death in the family.
Of course, with motherhood comes other fears, primarily the fear that my children will become sick or seriously hurt or die, plus the much pettier, omnipresent fear that my parenting choices will screw up their lives.
All that and ladders. I’m also afraid of ladders.
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You can read the other Blogapalooza posts here.
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