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I discarded my bubble wrap

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Others fear lizards, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies; or they fear the dark, or heights or water.

There are some things that should just be left unsaid or unwritten. I mean I was perfectly fine with the concept of death, until I read a two-sentence horror story recently.

It went: “I can’t move, breathe, speak or hear and it’s so dark all the time. If I knew it would be this lonely, I would have been cremated instead.”

Now I have a death-phobia!

Of course phobias can be irrational, that’s why they’re phobias; ask Austin Powers; the only thing he fears besides nuclear war is, apparently, (and I quote) “Carnies. Circus folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.”

Most people would be able to talk sense into Austin. “Come on man ‘carnies’? Seriously? Don’t be so foolish!” But I doubt that the International Man of Mystery would take that advice to heart; after all, we don’t know what contributed to his fear.

I almost became terrified of my cellphone a few years back.

Yes, I admit, I had been reading another of those creepy two-sentence stories, when I came across another chiller. It simply read: “There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.”

And then what about a friend of mine who is afraid of her own reflection, after she read the terrifying one-liner: “I just saw my reflection blink.” Since then, she says, she doesn’t make eye-contact with herself in the mirror.

Excuse me for being such a fear monger today, but someone even tried to scare me off one of my favourite things ever.

They sent me this tale of terror via WhatsApp: “They delivered the mannequins in bubble wrap. From the main room I begin to hear popping.”

How could they make me throw away my beloved bubble wrap?

I often think of my friends. Several of them have daughters. Beautiful princesses, the apples of their daddy’s eye. Knowing my friends, there is nothing they will not do to protect and provide for their girls. But what if they were to read a story that would make them uneasy?

“My daughter won’t stop crying and screaming in the middle of the night. I visit her grave and ask her to stop, but it doesn’t help.”

Who fears their own gentle mother? Maybe this will help

“You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the passage you hear a whisper from the closet saying ‘Don’t go there honey, I heard it too’.”

The point that I am trying to make, while scaring my own socks off writing this, is that fears come in a personalised variety of forms, tailor-made for individuals.

It’s not healthy for them to be afraid; but it’s even less healthy for them to be TOLD that their fears are unfounded, and that they are just being silly.

A trained therapist may be able to, in time, get them through their fears. But a rebuke, lack of empathy or a disregard for someone’s personal challenges will – in my opinion anyway – not lessen the fear.

I once had a friend (I haven’t seen her in almost 10 years) who is a confident, independent self-starter. But she had a fear of snakes.

Even a picture of a snake in a book, or a film clip of the slimy reptile would set her quivering, or even screaming.

Her friends would amuse themselves by sending her pictures or video clips of snakes.

“Friends”?

Another dear friend of mine hates spiders her circumstances are the same. People think it’s funny to make her jump. Others fear lizards, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies; or they fear the dark, or heights or water.

The point I am making is that with all these things to fear, isn’t it perhaps time for those fearless souls to consider that maybe their job is not to criticise or minimise the phobias of their friends, but to support and help, to protect them from the things that go “bump” in their minds.