What If?

I have an over-active imagination.

I think part of the reason is probably because I’ve been reading Stephen King religiously since I was about thirteen years old.  Surely that type of constant exposure to the macabre does something to your brain. 


But if I’m going to be honest, I’ve always sort of had different phobia issues.  Here are a few things that I am afraid of:

  • Spiders
  • The dark
  • Flying (in airplanes–if I had wings, I’d be fine with it.)
  • Spiders
  • Bugs in general (but spiders in particular)
  • Grizzly bears
  • Clowns (see above)
  • Tight spaces
  • Oh, and did I mention spiders? And the dark?

But other than those obvious, concrete phobias, I have a lot of other (not so) concrete things that trouble me.  My mind is constantly chewing over possible disaster scenarios.  For example, if I am expecting my husband to be home at a certain time, and that time passes and he hasn’t called, my mind starts whispering little suggestions, first very quietly (maybe something happened), then just a little more insistent as time goes by (maybe he had a wreck), then I start to get more and more nervous, wondering why on earth he hasn’t called yet (maybe he ran completely over the hill and no one will see him) until things really begin to deteriorate (OH MY GOD I NEED TO LEAVE NOW AND GO SEE WHERE HE IS) then he pulls in, all of, say, ten minutes after the time I expected him. 

I don’t know why my brain does this.  You cannot even imagine the torture I went through when it was time to send my daughter to school.  You cannot imagine.  To be fair to myself, my daughter doesn’t talk–not at all–so I have no way of knowing what happens to her when she is away from me.  If someone hits her or pinches her or says mean things to her, I don’t know.  I won’t even tell you the nightmare scenarios that play on a continuous loop in what passes for my brain.  She is ten years old, and I still feel this way.  If someone from her school calls for any reason, as soon as I see that number on the caller ID, I snatch that phone up and just imagine what the voice is going to say.  “Hello, this is the principal.  I’m calling to let you know that your daughter just erupted in boils, and her nose is bleeding.  Oh, and her arm fell off.”  Something along those lines. 

The whole “what-if” thing really applies to everything.  The other day, I had to run a very quick errand very early in the morning, and The Grandmother wanted me to leave my sister in bed until I got back.  I started to–really, I did.  Then as I got ready to leave, the voice started.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happened.  I got her up.  There was definitely some eye-rolling from The Grandmother, but I couldn’t help it.  All I could think was, what if the house catches on fire?  She’d just have to lay there in the bed while the house burned down.  Everyone else can operate her wheelchair, but no one else can get her up out of the bed.  She’s too heavy, and The Grandparents aren’t able anymore.  My son certainly isn’t.  I guess they could do some sort of Three-Stooges routine and drag her out of the bed or something, but then of course I imagined all of them stuck in there trying to get her out of the bed while the house burned like an inferno.

You can see why I’m more than just a little neurotic.

So what do you do?  If anyone teases me about these tendencies, I always tend to get a little snippy and say things like,  “Well, would it be better if I didn’t care at all?” But that’s just a defensive response.  They are probably right.  I am driving myself crazy.  But I don’t think I can change at this late date.  I could stop reading Stephen King…..or not.

I guess I’ll just take my chances with the dark (not the spiders, though.)



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4 Comments on "What If?"

  1. Rachel
    02/11/2011 at 9:59 pm Permalink

    I suffer from a similar neurosis. I laughed out loud when I read how you fear the worst when seeing the school’s number on the call display. I go through the same thing, my mind immediately jumping to worst case scenarios.

    I actually think these fears are more widespread than anyone dares to admit. In my case no matter how valid my fears are I am accused being overly “dramatic”. It’s very annoying, especially since many of the things I worry about end up coming true.

    …although I think you might be right – it’s might be the Stephen King Effect.

  2. Janice
    03/11/2011 at 7:29 am Permalink

    Hmmm…The Stephen King Effect–that sounds like the name of a medical paper, or maybe even some kind of book, which of course I would probably read. Also, it could be a new term for a medical condition. You should get the rights on that immediately!

  3. Jo
    03/11/2011 at 3:29 pm Permalink

    I’m just like you when it comes to stuff like this. Oh and spiders? Forget about it. I actually had a nightmare just last night about spiders, for real. They were everywhere and I was killing them with wadded-up paper towels and it was just awful. Spiders are my #1 creepy crawly gross-out fear. They really do scare me. 🙁


  4. Janice
    03/11/2011 at 5:12 pm Permalink

    If they ever find me wrecked over the mountain somewhere with no apparent cause, I GUARANTEE you it will be because I was trying to kill a spider while driving. YUCK!

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