Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fear Factor

I am still working my way through the reader submitted questions resulting from my November 27 post. Today's question comes from Kianwi of Simply She Goes. Kianwi asked,
I would like to know what you are afraid of, big and small. Also, have you conquered any fears in your life?
I really didn't have to think about this one. I know exactly what my biggest fear is.

In a recent post, I addressed my views on death and explained that I am not afraid of dying. However, my biggest fear is related to this topic. Actual death is of no concern to me, but the process involved to get there I find very scary.

I mentioned in that previous post that I obviously would not want to experience a painful or prolonged death. That would not be fun and I am sure would be quite miserable, but the specific thing I am scared of is death by old age.

Get outta my yard!!!
I am not scared of aging. I look forward to getting gray hair. I think it makes a man look distinguished. I am not disturbed when I find a new wrinkle in my face. I am old enough that I can start to feel my body break down and I joke about it. I have many good years ahead of me and I fully believe I will be an awesome old man. However, one day my body will be spent. That is what I am scared of.

I am terrified at the idea of spending the last few years of my life stuck in a bed hooked up to machines keeping me alive. I fear slowly withering away in a nursing home. I am scared that I will not be able to communicate my thoughts to my loved ones or caretakers. The idea of existing and not being healthy enough to do anything is the scariest thing I can imagine, especially if my mind has gone. I pray that I will have at least enough presence of mind to be able to refuse treatments that will just prolong the inevitable. Once I have reached that point, I will be ready to go.

I watched my grandmother slowly degenerate as her mind slipped further and further away. She was miserable and even expressed that until she was no longer able to communicate intelligibly, but she held on for several years. I remember the huge sense of relief I felt when she finally passed away. It was difficult to lose her. I loved my grandmother, but it was finally over for her.

I do not want to experience that. At least, not for a prolonged period of time. My children have been instructed that when the time comes that it is known there will be no recovery to let me go. They are not to authorize treatments that will just prolong my time in a bed. Hopefully, when my time comes, it just happens. Heart attack, car accident, alien invasion, something that will just end it.

That is my big fear. My smaller ones are harder to identify. I am not scared of physical things (except a praying mantis). I cannot point to something and say that I am scared of that. I am not scared of public speaking, snakes, heights, water, clowns, spiders, midgets or anything else I can think of. I'm just not a fearful person. I travel into parts of cities I have been told to stay away from. I can walk down dark alleys despite the obvious dangers. I just don't fear much.

I am not trying to suggest that I am fearless and just don't get scared. If a bear came after me in the woods, I would be terrified. However, that does not mean I am scared of bears. It is just recognition that I am in danger. When I got mugged in San Juan, I was scared, but it didn't keep me in the house the next night or even off that same street.

As for fears I have conquered, they are mostly social. I was an awkward nerd in high school and was scared of things like girls, crowds, jocks, girls, being spoken to, people my age, people older than me, girls, etc.

I just didn't interact well with other people, mostly because I owned the labels (nerd, dweeb, geek, loser) that I had picked up years earlier. I allowed it to define me and became more comfortable in the shadows, especially at school where they understood my place as well as I did. My senior year I began to come out of my shell a bit and soon realized that some people might actually like me if I took the effort to show them who I was. I also learned that if someone didn't like me, that was OK. Fast forward to today when I have fully embraced this philosophy and just don't care what anyone thinks and there are even more who don't like me.

Fortunately, most* people seem to like me so it works out.
Most means most (not all). Because of how wonderful and perfect Red seems to think I am, I have trouble convincing her that there are some people out there that do not like me.

14 comments:

  1. My great grandmother is currently going through the same thing your grandmother did (well it sounds like it from the information you gave). I never really knew her and I still don't, but it's horrible to hear about it from my grandmother. That's something that really terrifies me too. When its my time, I don't want to know and I don't want to suffer (which I think I would, by knowing). Just get it done and over with. But of course, that doesn't mean I want to die either.

    Unlike you, I have a lot of things I can point at that scare me. Storms, spiders, clowns, the movie The Unborn and that thing in it, living dolls...

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    1. It sucks to watch it happen and not be able to do anything about it. I actually love storms and will go outside to play in it. Especially the bad one. They fascinate me.

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  2. I tried to explain to a 24 year old that I gave up trying to cool a long time ago. It's much easier just being me. He didn't get it.

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    1. Way too much time is wasted trying to be what other people think is cool. It's a lot easier to be happy when you just quit.

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  3. I had a great-aunt who had lost her mind and general sense of the present to Alzheimer's; she lived to the ripe old age of 94, long after she stopped recognizing relatives and associating common facts. What's worse is that this woman was a very mentally-acute back in the day, so to her mind degenerate to that state was disheartening.

    Apart from death, I think that's what I'm scared of: forgetting everything and everyone.

    -Barb

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    1. It's scary. I can't imagine what it would be like to be lost in your own mind.

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  4. Well I did like you BEFORE you implanted that picture of the arachnid in the bathroom. And right before I need to go and use it!!!!

    Growing old never use to scare me, until an elderly friend started to suffer from Alzheimer's. It's so frightening to watch her gradual deterioration, especially as she has no idea that it's happening to her. Now I see it happening to my mum at the relatively young age of 63 and it terrifies me.

    Apart from spiders, my worse fear is something horrible happening to my little man...ooh, who has just gone into the toilet. I can't hear screaming, so I'm assuming it's safe to enter.

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    1. As Grandma started to slip, she was very aware of it. It frustrated her and she would get mad when she couldn't remember things.

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  5. I don't have a lot of fears in general, either. I really don't like centepedes, but I'm not really afraid of bugs. I am easily terrified in scary movies, but I like it, so I don't think that counts. I guess I do get nervous when I'm driving on icy roads, and even more fearful if someone else is driving. If I believed in past lives, I would think that I must have died in a winter crash.

    I love the fear you conquered! I would say I have a similar attitude now. I couldn't really care less what others think about me and how I live my life. I would rather focus on what makes me happy, because life is way too short.

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    1. You almost summed up one of my life mottos.

      You only get to live life once. You might as well enjoy it.

      That refers to attitude more than anything. People who are angry, bitter or scared are missing out on what could be a great life. Enjoy it. Be happy.

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  6. You ARE wonderful and perfect...for me, at least.

    You are logical enough that I'm sure it comes as no surprise that there are people who don't like me, too.

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    1. I try to always be perfect when I am in your presence.

      From a logical standpoint, I understand that not everyone will like you. From a personal standpoint, I want to get in their face and find out what their problem is.

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  7. Damn you for that toilet paper picture.

    But I like you for who you are!

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Leave a comment. C'MON!!! You're already here. Leave a comment. Don't leave me hanging and wondering if any has ever seen these words. I'll rub your feet.