Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I'm Not Lonely, Swear to God - I'm Just Alone

Not too long ago, I was at a conference with a large group of women.

Each one, bar none, was fascinating unto herself. They came from all walks of life - some were corporate dynamos, some were retired, some were self-employed.

As we went around the room, telling our stories and our reasons for attending this symposium, one of the women said, "I guess I'm here because I have F.O.E."

"Jesus", I said, talking out of turn (like what else is new?), "That sounds awful. Is is something like MS?"

She smiled. Her beautific, serene, smile.

"No", she said. "F.O.E. stands for 'Fear Of Everything' "

All the women surrounding me chuckled a little. Ha ha ha. So cute.

But I wasn't amongst the chucklers.

Because I got it - those three letters were like a punch in the gut. Now I had a label.

I have F.O.E., too.

This realization, which isn't exactly a revolutionary epiphany for me, has permutated over the last couple of days.

For somehow, a hot button's been pushed. I suddenly felt the urge to write a piece (that may never see the light of day) about a particular incident of abuse I experienced as a child.

Then I spent the weekend in the company of a classmate who:




Hell, he doesn't even own one.

I, on the other hand, watch a LOT of televsion. A lot.

Always have.

It's been my babysitter, my compadre, my friend, my rock.

I also tend to lose myself in movies and books and any other rabbit hole I can compulsively, obsessively burrow into.

Because it's safe.

It's sheer fantasy - I am well aware of that fact. But even if the story is horrible - I can close the book cover, press the exit button, leave the theater.

I am envious - ragingly so - with people (like my classmate) who really, truly, fully live their lives. Who forge out through that door, day after day, heart on sleeve, soul splayed open for the taking, ready to embrace or confront whatever crosses their path.

Because me? I can't. I just can't face the heartbreak, the sadness, the confrontation, the disappointment of it all. The less the investment, the safer.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not a complete agoraphobe. With a little effort, and a lot of procrastinating, I move about. I function. I manage in my controlled little world, with such a well-oiled veneer, Meryl Streep should be calling me for advice.

It's just the whole connection thing - connections are tricky things.

So, to those whom I love, to those in my circles, those in my solar system - I apologize. I hope that you know that I am always listening to you, I am always regarding you, I am always thinking of what I could do to make you happy. I care for you so deeply, it scares me. Showing you how much would not only freak the hell out of you, it would probably dessicate me.

I wish I could give you my all, all the time.

But I'm afraid I can't.


Anonymous said...

I am afraid of water, get extreme vertigo just climbing an extension ladder, have been known to go for months without setting foot in a grocery store because of the sense that people are watching me.

I climb mountains. I haul my kayak to the swimming pool and practice rolling it. For hours. I cried through chattering teeth the first time I ran whitewater in my kayak. Wet my pants, too. When I climb, I focus intensely on my system- my stuff has to be dialed in. Crampons laced on a certain way, always a red helmet. Always. All of my helmets are red. You see, I earned them.

Each time I venture out, take on a new challenge whether it be navigating the streets of San Francisco to walk four miles from my hotel to a climbing gym in order to go rock climbing- or whether it is glacier trekking for weeks in the heart of the Alaska Range… I am afraid. And each time I conquer that fear, rappel into a crevasse and ascend back out, kayak a class III section of whitewater, snorkel in the open ocean miles from the shore… I earn a red helmet.

Talking to strangers? Writing about my vulnerabilities? Red helmet.

The concept comes from a short clip from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour which highlighted an incredible feature titled (you guessed it) “The Red Helmet”. "...Overcome with fear, a young boy runs into the forest. He finds a magic red helmet and goes on the adventure of a lifetime. Slowly building courage, he is transformed and returns to confront his fears.”

Baroness, may you find the courage you seek. Perhaps it’s hiding inside a helmet near you…

PS. I took the TV out my house six years ago and never looked back. I don't miss it. Books on the other hand? I usually burn through five or six a week... don't nobody TOUCH the books! :)

Doc said...

Thanks. Now I know what to call mine. I've got F.O.E. too.


baronessvonb said...

Countess Ti: You are a role model for me. (Or maybe, I'll just live vicariously through all of your adventures. Because they sound seriously awesome...)

I truly love the red helmet symbolism - I just worry that I would feel compelled to wear mine all the time, thus drawing the attention I try so very hard to avoid...

Good Doctor: Maybe, one day, we can change it to "Friends of Evolution".

Or not.

"Friends of Eartha"? Too fey?
"Fear of Eggplants"? Too veggie-phobic?


Anonymous said...

Fiercely Overcoming Everything

(A little dominant,but the pendulum has to swing widely to bring us to center at last).

Grandma J said...

Boy, can I relate! I love the comfort of my home with it's tv and internet. It's like having a crowd or friends around without feeling threatened in any way.


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Oh, dear Baroness. Do I have some stories to share with you. For now, suffice to say that you are not alone, you are most definitely not alone.

baronessvonb said...

Countess Ti: Dominant, Sassy. Potato/Potah-toe. It is the truth - funny you should mention the whole pendulum thing - I've thought of that vision quite a bit lately.

Grandma J: Smooches right back at you!

Countess CBW: Let's say in July, we have a sleepover, braid each other's hair, and tell secrets? Sounds good to me.

Diane said...

Dearest Baroness,
We share this characteristic, I'm afraid... I'm often afraid. It is so much safer in my house, my office my yard... going out and putting things on the line is oh so risky. I'm so glad to have had the chance to travel with you. It makes the risks smaller and the joys so much greater.

baronessvonb said...

Countess AG: Ah, yes, risk. So enticing. So paralyzing. As for the travel thing, you are too too sweet. And it goes (almost) without saying that you turn risk into a highly entertaining adventure!

formerly fun said...

Years ago I wanted to take a ballet class, for fitness and maybe learning a smig of grace but I was paralyzed. I told my therapist about it and she asked me what I was afraid of. I'm afraid I'll walk in and everyone is going to look at me and wonder, what the hell is she doing here, and they will all be perfect and I won't be able to keep up for a long time and they will watch me and snicker and I will explode into a million little pieces on the spot.

She said, in her kind way, not to make you feel bad Chris but that is really conceited. No one's watching you, they are all to obsessed in what they are doing to barely notice you at all.

Rather than be aghast, I was deeply comforted in the idea that everyone was not in fact, watching me.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess FF: Well, I already know, from watching approx. 100 hours back to back of Criminal Minds that I'm a narcissist. I guess conceit is all rolled up into that. Funny you should mention the story about the ballet class - I just went to the gym yesterday and felt like everyone was watching me go through my loser-esque paces. I am still in the aghast phase. I'm hoping it will pass...

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