Why Bother About Thinking About F.E.A.R.?
The scariest fairy tale my dad ever read to me was Three Billy Goats Gruff. The troll that lived under the bridge and threatened to eat the goats as they crossed over to the other side was as ugly as he was scary. Yet, when my dad finished reading the story and closed the book, that was the end of the frightening troll. I didn’t have to worry about him since I knew he did not have a life off the pages of the storybook.
But I did become frightened by the boogeyman. When I was eight or nine years-old, I heard him under my bed one night. I’d turned off my bedroom light and hopped into bed snuggling down into the warm, soft blankets. Then I heard a soft scratching noise coming from under my bed. I listened more closely wondering if it were a mouse. Deciding to investigate, I got out of bed and tiptoed my way toward the light switch. Flooding the room with light, I peered under my bed. My little brother let out a loud noise and I let out a scream.
“Gotch ya,” he said as he wiggled his way out from under my bed.
“I’m telling,” I yelled at his back where globs of dust clung to his shirt.
“So. I still scared you,” he said as he left my bedroom in victory and me in tears.
Now that he knew he could easily scare me, he took full advantage of my fear. Coming home from school one day, I opened the hall closet to hang up my coat and he jumped out from the undercover of the heavy coats. Again, he walked away in triumph, leaving me in tears and wet pants.
For a while, I hated my little brother. His antics imprinted upon me suspicion, and mistrust along with apprehension. I was on high alert and wariness settled inside of me for a long time. Whenever I went into my bedroom at night, my new ritual was to get down on my knees and check under my bed for the “boogeyman.” If I opened a closet door, I’d quickly push aside the coats expecting to see somebody.
Even after growing up and moving into my own home, I’d check under beds and push aside coats in closets to make sure there were no boogeymen in my house. I carried on like this until my college days. Then, while in a psychology class I came across an article about fear that changed me. The thing that stuck with me from what I read was the acronym for fear; false events appearing real. This was easy for me to remember and eventually I convinced myself that boogeymen really did not hide out under furniture or in closets waiting all day long for me to come home in order to scare me.
Though the boogeymen man days are far behind me, I can still scare myself with the storylines I easily weave from two simple little words, “what if.” These little narratives can be just as terrifying as anticipating someone hiding under my bed or in my closet. But remembering that my fears are just false events appearing real, helps me to close the book on the storylines I tell myself. After all, fear does not have a life outside the narrative we give it.
Why bother thinking about F.E.A.R.? It is worth taking a look at what causes us fright so that we don’t get mortified looking for what’s not even there.