Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I fear the wind

When I was in high school my family got cable for the first time, and to our delight as children, the Disney Channel.  One of the first things we watched was this weird movie about these aliens who lost their home planet and had to come live on earth.  On their old planet they were bubbles, and so they had some problems adjusting to human life.  Like the wind, for example.  Turns out wind is a scary thing if you're a bubble, but not such a big deal for a human.  Since that time, my family has often used a phrase for the movie, "I fear the wind!", to denote some ridiculous fear that one of us might be having.  Here is one such fear.

I fear people.  Actually, I'm sure most people have this fear to some degree.  We all more or less fear rejection from others, I'm sure.  But I think I sometimes express this fear in ridiculous ways.  For example, I hate cooking or cleaning in front of people.  For whatever reason, I always feel people will judge me and think I'm doing things wrong, and therefore inferior.  One time on my mission my companion and I were home for lunch, and she was cooking something up.  I knew that she wanted help, but I had such a great fear of helping that I sat at my desk, watching her do all the work, knowing the whole time she was getting angrier and angrier that I wasn't doing anything, yet being absolutely paralyzed with fear and unable to get up and help.  I have no idea where I developed this fear, I cooked and cleaned a ton at home with no problems.

This fear has also been more prevalent or less prevalent in certain apartments I've lived in with certain roommates.  Like I don't really remember this problem with my BDA peeps in Provo.  I remember having an extreme aversion to taking out the trash (my least favorite chore, for whatever reason), and therefore making my brother take out the trash every time he visited me.  Luckily he was over quite often, so there was rarely a problem.  In fact, it became such a habit that even my roommates knew that if my brother was coming over soon, they'd wait to take out the trash until he did it.  He may have even been on our little chore chart.  But other than that I don't remember being afraid of my roommates for anything.  But that hasn't always been the case in living situations.

I think a large part of this fear stems from my fear of conflict.  Conflict paralyzes me.  Another time on my mission, with a different companion, a couple we were teaching all of the sudden got into a huge argument.  My immediate, almost unconscious reflex-like reaction to situations like that is to ignore the people in conflict and pretend there is something else much more important going on.  In that particular situation I played with the little 4 year old in the room, and completely left my companion to stop the arguing couple by herself, much to her annoyance I'm sure.

In living situations in the 6 years since the mission, I've been chastised for arranging a fruit platter wrong when volunteering to help set up a roommate's party; I've been angrily accused over and over again of making messes that absolutely weren't mine; I've been yelled at for messes that I did make and didn't clean properly, but didn't realize it was such a big deal or just hadn't had the time to get back to yet.  I've probably gotten worse since brain damage, since I forget things more easily and become much more easily distracted by other things.  I think whenever someone  lashes out in anger like that, they expect to see visible results right away.  But due to my fear of conflict, I wait until there's no one around to see me clean, and then I'll fix the problem (even the ones that aren't mine that I get accused of making).  And if the person never leaves the kitchen, I never clean the mess because I'm scared of being around people when there's a chance of conflict, which of course just makes them more angry.  It's a brutal cycle, most of which stems from illogical fears on my part, but alas.   What can I do?  I fear the wind.

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