I have been asked if I have any phobias – yes, I most certainly do. Some are normal – fear of heights, fear of bugs, typical things like that. But I have some others that truly affect my life, some of which I believe stem from the abuse in my childhood. I used to say that my biggest fear in life was ending up alone. I have lost so many people in my life the past few years that, other than my husband and my step-son (we’ll soon see about my own son), I am pretty much alone now. The thing is, it doesn’t really bother me. It took me a while but I realized that I would rather be alone or semi-alone with real, true people than have lots of hurtful and totally fake people in my life.
As defined online: “A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational.”
I guess I have one big phobia currently in my life – I have a phobia/fear of people and social situations. There is actually a term for this – social anorexia. With food anorexia, you deprive yourself of food; with social anorexia, you deprive yourself of outside connections and relationships, you avoid it because it makes you feel uncomfortable.
For me, it started in middle school and I have struggled with it ever since. I used to think it would get better as I aged, but no – it got worse! Social situations, especially with people I don’t know, scare the hell out of me. The anxiety sets in, I start to sweat, my heart races, I hyperventilate, my mind wanders all over the place – it’s truly a terrible feeling. I avoid people if I can, even while walking my dog I will take a slightly different course if I see my neighbors outside just because I don’t want to talk. I was in a subway once in Toronto, Canada that was packed and I was standing with my husband, holding onto a center pole. Strangers’ bodies were up against mine and I found I couldn’t breathe. I was claustrophobic, people claustrophobic – I had to look down and close my eyes, reminding myself to breathe and that it would be over soon. In school, if I had to speak in front of the class, my body and my voice would be shake uncontrollably. I also will avoid eye contact if I can.
I am terribly phobic of people getting too close to me or touching me, even if it’s just a friendly jester. I will pull away or back away. I figure this aspect is from the abuse of my childhood. I didn’t have control back then but now I do and I do NOT want people to touch me. Obviously my family is okay but not coworkers, acquaintances or strangers. And please, oh please, don’t stand so close to me! Don’t invade my private little circle of space I like to have around me.
I know my fear of being touched comes from abuse. I think the social phobia comes from my need to not be seen and I guess that comes from the abuse as well. If they don’t see me, don’t talk to me, then they can’t think I am nothing; they can’t dismiss me; they can’t hurt me. It’s quite sad really because when I am around people I know and am comfortable with, I am the life of the party.
Other phobias I have – I am afraid of water, especially if I can’t see through it, like lakes and oceans. I can’t have my face or head under water at all. Even in the shower, I can’t let the water run over my face. I don’t understand this fear but I have read that it can be an affect of childhood sexual abuse. I have a phobia of the unknown – not having information and not knowing what’s going to happen with something sends me into an anxious panic. I think it’s that feeling of no control, and not having control is the worst thing I can experience.
Phobias are such odd things. I think some are normal and we all experience them to a certain extent, but others I truly believe stem from some kind of upset in childhood, whether it be abuse, neglect or outside influences among many other things. It’s a defense mechanism, a type of self-preservation, stemming from some emotion and/or fear deep inside our minds. When I am aware it is happening to me, I tell myself to “just breathe” and try to stay strong by reasoning out my irrational fears in my mind. It’s difficult to do though, especially if it’s been ingrained in you since childhood.
These are my technical phobias:
Altophobia- Fear of heights.
Anthropophobia- Fear of people or society.
Arachnophobia- Fear of spiders.
Atychiphobia- Fear of failure.
Catagelophobia- Fear of being ridiculed.
Claustrophobia- Fear of confined spaces
Cynophobia- Fear of dogs (a dog bit me once)
Entomophobia- Fear of insects
Haphephobia – Fear of being touched
Mysophobia- Fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs
Ochlophobia- Fear of crowds or mobs
Pnigophobia – Fear of choking of being smothered
Scopophobia – Fear of being seen or stared at
What are yours?