Everyone has fears, some make sense – like being afraid of deadly creatures, or being up high in case you fall. Others can be a bit irrational like Spiders, where they’re so tiny they can’t possibly hurt you and yet one a cm big can empty a room of people.
I have really bizarre fears though, ones that are almost impossible and which simply don’t happen.
I’ve mentioned in the past that one of my biggest fears as a grown up was going to bed one night, and waking up as a kid again.
Finding out that everything I’ve done since the age of 7 has been a dream.
For me, 7 is an age where I feel I could feasibly wake up and remember enough of what had happened in my ‘dream life’ for it to have an impact on me.
When I was 7 and 8 there were deaths in my family that shook us all deeply.
I imagine being 7 and waking up from a dream that felt like it had lasted 25 years, I would assume nothing of it at first, but within the first few months of 1993 the first major event of my life wold occur.
I ponder then what I’d do. Its the early 90s and I am in year 4 at school. Out of the blue my aunt got sick, and within a few days she had died.
It was a mad time, and made very little sense to me. I imagine trying to explain that kind of thing to my kids now and it doesn’t seem possible.
There was nothing that could be done about it at the time, so even seeing it coming would be futile.
In my ‘fear’ world I’d be shook further by knowing this is exactly what had happened in my dream.
I’d feel guilty for not being able to come up with a solution and I’d feel sick with worry knowing what was coming up.
A year on, my cousin died. The day after his birthday.
It doesn’t take the worlds best psychologists to understand why my ‘fear’ of the ‘dream life’ is a thing because obviously a year on from my aunt dying, I’d be more likely to react to memory prompts and try to prevent my cousin’s death.
As an adult I look back on that and think its a horrific catch 22. I’d have to stop it from happening, no question at all. But how would that affect my entire life from that point onwards?
Would it be possible to avert that disaster and maintain the timeline since then? What would happen to my own kids, would anything I do from then on be the same?
Its definitely something I find myself pondering from time to time, around anniversaries and stuff.
I decided (almost to just eliminate the question) that ultimately I don’t think anyone would believe me no matter what I’d do. It isn’t like I could convince all the adults in my family to do something that’d change the events.
I’d literally need to run away, and somehow be on the other side of my home town without getting caught and even then I don’t know enough about the events to really make a difference. So I think it’d have to happen purely because I’d be powerless to stop it.
Before then, and for most of the time afterwards to be fair, I was always a serious cry baby at school. I couldn’t control my emotions at all, it was my biggest weakness, and it always has been, although as an adult you learn to bury them.
I don’t know whether it was because I just relied on my two older cousins to be tough on my behalf (they definitely helped me out by decking a few bullies over the years) – By the time this occurred though I think I’d just become a bit of a weird kid who was oblivious to his flaws.
I was less of a sissy but still wasn’t tough or anything. I think we all got a bit of a pass for that year due to how much it affected our entire school losing a pupil like that, a year after losing his mum (who also worked at the school as a dinner lady) it was a rough few years all round!
I remember in year 5/6 convincing myself the school was cursed. I think the events had darkened me a little, I became a bit of a wise ass.
There was a time towards the end of school where we received news that our head master had died from an illness. By this point I think if I’d tried to do anything to save my aunt and cousin, I’d probably be in a mental institute, as no sane 7-9 year old goes around trying to avert the deaths of others.
If some how I was able to convince people to act, I don’t think there was anything that could be done here. He had an illness, I don’t remember what – probably cancer?
I do remember being an awful kid by this point. The first morning back after the headmaster had died, we were watching a local school do their sports day during our lunch break and some of the boys were making jokes about the students.
Their teacher shouted over ‘If you boys don’t behave, I’ll be having words with your headmaster!’ to which I replied ‘Good luck, E’s DEAD!’ to a round of boisterous laughter.
I hated primary school, unsurprisingly, probably because the last few years were abject misery. Getting laughs out of dark jokes and stupidity was something that seemed to do well for me, and pretty much shaped me for the rest of my life.
Back on the ‘fear’ story – I think that by the time I got to secondary school I would have figured out where life was following the same path. Like most people I’d want to try end eliminate the embarrassing parts, but again it seems like I’d have to maintain a similar life line because ultimately I want to reach the life I have now.
I think that’s a positive fear, not wanting to mess things up and take a different path that prevents me from meeting my wife and having my kids.
I’d worry that remembering all my life lessons and acting on them would make me more confident in standing up for myself or talking to girls, and anything along that way might direct me away from being the dweeb I’ve always been.
I think I’d find it impossible not to obsess over whether my wife’s home town existed, and whether going there would ruin our future lives. I’d want to know her and I think I’d get frustrated having to spend the ages of 7-20 not knowing her, when I’m fully aware that I’ll spend age 20 and beyond living with her.
I was telling a friend about the night I met her. If I’d known in advance it was going to happen I think I’d have wrecked it.
I was meant to meet a friend in Blackpool for a Buffy convention we’d got tickets to. I was into a whole scene of getting drunk at conventions, meeting the actors and actresses, and geeking out with mates. My friend said he couldn’t make it on the Friday, he told me last minute which was a great help as I was already in Blackpool waiting for him.
Bored I went to the bar and got talking to a friend of mine who introduced me to her friends from school, and their friend from uni – Claire, ‘who hates men’.
I remember thinking ‘Well I’ll steer clear of you then!’ – if I’d known what was to come, I would’ve found it impossible not to ham things up and I may have ruined it.
At this stage in my life I’d actually swore off women for a bit as I’d spent 6 months in a ‘relationship’ with a genuine psychopath who after 3 weeks of being together and deciding it wasn’t right for me, told me she had terminal stomach cancer and essentially forced me into an impossible situation where I felt compelled to not break things off.
Everyone I knew was convinced she was lying, and I was snookered because I had no proof. I was furious with my mum for doubting her, but she knew best – having lived through 18 months of cancer herself right before I met this mentalist.
When I broke that off I was preparing to go to uni to train to be a nurse. So I kinda thought I’d just focus on that, and hope for the best. A course with 300+ women on it, I was sure things would work out…
A week before I started though, I was at this convention, I offered Claire and her friends a drink, and we talked for ages about whatever.
I don’t even remember why, how, or what happened – but for some reason Claire added herself to my phone as ‘The Lovely Claire’. I look at that moment now and it is so out of character it is mind blowing.
She told me to text her, then told me to go and annoy someone else, I was gutted!
I think in the ‘reliving my life’ scenario I’d have ruined this by being cocky or joking that she wont be saying that in a few weeks.
In real time I slinked away to my room all sad that I’d misread the situation.
The next day I stayed clear of her for the bulk of the day, but when we next spoke she was extremely apologetic, and after a good 12+ hours of fawning over her we finally managed a kiss.
I think if that had happened to me today I’d have tried to talk to her sooner and would’ve again messed things up. Forunately, my insecure personality won the day. We spoke briefly by text afterwards but not much. Eventually, fearing I wouldn’t see her again, I sent her a long message essentially saying:
“Would you like to come and visit me at my university next week? It’s ok if you don’t want to, I completely understand if you don’t, and I just wanted to ask because it’d be good to see you again, but don’t feel like you have to say yes because it is pretty far and I just wanted to ask in the off chance you could. If you’d rather say no don’t worry about it, sorry, thanks bye…”
That isn’t word for word what was said – but it was that pathetic and it assumed her answer would be no at every point throughout.
I remember sending it and then reading it back and thinking “What have I done?!” – Opportunity annihilated.
I remember going out that night as it was freshers week. A girl tried to kiss me whilst telling me how much she missed her boyfriend who was 200 miles away. I declined, explaining I was kind of in the midst of something, but wasn’t sure what was happening, that I’d probably ruined it anyway.
It turns out Claire found the text hugely endearing. She visited me, and I was delighted!
Then someone asked if she was my girlfriend and we awkwardly said yes. Again, I felt pretty good. When she went home, she text me saying we shouldn’t have said yes, that it was too far and she was a wary of getting into something like that after the year she’d had etc. She was happy we’d met, but sad it couldn’t work.
I was surprisingly bold and said that the distance didn’t phase me, there was no pressure, and I was happy to travel as often as I could if it meant we could see how things went. I didn’t expect her to react positively, but after the wet text from before, I decided to roll the dice.
I look at that decision 12 years on and it is insane to think its the same 2 people. We have 3 kids, a house, 2 cars and 2 good jobs.
I see the good and the bad of my life and I think to myself there’s absolutely no way I could be precise enough to remove the bad without accidentally killing the good. I don’t think the worlds greatest surgeons could operate under those circumstances.
There are so many little parts that make insane differences throughout the years. I hate some of the stories. People say they’d do anything to change a certain event in their lives and for the most part we all mean it. That said, I feel like having my wife and kids has built a firm line in my head where I’m fixed in place.
I’d go mad trying to retrace the footsteps that brought me to this moment. I’d go mad trying to change it too.
I never want to relive my life! It happened, I’m here, and that’s great.
What are your irrational fears? Leave it in the comments.