Saint Bernards, Dolls, and Flu Shots
Since Halloween is around the corner, it seems appropriate to examine what morphs me into a cold-sweaty, teeth-chattering fraidy cat.
I watched Cujo at a slumber party in third grade, and to this day I am terrified of saint bernards and the idea of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. (Not kidding. There’s a case of water in the back of my car at all times.)
Knowing my complete lack of affinity for horror movies, I avoid them as a rule. With my vivid imagination and wicked situational memory, I just can’t seem to unsee those things to a degree I find uncomfortable. A college friend talked me into seeing The Conjuring when it came out a few years ago, and now old dolls seriously freak me out. I attended the memorial service of a person who collected antique dolls not long after, and the combination of casket and creepy antique dolls just about sent me over the edge.
This morning, I took my high-school aged daughter to the doctor for a routine check-up. She’s not a fan of shots, but since the flu mist is no more, she found herself facing a good old fashioned flu vaccination complete with needle. I watched this confident young lady melt into a terrified little girl.
(Nurse enters with tray of flu shot paraphernalia.)
Daughter: This isn’t going to hurt, right?
Nurse: Look the other way and relax your arm, sweetie.
Daughter: (crying actual tears) HOW DO YOU DO THIS TO PEOPLE?
Nurse (gives shot)
Daughter: Wait…. That’s it?
Some fears are irrational. Some fears are life-saving responses to our environment. Some fears keep us from moving on.
On the slim chance I actually find myself face to face with a saint bernard, I wonder how many seconds it’ll take him to roll over and want me to scratch his belly. If I run into a creepy old one-eyed doll, she’s unlikely to turn me into Linda Blair. But what if I let my guard down with someone? What if I start letting someone I really care for get a more complete picture of my life, Cujos and creepy dolls and all?
My daughter nailed it: This isn’t going to hurt, right?
The most effective thing about fear is the ominous lie it whispers into the quiet, open spaces of uncertainty. Uncertainty doesn’t pick a team. The unknown places in my life aren’t yet written; they’re neither good nor bad because I haven’t lived them yet. Relationships supply us great opportunities to bring something rich and worthy into the world that wasn’t there before. In my logical head, I know this. Nearly all the time, I’m completely OK with it. And I’m getting better at walking through the less certain times because I took a risk and decided to let someone get close-ish to me. Real me. I’m not about to let fears conjured from the Ghosts of Relationships Past push me around in the present.
What if it hurts?
But what if it doesn’t? :)
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