What’s There to Be Afraid of?

Coulrophobia, Veloxrotaphobia and Aquaphobia have been three of my greatest fears! Only one, I’ve successfully overcome.  And ironically, all of these aversions began in childhood. That happy, care-free, no-stress time of life when the sun seemed to shine on us, despite the actual weather, every single moment of each and every day.

I like to think I was like most kids then.  I enjoyed things like parades, amusement parks and picnics at the lake.  Turns out that my phobias actually arose from those events!

Marching band in 4th of July parade in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Every summer our town had a 4th of July parade. Marveling at the marching bands, the extravagant floats and the veterans in vintage cars tossing candy to us kids sitting on the curb, I was spellbound. I couldn’t take my eyes off the visions in front of me…that was until I had an encounter with a clown!  Despite their colorful attire, wigs and huge footwear, it was their white-painted faces that threw me for a loop. Does anyone really think they look funny…or even friendly? When a clown got too close once and held onto my arm just a little too long, while smiling right at me…I swore them off forever.  

From my journal: January 3, 2016 Newbury Park, California

“The application has a question asking what I am afraid of…  should I write clowns?  They still scare me….”

Next was the trauma I experienced at Riverside Park in nearby Agawam. A trip to this amusement park meant hours of trying to pop balloons with darts, rolling skee balls up an inclined lane landing them in rings and knocking down bottles with bean bags all to earn tickets to redeem for souvenirs. There were also the rides…the Whip, the ferris wheel and the steely beast named the Wildcat! Perhaps I wouldn’t have become fearful of roller coasters had that not been the last ride I went on, my first time there.  The mixture of popcorn, cotton candy, peanuts, and the fever pitch excitement leading up to boarding the Wildcat – was just too much for my stomach to bear. Luckily it wasn’t until I was on the ground that I got sick. As short-lived as it was, that event has had long lasting effects.

The Magnum at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio

From my journal:  July 10, 1986 Redondo Beach, California

“Had fun in Ohio visiting Rita, Leonard and Marcus…went to Cedar Point in Sandusky.  They rode the Magnum…I felt queasy just watching them line up…”

Onota Lake in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Now my fear of water – specifically being out of my depth in it, can be linked to Onota Lake. It was the backdrop of many family get togethers every summer when I was a kid. There we swam, ate soggy sandwiches and devoured treats from an ice cream truck that happened by. It was always an easy day out and the only rule we had to follow was the You-Need-To-Wait-30 Minutes after eating to go back into the water.  Maybe I jumped in a little too soon, or I was overly confident in the new strokes I learned at the Girl’s Club…but whatever caused me to panic way out in the water and feel like my lungs would burst before reaching the shore, really shook me up.  From then on, I never ventured out into water over my head. 

From my journal: October 18, 1993 Rolling Hills Estates, CA

“We’re starting scuba diving lessons on October 30th! Something I’ve always been afraid of …going deep in water…but maybe now’s the time to push myself and do it…”

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