Monday, June 16, 2014

The Sum of All Fears

THAT'S the movie starring Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan that I could not remember last time.  It is perhaps my favorite in a string of good movies based on the work of the late Tom Clancy.  I finally googled "Ben Affleck Jack Ryan" to get the name.  And when it came up I slapped myself upside the head and groaned.  Of course that's the name...duh.

I tell myself it's the stress of my life these days, but part of me says it's a consequence of my own age.  After all, my father will be 93 in a few months and I was no "late in life" baby...

I think the cause of my stress, nervous behavior, inexplicable anger/rage, forgetfulness, and inability to sleep are all linked together to one common cause...fear.

A wise friend gave me a good email talking-to recently.  She wrote that anger is often fear which we mask because anger is so much easier to handle.  Nobody wants to be a trembling vulnerable little rabbit when you can be a big, loud, scary predator frightening people away from you. "Stay back! I might fly into a rage! I just might bite!"

Eleven years ago my mom was bedfast for seven months while she was dying of colon cancer.  I watched her fade away literally until she weighed 75 pounds.  Until now, that was the most painful time in my life.  I loved my mother, but I was and am Daddy's girl. Besides my mom's last instruction to me was to take care of my father.

Now I watch my beloved father fade away daily. At times, he is confused, at times he rages usually at his most convenient target - me.  As unpleasant as that can be it doesn't make my stomach knot and my head ache as much as watching him lose his once quick wit, his acumen with language, his often cocky self-assurance, or as one of my teachers once said of him, the ability to be the "steel claw in a velvet glove."  He was once, literally, a captain of industry or at least a 1st lieutenant, of an internationally known corporation.  He was respected for his sharp mind, management style, and financial abilities.  Most of that is gone now.  He isn't totally confused.  He has good days and bad, but when they're bad it's hardest for me to take.

My friend in her email said she'd be terrified in my situation.  I have to hand it to her perception. I am terrified - not of being alone eventually, I can deal with that.  I'm terrified of watching him continue to fade.  That little girl inside me doesn't always recognize the stranger he's become.

Which brings me to my point, yeah I know I am notorious for taking the most circuitous route possible. 

Fear is the most powerful of all our negative emotions. 

Oh, a bit of healthy fear such as knowing you need to get out of a situation  in which you may be hurt is a good thing.  I wish more battered women would act on their fear and leave their batterers.

Fear of our differences is a major factor in going to war, has been throughout the ages.  From the Crusades to Pearl Harbor, from Gettysburg to today's situation in Iraq, fear is the most pervasive driving factor. It breeds distrust and hatred, huge misconceptions that divide the human race into "us and them."

As an old hippie, I wish we could all just "make love not war" but I don't see that happening, not while we let our fear control us beyond all reasonable thought.

So it took a good friend and the title of a movie from a few years ago to bring me to an epiphany. I'm hoping the self-awareness will help me deal with my current situation in a better way. I don't like having a hair trigger temper.  It's just not me. And it's nothing that can be cured by the assiduous application of dark chocolate...(well, I will keep trying that remedy for awhile - couldn't hurt.)

I will repeat my favorite quote from the late, great Bette Davis (and don't let me hear of you young people tweeting "who?" Google her if you have to.  She was quite a woman.)

Old Age Ain't No Place for Sissies.

Amen to that, Bette.  It's no picnic for us caregivers either...

Oh and to you fear mongers out there, you know who you are, cut it out!  We don't need anymore prejudice and distrust in this world.

Thanks for letting me paraphrase the old song, "it's my blog and I'll vent if I want to..."

True Blood alert!! The final season begins this Sunday...Farewell Bon Temps...


  1. Great blog, Sharon. Fear is debilitating as well as all that you've so eloquently outlined. And fear of the unknown is one of the worst. Just rearing kids should have taught us that - a child, even a young child can cope so much better when they get told the truth about things rather than lies meant to protect them, because they instinctively know things are not as they should be and being lied to leaves them fearing what they don't know and can't understand. So, as adults we need to face our fears, too. Understand where the fear comes from and learn to cope with whatever reality is causing it. Watching a parent lose themselves is hard and it's easy to be scared for them and for ourselves. But you aren't alone. Reach out any time you need to cling to something. Someone who cares about you will be there.

  2. Thank you, Skye. I'm glad you liked the post. And thank you for your response.