Home > obscurity at its best, Random Musings > Written While Waiting: A Digression on Fear

Written While Waiting: A Digression on Fear

There are days where it is easy to forget what it is like to be afraid. It’s not that there’s no anxiety or trepidation. That is normal and customary, like the kind of shocking, trilling panic that accompanies an almost-accident.

No, I am talking about real fear, that kind that rallies your pulse and brings tears to life in your eyes. The kind of emotion that sings without clothing or pretense. It does not offer; it simply takes.

Sometimes, we (as people) pretend in order to get through the day. We practice a willful forgetfulness, as if not-remembering is a tonic, a panacea. A miracle of mists and shrouds. It is not a long-term solution, but a temporary, all-too-fleeting patch. An emotional sandbag.

But it comes at a price. Almost all things do. Eventually, perhaps when least expected or prepared, the memory and reality return, a violent and unforgiving tidal wave of terrible truth, a silent monster of reality breathing hot behind your neck. The dam does not merely break; in bursts like blood from a severed carotid vein.

Fear like that is not a tepid thing. It is almost a siren’s call, encouraging you forward toward the rocks you’ve been so careful to avoid. But passive fear does not mean absent fear. This is a hungry, consuming creature. A sleeping dragon.

It waits everywhere you might be at your weakest: a hospital room, standing on someone’s doorstep, a waiting room, the soft plush of a carpet after your boyfriend or husband has just left you. The fear brings doubt to your lips, almost gentle like a kiss. When you least expect it, the kiss burns.

These are the moments that go unseen. Fear, ripe and merciless, at the possibility or promise of loss, real loss. When always becomes never, and nearness fills with an absence that sings a sing you could swear you once knew by heart. Now, you cannot remember the words at all. It’s half a memory, half a promise.

That is true fear. It waits wherever you are vulnerable, whenever you are aching with the effort to hold it together. It has teeth and a presence that consumes like flames fueled by gasoline and dry tinder.

That is a fear I’d nearly forgotten, but like all good nightmares, it doesn’t vanish when I close my eyes.

“But I fear
I have nothing to give
I have so much to loose here in this lonely place
Tangled up in our embrace
There’s nothing I’d like better than to fall
But I fear I have nothing to give.
I have so much to loose.
I have nothing to give.
We have so much to lose…”

~Sarah McLachlan, Fear

Note: I wrote this a while back, but never posted it.

  1. September 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I enjoy your poetic random musings. 🙂 Happy Friday!

    • Ali
      September 27, 2011 at 7:33 am

      Thanks, Blake! 🙂

  2. Jessica
    September 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    There are so many good words in this entry… Haha.

    I get the kind of feeling you describe here most often relating to old relationships. For the sake of getting over them and moving on, I try to forget a lot of what happened, or if I can’t forget, ignore. There are a variety of things that seem so distant now that they’ve become hazy, and I can almost get into a debate with myself over whether it ever happened, or I just dreamed it up. But every once in a while, something will happen that will stir up that memory and resurrect it, dragging it back into focus just behind my eyes with this blow that is always met with a “Oh god, that actually happened, didn’t it?”

    And always at the most inopportune moment, of course.

    • Ali
      September 29, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Jessica, for such an awesome comment. Stirred up memories…I think they are the most dangerous. *smile* Thanks again for reading!!!

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