Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lying, Fear and Light

I did not write a blog this last friday. I could say it was because of the long weekend, and was taking a day off, but that would be lying. And I don't lie. Well, not usually.

Long ago I gave up lying, it was just too damned much work, trying to remember every little thing in order not to trip myself up. It strikes me today as being a very wise thing to do at a tender age of about 13. But, until that time, I was pretty good at it.

Lying may have been a defense mechanism for my stealing, which I don't do anymore either... it caused lying you see, and this simply would not do. I suppose that around the same time I also decided I would no longer be scared. I was certainly refered to as a "fraidy-cat". I was afraid, among other things, of the basement, the dark, rushing water, monsters, heights, oops, I'm still afraid of heights.

Trying to think back, it's not really suprising that everything scared me, since I was raised on a TV diet of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Invaders, Lost in Space among many other monster ridden series. Maybe there is a relationship with my being afraid of heights and the oh-so-many dives the Coyote took off oh-so-many-more cliffs... on the other hand, I am not, nor have I ever been afraid of fast moving ground-locked birds. Go figure.

So one day, I got so very fed up of being terrorized by the basement. The sheer sight of it would creep into my heart and grab me like the demon in The Exorcist. I noticed something a while back with my younger niece, she was 6 at the time. She wanted to go see the basement, as any sane non-parent would say: "no, it's dangerous"... then I thought, g-damned, that's probably the same shit I heard from my own family as a youngster.

Taking the situation in hand, I thought it necessary to demystify the place instead and brought her downstairs to view the unholy mess. The danger, of course, being paint cans balancing precariously upon cans of white fuel, upon motocycle batteries, upon ... well... you get the picture. On second thought, maybe it really is a dangerous place, not so much for the monsters. She was happy to see what was what, and I was happy to avoid much future heartache for the little one.

One must wonder how many of these silly and innocent events mold one's future fears quite unconsciously.

My decision to stop being afraid was a turning point. I'd rush downstairs before I'd have time to think about my fear. I would amble in the dark, moving by feel against the walls, just out of general principle. I'd sit by the water at the falls in Chambly where I used to live and let the roar of the rapids rock me gently. I began to identify sounds faster and faster, bumps in the night, until I had catalogued everything or had a pretty good idea what the sound was and where it came from. I'd play games: ever trying to detect new sounds!

Then a funny thing happened: I was no longer afraid. I'm not saying I had nerves of steel, far from it but I was no longer jumpy. Most of my fears had been vanquished and with them, the fear of being found out. How could I be found-out if I had not lied about it!

Some of my 'ttude comes form this of course. What's the relationship with lying then? Why did I even start in the first place? I don't know, but the two are related: not being afraid of being scolded, for example, allowed me to be honest, which to my great delight was a lot easier than lying. Furthermore, being honest not only brought about serenity on my part but also respect and a most amazing thing: trust, from others. I don't remember ever getting spanked after this, proof that telling the truth is less painful!

Truly a turning point.

Often we lie to our-own-selves about a great many things. A lot of us in therapy have precisely this issue: we lie to ourselves, furthermore we punish ourselves for it. The other problem we face is that we often don't know what we are afraid of. Some of us may never know. It never registers that being honest with one's self may yield trust and confidence and serenity, and it'll elude us until something clicks. Like the basement scenario, the fear is often lost in space and time until we come face-to-face with an example to light the way.

Mind you, I am still afraid of heights. I'd love to light up that one.


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