Friday, October 24, 2014

Irrational & Improbable

I have always been a little bit prone to fits of... let's call it imagination. In addition to having the same dream since I was five years old (so, let's see, 31 years now), I tend to worry overmuch about things that're either completely irrational or which I cannot possibly begin to control. Rather than those things being small or tangential they tend to be pretty serious.

Sometime during my teen years, I began to worry over and fear axe murderers. More than that, I was completely consumed with a fascination about them, even though I could freely acknowledge that I was horribly afraid I'd be axe murdered--and, frankly, still am. Though it makes no sense, I'm captivated with stories about such people as Lizzie Borden or situations as the Villisca Axe Murderers. While most people are afraid to drown or be burned to death, my greatest fear about dying unnaturally revolves around being chopped up with a hatchet.

For a while, the fear was so extreme that I couldn't even watch movies where this sort of scenario plays out. Matt once tricked me into watching a cheesy Sylvester Stallone action flick, Cobra, about a cop surviving and tracking down an axe murdering cult. For days, I was plagued with dreams about being hacked up while I was still alive.

Even now, at night, when I'm laying in my bed alone listening to the house settle I worry about this completely improbable scenario. While I should be worrying about being robbed, raped, or shot to death, I'm worrying that someone with an axe might break in and chop me up. There's just something so visceral about the idea of being hacked at, over and over, with a sharp (or not so sharp) tool that makes my skin crawl. A scenario my somewhat vivid imagination plays through with or without my consent.

It's ridiculous, and fascinating, and my friends sometimes take the opportunity to poke fun at this particularly foolish quirk. Even Matt finds humor in it, though he understands how serious a problem this really is for me. Perhaps making light of it will make it better, but it doesn't seem to work. Not really. And the truth is that even I can find humor in the absurdity of the idea. That doesn't make it less a fear. Still, everyone agrees that the probability of me, or anyone else, being axe killed in the USA in the 21st century is slim.

So this morning, while browsing my Facebook feed, I was particularly horrified to learn that some nut job a man attacked several cops in Queens with a hatchet. Every single fear I have about being axe murdered came screaming back into my conscious mind. The attacked cops were both hurt, the one struck in the head still in critical condition, and the hatchet wielding attacker is dead. While this man could hardly be considered an axe murderer, the act of attacking someone with an axe is nonetheless too terrible.

It's always this way with my fears and anxieties. When I begin to believe these scenarios are improbable and, therefore, so too are others of my anxieties when something happens to prove my irrational fears rational. Every single time this happens all of my fears are renewed. Everything comes back and are not only renewed but fortified. I'm starting to understand, and perhaps accept, that these sorts of anxieties will always be a part of my life. They're not actually going anywhere, even as I try to master them.

At this point, I just hope self-fulfilling prophesy isn't a real thing--or at least doesn't act on these sorts of improbabilities. Otherwise, I'm in some pretty serious trouble.