#30daywritingchallenge: Day 16- My phobias and things I am scared of.

Snakes

I’ve no idea why I don’t like snakes. I’ve only ever seen one in a tank or in a zoo. I think it stems from when I was in junior school and we did a project on animals. We learned about different snakes in our topic lesson once. At about this time I think I saw a TV programme with snakes on and that was it. I was scared of them. I have never been in a situation where I have seen one in its natural habitat apart from when I was in France. Thankfully we were in our car and the snake was slithering across the road. I cannot understand why people want them as pets. I told my family that if any of them chose to buy a snake as a pet, I would move out. So my cheeky son said, “Right, let’s go and buy one now, then!” I have visions of it escaping and it suddenly ending up in bed with you at night.

Thunderstorms

I’ve always been terrified of thunderstorms. I’m ok with them during the day now, but as a child I was petrified when I knew we were in for a storm. I still am frightened of them at night, especially when the lightning lights up the whole room. It all started when I was about 3 and we had a thunderstorm one night. I woke up to hear the thunder rumbling and was so scared by the way the lightening lit up my bedrooom. I ended up climbing into my mum and dad’s bed that night. A few months later our neighbours were babysitting me and I woke up crying to the sound of another storm. Our neighbour said “You don’t need to worry about that. It’s only the clouds having a fight and it’s the noise of them banging together when they’re cross,” It didn’t soothe me and I also felt frightened at my grandparent’s house when I was staying there. Granddad said it was “Only God doing the washing up!” Now as I’m in my mid forties thunderstorms during the day don’t frighten me but I still don’t like them at night. I always felt upset and apprehensive if Mr SmartCookieSam was away in the summer when it was thundery weather. I could just about cope on my own if I hid under the bedclothes but once the children came along I was worried that I would pass my phobia of thunderstorms on to them. I didn’t have to wait that long to test that out, when my daughter was six months old I had a frightening night. I had just put her to bed in her cot upstairs and went downstairs to clear up. Mr SmartCookieSam was working away in Aberdeen that night. The next thing I knew was there was a thunderstorm and the power went off. Although it wasn’t yet dark, I was very frightened. Not only that, but I needed to sterilise my daughter’s bottles in her steam steriliser which used electricity. Before the storm got too bad I had to risk it and get in the car and drive over to my dad and step mum’s house 10 miles away. I was petrified and ended up with us staying at their house overnight. They still had their power and I felt much safer not being on my own. I’m glad I did go over to see them as the power cut lasted until well after midnight.

Since then I have managed to cope ok with thunderstorms if I hide under the covers and cover my face with a pillow if the storm is in the middle of the night. But I have never ever felt so spooked and scared as by a thunderstorm when we were on holiday in France about 15 years ago. We were staying in an old cottage in Normandy which I thought was haunted. I felt on edge all week and couldn’t wait to go home. Does anyone know how I can get over my fear of thunderstorms? I would love to be one of those people who can stand and watch the lightning from the window but I can’t.

Fish

I don’t know why I don’t like fish. I can eat fish if they are presented to me completely filleted, deskinned and boned. If the fish fillet has it’s head, scales or tail on it then I totally freak out. Mr SmartCookieSam thinks I’m crazy and it’s not as if they’re going to stand up and bite me! But I don’t like them. If I go into our local supermarket and walk past the fish counter I have to go straight to the pre-packed part. I can’t stand at the fish counter and say can I have 4 salmon fillets with all the other fish looking up at me! My dad has always loved fish and as a child he kept tropical fish. We also had a tank in our front porch with two Oscars in it. They were giant grey, ugly fish with grumpy faces. I was scared of them and turned my head the other way when I walked past them going in through our front door. One night I had a dream that the Oscars escaped from their tank and chased me around the house. They grew wings and flew round after me. My Dad loves fishing and when we used to go to Scarborough on holiday he used to take my brother and cousin fishing off the pier. One day, when I was about 12 or 13 they went fishing and caught some plaice off the pier. Dad put them in the bath and I was frightened by them flapping about. Later on, they were in the fridge. My Mum asked me to make a cup of coffee and I refused because I’d see the plaice in the fridge. No one would eat them either. My brother threatened to put one in my bed- he was so kind to me!

Nowadays I can eat fish thanks to Mr SmartCookieSam encouraging me to cook them and also through his great cooking. But I still can’t bring myself to gut and skin a fish. On holiday in Italy a few years back I felt physically sick seeing him eating whitebait. The batter was so thin you could see the fish’s eyes through it. But if a fish fillet still has skin on it I have to turn it upside down so I can’t see the skin as I’m cutting the fish fillet. I then have to get a kitchen towel and grab the skin to put it in the bin quickly before I see it!

Flying (especially landing)

Lots of people are so scared of flying that they won’t even set foot on an aircraft. I must admit Mr SmartCookieSam didn’t like flying and he went on a Virgin Atlantic Fear Of Flying Course from Manchester Airport a few years back and since then he’s been absolutely fine. I didn’t go on an aeroplane until I was nearly 32. Mainly because my Dad worked for British Rail so we had cheap train fares and he got a discount on Sealink ferries (which I think is the Stena Line now) All our holidays were usually in the UK or France as we didn’t need to go by plane. My first ever flight was flying with BMI Baby from East Midlands to Paris when I took my children and my mum to Disneyland Par is. I really enjoyed the flight and although it was a strange feeling at first, I soon got used to it. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I started to feel nervous on planes. We had been on holiday to Spain one summer and had a fantastic time in a villa near Javea. We flew back from Valencia to Leeds Bradford airport. It was a smooth flight and I remember us beginning to descend. I could see the turquoise domes of Meadowhall Shopping Centre near Sheffield from the air and then the M62. After that the pilot announced that we were descending and that there was a strong westerly wind. The plane shuddered and lurched as it went down through the clouds. It was a very rocky approach over Leeds City Centre and I felt as if we were all going to die. I have never felt so frightened in all my life. When the plane touched down on the runway I was terrified it wasn’t going to brake enough and would overshoot the runway. Since then I have found out that Leeds Bradford is a difficult airport to land at because it has a short runway, it isn’t level and it suffers from cross winds. Trouble is as it’s our nearest airport we tend to use it for going on holiday. Every time I have been on a plane since I have been fine but when it comes to landing back at Leeds Bradford I feel as if I’m going to die. I’ve flown on my own to New York and to Edmonton in Canada but I never felt as scared then as I do when I land at Leeds Bradford.

One thing about being a parent is that you always worry about passing your fears onto your children. My son doesn’t like flying either, but he feels more scared about turbulence. One flight to Menorca a few years ago involved a little bit of turbulence as the pilot had to divert about twenty miles to the east of his planned flightpath to avoid a thunderstorm. My son was freaked out by the turbulence on that flight, though to me it didn’t seem as bad as the dodgy landing. Since then he has not liked flying but managed fine when he went on a school trip to Iceland a couple of years back. I know that on our summer holiday if I’m sat next to him I’ll be grabbing hold of his hand!

Clowns

I’m not scared of all clowns but I think back to some really freaky clown models that really scared me as a child. When I was about three we moved to a village near Nottingham. At a similar time the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre (which has now been knocked down I think) was built. Just before Christmas that year I remember my mum and I walking through the Centre. By all the shops there were some clown models which were absolutely enormous with huge heads and ugly faces. I was so scared and frightened of them that I didn’t like going into the Broadmarsh Centre. Why they were there I don’t know. Since then I have been fine with clowns but those clowns gave me nightmares for a long time. Whoever designed them has a lot to answer for!

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