Phobias and Counter-Phobias

There is an entry on the Winter Solstice, Yule, and Christmas on December 15, 2012.

I’m really looking forward to running away over Christmas. A friend from Arizona has invited me, and she does not do anything at all for Christmas. There will be no tree, no Christmas lights on the cactus, no presents, no traditional meal with traditional left-overs. We probably won’t even know which day Christmas falls on.

Instead, there will be drives through the desert, bird watching (hope I see a road runner!), real Mexican food, and lots of talking and catching up. I’ve been there before and know you can see rabbits from her kitchen window and quail and their babies from her living room window. I also know that the thrift store and discount stores are great and I can find real pretty clothes for next to nothing. Perhaps best of all, there will be a three-day powwow with lots of drumming and dancing.

When I stay home, I also avoid celebrating Christmas, but it’s an effort. I get invited for dinner and feelings are hurt if I decline. I am given presents even though I insist I don’t want them and a few Christmas cards float in. Some years, though, I have gotten brave and bought a table top tree and made miniature decorations.

I know that I cannot avoid every situation that brings up bad feelings and horrible memories from the past. It just isn’t possible, because almost every single thing has a bad connotation. As it is, my life is constricted by my fear of having the past stirred up. I don’t watch TV or see movies, for example, because even the most innocuous movies have violent scenes. By the age of five I had seen enough violence to last many, many lifetimes.

There are many things I am afraid of that I absolutely cannot avoid. Banks, telephones, mail boxes, weekends, new places, etc. etc. etc. So it feels great to pick something big, like Christmas, and avoid it completely. And it is empowering, because now I am in control enough that I *can* run away, whereas when I was a kid I was held prisoner and could not move.

I’m not peculiar, given my history. It’s a natural reaction to try to avoid situations and objects that were used to hurt you in childhood. Makes sense.

There’s another trauma-based reaction, though, and that is to rush head first into scary situations. Scared of drowning? Learn to surf. Scared of guns? Collect them and go to the shooting range every weekend. Sacred of sex? Become promiscuous. You get the idea.

This time you can recreate the situation and make sure it doesn’t end in the death or torture of you or anybody else. This time it’s going to turn out okay. Or if it doesn’t, at least it will end badly in a totally different way than it did in the cult.

I was going to say that I can’t write much more about being counter-phobic because that’s just not me. Then I realized that is nonsense. Like most people, I am phobic sometimes, counter-phobic other times. For decades I was petrified of anybody finding out about the ritual abuse (including myself) and here I am writing about it on the Internet. Again and again and again. Certainly this is a bigger deal than making a phone call or decorating a Christmas tree. And yet it seems easier.

Go figure.