The Stuff of Movies and Nightmares

Maybe it was the black and purple cloak that looked like flames when she raised her arms.

Maybe it was her proper elegance that made her evil smile more sinister.

Maybe it was her voice, her power, her vengeance.

Maybe it was a combination of all of those things, but one thing was for sure, those terrifying black horns haunted my young mind and still give me goosebumps.

Maleficent was the scariest thing I had ever seen as a child. As I lay down in my bed, I swore I was not going to sleep because I felt sure she was hiding in my closet. She put Aurora in a trance and led her out of a locked room through a fireplace to her death. Aurora was 16 years old; I was only 5 or 6, easy pickings for an evil sorceress who had no problem cursing and killing children. I believed that the only way to keep that monster at bay was to be alert. I would lay as still and quiet as possible, sipping tiny breaths so as not to rustle the sheets with ears tuned for any sound and eyes memorizing the dark waiting for any foreign shape to emerge. I would lie there until the mental terror got the best of me and I would cry out for my mother. Hysterical, I begged her to turn the light on in my closet. I was only able to rest when my mother was by my side.

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Fast forward nine or ten years to an autumn afternoon I spent home alone. I was enjoying television as the sun faded and darkness began to fill the corners of the house. Suddenly, fear washed over me as I looked down the unlit hallway toward the bedrooms that were completely black. My ever colorful and imaginative mind instantly began projecting images of the murderous fisherman and his bloodstained ice hook from the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer. I was willing to bet cold, hard cash that he was waiting for the perfect moment to stride from my parents’ dark bedroom, ice hook poised, and chase me down. I turned on all the lights I could without going into an already darkened room. Still, I didn’t feel comfortable, so I grabbed the cordless phone and my car keys. I guess I was going to try and call 911 if I saw someone come out of one of the bedrooms, run out the door and drive away.

Two words: Irrational fears.

These two stories are examples of fear that are not logical or reasonable, yet every fiber of my being on both occasions believed the threats to be as legitimate as could be. It is interesting that irrational fears and beliefs can exist in a rational mind. I knew Maleficent was a cartoon and she wasn’t real. I think on some very inaccessible level, I knew my being afraid of her was not reasonable.

In the next days, I will explore how irrational fears interact with perfectionism and procrastination. I will also talk about how to combat them as part of dismantling perfectionism and releasing anger.


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