Wednesday, 15 August 2012

You have nothing to fear… except the things you're frightened of

I was scrolling through the BBC website and saw this article about China's Ghost projects  which include a theme park that was built and is now used to grow crops, a 'British Town' that is only used for wedding photo shoots and most disturbing (to me at least) a shopping mall with 1500 empty shops. This is the stuff of nightmares. Endless corridors of emptiness and the haunting echoes of masses of space with no purpose.

It disturbed me most because it made me feel very queasy and reminded me of my own irrational fear which I rarely share and am now making public. I have a phobia of empty swimming pools. When I posted this on Facebook a friend confessed to the same fear and suggested googling it. Then something odd happened. I have never felt the need to look into this fear before so I have no idea how common or otherwise it may be. I found out that it's not uncommon and that some sadist has put lots of images of empty swimming pools under the heading 'fear of empty swimming pools' which comes up about third in the search results.

A non-scary swimming pool
It's as though some wag is trying aversion therapy on the sly. I genuinely don't want to see images of swimming pools in a state of disrepair or with a small muddy puddle at the bottom of an otherwise drained space. I can't explain why it bothers me so much. I love swimming and an over-full pool bothers me far less. If there is a gap that suggests the pool is slightly under-full I do get a bit anxious. Again, I have no idea why.

I don't want my son to develop phobias so I try to get him to be braver than I ever was. I was a fearful child and it wasn't until I was an adult that I decided to face down some of those fears.

- When I visited my friend Fatima who was living in Toulouse we went a climbing wall as she had taken up climbing as a hobby. As I wrangled with footholds and handholds and negotiated belays and carabiners I didn't think about my fear of heights. From the top I had no choice, but to be ok about it, but I really did feel alright. It also meant that I was able to learn to ski as a fear of heights can be pretty debilitating otherwise.

- How I ended up sitting in a roller coaster at Chessington next to my friend Norm is anyone's guess, seeing as they are not my idea of a good time. As I tried to climb across him to get out he calmly explained that they go slower than I drive a car. Also the man who was eating his lunch sitting under it looked very relaxed about it so it probably wasn't going to kill us all. I can't say I'm an adrenaline junkie now, but at least I'm not completely terrified of them any more.

- It wasn't until my Mum reminded me that I had a toddler tantrum about getting back on a plane that I remembered my childhood fear of flying. I have Hubbie to thank for getting me past this by a) rationalising my fears for me and b) taking the mickey so mercilessly that I was distracted by laughter rather than waiting to plummet thousands of feet into the ocean.

- Another irrational one that my Mum reminded me about was automatic car washes. Apparently as a child I screamed my head off as my Dad drove the car through a car wash and had she not reminded me about it the memory would have remained buried where it belongs. Instead I used to invite people to sit and talk to me while the big rolling brushes threatened to crush us to death. Thankfully now Hubbie and my boy love to wash the car by hand, so I'm spared the trauma.

So, the biggies are dealt with. I'm pretty sure that a fear of empty swimming pools isn't going to have a detrimental effect on my life, but so long as I don't pass it on to my son I'm happy.

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