Today’s #reverbbroads blog starter comes from Kassie at bravelyobey.blogspot.com. Her question: What gives you nightmares?
The truth is that if I look at this literally, the answer is “nothing.” I say this because I am that person who never remembers dreams or nightmares. I suspect that this comes from not getting enough sleep and therefore never being able to really get deep enough to have that kind of great transformative sleep that I used to have when I was a kid. But, if I look at this more in the spirit in which I think it was really intended, the answer is a lot broader, with a lot more to say. In fact, it’s almost the exact opposite answer. So, when I ask the question as “what fears keep you up at night” the answer is “just about everything.”
My only real fears are needles and fires. I desperately fear needles because of a traumatic experience when I was about 9, the result of which was a broken glass syringe in my arm and a wrist to bicep black and blue. Fires are a little more complex, but still a childhood obsession. I suspect it comes from being told that the best way to prevent being killed in a fire in your sleep was to keep your bedroom door closed and, of course, mine did not actually close correctly.
My more mortal, day to day fears are much more expansive. I am constantly afraid of household problems that will bankrupt me (4 years in a 50+ year old house has taught me more than I wanted to know about plumbing, gutters, sewer lines, leaky window wells, and roofing). I fear missing deadlines, failing my staff, doing something that will cause harm to my students, and generally failing at what I am supposed to do. I fear the death of a family member or close friend, and I (perhaps even more so, except in the case of my immediate family) fear the illness, injury, or death of my 15 year old cat. I realize that that may make me sound like a crazy cat lady, but he has been my constant and is perhaps the most empathic creature I have ever had the pleasure to know. Someday, I will again have to go through a difficulty without him by my side and the knowledge of that eventuality saddens and frightens me.
When I think, though, about the one thing that truly keeps me up at night, it has not changed in more than 20 years. My great fear is in being a disappointment to my parents. Intellectually, I know that their love for me is constant and that I was raised with the kind of love that so many dream of. I have never known a lack of love. I have never felt abandonment or that sense I see in some of my students — that there is no one in the world who would care what happens to them. And, financially, emotionally, and psychologically, I have never been without a safety net. Perhaps this makes me feel more responsible to them. This has, over the years, become my driving force. To become someone whose actions are beyond reproach, of whom they can be proud.