Our Childhood Fears

The Journal Project

I’m watching Hootsuite very closely because the air is thick and heavy, and there are severe thunderstorm warnings all over the place. In a house with no cable, where we seldom listen to live radio, I’ve realized the only way to keep on top of the weather alerts is via Twitter. I learned this last summer when I watched a funnel cloud start to rotate ¬†while looking out my kitchen window, only to realize after turning to Twitter that a tornado ALERT had been issued for our area. Not a watch. Not a warning. An alert!

I’ve been afraid of thunderstorms, particularly tornadoes, since I was very small. I thought that adulthood and reason had kind of diminished this fear, but when faced with a tornado alert and a house full of sleeping children, my fear was catapulted to the surface again. That night I stocked the basement with water, blankets, shoes, flashlights, and other emergency type things, and I fought to keep the panic at bay. Some things never change, but at least as an adult, I felt like I could do something to protect myself and my family.

Today, with The Journal Project, we explore childhood fears. Use the prompts below to guide your writing, and share with us here. My own entry is italicized below.


4. Fears from my Childhood


Do you have any fears that linger from when you were very young? What are they?

I’m really afraid of the possibility of experiencing a tornado.


Can you recall the first time you remember feeling this fear? Describe your age, and the circumstances surrounding your being afraid.

I remember being afraid of a tornado during the first thunderstorm I experienced post Wizard of Oz. I suspect the fear started before that, but at around six or seven I recall being terrified any time there was a thunderstorm. I would cry, and try to hide, and the thunder made me cover my ears and tense up like a nervous cat.


How has your fear changed as you’ve grown up?

Knowledge was power for me as a kid in facing this fear. I read a dramatized version of the Edmonton tornado as told from the perspective of a tween, and then did a lot of my own research about tornadoes. Understanding them, and learning about tornado safety really helped me deal with my fear.

As an adult, in the city, it was easier to feel less threatened by the elements with the shelter of tall buildings all around. Now, in the country surrounded by open fields and forest, I witness the power of thunderstorms like I never have before, and I feel afraid again. Last week a tree across the street got struck by lightning and it was absolutely terrifying.


Describe the events/circumstances that stir this fear up.

Spring and summer weather events. The nighttime thunderstorm is the worst.


How do you deal with this fear when it comes to the surface?

I consult a bit obsessively with Twitter to discover weather alerts. I close up the windows to diminish the noise. I keep sturdy shoes near by, and flashlights. I try to breathe and stay calm so that the kids don’t develop their own fears.


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Entries from our Journaling Community

“I had/have a fear of apes, monkeys, any primates.

I was probably 6 or 7 when this fear began. I wonder if it’s related to a movie, like King King, although I don’t remember watching that movie. I also remember being at a small zoo and watching some apes throw their feces at one another and then at the glass we were standing behind. They were baring their teeth chasing each other and screaming.

I think the fear peaked when I was at Universal Studios. My mother would not let me wait outside alone while the others rode the king Kong ride. I sobbed and hid through the whole experience.

I think I am much calmer about this fear now although I avoid apes and monkeys at zoos and in the media. I no longer cry though. Now it’s more disdain than anything else. People laugh at me when I share this fear and tease me. We’re all afraid of something though; even if it does seem silly!”

Nine Lives

I’m a lion, I’m a cat, and I’m a fire dragon. I credit these things for my ability to mostly bounce back from whatever life might toss in my direction. I’m good with things like hope, most of the time.

Today, I feel like I’m on the precipice again. Looking up, and looking way, way down. If I step off, I’m sure to plummet, but there’s always the possibility that somewhere down there, through the fog and haze, is a fluffy clearing where I will land softly and beautifully, and triumphant.

How does one gather the nerve to step off the ledge, over and over again? Even with a perfect record of brilliantly executed landings, or just a few minor bumps and scrapes, there is always the possibility that the next plunge might be your last. It’s possible that the fall will be so bad, there’s no bouncing back, and you’ll never again get the chance to consider pushing off with your toes.

I’m so tired. Deeply tired, down to my very core. I look into the mirror, into the eyes of a woman I know very well, and neither one of us can tell me how much strength is left there.

Ask my mom – if I am not good at something, I get overwhelmed with frustration and anger. I didn’t know this, but as a child, she’d have to intercept and cease activities so that I wouldn’t spiral into the pit of despair. All this time I’d thought she was just really impatient with me. Now, as an adult, if I can’t do something well I lose interest, shut down, or just get angry with myself. I’m eyeballing affairs of the heart right now with the same wary look I give to mathematical equations.

This time I’ve given it my all. I’ve emptied all my pockets and laid everything out on the table. I’ve opened up my heart wider than I even imagined it’s rusty hinges would allow. I’ve loved with every cell in my body.

The desire to jump off the cliff is not enough. Love is not enough. You need trust, and faith, and communication, and security. I need to know that if I’m going to jump, there’s a safe landing at the bottom. That there will always be a safe landing. My helmet and my knee pads are completely useless if there is not.

In fact, it’s probably smarter to just walk away from the ledge if you have no idea what’s at the bottom.

Will all these hands catch me?