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Am I the Only One Here Who's Perpetually Terrified?

ScaredIt’s so hard to not be scared.

I mean all the time. All. The. Time. At least this is how I’ve been feeling lately.

I’m not scared of anything reasonable, of course. I manage to get in my car everyday and drive for miles without worrying that I might get into an accident. In fact, I’m typically singing along with the radio, busting out a fabulous Adele impersonation when I’m behind the wheel, even though, statistically speaking, this is probably the most dangerous scenario I’ll find myself in on any given morning. This is when I should really be concerned.

Thoughts of heart disease and salmonella poisoning don’t bother me while I’m eating. I occasionally consider the implications of eating at a suspect-looking food truck, but that’s really more of a passing concern about digestive issues rather than actual, “What if this kills me?” kind of fear.

My fear, the one that I can’t seem to stop lingering on, is that something horrible might happen to one of my kids.

Maybe it’s because, lately, I seem to be reading something about kids being killed in night clubs, people being shot in movie theaters, vans mowing down innocent people watching a parade, or some other senseless act of violence, every other week.

I try to be an optimistic person people, I really do, but it’s getting to me in a way that makes me think I’ll be locking myself and my family inside the house if it doesn’t end soon. (Well, OK, not that bad but, you know, not far off.) It leaves me feeling scared all the time.

My husband went to New York the other weekend with our son, and I thought, “What if there’s a terrorist attack at the airport.”

Seriously, that was the first thing that crossed my mind. Not, “Oh wow! He’s going to love the museum!” or “Make sure you get a picture of the two of you in Central Park!” Nope. Terrorists.

While they were away, I took my other two kids to see, “The Secret Life of Pets” and suspiciously eyed everyone in the theater, scanning the crowd of happy families for any sign of a lone 30-something lunatic in a trench coat.

My 14 year old took the dog for a walk and I worried about his safety from the time he left until the time he came back. Never mind the fact that we live in a peaceful, close-knit community where the sight of a child being pulled into a vehicle against his will would have half the neighborhood surrounding the car before the would-be abductor knew what hit him.

But I can’t help feeling the way I feel, and I know I can’t be the only one, right?

I was driving my oldest son to a 2 night sleepover at his buddy’s house, (yes, I agree, one night seemed sufficient but he begged for two) and on the way I said, “ I want you to text me every few hours.”

“Why?” he asked me, rolling his eyes.

“Because I want to know that you are alright.”

This back and forth went on for a few minutes, until he finally said something that hit home.

“Why are you always so scared?”

“Why indeed,” I thought.

I know the answer, back inside my brain in a place I don’t like to visit. The simple, awful truth is that I’m afraid that some crazy stranger in a nondescript van is going to pull up next to him while he’s walking the dog, pull him inside, and I’ll never see him again. I’m afraid there’s a loaded gun in the closet of the house where he’s sleeping over. I’m afraid that terrorists are going to hijack the school bus that takes them on their field trip.

There it is. That’s why I’m afraid. There are these horrors lurking around out there and one of them might just cross paths with my kids.

None of these things are ever going to happen, of course. The odds that your child will be abducted in a stereotypical “kidnapping” scenario are about one in a million. (Actually, closer to 1.6 in a million, if you really want to get technical.) The odds of being killed in a mass shooting? 0.00000143 per cent. Essentially, neither of these things are ever going to happen.

Their chances of ending up in the emergency room due to a sports-related injury, on the other hand, are around one in a hundred, but I don’t find myself up all night with visions of my kids getting hit with a hockey puck.

Why am I living my life like this? Why am I walking around in such fear of bad things happening? It’s not actually helping is it? It’s not like I’m out there taking up a picket sign to change gun laws. It’s not like I’m actually trying to change anything. Nope, I’m just sitting around feeling scared.

Then I wondered, “What message is this sending my kids? Do they just think their mom is a worry wart, or over protective, or does it sink in slowly, until they themselves feel scared too. Does my fear rub off on them in the long run, and if it does is that what I want? Do I want them to feel like I feel?”

Because I’m here to tell you, it’s not a good feeling. It keeps me up at night.

Rationally speaking, this is no different than worrying about a sinister figure in the closet, or monsters under the bed. It’s some kind of grown-up boogeyman that we know deep down isn’t going to hurt us, but we’re terrified of it anyway.
So, what can we do about it? How do we keep the fear at bay. How do we live our best lives, so that our kids don’t grow up feeling low-dose dread all the time. How do we see the good in all the bad?

Share your ideas here. Let’s start the dialog because one of my main goals as a parent is to raise up well adjusted, happy, genuinely good people, and I need your help.

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