Saturday, May 9, 2009


Phobias can alter our courses in life. Public speaking and fear of heights are numbers one and two for me. Used to also be phobic of creepy crawlies but we have learned to coexist with out my hurting my self or them. Close ups of those hairy legged creatures often amaze me with their actual beauty.

This is not one of the pretty ones but one that once could make me hurt myself. Now I just see him as interesting as long as he is just a photo or maintaining a decent distance.

Fear of heights is now a lot better. Once in grade school, our class was taken on a tour of an aircraft carrier. I was in line, climbing a ladder up the side of the carrier when I looked down and saw the water miles (well it looked like it) below me. The line halted abruptly because my hands became part of the railing. I froze solid. Those behind me couldn't push me nor could the ones ahead of me pull me forward. It took a burly sailor to pry my hands off the rail and carry me up the rest of the ladder. That was my first real experience with terror. I was afraid I was to become a permanent resident on the carrier for there was no way I was going back down in a conscious state. Fortunately there was an inside stair well all along. Why couldn't we have gone "up" that?

The heights phobia eliminated a lot of beautiful views from my life. Canyons, mountains, tall buildings, and expansive bridges were eyes closed, white knuckle experiences. Slowly, by exposure, I have gotten where I can at least function around heights. I can climb a ladder, go up on the roof, and can look off a bridge. Not wonderful and still cautious, but functional.

This picture I took last week would have been impossible years ago as I am standing on a cliff.

Aw but then there is public speaking. Again, I was not aware of this right away. I was in a play in grade school. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I was Goldy because I was the only one in class with long blond hair. Sure I was scared , but I got through it even though no one but those really close could hear me. Those with hearing aids were spinning their dials.

It was in high school English class that the full force of the phobia hit. We were to write and give a speech about anything we were passionate about. I was proud of my speech and had delivered the first paragraph when the world went black. I crashed in a heap on the floor taking the lectern with me. Scarlett O'Hara swooned gracefully while I crashed with my skirt in the air, panties showing.

This is what even a small group looked like in my mind after that incident. The mind is an amazing thing.

From then on, as much as the fear of public speaking consumed me, the fear of passing out exacerbated the fear. Unlike my other fears that I was able to manage, this one seemed to get worse. When I worked at the bank, they offered the Dale Carnegie course to any one interested. A good portion of the course involved public speaking. I signed up hoping to beat the woozies. Even though the speeches were presented to people I worked with, my head swam and the lectern hopped and shook as I clung to it. By the end of the course, I won the most improved award. I was actually able to remain up right for a whole speech.

I also took a speech course through the banks own institute. I was determined to beat this. By now, I was pretty much the class joke and I would laugh right along with them till I got up to speak. Then voice would break, papers would rattle and lectern would shake. They really need to make those lecterns heavier.

I took creative writing in college. The instructor liked my work and always made me read my offering in front of the class. I just hated it and finally dropped out of the class so I wouldn't have to read aloud. Such a weenie. This flaw resulted in crossing politics, communications, and teaching off my career choices. When I hit 40 I made dramatic improvement. I no longer was overly concerned what people thought (the main boogie man before) and my own self confidence was pretty stout.

Today I could probably pull off a "short" public speaking stint. To bad we can't we start old and grow young?

Those are my phobias laid bare for any to see. I bet you have some.


  1. I am grateful to say that I don't have any phobias...though, since my lungs became "compromised", I am rather phobic about germs. My Infectious Disease Doctor was so very insistant about the wasshing of the hands as the BEST deterrent to picking up something bad---I can easily get Pneumonia, Bronchitus, etc....And if I do get anything like that, it compromises my lungs even more.
    So I guess you could say I am pretty compulsive about washing my hands---On Doctors Orders! But otherwise, I cannot think of anything else.

  2. What a great post! You are a very brave lady to try and overcome your fears! I have a fear of heights and cockroaches!. Now we have no cockies here but in Australia there are plenty of them. And I get hysterical when I see one and I kill it if I can! Thanks for your visit Patti!

  3. OOLOH
    You are so lucky to not have any irrational phobias.
    Washing your hands a lot considering your "compromised" lungs is only common sense. Think that keeps you out of the phobia club.
    It is odd how we have gotten back to such a basic action as washing our hands to deter disease like swine flu and such. It seems so simple yet is so effective.
    Keep washing those hands, bumping elbows and stay healthy.

  4. Reader Wil
    Oooh, I forgot cockroaches. Nasty little buggers and I have not seen any close up shots that make them look any better. Florida was alive with them but Arkansas has yet to show me one. Gee I love this state.

  5. I share your abhorrence of spiders, but nothing else (well,maybe roaches) bothers me too badly.

  6. At least your fears are smaller than you are.
    Get some rest today.

  7. I have a phobia about speaking in public. Seems every time I've been called upon to do so, my voice starts to quaver, and I sound like I'm going to cry.

  8. robin,
    Don't you just hate it. Me too. The only thing I have found to help is to say up front that I have the fear and I ask for my audience to bear with me. That helps me the most for then I quit trying so hard to hide it.

  9. Love this post, Patti! I have an almost unreasonable dislike of spiders, with the exception of orb and garden spiders, which have the good sense not to try to set up housekeeping inside my home. I loathe roaches (central Arkansas has them in plenty if you ever need a few). I could never become a steeplejack, but experience no difficulties in flying, at any height.

    A bank-sponsored Dorothy Carnegie (Dale's wife) course in the late 1960's was of great help in overcoming my fear of speaking in public. Unfortunately for a lot of folks, once I started talking, it was hard to get me to quit!