A Woman of Many Fears

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Mustache

I’m afraid of a lot of things. To most people that know me well, this probably isn’t such a shocker, because you’ve likely seen me in action. Running, wailing, shuddering. It’s mildly ridiculous and embarrassing when I actually map it out in my head the amount of things that frighten me. It’s like if you went around and polled a bunch of random people and asked them, “what’s your greatest fear?” my answer would likely be everything they said plus about 45 more things. Some of my fears could stem from anxiety, which can get pretty intense at times, but some of what I’m afraid of is concrete. Concrete, I’m afraid of concrete and really heavy things, because what if they fall on you? and avalanches are scary…

but well… Let’s get started, because I need to get this off my chest. 

Exhibit A. I have an EXTREME, unyielding, semi-debilitating fear of centipedes. I’m not talking I see one and I go “ew! someone! kill that thing please! off with its head!” No. I am already down the block, past the Dunkin Donuts and on my way to Memphis. If I see one, I bolt. And then I proceed to panic and hyperventilate and make a huge deal out of this little bug. I’m a human for God’s sake, I’m a million times bigger than it, get it together. But man, those things are gross, and they frighten me on a deep, profound level. If you’ve ever witnessed one of these exits, I’m not playing around here. I almost had to unfriend someone on Facebook that posted a picture of one recently. WTF ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME FOR? I was affronted, galled, angry. Of course this person had no idea that I had to put my shaking hand on the screen to cover the picture while I clicked the “I don’t want to see this” button. And if you, centipede poster, see this, I’m watching you.

I’m also afraid of what I call “phantom centipedes” which can be anything from a feather to dust collecting on the wall to basically anything ever that might, maybe, COULD resemble a centipede. If I think I see one, my fight or flight sense says “kindly get the fuck out of here.” The other day someone said, “why don’t you show that thing who’s boss and conquer your fear, KILL IT, it will feel good!” And I either laughed at them or mean-mugged them, I forget because what an absurd proposal. 

Exhibit B. I’m unreasonably afraid of heights. I watched the documentary “Man on Wire” awhile back (if you haven’t seen it, it’s CRAZY). This man is literally thousands of feet in the air on a flipping wire. WHAT. I think he’s the bravest man in the whole entire world. Balls the size of watermelons. This man was God to me. My stomach was in knots for the entire thing. I have no desire to sky dive, go to that Hancock observation deck (WHAT IF IT BREAKS?) or go to Six Flags. All of those things sound truly awful to me. #sorryimnotsorrybutiamscaredtho

Exhibit C. Anything that is unpredictable and flaps. So birds, butterflies, moths (ESPECIALLY). I do that thing where I run around and put my hands over my ears when there is a sudden, unexpected encounter. I helped my mom clean the birdcage once. BAD IDEA — one escaped. I know, this sounds really silly. And, in fact, it IS silly because I have a tattoo of a freaking bird flying out of a cage on my back. Ah, symbolism. Typing it out I’m like “Lauren, Oh God. TMI, TMI, Tee EM EYE.” It’s real, guys. 

Exhibit D: Haunted houses and people dressed in scary costumes, especially ones that can sense and pray on my fear. I went to Dream Reapers when I was a freshman in college (yes, 18 or 19 years of age) and had to leave the line because some jacked-up dude in a clown costume wouldn’t leave me alone and made me cry. 

Of course, I’m afraid of the not-so-easily-pinpointed, ambiguous things, too. Things that generally most humans are afraid of. I’m afraid of being alone, of being judged, of losing people I love, of making the wrong choice, saying the wrong thing. But I’m also afraid of crossing the street when cars are coming fast, getting burned by the lava inside a Hot Pocket and answering phone calls to strangers.

To be clear, there are things I am ~not~ afraid of: I am, after all, a strong woman. A feminist, a curious adventurer, a lover of the many possibilities this wondrous world beholds. But I have a checklist, and there’s many I didn’t list here, so let’s just make sure we get these things clear before you take me anywhere. 

 

Girl Crush

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So I have this theory that everything happens for a reason. It’s not a religious, kumbaya “God has a plan for me,” -type realization either. I say this because when I look back at my life, teetering now on the ripe ‘ol age of 26, things have happened and I’ve seen the reason for their occurrence. People came into my life to add something to it, and, if it was meant to be they stayed. Or they’ll come back, like Gandalf. This is something I firmly believe, and, at the same time, when I look up at the cosmos, I don’t think there’s some immortal white guy in a big chair staring down at me directing traffic. Sorry, I just don’t. 

But I do think things happen for a reason. And I’m going to give an example. And you’re going to like it, so buckle up. 

I’ve been hanging out more with some girls lately. Two of them, to be exact. Two awesome females each with unique style on their side. One I met when we were in high school or thereabouts, had a bit of a gap in between where we were doin’ our own thang, and then had our friendship rebirth once she applied to be my editorial intern. Ah, a match made in magazine heaven. We got along swell, and we worked great together. The other girl happens to be said writing girl’s friend and is also a writer. Both of them are equal parts lovely and rad. 

And here is why. 

These girls, we’ll call them Sam and Lana, have changed my outlook on female friendship. For the first time I wanna yell, “where my girls at?!” like I’m in some Destiny’s Child video. Heyo, waving my arms back and forth in front of a neon screen. I don’t want to put gum in their hair, slutshame them or write about them in a burnbook. Not that I have ever wanted to do that, anyway, but I’m trying to get at “typical” girl-on-girl behavior in an example of its nasty underbelly. No, this union between me, and Sam and Lana is all the real, dense mass of something blossoming. Something deep. 

In saying this I want to make sure to say I have felt a lot of my prior friendships with women to be strong. Very, in fact. I have another awesome friend, let’s call her Michelle, who started out as my random college roommate. I just spent the weekend with in the city and was reminded of why she’s been in my life so steadily since we met. She’s fun, understanding and complex. She’s helped me through very hard times in life. 

I think with Sam and Lana, for the first time in my life, I understand why the friendships I’ve made with women in the past lasted and why ones faded away. 

Minor segue, but I recently got out of an on-off relationship, and I guess it was for the usual reasons. Partner didn’t love himself. And I’m realizing that maybe I wasn’t loving myself properly, either. To give love, you need to have it for yourself first. That’s when the most loving happens. That’s when love really takes flight and kicks ass. And after I got out of this relationship, I realized that more fully. That which I was blind to because I love that person so freaking much. I still do. But nothing can ever truly grow if one person or both is stunting the self-love. 

So now, more than ever, I want to give love to somebody. And it’s because I’m loving and accepting more of myself. I want to show somebody how nerdy I can be over Star Trek: The Next Generation, how crazy cat lady-like I am or how I have ten different editions of the same book. Those things are damn cool and get with it or get lost! I mean, don’t go anywhere, you know what I mean. 

Sam and Lana started helping me believe that I’m a human being and that’s okay. I have faults, sure, everyone does in one way or another. But those quirks are what make you, you. They helped me see that I’m not a wandering, aimless machine. I have a say in my own happiness. 

Also, that I’m a good writer. And to be honest, that means so infinitely much. Because writing is where I find my worth. They read my short stories and said hell yes, please show me more of this. Fuck yeah, that detail there is amazing. Keep writing. 

And they are honest too. They call me out when they think I might be hiding something. Sheltering myself in my thoughts like a camper in a rainstorm. I still can’t escape some insecurities, just now writing this I went back and said “you should erase the ‘I’m a good writer part’ from above, that sounds pompous.” But isn’t that what we’re supposed to be saying to ourselves? That we’re good at something? Isn’t that how we get to the next level? The answer is yes. 

They believe in me. I feel the sincerity in what they write in comments on my papers. They really do want us all to excel at our craft. That which is the divine process of stringing words together to make them resonate with our fellow human. Good stuff. 

Know what else they help me understand? Sex. No and not in the dirty way you’re thinking…even better. 

Sam and Lana helped me own my fucking womanhood. They told me my clitoris is my friend, and if you want to ride the orgasm train to orgasmtown by yourself, you should do that and do it now. Hell, do it all day. Do it in your office when you have 15 minutes of free time. No, really you should. Not that I was a prude before, but I wasn’t exactly Madame Bijou at the Moulin Rouge, either. I still have things to learn ~winky face~

So get this: Up until very, very recently (we’ll call this day YESTERDAY), I had never had a self-stimulating orgasm.

I know, I know it’s actually kind of silly. I’m given this delightful collection of orgasmable parts and I’m not putting them to use when I’m alone. Ay, carumba! But that is all in the past now and hey, who knows, maybe I’ll get comfortable enough in one of my future blogs to describe how completely and totally, hmm, wonderful and liberating that was. Ahhh. 

Soooo… it’s great, thanks to Sam and Lana I’m working my way to being comfortable with my sexuality. And I think there’s important depth there because no, I’m not gay or bi or trans or the myriad of other things a human is capable of being (and that are all TOTALLY, completely fine for them to be). I’m straight, and I might be in the majority, but that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily all ooey and gooey and super in touch with it. I don’t watch porn because I’m scared, I don’t let myself get lost in sexy thoughts, I don’t explore. I’m ashamed. But I don’t want to be. 

There’s one more vital point in my knowing that Sam and Lana have a known place in my life. When I’m not with them, sharing our views at our weekly writing group, I feel like I’m missing something. A gap. 

And that’s what friendship is, that’s what friendship can be. Getting to a point with your fellow woman where you feel like they add something to your life, and, without it, you aren’t quite whole. And my current group of lady friends really fulfills that for me. Not only with Sam and Lana, but the other women in my life as well. 

I’ve thought before that I’m friends with certain women because we have things in common. We complain about the same stuff and that’s probably the extent of it. No, it’s really deeper than that. Much deeper. These women satisfy a part of me that’s hungry. Hungry for acceptance. Hungry for appreciation of my femininity and all that’s marvelously separate from a man. We’re all a part of this thing called existence, but being a woman is awesome. 

This is one of the things I’m going on a journey to seek and understand. I’m going to do that through writing this blog. 

Hey, hi, nervous wave. This is probably one of the most honest things I’ve ever written. I’m excited to start being more honest with myself. All ye welcome aboard.