The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

The other night I was sure I was going to die in my sleep.

This is not a joke.

I had the worst stress headache, and as I lay in bed, torturing myself with thoughts of an imagined tumor taking over my brain, I melodramatically turned to Marc and whispered, “This may be the last time I ever see you.”

There was a pause before my (loving) husband turned to me and responded, “Okay then. NIGHT NIGHT!”

Then he kissed me on the forehead, and turned off his bedside lamp.

Please don’t think any less of him. He knows well enough to ignore me when I am at my most dramatic.

And what do you know?

I woke up just fine.

But dying in my sleep is one of my most irrational fears. You know the ones – the ones prone to poking their heads out of the ground, always at the least opportune moments, like little satanic thought gophers.

How I feel about satanic thought gophers.

The ones that once you know that they’re there, you are hard pressed to stop thinking about them; until, of course, you go slightly mad (just like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.)

In short, they are the absolute worst.

But as we all have them, I would like to take this time to  share few others of mine – fears that always, always know how to get the best of me:



Just don’t.


I hate balloons.

They are terrible, and they make me want to vomit.

I hate the feel of them; the smell of them. I hate the way they sound, and I hate knowing that someone’s spittle is trapped inside of them, just waiting to break free.

I hate when they pop, but more than that I hate when they become sad, flaccid demi-balloons – not yet depleted of their disgusting saliva-soaked oxygen supply, but empty enough to just sag about, hovering inches above the floor.

Above all else however, I hate balloons because of the story my mum told my sisters and I about a young boy who came into her ER (many moons ago before she became a lawyer), who almost died because a balloon had become lodged in his throat.

You see, while trying to blow one up, he had taken a big breath in, and along with the breath went the balloon.

How scary is that?

How scary is that hearing this story when you’re five years old?

So I hate balloons because they, like my imagined brain tumors, are trying to kill me.

Airplane toilets.

I’m not the biggest fan of flying any way you slice it, but I’ve done so much of it in my life that I can deal.

What scares me the most, however, are the toilets.

Call me crazy, but I am super sure that one day I will flush one of them and then be sucked down into the recesses of the plane.

Just think about that.


And it is because of this that I never, ever flush one without having first washed up, and then having my hand ready to go on the door lock/handle for the quickest escape possible.

Because after I press that button, I need to be out of there like a flash.

(Like a flush?)

Not knowing what the future holds.

It can be a little scary, right?

Not airplane toilet scary, but a little frightful nevertheless.

(Especially for a control-freak, compulsive planner, like me.)


And I’m slowly seeing how exciting not knowing really can be.

What about you dudes?

What scares you?

I promise to hold your hand as you tell me.

Published by

Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

42 thoughts on “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

  1. I feel like the king of irrational fears. Not that I walk around dreading everything, but my mind plays like ‘Final Destination’ style scenerios wherein I die spectacularly.

    1. I knew I could count on a great response from you! While that is a bit bonkers (and definitely terrifying), it is delightful and hilarious nevertheless. :)

  2. Have you read Woody Allen’s NY Times piece about hypochondria and being an alarmist? It’s great. Also, your post made me think of his character in Hannah and Her Sisters–who was convinced that the ringing in his ears was due to a brain tumor…

  3. Hahaha, I love Marc’s response to the melodrama! That’s how J is with me too. But falling asleep and dying is not such a comforting thought… I could understand that fear. And airplane toilets are totally freaky! It’s the whir and crash noises they make, like the whole plane could depressurize right there.

    My fears seem to be mostly illogical. Spiders top my list and I’m so so grateful that Cobalt has a penchant for killing (and eating – gross!) the ones that come into my house because EEEEK! And slugs and snails make me retch, so so ew… Give me snakes, bugs, worms, anything but those slimy buggers. My biggest real fear? Living a boring life. It sounds silly but honestly, I cringe at the thought of not living my time on this earth to the fullest, of not being a catalyst for the positive in the lives of others. It scares me more than all the crazy things I do – worse than any rock climbing accident, bomb threat, or skydiving mishap.

    Great topic and excellent food for thought, as always dearest! Love that photo of you!!

    1. Haha! I love that Cobalt is taking care of business when it comes to bugs and spiders. We love Nymeria for that too (but she certainly loves to toy with her pray before killing it!)

      I totally, TOTALLY get what you mean about living life to the fullest. I feel that so much too, and the idea of wasting such a marvelous adventure terrifies me.

      HOWEVER, I have a very, VERY good feeling that you have nothing to be scared about! And that you never, ever will) :)

  4. Loving your post – thanks so much for sharing -great topic today:) I have been learning to accept and embrace the unknown and those rational (irrational) fears too. Airplane toliets and those toliets that sound like they are literally taking off – so not acceptable in this day and age. I have had one of those flying toliets give me a spritz shower – YUCKO! My biggest fear is going into the water in a car – do not know where it comes from – but it scares the crud out of me. Happy Hump Day:)

    1. URG. The toilet spritz is THE WORST. I’m also afraid of the airplane toilet sucking out all my internal organs (I know that’s crazy but it’s true!)

      The water in the car thing IS terrifying. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

      I am glad we are embracing the unknown together! There is strength in numbers. :)

  5. Yeah, your husband and my husband have similar responses to drama. Thank goodness.

    For me it’s cotton balls. I hate the sound they make and I hate the way they feel. For some reason it makes my teeth hurt. I think it’s because of the cotton they put in your mouth at the dentist—so obviously I have to do a lot of deep breathing during that portion of cleanings. Ugh.

    1. Cotton balls ARE terrible! I’ve never really thought about it, but YES. They are weird and do make a terrible sound! Sets me on edge.

      And I am glad that there are other drama queens out there for me to bond with! x

  6. yesterday, talking to a ‘mate in a different office, he asked what i was eating. “ROOOOTH roooth rooth” i replied, like that deformed guy in goonies. then … the “JAWS” scene from Caddyshack, and the BillMurry character sez (when the pool is drayned) … “my babe rooth candybar!”
    i axually sort of want to die in my sleep, rather than screaming metal death, or crumpled due to some moronic axxidental trauma off the trail. would the dawgs guard the corpse, then start eating it?
    (minor edit: under yore XXXsellent pixure, put a “t” in with thought gophers)

    and i can’t imagine YOU stressedoubt! if you don’t really havvit awl, yoove gawt enuff to continue to be a shining beacon to the horrid florrid torrid morass of mediocrity trying to drag the wrest uv the whirled down to, oh, anonymity.

    1. OMG. SLOTH!! HEEEEEEY YOOOOOOUUUU GUUUUUUYYYYSSS. Goonies for the win. One of my faves OF LIFE. Must have watched that flick upwards of fifty times as a kid. Still makes me laugh just thinking about it. And the fact that you replied to that question in that way is cracking me up SO HARD. Combined with the Caddyshack reference? I may not get a lick of work done today…

      I get wanting to die in your sleep when you are like…100. But it’s too early to go that way as of now. Dogs are so much for loyal than cats. They would for sure guard your body, but cats would be all over it like a Vegas buffet.

      And on my goodness, I think I must project a much different version of myself on this here blog. I am a looney tune at the best of time. :)

  7. And balloons will never be the same again.
    I’m a little bit uncomfortable with vacuum cleaners. I can use them, but there’s a bit of residual trauma from my sister chasing me with one of those horrible 1980s thundering models when I was little. Oh, and when I got to the wall and could run no further, she’d pick up the vacuum (still on) and watch me climb. All the while cackling maniacally.
    Did I mention I’m also afraid of laughter?

    1. LOL! Ack…I’m sorry! And holy smokes, I totally get the vacuum thing. That is SUCH a big sister story I don’t even know what to do with it. :) I also can imagine why laughter (especially the evil kind) could give you the chills!

      But seriously, this note was just the best. Even if it was sharing a childhood trauma!

  8. Hahahaha. No, that’s mean-spirited. I don’t want to laugh at your fears. But, it’s just funny, because as I read this, four errant balloons from the premiere party are floating sinisterly around my living room floor.

    As for me: Skytrain stations. More specifically, walking underneath them. One day, I am certain, the overpass at Commercial and Broadway will collapse on top of me. You read it here first.

    1. Laugh away, seriously. I made a point not to touch any of those balloons if I could. (Nothing against your balloons of course, it just is what it is.)

      And yeah, what is UP with the skytrain thing? THAT IS TERRIFYING!

  9. I remember you telling me about your dislike/hatred of balloons but I didn’t know the back story! Now it all makes sense! My biggest fear is belly buttons but I’m sure I have plenty of other strange ones if I sat and thought about it! Another hilarious post!

  10. Oh, Vanessa…when melodrama is running high, a dear friend and I utilize the phrase, “Watch my show!” This is how we feel when the melodrama sets in. We just want someone to watch our show! And it’s so good that we have people in our lives, [your Marc and my Lee], who do not throw bouquets of roses on the stage nor rotten veggies while we perform these “shows!”

    1. And as for unfounded fears: alligators, crocodiles, the fear/thrill of walking on the rafters above a stage, and walking up a never ending winding staircase while sand pours down from above. Oi.

      1. The staircase sounds awful! Do you dream that? Alligators and crocodiles are terrifying! Hopefully there are very few to run into in Illinois. :)

    2. That is brilliant! Seriously lady, you have the BEST lines. You need to write this down and get them published/aired. They are too good not too!

      And yes, thank goodness the rotten veggies have yet to be introduced into our relationship! Hahaha!

  11. This was fantastic. My fiance and I take turns thinking we’re going to die. One night it’s me with an aneurysm in the bedroom, the next night it’s him with a heart attack while driving. It’s like a game of Clue where the culprit is always underlying stress or a mental disorder, but you think it’s everyone else. Also – I hate the dark. Still. And spiders. Obviously. And wooden bridges that look like they’re going to break when I step on them. I’m sure there are other things but I’m still dwelling on how horrible it would be to have to cross a wooden bridge full of spiders in the dark.

    1. Thank you so much! Glad that you enjoyed it. :) And so good to hear that I am not the only one who acts like this! Also your last sentence definitely made me laugh out loud. I hope that you never, EVER encounter that!

  12. I am irrationally afraid of alligators. I mean being afraid of alligators in and of itself is probably not irrational, but the very sound of the word gives me chills.

    1. Alligators are bloody terrifying! I would not want to be stuck in the middle of some Floridian bayou not knowing when one would come out and snatch me. (That’s not helping with the fear, is it?) But I get exactly what you’re saying. :)

      Also – my Urban Outfitter watch came yesterday! It is awesome, and I have you to thank for that! x

      1. Ha! Florida is the armpit of the word’s armpit.

        Let me know how you like it! My watch band broke in the middle of Paris, so I am debating between waiting and buying that sucker, or sucking it up (ha) and buying one here.

  13. I relate so much to “little satanic thought gophers”. They have created a master-planned community of tunnels in my mind.

  14. ALL THE THINGS. Satanic thought gophers have been the cause of much stress and many migraines. Mostly Nazis, serial killers, the dark, and falling(not heights, necessarily, just falling off of them). Also new social situations and large groups of people. So much anxiety. But also working on it:)


      And yikes! Those are some serious things to be scared of! (Remind me to never star in a movie with you because I am sure to be one of the Act 1 victims!!)

      Glad to hear that the anxiety is being worked on – I know that all too well. :)

  15. The title says it all – the only thing we have to fear is fear itself because then we become frozen and unable to live life!

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