Through the darkness she ran, hoping she would find a way out
And she ran and she ran and she ran
She heard the voices and the cackles and the sounds of her feet being masked by the noise being made in her head
And she ran and she ran and she ran
And she kept running without seeing any light, but she knew the way
She was all too familiar because she had been here many times before
She ran and she ran
Without any success
She kept running
Knowing she would not be victorious
She had done this many times before and she knew
That no matter how far you run
Your memories will follow you
Stop. Breathe. Calm down. Keep breathing. You try to swallow but you can’t because something is stopping you. You feel sick just thinking about it. You try to get it out of your head. You forget to breathe. You try to swallow over and over but you realize the blockage is your heart that has taken residence in your throat. You can’t breathe, think, swallow or get rid of it. It has, is, and will always be there – and that is what scares you the most. It’s what you’re most afraid of. It is… your fears. The thoughts, images or even memories that sometimes creep into your thoughts uninvited and begin to torment you. You can’t stop thinking about them as they become bigger and begin to occupy your mind. You try to take your mind off of them but you can’t. They are there. Once you’ve thought about it, it appears, oppresses and never departs.
Fears range from being afraid of a lizard to being petrified of the dark, or rather, what’s inside it. Fears can be from horror movies or past experiences. Anything that brings a cold shiver down your spine or a sharp pain in the pit of your stomach has a hold over you. Your greatest fear could be not passing a test or making it into college someone else’s could be not living long enough to see their kids go to college or not even being able to put their kids through college.
Fears are like fingerprints, everybody has them and everyone’s are different.
They reside in the back of your mind, waiting to be summoned by a misplaced thought and once they appear, they’re impossible to get rid of. Fears distract and destruct you. It’s not the normal kind of “scare” that you get on Halloween or when your friend jumps out at you from behind a corner. A fear is not a once off thing – it sticks around. No matter your age, gender, mental health – something scares you. Petrifies you. Steals your attention and suffocates you with thoughts about it. Something has that much power over you and has you, regardless of your physical size, feeling powerless. Our fears are the one thing in life that we can be assured we have no control over. We do not choose to dread something. We do not choose to have experienced trauma that leaves a scar of the nightmare that once was. We do not choose to feel powerless in the face of the future. We do not choose to be afraid. We do not choose to have fears. Fears are one of the constant reminders of life’s imperfections. No matter how big or small, fears tarnish the perfect image of life that is advertised by Hollywood movies and children’s storybooks. There are two ways to go about fears: fight or flee. The latter isn’t an option as no matter how far you run, your fears and all things that torment you will be one step ahead. Which leaves you with the former – fight. You can pick whichever method you want – temporary escape through intoxication or the religious approach. You will fight and fight but the truth of the matter is, you will never win. And so there is one more option – adaptation. You adapt, you invite the fears. Because just like the blood that pumps effortlessly through your veins and the air dancing around in your lungs, your fears are a feature of you. You will never get rid of them, for aslong as you are amongst the living. Accept them, and along with them, the fact that you are only human.
By Sarah Nzisabira