Confession: I am deathly afraid of ice and slush. Not a good thing when I live near Boston–and on top of a hill.
I was going to go out today, to do some work and then to see a movie with a friend. As soon as I walked out the door and saw how slippery it was, my anxiety kicked up. I tried to walk. For about three minutes, I took baby steps. I probably looked like a baby. But it didn’t take long for me to just say, “Screw it. I’m not going out today.”
I called my friend and told him I won’t be joining him for the movie. He was understanding, but he still tried to bargain with me.
“What if I picked you up at your place and dropped you off right in front of the Carpenter Center? Then I’d park, and you wouldn’t have to walk very far.”
It was tempting, but even this did not win me over. To quite Bob Dylan, I “aint goin’ nowhere.”
Unlike some other fears I have, there is some logic behind this one. I’ve lived with a mild form of vertigo for most of my life, and my balance has always been poor. So when Boston becomes a slippery mess, it makes sense that I’d want to avoid it.
But here’s the thing: I’ve lived up here for 10 years now. I know what winters are like. And it’s not like I haven’t fallen on my ass before. When that happened, I just picked myself up and went on. I might have had some aches and pains, but it’s never been anything serious. I know this. So even though there’s logic behind this fear, there is also avoidance. And avoidance can be unhealthy.
Because of my vertigo, my mother wouldn’t let me ride a bike or go ice skating when I was little. I know she was trying to protect me. But from this, I learned that avoidance can be a “safe” survival tool. I don’t think this is necessarily good. Several of my cousins also have vertigo, yet they still learned to do things like ski and ride motor cycles. That’s probably a better way to deal with vertigo than what I grew up with.
But to some extent, I can’t help but be the product of my own history and experiences. I know I’m not the only one. At the first mental illness support group I ever attended, several people talked about their fear of falling on the ice and snow. I have noticed that group attendance sometimes goes down in the winter. I wouldn’t be surprised if this fear is one of the reasons for that.
Bottom line: I’m staying inside today. I’m avoiding the ice and the slush. Whether it’s good or bad, I don’t know. As the song says, I’m planting my ass “down in the easy chair” until this storm passes.