06 Aug Rooted in Fear
BY AIDEN AITKEN
Intense fear experienced as a child has a habit of leaving carved impressions in the grain of the soul; or if you’re a bit more rational in your outlooks you could say that childhood trauma can have a long-term impact on a person’s later attitudes, worldview and phobias. Either way you get the same result – emotional scar tissue which can cling to you long after the events which caused them.
Unless you grew up in an Enid Blyton story there are likely moments and events from your childhood that you would rather not return to, or which still colour your perceptions of the world. One of my earliest and strongest causes of fear as a child was to hear my mother’s smoking-cough. It was the first suggestion that this figure of nurturing protection, understanding and comfort was not immortal; your mum can get sick. If she can get sick, she can die. If she can die, you can be left alone in this world.
Looking back I see how this early confrontation with mortality stained me with neuroses and the fear of death, both mine and others. As a somewhat troubled teenager I was convinced that my life had a set track; my mother would eventually die, I would be entirely incapable of holding my life together in her absence and therefore would inevitably end up on the streets in a life of desperate, grasping brutality which would finally come to an end when a bad winter picked me off.
It took a long time to realise that this path of life-progression was not only uncertain but deeply unlikely. Such fears are like a poisoned tree with blackened, bitter roots set deep in the soil of your psyche. Uprooting it is no small feat without some kind of assistance, but then we’re conditioned to avoid asking for help with these issues.
Though our embedded fears may spoil any and all aspects of the life we’re trying to live, we still do what we can not to confront them; trauma has a tendency to discourage repeated viewings. With the help of a skilled therapist you can begin to navigate the dark forest of your nightmares. A skilled therapist is an invaluable guide to the murkier waters of your unconscious mind. As a nervous teen, how much could I have benefitted from a session in which I realised then and there why I was so sure of my doomed fate, and how it was linked to fearing the loss of my mother?
To go even further, could all of this have been avoided in the first place had my mother utilised hypnotherapy to overcome her dependency on nicotine? It’s a technique which has a fantastic success rate and doesn’t simply transfer your addictions into a different method of intake, but actually allows you to go within and confront the very reason for your habit.
The longer we avoid confronting the sapling of trauma the harder it is to eventually uproot the mighty oak it can become. As a people we finally seem to be moving away from the old, poisonous logic that taught us that to show weakness is death, that we must keep up the appearance of casual happiness even when our internal framework, be it mental or spiritual, is collapsing under the strain of our secret burdens.
Don’t hate yourself for having strange fears; in fact don’t even hate the fears. I’m now conscious as an adult of the difficulties faced by the homeless, and I cannot help but feel it was my earlier obsession that lead to this consciousness. I help where I can, and if it was my trauma that lead to these actions of charity then I suppose I took whatever edible fruit I could from the tree of fear before I tore it down.
First Published on www.workingtherapies.co.uk