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Do not let your irrational fears hold you back

March 31, 2012

At this very moment my son “B” and I are on our way to Nashville to visit his brother.  I am typing on my iPad in an effort to get my mind off the fear and trepidation I feel as we approach I-40 which will take us from Jackson, Tenn. into the Music City, if we’re lucky.

I’m convinced this is the most treacherous roadway in the Southeast. It reminds me of the freewheeling, speed-freaking Autobahn in Germany where the speed limit is nonexistent. 

My little Rav4 gets sandwiched between two 18-wheelers, and I’m down here looking up at their gargantuan tires and imagining how it would feel to get caught underneath 15,000 tons of metal and rubber
I usually drive to Jackson, then “B” must take the wheel since I tend to drive interstates at a snail’s pace with both eyes squeezed shut.

Then the fun begins. I take a death grip on safety bar, plant my feet on the dashboard and don’t let go for 120 miles. Every time he passes a truck or changes lanes I gulp, certain we are going to die.
My son gets exasperated and vows never to drive me anywhere ever again unless he can get a prescription for Xanax. I’m not sure if he means for me or for him.

He doesn’t know the half of it. I have developed other inexplicable phobias. I am afraid to walk across a bridge because I imagine someone rushing up behind me to push me over the side. Since I am a walker and there are several overpasses on my route, I dash across them with the speed of an Olympic sprinter.

Curiously, I’m also afraid of driving under overpasses. I heard that our region is overdue for an earthquake, and I bet it’s going to happen the very split second I drive underneath all that concrete.

And airplanes? Forget about it. My fear of flying has ratcheted up each year since 9/11. Several of my girlfriends want to take a trip to New York City to see some broadway plays this summer. I’ll have to leave three days earlier, on the train.

I also have a ridiculous fear of escalators, specifically going down them. My job in New Orleans required that I use one almost every day. Never could I overcome that vision of getting my pants leg caught, tripping and getting my hair sucked into the claws at the bottom.

I suffer from a few debilitating household phobias as well, especially opening those cans of refrigerated biscuits where you peel off the paper and it pops open with an explosion. I imagine gases building up inside the blowing off the back of my house.

I also have a primal reaction when forced to come into close proximity to a banana. And the sound of styrofoam pieces rubbing together drives me insane.

There’s a famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote that goes like this: “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” Maybe one day soon I’ll go to an overpass, sit on a styrofoam cooler and hold a banana. If I live through the horror, I can do anything.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers at

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