American Writer, Photographer, and Website Designer. Former career Fire and EMS Lieutenant. She/Her/Lesbian.

The Fear I Cannot Hide


It is curious how one’s fears change as we grow older. When I was a child, I had the typical and classic childhood fears; fear of the dark, fear of death, fear of getting hurt, but above all else, I had an irrational and overwhelming fear of mirrors. Fear is the emotional paralytic that draws us near, and is oftentimes the fear I cannot hide.

Westholm Hotel Selfie

I never wrote much about my fears growing up. I remember in my teenage years I wrote about my fears of growing old, being alone, and never finding love. Perhaps my greatest fear, which still permeates to this day is the fear of being judged, and although I’m not insecure, I still care far too much about what other people think.

This year was a productive one, yet when autumn comes around, I have a bad habit of evaluating, overanalyzing, and picking apart that which I created, moreover that which I still plan to accomplish before the end of the year, knowing full well that I create more plans than I could ever possibly, or humanly accomplish. Today I thought about all the stupid things I said this year. Things, for which I believe with absolute conviction were quickly forgotten, though because I still remember saying them, I’m still irrationally affected by them. When I was younger, I longed to be an adult, now as an adult, I long to have my childhood back, if only for a day of fun and freedom, and a total lack of responsibilities.

Winter arrived suddenly and unexpectedly this year. It began with a storm that came in strong, shook the trees, and blew away all of the autumn leaves, then took away an otherwise perfect blue sky, and turned it into to a mockingky sad hazy grey.

It seems the older I get, the more my mood and feelings are dependant on the seasons, and just like my mind, they are always changing. I cannot remember the last time I was happy, at least in recent years, all I seem to focus upon is the very distant past filled with happier times. Distant and faded memories of a much earlier and easier time in my life, before I unavoidably got caught up in all that life has to offer.

Here Stood My Dreaming Tree

I decided to visit my childhood home one Sunday afternoon and gaze upon the tree stump where once stood my dreaming tree. It was once a large maple tree, perhaps the biggest and the tallest one to stand on my parents property, and to me, the most beautiful. Standing in front of the stump made me sad to realize that it was now dead and would now only exist in my memory.

It was the last day of October that I went to visit a family friend; an elderly woman who had helped raise me, and someone who I had admired almost my entire life. After the passing of her late husband, Clayt, and her two best friends, Frank and Carol, I knocked at her door. While all the little children were walking around her neighborhood, dressed in store-bought Halloween costumes collecting candy, my visit, a social reunion, somehow seemed exponentially more important.

I knocked at her door, and after a few passing moments she answered the door, recognized me immediately, and a tear appeared in her eye. A sudden hug followed and she whispered in my ear that she had missed me and that I should come and sit for awhile.

We talked for awhile, as the minutes slowly turned into hours and as I gazed into her eyes, I was able to summon the courage to let her know what she meant to me, and how she was the last surviving elder whom I considered to be one of my childhood heroes. I will never forget how good it felt to sit on her couch and cry in front of her for the very first time; a moment to finally grieve the loss of her husband, and her two best friends, all of them I considered to be family, and who I perceived to be grandparents to me.

There was an unforgettable relief that surrounded me, and at that ephemeral moment the front door which hadn’t closed all the way, suddenly flew open with a gust of wind and slammed shut as if to signify the closing of a decades-long chapter in my own life, a loss which will never be forgotten that is now gone forever and can never be replaced.

As I got up to say goodbye it occurred to me that someday, all my heroes will be ghosts. From that point forward, it occurred to me that I should always tell people how much they truly mean to me and how much I truly love and respect them before it’s too late.

The images used in this post came from previously posted photographs, Here Stood My Dreaming Tree, and Westholm Hotel Selfie.

It Came Without Warning | Addicted To A Certain Kind Of Sadness | Keyframe | Desideratum

25 responses to “The Fear I Cannot Hide”

      • That’s very awesome. It was beautiful as I said. How you discussed your fears and got to a place of standing strong with love, and speaking of love. Love >fear.

        And I think maybe this post signified closing the door (or starting to!) so to speak on your fear of being judged. Your writing is honest, and vulnerable and strong and also shows your good heart and brilliance. Representing your authentic self through your writing is very beautiful and inspiring.

  1. Well we all have fears one way or the other in my case, that would be the fear of being unwanted and not needed. Of course there is your standard physical fear such as bugs, reptiles. I just do not like those.

  2. I think the fear of being judged is more comon that it seems to be, but only brave people like you admit it openly.

  3. Fear is one thing that have always kept us from doing what we really want to do especially fear of the unknown. I had childhood fears too but I have lived above them now.

  4. “Overwhelming fear of mirrors’.. wow that like breaking the iceberg for me. I love seeing myself in the mirror when I was so little… I always call the image Jake’s Jn. Tell me about what brought about the fear Tom?

  5. It is always good to speak your heart as long as you are alive. We remain with memories of people after death.

  6. Silence when you are suppose to speak out mind will gradually kill out your focus. You noticed there was an unforgettable relief that surrounded you after speaking out.

  7. Your write up brought tears to my eyes..that elderly woman must have appreciated your visit…you are right tom,all our heroes won’t live forever.. We just have to tell them how important they are to us..

  8. This is why we should always shun rancor and fight, because before you know it, people start passing on and we might not stop missing them for life. It sad but true that we can’t live forever.

  9. I’m not sure why you wanted to make me cry today, sir. Goodness! From your transparency in revealing your fading happiness, to your use of descriptive words, to your visit and grief. All of it struck so many cords. Healing cords. And I hope the same goes for you. That you’re healing, and looking more forward to the happiness that is possible, both now and in the future.

  10. Would you consider the thought that maybe now you are indeed facing your fears? Like how that photo of you pictured facing a mirror is a symbol that you are facing those fears head on this time around. And putting confidence in yourself that you will overcome the challenges you’re facing and any other fears you think you have. I’ve just started reading some of your posts , thanks for sharing your journey with us! I think it’s a great idea that you’ve chosen to put them into writing.

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