This time the call was different. Instead of saying he couldn't find the checkbook, he’d convinced himself the bank had stolen his money.

Dad’s freedom came from carrying his own checkbook, his keys and his dignity.

"They won't give me my money," he said when I came through the door. We paid his bills together, at the beginning of each month, after the government dropped his Social Security into his account. I can only hope to be that lucky by the year 2029.

His deep-seated phobia the banks may close their doors at any time prompted him to bury money. It could be found between mattresses, in empty mayonnaise jars or in the toes of his shoes. After looking at his jumbled checkbook I decided the only way to resolve his distrust of the bank was to go there with him and figure it out. Overdrawn and overly emotional, Dad couldn't believe he could have forgotten to write down several withdrawals. Eventually we squared everything up and he walked out of the bank feeling the bank people were honest "good ole' boys" who were looking out for him and his money.

Fears and phobias go hand in hand and to be rid of them, whether they are true or imaginary, is to be free.

Everyone has their internal fears they carry around with them. Sometimes fear rides up front and tries to take over the wheel and the only way to get rid of it is to slam on the brakes and face it head on.

In my early 30s - who knows how or why it began - I woke up one day and my body decided it was scared to be in close quarters. No reason, nothing trauma-induced, it just happened.

Enclosed places would send me into a sweat, panic, going-to-pass-out frenzy. I’d rather climb six flights of stairs than ride the elevator. At the movies I could only sit on the end seat. Standing in lines I felt I could scream, "air, I need air."

I can't pinpoint when it happened but that part of my mind, which was freaking out, got together with my rational self and said "this is stupid." I desperately wanted to get past these feelings of anxiety so I decided to get back into the drivers' seat and put fear in the trunk. It was no easy task.

I started with my fear of being stuck in an elevator. Sure, the people at Macy’s started to think I was strange after watching me go up and down the three floors through the glassed-in windows, four times in a row but I walked out of the elevator thinking "that wasn't so bad." I went to the movies and sat in the middle of the row; in the middle of the theater until eventually I stopped thinking which way I could get out the quickest and enjoyed the show.

Fear of what might happen can be paralyzing. I’ve learned to face my fears but it still lingers near. There really are true life boogie-men and monsters but I’m trying really hard not to let their evilness push panic and fear back into my driver’s seat.

If you let fear keep you from being free that’s scarier than the crazy and mean people.

 

-- Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com