Deep Dark Water

Note: Nothing sexy in this post…

The introduction of the prompt for this week’s Food for Thought mentioned Room 101 in the book 1984 by George Orwell, and where I have read the book, I seriously can’t remember room 101. The reason for this might be that I ‘read’ this book as an audio book, and I was totally intrigued by the concept of the book itself, the way people were watched and punished for their thoughts (Thought Police) and watched by Big Brother. Of course I had to read up on Room 101, and then… I remembered.

Room 101, introduced in the climax of the novel, is the basement torture chamber in the Ministry of Love, in which the Party attempts to subject a prisoner to his or her own worst nightmare, fear or phobia, with the object of breaking down their resistance.
~ Source: Wikipedia

My thoughts went to my own fears, to the things that can be used to break my resistance.

A lot of things came to mind. There’s my fear of fire, a fear to burn to death, as I think this would be a horrible death, but if I see it in a movie, it doesn’t faze me at all. I am even more afraid of spiders, but sometimes also not as afraid of them. I can watch a movie and where I will shiver when I see the spiders, I will keep on watching, or just avert my eyes at the scenes I can’t handle. Where I now live in a country where there are little to none poisonous spiders, I grew up in one where we were constantly warned for the black widow and other deadly eight-legged creatures. I think my fear still comes from that. Nowadays I can leave a spider alone, as long as it’s not walking in my direction or walking on the ceiling right above me.

Those two things – fire and spiders – can’t be used to break my resistance.

What can be used are two other things: dark water and loud sounds.

When I walk down the street, on the pavement, and a truck or motorcycle approaches, I hear the increasing sound and I feel the panic rising deep inside me. I work near one of the bigger airports in the Netherlands, and sometimes the planes fly low over our building as they are about to land. When I walk outside, and a plane approaches, the same panic takes me in its grip. I will cover my ears with my hands. I will feel like I want to run, like I want to escape. My flight reaction is incredibly high at such a moment and it takes every bit of self control to just walk ‘normally’, and not let anyone see my panic. I just can’t handle loud sounds. If someone claps in their hands in a confined space, like in the car, I am instantly enraged and would immediately scold them and say to never do it again. It’s fear that make me snap at people in that moment.

Where does my fear for loud sounds come from?
I believe it lies in my youth, when I was a little girl of about 5 years old. My parents had visitors and sometime during the evening I woke up and went to the lounge. The visitors were just about to leave, and my father took me outside with them, on his arm. Back then, in the South Africa of the ‘apartheid’, there was a night curfew, which meant a siren went at night, at 10pm, or maybe 11pm. I was on my father’s arm when the alarm sounded very close to our house. In my sleepy state this came as an incredible shock and I was totally in panic. My parents needed the better part of the night to calm me, and from there on on I had a phobia for loud sounds. It literally hurts my ears. It feels like pain and panic and a total lost for all control, and I hate the feeling. I now know it’s called phonophobia and might be a symptom of an underlying issue.

Phonophobia, also called ligyrophobia or sonophobia, is a fear of or aversion to loud sounds—a type of specific phobia. It can also mean a fear of voices, or a fear of one’s own voice. It is a very rare phobia which is often the symptom of hyperacusis.
~ Source: Wikipedia

A low water bridge in South Africa
South Africa is beautiful, and the low water bridges are less intrusive than their big brothers (source).

My fear for dark water stems from my youth too. South Africa has a lot of low water bridges, which means the bridge is barely higher than the river running under it. The road mostly runs down to the bridge, and there are no railings on the bridge itself. Those bridges are perfectly okay, until there’s a flood and the river comes down. Then they can still be okay, you can still drive across them, depending on the strength of the water. My parents – no matter who was the driving at the time – both drove our low water bridges countless times, whether the water was running under it, or over it. I always tensed when we drove over it and I couldn’t see the bridge, but as a child of course I trusted the judgement of my parents. Until that one flood.The one flood where the water was dark brown and wilder than ever. My father decided to drive over the bridge. A wave of dark, muddy water engulfed the car and for several seconds we couldn’t see anything; didn’t know whether we were still on the bridge or adrift in the water. My father put the wipers on and accelerated and before we knew we were on the other side, and my father drove on as if nothing had happened, while I sat in still shock on the backseat.

That’s when the dreams started. The dreams that I am drowning. Many nights I woke up in panic, and gradually I started to teach myself not to dream of water, as I always dreamed I was drowning. I never screamed. I kept my mouth shut, not wanting to get water in it. My parents never knew about the nightmares. Partly because I never cried out, partly because I felt silly for having them, mostly because I taught myself to handle them. For years, way into my twenties, every night I went to bed I told myself: “You are not allowed to dream of dark water,” and I didn’t. When I forgot, I woke myself up when the water washed over my head.

Water over a low water bridge during a flood.
And this is my nightmare. Just looking at this image makes me feel a slight panic in my body (source).

When I came to the Netherlands, a country with a lot of water (but thankfully no low water bridges), I was always nervous when we crossed the water or drove next to water, but I am quite relaxed about now. The only thing I still won’t do, is to park next to water where there’s no railing. No Way!

For years I have also said that I will never go on a boat/ship, but in the meantime I do that too. I just refuse to think of the dark water under me, because when I do, I already feel the panic in my legs. I believe I tweeted about deep dark water when I went to London at the end of April, and I thought I was really cool to go by ferry in the dark of night, and not be panicked about it. And at the end of this month I am doing it all over again. Have I conquered my fear? I don’t think I have. I have only learned to ‘handle’ it, but if someone wants to break my resistance, dropping me in the sea in the middle of night, or driving across a low water bridge during a flood would probably be the way to do it.

© Rebel’s Notes

Food for Thought Friday
June Challenge

8 thoughts on “Deep Dark Water

  1. I think your fear of dark water is based in very real potential danger. I have taken part in some advanced driver training for rescues with Mountain Rescue, and driving through water of uncertain depth or strength is very much advised against and even a foot of water can push a car off a causeway or away from a ford (both similar to low bridges). And fear based on trauma…I wish you could throw these things away and lead a more content life, but I am glad you are conquering your fear enough to ferry over the channel. x

  2. This was such an interesting insight into your life and your past Marie, thank you for sharing. I don’t have the same issues with sounds, but I do have many, many issues with sounds (misophonia is what plagues me) so I absolutely understand how sounds can be a fear.

    I don’t have the fear of deep, dark water or water of any kind but I 100% see how folks could find water manifesting as a fear for them. It is both beautiful, life-giving and terrifying all at once. I always think that its beauty somehow makes its horror even more intense.

    I know you are an avid supporter and participant of F4TFriday, even so though it is wonderful to see you here on mine and May’s first week at the helm and I really do hope we can keep up the good work to inspire more and more awesome posts from you.

    Floss x

  3. Unexpected loud noises frighten me too . . . although I am often told I always drown-out other loud noises around me !!!
    I do love looking at water . . . though am never really comfortable if I find myself out of my depth and not able to touch the bottom !!!
    Xxx – K

  4. Wonderful post! I can relate with the water. I’ve written about my fear of drowning and the ocean. Not knowing what is beneath you, not being able to see through the water totally creeps me out. I’ve only flown over the ocean once to Germany and both flights I had to sleep so I wouldn’t panic.

  5. Dark water … I understand your fear (swimming in water like this can also be scary, not knowing what’s under you and feeling vulnerable) but there is also something very poetic sounding and evocative about the words… dark water.

  6. Wow what a thoroughly interesting post. Loved hearing about your history. I didn’t know what the fear of sounds was called – I don’t have it but do hate loud noises and just too much noise – like the continued sound of something – drives me mad. xx

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