Fear has moved in with me, although I don’t remember even inviting the little bastard for a visit. He is a loud clamorous pasty-faced imp that stands on chairs and shouts his admonitions constantly in a whiney nasally voice. I am really too polite to shove his annoying ass out of my brain. He knows this and has now taken over most of the space.

Comfort is Fear’s fat lethargic cousin sitting on the couch with a beer and three-day stubble. It is much easier to ignore the fact that he occasionally belches a reminder that I have so much to lose were I to do something I truly love. It’s not worth the risk, he grunts, just not worth it. He always returns to watching endless reruns of “Gilligan’s Island,” as if to passively make the point of what can happen if you are so stupid as to attempt adventure.

Each day I wake up to make the long drive to work. Each day I leave slightly more dead inside. Each day is just another day. Last week was so challenging for me, I was exhausted and spent any down time, staring listlessly into space. “You can’t do it,” Doubt reminds me. That bitch is smoother and more polished than the other two; she is well dressed and sharp as a tack. When the others are preoccupied with other things such as car repairs she saunters over in feigned concern. Her chiding wit goads me to back away from anything preposterous such as taking a chance at life.

Doubt looks a bit like Cruella de Vil. She condescendingly points out that I am a jack-of-all-trades and master of none; zero expertise. She takes a long drag on her cigarette and looks down at me in contemptuous pity. “Silly girl, who would pay you to do something worthwhile?” She shakes her head sadly and my head droops. The boys come scampering back, and they pat my head and remind me it’s for the best. Better to just stay put, don’t try, that way you won’t fail.

Failure, of course, doesn’t ever show up. I won’t let that one in the door. It is neither male nor female, but a large hairy monster of indescribable ferocity. I know that meeting with this creature means certain death. It is without question the one being I dread most. The squatters Doubt, Fear and Comfort are mild in comparison and they assure me that as long as I listen to their wisdom, Failure will never rear its terrifying head. It is out there and one wrong move, I know it will come and that will be, the end, of that. Life will end.

I have heard stories of its visitations. It walks slowly and deliberately. The muffled heavy step of Failure is most audible when things stop going as you had planned. Running away is the only option available to avoid smelling the demise of hope on it’s breath, the meaty bloody remains of its former victims hang in it’s teeth like partially burnt curtains after a house fire.

I do remember being nearly consumed by this beast. I could smell it’s putrid body odor and I ran. I ran and ran and ran. I honestly don’t know how I escaped with my life. The experience was so painful and humiliating, I don’t know how I was able to walk into a new job. So now I am here, too petrified to make a move towards something real.

When I read something encouraging, well, I develop selective hearing loss. The voices of the obnoxious trio fade into the background replace by the melodic voice of Hope. Hope is a dragonfly; she flutters about with purpose although you are never quite certain what she is up to. Will she land on me today? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, I am afraid she has been badly abused. So she is hesitant and reluctant to settle too close.

Hope has experienced what Failure can do to her. It crushes her wings in a vice-like grip reducing her to pulverized dust. But, like a phoenix she is resurrected; usually at the most inconvenient moments. Her voice is a vibrant song silencing the grounded reasoning of Fear, Doubt and Comfort. She can hush them for a time but she needs to be fed in order to grow. Sadly Hope needs an elixir I don’t own made of Strength and Courage. A dash of Daring makes the elixir especially potent.

Photography by Tanya K. Ehlert Copyright © 2015

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