What Would You Name Your Fear?

“I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”

As it turns out, that Liam Neeson quote applies to me quite well. Well, not the last bit. I am generally not a nightmare.

I don’t have any money, at least not much. I do possess a very particular set of skills and have amassed those skills over a very long career. Unfortunately, if you work in IT, honing a very specific set of skills is not your friend. Especially when those skills revolve around an antiquated IBM server.

This does have something to do with fear.

I’m just taking the long way. I promise, I will circle back to work. Pretty sure this is what Randy is talking about when he says I make awkward transitions. That’s totally cool though, I’m awkward in a lot of ways. 

Anyway, we’ve had a rough patch. This isn’t my story to tell, but someone we love has been living through a harrowing and devastating health issue. The fear Randy and I are feeling over this has been choking us. I’m not religious. I wouldn’t even consider myself spiritual. But I am starting to wonder if there isn’t something to the whole “sending up good thoughts” to the universe thing, because after nearly two months, it seems like things are turning around for the better. If you have a moment, could you send up a general good thought to the universe just for anyone who needs a good thought. It can’t hurt.

The news, every single day, scares that shit out of me.

I am terrified of what is happening in our country and the world. I am ashamed of our government and sickened by the direction we are taking. I am horrified that it has become normal for me to check Twitter every morning to see if the goddamn president tweeted anything that might get us all killed. Goddamn Twitter! How is this even real life?

Which brings me back to work and my very specific set of skills. I was charged with completing a project and which involves shit that I know nothing about. This side project comes in the middle of a major upgrade project which was already making it difficult to keep up on day to day shit. If my skills weren’t so very specific, I wouldn’t be struggling with this.

You guys, my asshole brain has decided to funnel all the different fears into this project.

I am terrified of this project. I am terrified of failing. I am terrified that I’m not smart enough to finish and I will be found out. Everyone will find out that I’m not really all that bright. I will lose my job, we will lose our house, and our cars. I might also bename your fear responsible for tripping the seventh seal of hell. Or, perhaps causing reality to wink out of existence.

I can joke, but this project really has sucked. It has sucked on a “laying awake and staring at the ceiling at 2 AM” level. It has sucked on a “take anxiety medicine every day” level. All is not lost, though. I’m at least only taking one pill a day. If I took it as prescribed, I could take it up to once every 4 hours. It’s been over 5 years since I’ve taken my anxiety medicine as prescribed. So I have that going for me.

Anyway, Randy posted this article about fear on my Twitter account. I wanted to link to it, but I can’t find it and every time I look for it, I get caught up in reading news on Twitter. Oh, Sessions got confirmed. I am yet again feeling that “not shocked at all and also want to vomit” feeling.  (Here’s the article – Ed.)

What stuck with me in the article was the suggestion to name your fear.

I kind of did this already in past blog posts, where I named my anxiety. Like Mindy Thundercunt. But I name my anxiety a mean name and didn’t at all try to make friends with her. This article suggests giving your fear an actual name and treating it kindly. Reassure your newly named fear that everything will be fine.

I’m going to try this. I’m naming my fear Molly after a little girl I went to school with. I was an anxious and scared little girl. I remember Molly because I recognized the pinched look on her face. I could see me in her expressions.

I have a meeting this Friday about the project that my brain has decided might end my existence as I know it. I have to go to this meeting and I have no choice but to take Molly with me.

I’m going to try holding her hand.


Photo courtesy of Alexas Fotos


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  • On my, what a great idea. My fear vs faith quotient is way out of wack these days. I dub my fear Linda D. – my arch nemesis throughout elementary school. She was the girl who got everything I wanted, while I was the weird kid, who got what weird looking kids got. Maybe if I see my fear through a child’s eyes again I’ll be able to insert faith and quiet my crazy anxiety.

  • Everyone talks about how great change is and how it’s wonderful to stretch our skills and learn new things. They always leave the gut wrenching scary part out. That cold feeling in the pit of your stomach where you just know they’re going to find out you know diddly and call you on it.
    I admire you so much for seeing this through and for working in an area that scares the pants off me – keeping up with IT is so out of my comfort zone – all those young things nipping at your heels. Hang in there and show them what you’re made of. I bet in six months you’ll be writing a post on how you and Molly kicked arse!! xx

    • Hahah..thank you! Although no one is nipping at my heels. I am a dinosaur in this field. Very VERY few people are learning this technology. You know how you sometimes see those black screens with green letters? That is what I work on.

  • My fear is named Reptilicus. We’re not friends though battling him (with my vorpal sword of puns and absurdities) is certainly a helpful distraction.

    Good luck tomorrow. May the force be with you and shit. AND remember that you are smarter, more capable and talented than you think you.


  • Michelle, I adore your “awkward” transitions. They’re part of your charm.
    Name that fear. That bitch that wakes me in the night clutching my guts I will call PussyCryBabyFace. Because she’s trying to sabotage me. I, too, have an overwhelming project. Put myself on display in a big way. Success or failure rests squarely on my efforts. Many are watching and some secretly want to see me go down in flames. Fuck those fuckers.
    Breathe in, breathe out. Ask for help. You will rise to the challenge, because that’s what you do.
    And many good thoughts going into the uni today for all the suffering, sad and hurting people. ❤

  • Michelle – you are great at your job, but you are amazing at your calling – writing. When people think about you, do they remember you for your IT skills or your insightful, funny writing? Which one deeply affects the most people? You manage to write a compelling post every, single day. If you ever left the world of IT and focused full-time on writing we would all be waiting to buy your books.

    • That’s kind of my dream..but it’s no more than a dream right now. I am working on a project. Well, I have been for a while. And thank you so much. I needed this.

  • I live streamed this lecture a few years back on Anxiety and Panic Attacks. The female doctor who spoke said that since the fight or flight response originates in the amygdala, she named her anxiety “Amy”. “Amy” is like a naughty child who acts up to get our attention and we should speak to her the way we would a child who is acting out. Maybe I should give myself a time out in the corner. 🙂 Just remember that one day, down the road, this, too, will be only a memory, like all the other times your anxiety has reared its ugly head. You WILL get through it just fine! I am sending up good thoughts all the time for you. BTW, if you really did trip the Seventh Seal of Hell, that at least explains the entire debacle that began November 8th of 2016 and is continuing to this day. I’m sorry, but I’m still TRYING to make SOME sense out of all this shit! No success yet though. However, I will continue shopping even more now at Nordstrom! Yay, Nordstrom!!! Ha!!

  • Naming my fear would require me to begin counting them, wouldn’t it?

    I have a fear of tallying up my fears.

    Maybe I’m just not very introspective. But I’m certain that it’s a healthy and constructive idea.

  • I was told a few years ago to give my fear a name — no one ever told me to make fucking FRIENDS with it!
    My fear still doesn’t have a name, but I can tell you what it looks like. It is an angry Pekinese dog, on a tattered leash that could break at any moment. Its left ear is black and its right eye is half-blind and droopy and goopy. It has a damaged rear leg, and is in constant pain. It is always yapping that awful little yap that Pekinese dogs yap, as loud as it can, until it gets hoarse. It is sometimes on the other side of a glass door or a car window, pounding its little paws on the glass, rarely able to escape and bite.

    Not that I’ve thought about this for years, or anything.
    (Years of CBT and work and she doesn’t show up as much as she used to.)

    Also, love the awkward transitions. They work!
    Sending good thoughts to the universe, you, and your loved one.

  • Normally I focus on your words rather than the pictures. I was about to say the pictures are merely frosting but really your words are frosting too. The pictures are like those little plastic things that are stuck in cupcakes. They look nice, sometimes they say something funny, but in the end they’re going to be put aside because it’s the cupcake that matters.
    That metaphor should have been more brief but I hope you’re still with me.
    You are the woman in the hammock. It’s frightening being up there but it also gives you a wide-ranging view. And even though it was a long and strange trip that got you there you still know how you got there, and knowing that you know how to get down. You can be in control and know you’re not going to fall. Maybe, eventually, you will even be able to enjoy the view.
    I’m also sending that same thought out into the universe for your friend. Your friend is also in a hammock: suspended but supported.
    If that doesn’t work for you then I’m sure naming your fear will. I’m sure you and Molly will kick ass in that meeting.
    Also tell Randy that your awkward transitions are an important ingredient in your brownies. Yeah, forget cupcakes which are tasty but light and fluffy. You’re giving us brownies which are dense and rich and good and the awkward transitions are the nuts because I love brownies with nuts. And these brownies have frosting.

    • OMG I love brownies with nuts. But only a little frosting. I don’t like too much frosting. That picture is both comforting and disconcerting. I don’t have a fear of heights, but the picture still freaks me out a little.

  • I’m not religious either, but a little positive mental energy never hurt, so here’s some from me.
    When I raced motorcycles we had a name for fear: On your head. As in “think about what’s scaring you while you are racing and you’ll land on your head.”
    I can’t read the article you linked to right now, as my internet isn’t working right again, but it will work again later today and I’ll read it then.
    Until then, if I were to name my fear, I would call him Gerald. As in the lyrics from the song “Bike” on the first Pink Floyd album. I’d paste those lyrics up, but my internet won’t let me do that, either. Oh fuck it, I can remember them well enough:

    “I’ve got a mouse and he hasn’t got a house
    I don’t know why I call him Gerald.
    He’s getting rather old
    But he’s a good mouse.”

  • First of all, I am sorry you have these worries, I understand, but I wish that you weren’t going through these fears.

    I’m did try but I’m not at the point of naming my fear yet–it’s too big of a step maybe because it’s an emotion that takes up so much of my time and my feelings right now. But I hope that you and Molly work out and look forward to hearing how your friendship may help you out.

    Good luck!

  • Naming my fear. What a great idea! Right now, I’m just sort of facing the reasonable ones and ignoring the really scary ones. I hope Molly sits quietly at your meeting and doesn’t bother you.

  • I’ve never thought about naming my fears. I’m not sure I can. They’re too darn scary. But I wanted to let you know that I’m going to that meeting with you (and Molly), in spirit, because I know how awful it is to be alone with just your fear, even if she does have a name. If you need another hand to hold, grab mine. Also, though I’m neither religious nor particularly spiritual, I’m sending up good thoughts to the universe for your friend. I have a very sick brother, those good thoughts can be very meaningful.

    • I am sorry to hear about your brother, I am sending up some good thoughts for him right now. And thank you. I will think of this tomorrow morning when I’m in my meeting. 🙂

By Michelle


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