Fear and Loathing in Sobriety
It’s not every day that we voluntarily pay money to walk in to a place of horror and experientially tread through our fears. However, this past Saturday, we hosted our annual Knott’s Scary Farm event, wherein we did just that. Truth be told, it’s a popular event! I’m not sure if it’s a teen thing or a personality thing, but some folks just love to be scared! The thing is, we’re all scared of something, right? For this event, it might simply be things jumping out at you, for others it could be coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, and for some, it’s monsters in general. The tagline at Knott’s Scary Farm is “All You Fear is Here,” and boy, do they keep their promise. They have a foggy Ghost Town, where you can barely see your hand in front of your face, and is home to growling monsters, including the notorious Sliders (monsters and clowns that literally slide on their knees and hands out of nowhere to scare you!); they have CarnEVIL, where clowns and vaudevillians haunt your walk; and then there’s Necropolis, the city of the undead, filled with vamps galore. There’s sure to be at least one thing at this metropolis of fear that will make your blood run cold.
So, how do you deal with your fears when you’re there? If running and screaming makes the monsters chase you, then what would happen if you turn and face them? Our minds feed into our fears, making them appear to be intangible and often times providing us with a sense of unmanageability. In sobriety, addressing our fears can be a challenge and one we invariably shut the door on–fear of the fear, if you will. We drank, used, starved, stuffed, cut, punched, et cetera, as a means of chasing our fears away, but the truth is, they never really went anywhere. So, when these clowns (yes, I have an epic clown fear) came bursting into our personal space, I decided not to run, or scream, but to turn and face them. Some of the kids even began mimicking their movements and growls, and each time, the clowns or monsters inevitably took their “scare” elsewhere. In fact, some even had conversations with us. Granted, they were still frightening to look at, and having them come sliding out of nowhere was still an effective fright tool, but disempowering their ferocity made them significantly less scary and made the fear manageable. Yes, that’s right, manageable!
This type of situation presents us with a wonderful metaphor for confronting our fears, though. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during my sobriety is that if I shine light into the dark corners and look at the very thing that is frightening, I discover the shadows are just that: shadows. No, it doesn’t invalidate the genuine fears that exist, but it certainly shrinks their size and makes them a little easier to manage. In the case of Knott’s Scary Farm, fortunately, we don’t have to face bloody clowns and monsters on a daily basis, but if or when we do, being mindful of how we respond and monitoring our reactions will hopefully make us less of a target. It can also make for some interesting albeit peculiar conversations with the creatures of the night!