When Terror Attacts

We were staring at the tiny locker when the teacher flew by and directed us into the classroom. My son was told to empty his things into his desk. I followed. You know, for moral support, it being his first day of school and all.

He tossed his bag on his chair with a heavy whoomp. The first sign that Terror was coming. I'd been there myself about thirty years ago, I knew the signs. Still, all a mother can do is wait it out, stand there for moral support. The next few moments were a blur of things flying into his desk and whoomp again as the desk slammed down. Terror had won. His binder was hanging out the sides, his jacket was even shoved in the desk, and I'm pretty sure his lunch was in there too, a mangled mess.

He wouldn't meet my eyes. Of course not. I was just there for moral support. Really, Terror is something you have to face on your own. Trust me. I know.


Looking back, I didn't handle Terror well. Terror gripped me long before we entered the classroom. I was hardly out of the car. It took Mom carrying me from the car to the school to get me that far. But once there, I grabbed the railing. Held on. I. Was. Not. Going. Any. Further. Terror wasn’t letting me through those doors. Mom stood by for moral support as I clutched the railing, refusing to go in. If she spoke to me, persuaded me, Terror erased her words.

School was well under way when the teacher came to dislodge me from the railing and dismiss Mom. Mom had her own form of Terror happening by this time and she erased what the teacher was saying. She stayed, for moral support, because really there isn't anything a mom can do against Terror is there? Or a teacher for that matter, but this one tried.
She tried to pry me from the railing, and if you can imagine a tiny little girl gripping a railing for dear life while a nun pulled her by the feet... yeah, that would be the image. Terror held firm and I’m sure my screams echoed the streets for days.

Finally, she picked up my things and went inside. Mom left too. I was left alone. Alone. You don’t ever want to be alone with Terror. That is far worse than going to school. So I went inside.

I feel this same pang of Terror every time I go to send out one of my books. I've published plenty of non-fiction but for some reason this fiction beacons Terror. I thought I'd be smart and overcome Terror by being prepared; I am ready, I did all I could, and I am surrounded by moral support. But! Terror knows my weaknesses better than I do.  He nags that maybe I didn't do it right. That maybe I did do it right and I suck anyway. That just maybe I should go back and do it again now that I'm a few days older and wiser, ya know?

So I grip the keyboard and force myself to hit send, because there is no other option-- Terror cannot win and I refuse to sit here alone with Terror breathing down my neck.

When did Terror find you? How did you overcome it?

6 comments:

Richard said...

I remember my first day of school when I entered the first grade, walking up the front entrance to the school I knew nothing about. I never went to kindergarten, so my first day of school really was the first day of school. Yes, I was afraid, but it didn't take long to feel right at home.

Rebecca Kiel said...

:) Successful writers do not give in to fear. At least not in the end.

Autumn Shelley said...

Hiya! I like the irony of the image of the Nun peeling a frantic 6-year old from the railing she's clinging to for dear life.
That's classic.
When did terror find me? Depends on which experience we're talking about, I've had a few encounters of the terror kind, but as for writing? Well, I have to do a lot of pscyoanalysis to locate the problem, find the methods that help me overcome it and move on. Recently I've had to put aside my lofty 'novel' goals in exchange for more manageable short stories. I suddenly find that I CAN finish something and I have a gratuitous sense of accomplishment on completion. Apparently the novels are going to have to evolve from shorter successful works.
Sorry to ramble! :)

Tanya Reimer said...

Yeah Richard it can be so overwhelming, yet we survive!

Let's hope you're right Rebecca!

Autumn I love the idea, take things in smaller chunks so Terror can't find you. Brilliant!

brookerousseau said...

I'm in tears, here, Tanya! I get nerves twisting in my belly, but not Terror. But now I feel horrible about what you went through last week. At least you have requests to mitigate the Terror, right?

Mindy McGinnis said...

Terror... not just fear or a little stab or paranoia. Definitely different things. I couldn't get a hold of the person who was watching my daughter one time. They were supposed to be right behind me, then I got to our destination and they had stopped to wash the car - and there was no signal inside the car wash. Five minutes, but yeah, it was terror.