A new look at my fire phobia

I might be getting somewhere in terms of understanding my fire phobia. I´ve started to perform the damn thought rituals again almost two years ago. It is not as bad as it was twelve years ago. I don´t feel the same level of fear. My brain is more or less performing these rituals habitually. I feel that with a bit of self-discipline I can quit doing them and I´ve made first steps, simply because they´re annoying me and they´re probably just increasing my fear. So whenever I am in my house and I start to think about the possibility of a fire, instead of mentally shifting those evil thoughts outside, I think them on purpose. I don´t envision the place burning, that´s too much for now, but I think “fire, fire, fire, fire” for about thirty seconds and then, without looking outside, I return to my work. So far it´s easy, it´s mostly breaking a bad habit. But I´ve noticed that whenever I do this, I feel just that little twinge of guilt.

What do I feel guilty about? It´s like something inside of me is sad about my disregard. About my lack of belief that I could set this place ablaze with a single thought. Or maybe it´s more about me not caring enough to perform rituals that make sure this place is safe. Not performing the rituals is an uncaring act, but not because there will really definitely be a fire if I don´t. It´s more like it is not okay to let go. I must remain mentally preoccupied with this. Not worrying is an unloving act.

I´m also experiencing some guilty feelings about being relieved to leave this place. Even looking forward to taking care of my very own one. I feel guilty towards my old home. I realize that deep down I wanted to leave long ago; I always wanted to go somewhere and do something and be my own self. I feel guilty writing this even now, because the price is leaving this place behind. I feel unloving and uncaring and selfish. I always knew that if it weren´t for me we wouldn´t have kept it for so long at all. It was always my responsibility to make them keep it. Sometimes recently I was scared that I´d end up at a psychiatric hospital and they would sell everything in the meantime. I seriously don´t trust them, on that weird emotional level.

Now, I have not just always had a phobia of fire, I was also fascinated by it and wanted to see one. And I wonder if maybe, even though it´s too horrible to say it, I always wanted this place to burn down. Just to get it over with and no longer be afraid, but also to be freed of the responsibility. Now that I did say it I think it´s quite plausible, and maybe not even so condemnable.

I´ve always taken in and carried around everybody else´s clutter. Half of the things I wear are old clothes from my sister, mother or even my father´s ex-girlfriend. Not because my parents didn´t allow me to get new stuff! I often refused because I was already so burdened with all the other things! And much of my furniture I inherited from my sister as well! Again, I refused many potential new things! My parents are quite generous as long as I don´t come to them about stuff on my own initiative.

It´s quite obvious how all these things took up the place in which my own identity should have grown. My own likes and dislikes. I couldn´t afford those, because I felt compelled to keep whatever others “threatened” to throw away. Is it really such a surprise that sometimes and very, very secretly I yearned for a fire to cleanse me from all this and make room for something new, something me?

On a more abstract level, though: If my felt responsibility for this place and other peoples´ belongings is really my felt responsibility for my family, or my parents´marriage, or whatever – then my fascination for fire is the wish to be released from that responsibility and to start something of my own, while the fear of fire is the suppression of that wish due to its horrible consequences: Losing everything because everything is falling apart. So if all that´s true I basically sacrificed my well-being, growth, personality, potential development, hopes and wishes for my family? Wow. And here I am thinking I´m spoiled. On the outside, maybe.

But what does this mean for my difficulties pulling through any kind of project, or even getting started? My inability to do things I really want to do and stick to something that is in line with how my family sees me? With my constantly acting like a follower towards my friends? I´ve hated myself all my life for my lack of an identity, but there always was one. I am someone, just that this someone has horribly abused herself throughout her life in order to accomplish something that couldn´t be accomplished. Wasn´t even her responsibility. Tell me again I take no responsibility. I couldn´t take responsibility for my own life because I was too busy using magical thinking and compulsions trying to influence things I couldn´t influence. Trying to control a chaos and instability on which I had zero impact.


2 Responses to “A new look at my fire phobia”

  1. vicariousrising Says:

    I think this post marks a change in you. A good one. I’d bet that having a place of your own would be invigorating to you — strange but exciting.

    If it makes you feel any better, my subconscious only allowed me to be free of my childhood home by getting married to the wrong guy. Which I realized the mistake before the marriage, but went through it anyway. It was all discomfort and fear, and I dumped the poor bastard after only 4 months of wedding (un)bliss. But I was free.

  2. Your estimation – a change – frightens me a bit. No surprise, I´ve been resisting all change since I was a kid. I still feel guilty, almost like I´m spoiling my integrity. Additionally, on some level I really don´t WANT to profit from losing my home. It seems to justify my parents´ actions.

    This reminds me of my reaction to tales of therapeutic provocations I sometimes read in online forums. One agoraphobic girl said that her therapist had insisted she should go downtown as nothing could happen to her. She was utterly enraged and did it just so she would die and prove her therapist wrong. Of course she didn´t die, but if I had been her, I´d have wanted to. She was grateful towards her therapist in the end, but I would have felt absolutely humiliated. I felt so just reading about this.

    I think this somehow mirrors how I feel about my parents and leaving home. They keep on insisting it will be good for me, and they are right, too, but coming from THEM, it is utterly self-serving. Whatever is “good for me” always seems to coincide with what is convenient for them. So it mustn´t be good for me, or else they will be justified in doing whatever it is that is hurting me so much (selling our home? moving back in together in a city where originally I wanted to live when I was older? step by step taking apart my childhood family?). Being miserable was always a matter of integrity. Make sure I remember everything is not alright.

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