Molly Stanley
 
It usually starts with something.
An event, a trigger, a starting point.
One moment that replays in your mind like a broken record, the one moment you wish you were able banish to the recesses of your mind, never to be seen or heard from again.
 
I’ve searched for it, sifting through the few things I remember from childhood, recounting the stories my parents have told me about myself, the times in my life I no longer remember.
My insufficient memory took those from me, the memories of my carefree days, when joy was limitless, love was everywhere, and innocence shielded me from the harsher side of reality. Even many of my more recent memories are fading, being replaced with dates, terms, people; information my brain deems to be of a higher priority.
 
And even after looking through all of that, I can find no evidence of that trigger moment.
The one I could blame for starting it.
For starting the fear.
 
Some fears are derived from a primal, instinctual knowledge, passed down through the ages as one of the few things time hasn’t taken away from us.
Yet others evolve from a worry of what may or might be. We fret over the possibilities, the hypothetical outcomes, the ways it could end in disaster, until we’ve convinced ourselves that what was far-fetched in the daytime is now the only probable outcome in the darkness and solitude of the nighttime, the enveloping terror of her thoughts.
It is here where I think mine takes root.
 
But for the sake of complete honesty, I willingly acknowledge that my fear has other roots.
These roots are character flaws, cracks in my unsteady foundation.
The need to be in control, my loathing of feeling helpless, and my self-abhorrence when I fail to live up to the impossible, unrealistic standards I set for myself.
 
It is these chinks in my armor that combine with the despair of loneliness, the emptiness that is all I see when I look at death to create a fear so overwhelming, so paralyzing that it cuts off all thought and halts all motion.
Everything shuts down until the fear is all that’s left, and the voice inside my head, the one that tells me it will be alright, or that I messed up big time, is screaming at me to do something, to fix it, to save myself from the weight pressing on my limbs, to save myself from the end.
 
What is this fear, you may ask? What could possibly be so complex as to effectively shut me down and reduce me to nothing inside of a few minutes? What fear exists that could erase my identity and leave me with nothing but that fear? I’ll tell you exactly what it is. It is a simple thing, part of nature’s steady cycles. Four letters is all it takes, capturing an obliterating storm within, the one word that causes me more fear than is able to be described with mere words, the one word I’m left with when the fear destroys me and I’m reduced to nothing.
 
COLD.