Happy Hallow’s Eve everybody! This is literally one of my favorite times of the year. Third only to my birthday and Christmas. I love the candy, the leaves changing, seeing children in Halloween costumes and of course knowing that means I only have 1 more day until I can finally breakout my Christmas playlist and not feel guilty about it.
But tis the season for spooks and scares, and for some reason I thought of superstitions. Hence the Stevie Wonder song. I guess I also thought of it because when it comes to my phobia I’m extremely superstitious.
On a normal day, this girl wouldn’t care if a black cat crosses her path, but on a high anxiety day I assume that a black cat crossing my path means if I go through it I’ll come down with a plague. Stepping on a crack to break my mothers back? Not so scary, but breaking a mirror means seven years I worry that I’ll spend the next 2,555 days in anguish over whether or not I’ll be stricken with the world’s worst and longest stomach bug.
And as it turns out, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My mom is very superstitious. In fact, I remember one time we were late for school and a black cat crossed her path so she turned around. In some freak way of the universe telling her maybe she should have stayed home, in her alternate route another black cat crossed her path. Blocked in because there were only 2 ways to go, she opted to have us all draw an X on her windshield, run around the car twice and say a brief prayer before we crossed the path of her second black cat of the day. There have been plenty of instances like that with her, and I think in some way I learned my superstitions from her.
But the one thing that I struggle with more than anything is superstitions around my phobia. So, without further ado, let’s begin a Halloween horror classic: Chelsie vs. The Shirt of (fictitious) Doom.
Our story begins on Thanksgiving break when my family traveled to Charleston to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Like tradition, the family was there and we had a thousand different turkies (just kidding – it was three). Then, as always, they had planned an oyster roast – their annual oyster roast. For as long as I’ve been alive we’ve done this on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a big to do. Oysters, chicken bog, hot dogs, hot chocolate, a bon fire and plenty of family and friends. It’s absolutely amazing, and when all the grand children were younger there would be a bounce house too.
On this particular Thanksgiving, I wore a beautiful red top that my husband (then boyfriend) adored. We had stopped on our way to my grandparents house on the night before Thanksgiving to get it just for this occasion. On that Thursday we ate until our stomachs were twice their size, I looked awesome in my shirt and my husband (still then boyfriend) told me multiple times how much he loved shirt.
The next day the oyster roast was in full effect. They spent all day preparing, and while I never, ever ate oysters I always loved being there to make s’mores and spend time with my family. As the sun set, the bonfire was lit and the festivities began. Several bushels of oysters later, those partaking had had their fill and the night was over. Saturday morning we woke up, drove home and went on life as usual until that evening when my husband (and all those who ate oysters) were stricken with the norovirus. *insert stereotypical horror screams*
It was one of the most traumatic days of my life for so many reasons, but after this was over and the anxiety settled (probably two weeks later) there was a voice rising from my closet. It was dark and scary and it said, “Chelsie… wear me…” And when I threw open my closet to see that red shirt, now a horrid reminder of the terrible events that took place on my Thanksgiving holiday.
Ever since then I couldn’t bring myself to wear the shirt. Just looking at it gave me a panic attack, and when my husband and I moved a year ago, I donated it. I couldn’t keep holding on to something that I viewed as this terrible part of me.
I tried to wear it to dinner once but half way there I broken down, had a panic attack and we had to turn around so I could change my top. I couldn’t go to dinner wearing that top because to me it was too much of a risk. My husband was so frustrated and I honestly can’t blame him. It was just a top and in no way was it related to the incidents that happened at the oyster roast. I didn’t even wear that top TO the oyster roast. I just associated that negative time with that shirt and I couldn’t break that vicious cycle.
A part of me actually regrets donating it now, because I think that would have been a huge part of my emetophobia recovery. Wearing that top would have been the ultimate breaking point to my phobia and I donated it… But no need to hold on to the past. Huh, that’s ironically hilarious.
Superstitions are scary because they are this belief that has latched on to our most difficult emotions – anxiety, panic, fear – and manifested itself in our thoughts. It becomes something that we avoid because we assume that since it happened once in this way, it’ll happen again. Superstitions I feel are just on the opposite side of the spectrum from having a religion. We believe in something which no actual proof it’s real, other than what we’ve learned, seen and experienced for ourselves. Religion is on the positive side of that spectrum and superstitions? Well, they fall on the negative side.
Do y’all have any superstitions that are related to the phobia? Or do you just have generalized superstitions? Let me know in the comments below!
Until next time, internet!
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Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.