Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fear Street: Escaping A Life of Paranoia


    I’ve always loved a good scare.

    Every since I saw Freddy Krueger stalking his first victim, Christina “Tina” Gray, in an alley on A Nightmare on Elm Street back when I was three, being scared became second nature to everything else going on in my life. Seeing Freddy as he scratched his “knives for fingers” blades against the wall as he closed in on the smart, but unfortunate Tina, imprinted the first face for my personal Boogeyman, which haunted me for years to come. But he wasn’t the last. Nor would he be the defining “fear.”

The horror movie isle in the local video stores was off limits to me, a rule established by myself without any parental aid to steer me otherwise. I didn’t watch horror movies alone and had to keep a keen eye on my older cousins, who used my paralyzing fear of all things horror as a springboard for party games during sleep overs and family gatherings. There were several movies I came across by mistake that sent me into a fit of hysterics that are still recounted to this day at any of the family reunions I bother to attend. In short, I was the quintessential kid who would literally jump at his own shadow if used properly by whichever evil cousin/classmate I was near. 

Some people would look at everything I just typed and cry, “Bullshit!” Especially since over 90% of my movie and entertainment collection (books, games, memorabilia) consists of some truly horrific titles. The kid who used to watch The Lost Boys through his fingers now claims it as one of his top five favorite movies of all time. Same goes for the badly burned and disfigured “Man of Your Dreams,” whose movies I’ve not only shelled out plenty of coins for, but know every character to ever grace all eight films (and remake) without batting an eye. 

Miraculously, “horror” became an outlet, a coping mechanism if you will, to the fuckery that permeated my life on a daily basis. In other words horror fiction (film/TV/books) eventually became an ally, while my true “Boogeyman” started to reveal itself during my preteen years.
I always knew my mother was the scary type, but not the type of scary you might think. While I ran screaming from Freddy’s burnt face that fateful night as if I was trying out for a troupe of Banshees, my mom, on the other hand, was laughing hysterically at me and the horror show playing out on the TV. It was actually her laughter that lured me into the living room in the first place. You see, whenever a possessed victim became demonized or some grotesquely transformation was afoot in any horror film, my mom would laugh her ass off as if the movie was the latest of the Police Academy franchise or some romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts. She would later explain that it was her way of teaching my sister and I that most stuff on TV besides the news was “make-believe.” Especially Freddy, Jason, and anything else out of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s horror cannon. Looking back at it at the age of 31, it was a very effective parenting tool that eventually worked. Maybe too much, she would say now, but it worked nonetheless. The problem comes in that 

But that didn’t mean my mother wasn’t completely fearless. She was mostly worried about the horrors of the real world: kidnappings, child murders, electrical storms, anything that could bring harm to herself and her family. Some would say that there isn’t anything remotely wrong with a mother being fiercely protective of her family, which is basically just as second nature as taking a shower every day, and I would agree with them. But in my case, my mom’s preconceived fears became this ominous Boogeyman for me, lasting way past the point of my personal logic. Instead of going with my gut in decisions that would only affect me and only me in potential life altering modifications, I would let my mother’s firm, but fearful voice have a seat in the evaluation process like a annoying shareholder of a Fortune 500 company. A decision would be made, she would object, and then the decision is rescinded. The Fear Boogeyman strikes again.

This personal psychological fiend bestowed upon me by my mom, who unknowingly molded it to terrorize me to no end, sabotaged several opportunities in my life. Relationships, potential relocation to metropolitan areas, job choices, even my self-confidence became unwilling victims to the mental slasher’s metaphorical blade. There weren’t any ‘final girls’ or last men standing with this crazed son of a bitch. Whatever doe-eyed prospect arose to elevate me to my next level of existence, the nagging Fear would swiftly end its potential of bringing me blissful, never-ending happiness. I was its prisoner. It ruled my existence.

Now before I move forward, I want to silence those who are already yapping about me putting my fear issues on my mother. That is not the case. Because like any horror movie creature or serial killer, from Freddy to Scream’s Ghostface, I learned that as long as you feed the beast your fear, it will forever have you by the throat. My mom only exemplified how reality was more horrific than fiction, a concrete fact that manifested itself into a domineering entity that I consciously thought I had outgrown. Instead it burrowed itself deeper into my subconscious, acting as a reliable deciding factor, but hindering me from my growth. Like a wilted flower in a shady patch in the garden.

If anything, my mom unknowingly created the monster, but it was I who fed it and made it the badass beast it grew into being. 

While I was wondering why I wasn’t growing into the person I dreamed of becoming, that Fear was ironically getting ahead better, becoming stronger, than I could even imagine. This was my issue. My personal demon. And upon realizing this desolate truth, I decided to simply slay the fuck out of it. Now that’s easier said than done. Extremely easier said than done. And it’s not going to take the allotted fifteen minutes of a horror movie’s last act to take this son of a bitch down. It’s a clichéd ongoing battle that might make me the star of my own internal horror movie franchise by the time it’s all said and done, but no one else is going to sacrifice themselves for me to continue to live in fear of… basically nothing. 

The battle to destroy this out of control mental phantasm/slasher created by a mother’s innocent love trudges onward to inevitable plot twists, potential setbacks, and possibly more frightening revelations. Why? Well, remember when I said another imprint of Fear had taken Krueger’s/horror’s thrown after my childhood? I wasn’t kidding. Want to know the first ironic plot twist about the current face of my personal Fear? Here’s a clue: 


We share the same face…


 


MARK O. ESTES
Male Media Mind