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What Does Your Fear Food Chain Look Like

I had to laugh when I saw this in the parking lot outside my chiropractor’s office. We may not get a take-back when one of our worst fears come along, but at least we can warn others (and maybe share a laugh along the way).

We all have them. Fears.

They aren’t very pleasant, overall.

Although some people appear to enjoy being scared, I am not one of them (what I mean is, I have never willingly viewed a horror film or anything stronger than a good thriller, even though I know they are quite popular – the daily horrors my own mind can think up are plenty, thank you very much).

In my own life, my fears have their own internal hierarchy – a fear food chain if you will.

At the top is that ultimate in all fears – one which I blog about quite a lot – death.

If death isn’t scary then I don’t know what is (although here again, I have heard from readers through the years who aren’t at all afraid of death for one reason or another, and all I can say here is, you are my heroes!).

Then there are what I politely term the “stretch fears.” Like stretch goals, they may in time come to pass. But then again, they may not.

A good example of a stretch fear for me is losing everything and becoming a bag lady and dying alone and in pain on the streets. I am a little less afraid of this fear after a workshop several years ago challenged its participants (moie included) to actually visualize one of our worst fears, moving progressively through it right til the, well, gulp, end.

In the end, so to speak, it wasn’t quite so fearful as I had imagined it to be.

Then there are the more mundane fears – the worker fears, I suppose. Like worker bees or worker ants, they lead very unglamorous lives, literally living for their five minutes or even five seconds of fame when they get their chance to scare me half to death.

The worker fears aren’t so death-defying, perhaps, but that unfortunately doesn’t reduce their potency when they get their chance to shine. Like so…..

I was born and raised in Texas. After moving away for several years I returned and have lived here ever since. So you might think I have over time grown immune to the particularly gruesome sight of a large flying Texas cockroach scampering across the floor, ceiling, wall, driveway, bathtub.

Let me cut the suspense. I haven’t. 

I have the same upchuck, heave-out-your-guts, wash-everything-in-bleach reaction today that I did the very first time I ever saw one of these bionic nightmares streaking out at me from a hidden recess inside a cupboard or drawer or potted plant.

In a word – they suck.

They are the scariest thing imaginable to me, which quite naturally places “cockroach runs across face while you are sleeping” at the very top – the pinnacle – of my worker fears list.

I’d almost rather do the bag lady on the street thing than be one of those people who has a personal story about a nighttime encounter with a giant roach all stored up and just waiting to share when the moment is right.

Unfortunately, as of last night, I have officially lost that option.

Here is what happened. I left town for a week and it rained copiously. I mean – prodigiously. Places flooded that have never flooded before. I missed it all in person, of course, but things were still quite damp when I returned home.

Then I made the big mistake of leaving my front door open after dark because of the lovely breeze and unusually cool temperature.

At 2:50am, there I was, sleeping peacefully, pillow halfway over my head as usual. Thank goodness. I felt a very large….something….land with a THUD on the pillow and then begin scampering down and across my…..chin. Neck.

I woke with a start and flailed my hand. Something gooey stuck to my finger. I jumped out of bed, flicked on the light, scanned the perimeter (thankfully my white comforter wasn’t hiding any secrets) and….yup. There it was. It didn’t even look winded after its exertions.

Even after going into “Terminator mode” and hunting down the intruder, bagging it, tieing the bag securely and spending another half-hour spraying Raid and then another half-hour panicking about having sprayed Raid around pets, it took me another hour to fall back asleep.

I woke up and, well, let’s just say my tiny casa is now even cleaner than it was before the midnight visitor arrived.

I think what really happened is that I temporarily forgot I live in Texas. I forgot what happens when temperatures warm up and storms erupt and you happen to live in a second story garage treehouse surrounded by large, sturdy trees.

It is true I felt like the worst housekeeper in the world (I’m really not – I’m a super neat-nick especially with three pets’ worth of detritus to contend with). But otherwise I am pretty darned proud I survived my brush with a lifelong worst fear – to the point where I hope this has earned me a free pass for ever having such an encounter again.

Today’s Takeaway: Contemplating fears is never fun. But it can be helpful sometimes to put a fear-inducing experience in perspective – I like to think of mine like a fear food chain, where the littler fears may feel big until the bigger fears come along and swallow them up, and so forth. Have you ever faced a little or big “worst fear” and felt pretty proud of yourself afterwards? I won’t lie – I’m still really grossed out that a roach walked across my face. But I didn’t die from fear (or contamination) and that is something!


What Does Your Fear Food Chain Look Like

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). What Does Your Fear Food Chain Look Like. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 May 2019
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