by Sue Buckwell
My father was a psychoanalyst and instilled in me a fear of almost everything. Being a learned man, he also taught me the scientific names for each and every phobia I have amassed over the years. That one, for instance, is called polyphobia.
My first memories are of the peculiar house my parents built when I was quite small. It was a big house with only two rooms. Originally, it had been one gigantic room as my mother suffered from claustrophobia, fear of confined spaces, and extra walls seemed dangerous encumbrances. I have only dim memories of my mother because shortly after the dwelling was completed, she developed oikophobia, fear of houses, and fled. Distraught, my poor father contracted autophobia, fear of being alone, and hastily remarried. It was a match made in psychiatric disorder heaven.
Because my new mother was afflicted with pedophobia, fear of children, she built an addition to our home, a long shallow room to which I was banished. It is here that my first infirmity presented, stenophobia, fear of narrow spaces. In this whirlwind of devastation, I simultaneously developed, tropophobia, fear of change, and novercaphobia, fear of step-mothers. In all fairness, she tried to be a good parent, but because of her chiraptophobia, bibliphobia and hodophobia, she feared human touch, books and road travel. As such, she was rendered incapable of cuddling me, reading to me or taking me to the movies, the park or, when I reached puberty, the mall. Childhood was not easy.
High school was similarly traumatic. Math classes were torture due to my fear of the subject itself, arithmophobia. I trembled with dishabiliophobia at the thought of physical education since I could not bear to undress in front of others. And I shied away from biology, chemistry and physics due to my hellenologophobia, fear of complex scientific terminology. But I did eventually earn enough credits to graduate. Regrettably, I was unable to attend the ceremony. My dread of crowded places, agoraphobia, prevented me from being in an auditorium filled with celebrants and their loved ones.? Ambulophobia, fear of walking, prohibited my crossing the stage to pick up my diploma. And given the flowers, the loud noises, the flashing camera lights that inevitably accompany such festivities, I did not dare appear as my anthrophobia, ligyrophobia and selaphobia might have mushroomed to unfathomable proportions.
I am an adult now, married, in spite of my androphobia, fear of men, and I am expecting our first child having quelled my coitophobia, fear of you know what, long enough to conceive. The impending arrival of my newborn has intensified my maieusiophobia, fear of childbirth, and my coprophobia has flared at the prospect of what I will undoubtedly find in those dirty diapers. The most troublesome, however, is my patroiophobia, fear of heredity, as I do not want my child to suffer as I have. I would pray that he or she be spared, but my theophobia, fear of gods or religion, makes that impossible.
Sue Buckwell lives and works in an idyllic suburb of Los Angeles. She taught in the public school system for many years. After weathering the storm, she found the solitary occupation of writing both soothing and satisfying. In her leisure time she enjoys good friends, good wine and bad television.