Your Fear? It’s Called Cleithrophobia

Taking a break from editing draft 1.8 of Mesh. Nearly done, but I’m not going to lie: this writing game is work. Like, serious work. For the moment, let’s talk about something else: that fear you and I are both fighting our way through. It’s the fear of being stuck, and it’s called Cleithrophobia.

I want to discuss it because I’m feeling it more every day, and based on the news happening in the world, so is everyone else. It starts every afternoon, around one or two, the sweet promise of morning is gone and we’re not quite satisfied with the progress we made today. The sun passes its zenith and the sky turns a faded denim blue.

You were going to get farther, the voice whispers. You were supposed to do more. Maybe if you check the news again, someone will have a solution. Maybe a new email has arrived, solving all your problems. The stress builds up in a ball just below your rib cage. You’re stuck, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

You try to block it out, but the fear is always there. It’s compounded by the fact that your eyes are on the horizon, watching or waiting for something bad to happen. You know you’ve prepared as best you can, but it may not be enough. You’re stuck. You’re trapped here. You must wait it out. But the waiting grinds at your nerves.

Did I do enough? the voice in my head whispers. Did I try hard enough? What if I could have done something else? What if there was something I should be doing while you were waiting but I didn’t know to do it? You didn’t see the solution, you didn’t ask the right person, you weren’t watching close enough.

I want to solve this problem, you scream in your head.

So does everyone else, the angry little man answers.

What if I miss out, we scream. There must something else we can do. Something. Anything!

But what, the voice whispers back? Where will you go? What will you do?

I could do this. I could try that!

Look, the voice grumbles back. You’ve got a lifeboat. Stay there. It’s all you can do.

The nightmare is there, just outside your door. So real that your dreams are filled Godzilla-sized monsters blocks from your house. You can see them, but no one else can. You want to scream, to run, to point, to warn. But it doesn’t matter. The only person who can see the monsters is you, and no one will believe you.

The thing about Cleithrophobia is that it’s not just about being physically trapped, it’s about being trapped in situations. You feel stressed because you want to leave the situation, but there’s nothing to be done about it. All you can do is wait, and hope. Try different techniques to combat your stress, or process your feelings. Some people try therapy, others need medication, still others use philosophy. But one thing you can’t do, what none of us can do, is get away. There’s no escape. We’re all in this for the duration.

All you can do is wait, and hope. If you can relate, you should know that you aren’t alone. I don’t know what to do either, and it scares me to death.