Fear of Sleeping Outdoors

[Exercise: Tell me about a time you slept outside.]

I only remember camping and sleeping outside twice while growing up: once in the mountains of North Carolina with my Aunt Dana’s family and the other at Epcot Center in Florida with my father and his girlfriend. I don’t like to sleep outdoors, mostly because I feel vulnerable and susceptible to being kidnapped, or worse, raped and killed; but also because community bathhouses creep me out. Anytime I read in the news that some poor woman disappeared in the woods while hiking, my fears are activated. Even now, while hiking with my husband who is 6’2” and a fierce protector, I still experience occasional bouts of fear. I’m okay on trails, especially paved ones, where there’s a steady stream of walkers, joggers, and bikers; I’m only afraid in more remote and isolated areas.

When I hear about women being kidnapped, raped, or murdered, I feel intense sadness and anger. Lara Logan in Egypt. Twenty-three-year old Jyoti Singh in India. All the women under 18 whose names are withheld from us “for their own protection.” What disturbs me most is I don’t believe in the eradication of evil. Like “Whac-A-Mole,” the game I loved playing as a child, when you beat down one mole another one just pops up someplace else. And, revenge is pointless because it hurts the one seeking revenge and continues the cycle of violence. Sometimes I think the solution is to become hardened inside; but again, this hurts the one who closes off his or her heart. The only thing I know to do is to allow myself to fully feel the fear, the anger, and the sadness at all the violence against women. Oh, and to avoid sleeping outside, of course.