Life with Phobia: I Want to Try Something

“I’m terrified of fish because it reminds me I don’t trust my mother”

“I’m terrified of fish because I’m terrified of myself”

In therapy I describe a fish tank in a seafood/butcher shop window. In the tank, there’s so many fish shoved in they can’t move. I ran past it, terrified. My therapist asks me, what is it about the fish in the tank that feels so upsetting? I become visibly distressed and start crying. I say, no one cares about them. No one cares about them and they’re all shoved in there exposed to passersby. How humiliating. How fucking humiliating. They’re trapped. I cry and cry. 

A few days later, I’m looking on Uber Eats and scroll onto a flatlay of select food from a restaurant’s menu — a fish on a plate. It’s eyes still there, scales and fins intact. I hurry to scroll past and then pause. I want to try something. 

I scroll back up and look at the fish on the plate. My distress skyrockets, I’m trying to trigger myself. I want to trigger myself so I can practice something very new to me: feeling. Not processing, not intellectualizing, not analyzing, but feeling. 

My distress envelopes my body and I close my eyes. I can see the dead fish in my minds eye and I hold it there, I stay there. My eyes shut, tears flowing.

Humiliation. How humiliating. 

How humiliating to die and have your body displayed. To be so powerless.

I was overwhelmed with shame. I let my trigger take me there and I desperately needed to go there, to feel into fish. 

I’m terrified of being humiliated. I am so full of shame. 

Nic Alea