I am a fearful person. I fear the unknown, the dark, crowds, water and spiders. Fear has a way of getting inside of me and pulling me into its tight grip. My heart races, my breathe becomes labored, I imagine the worst.
As I’ve become “more mature” I’ve managed to address some of my fears and come to terms with them. I still have a HUGE fear of the water. It’s hard for me to relax at all. Whenever I jump into a pool, my heart feels as if it will explode. Forget ever getting me to go back on a boat. I did it once. To prove I could. And once was enough.
Still, I view that a pretty typical, normal fear. My fear of the dark…not so normal. I KNOW people are afraid of the dark. But my fear is the result of an abnormal experience.
I was at least 9…maybe 10…when they decided that the church needed to watch this horrific movie; my siblings were at least 5 and 6. Have you ever seen “The Day After”?
IMDB Recommendation for Parents: The most frightening scene in the movie takes place just after the nuclear bombs hit. When the victims are hit by the nuclear fire, they freeze in place and their bodies turn into black skeletons – like an x-ray. This happens several times to many people and groups of people. Once to a horse. The deaths aren’t all that graphic (the special effects are a bit dated) but the impact of the scene is somewhat disturbing.
The theme of this movie is a nuclear attack on the United States.
When the nuclear blast strikes Kansas City, people and animals are vaporized by the deadly heat ray. This scene is not recommended for anyone under the age of ten.
So, we watched it. In church. And the images stayed in my head. And the nightmares began. I was afraid to go to sleep. Afraid to go outside. Afraid of planes. I remember dreams where I watched my family vanish in a mushroom cloud.
Seriously…this is NOT stuff a child should be watching. Yet, watch it we did. Even today as I read the plot, my heart tightens and I can feel the anxiety.
Why? Why did my parents let us watch this? Because the CHURCH said it was necessary. If we were going to die in a nuclear war, we needed to know (and I guess see) what would happen. Never ONCE did I remember them asking if we were ok. No counseling. No reassurances. Just here, watch people evaporate before your eyes and don’t worry, it’s just a movie.
The problem is when you are a child, who still very much believes in the tooth fairy, you cannot possibly understand the images are “just a movie.” They scar you.
Luckily, this experience has kept me from allowing my children to watch disturbing movies. It’s made me seem “foolish” to some people who choose otherwise for their children. Still, I grew up with the nightmares…I know those images matter.
Anyway…that’s just one thing that I thought about today. (not sure why!)