Letter #106

Content Warning: Paranoia, Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Dear friend,


I grew up a super paranoid kid. If I went out for a walk and saw a small dog and its owner approaching me from the opposite end of the sidewalk, my whole body would tense up. Okay, calm down, I told myself. Just cross the street; you still have time. I did just that, only to find another dog an arm’s length away from where I was standing. Great. Why did I even bother crossing? This dog’s three times the size of the other one and seems rather frisky.


Those encounters are always very awkward because the owners almost always reassure me that their dogs are friendly, but that never made a difference. I’ve had this inherent fear of pit bulls since I was a toddler, which triggered a fear of all dogs, no matter how cordial.


When I was three years old, my mom and I went for a walk around our block and stopped by our neighbor’s garden to admire her freshly grown strawberries. A short while later, as we were about to head back to the house, we heard pattering on the ground getting progressively louder. My mom nervously turned around, and not even a second later, grabbed my arm and proceeded to run. The event was honestly a blur, but I remember a lot of screaming and crying. I’ll never forget the sounds of our terror.


It’s been 17 years since that disturbing encounter, and my fear of dogs remains. However, I have gotten better. I no longer cross the street anytime I see a dog. I still have a long way to go, but it’s all about baby steps. It will probably take a while until I can pet one or be near one without a leash, but that’s okay. It’s the effort that counts.


For whoever is reading this, if you’re struggling to overcome a phobia, I just want to say that you are so strong. It’s not easy to confront your trauma, and good on you for recognizing it and deciding to take action. That’s half the battle. I wish you lots of love on this journey of healing.



A friend

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