There is a fear that follows me like a shadow. It has been with me ever since I was small. To be honest, I am still small and some days it seems that only the fear has grown.
It’s the fear of The Bad Man. You know, the man with the baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes lurking in the bushes or the guy crouching down and waiting beside your car in a dark parking lot.
I am talking about the pervasive fear of the predatory man that is perpetuated every time I watch the news or listen to the radio. He is out there, waiting and watching for his opportunity to cause harm.
As an independent, childless woman, I kept the Bad Man at bay, aware and defensive. Now that I have children to protect, everywhere I look, the potential for an interaction with the Bad Man is there.
We can’t go for a walk without the thought that he might be around the corner or back to the car from a store without an extra scan to see if he is following us. I lace my keys between my fingers or carry a metal water bottle, just in case. Yesterday, I priced out pepper spray options that I ultimately decided against due to the absolute certainty that one or two curious little boys would spray themselves.
This fear is a gift from my mother, creative in her protection, she created the idea of the Bad Man and with years of constant reinforcement, it remains with me. I suppose it keeps me alert and present, albeit paranoid, anxious and a little neurotic, and therefore I keep my sons a little safer in a world that feels so very dangerous some days.
Does anyone else struggle with this fear? How do you face down your fears, real or imagined?