A long, long time ago, I was a teenager. I stayed up late, I ate at Red Robin a LOT, and I played very loud music on my very lovely clarinet* for hours every day. I could watch horror movies with my friends, I LOVED Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter books, and I had only just discovered alternative rock music. I didn’t think I’d ever have kids, mostly because I thought I would suck at being a mother. I thought I’d get my master’s and be a therapist for the rest of my life.
Obviously, life turned out a bit different than I thought it would.
What interests me the most is that somewhere between graduation and parenthood, I lost the ability to stomach horror in any form. Movies, books, even spooky songs. They all affect me now in a way they never did before.
I remember seeing the original Saw movie in the theater with a bunch of guy friends. We had a blast! Now, though, I can’t imagine anything worse than being forced to fill my brain with any of those images.
Wes and I recently gave the show Hannibal a try, thinking it might be worth a shot thanks to my lifelong love of Thomas Harris’s books. We made it six episodes before I had no choice but to cry off and ask Wes if he’d be averse to stopping the show. It’s a gory, horrific show and, while the characters had started growing on me, I just couldn’t get the images out of my head. Walking down the dark hall to go help one of my kids became skin-crawlingly terrifying. Turning off the light to go to sleep filled my room with unseen phantoms waiting to hurt me. I suddenly felt unsafe in my quiet suburban neighborhood, thinking there was an insane psychopath lying in wait just around the corner.
Wes can watch scary movies and, as soon as the TV is gone, so are the images. I don’t know why, but they linger in my head and jump out at inopportune times. I have no idea how I was able to do this kind of thing in my youth, or what changed that now I can’t. All I know is, I’m now a huge wuss. My head in imprintable like carbon paper and I have to be careful what I watch.
After all, how am I supposed to comfort my kids when they have nightmares if I can’t even assure myself there aren’t monsters out there?
*Anyone who knows clarinets well will know this is a joke. Clarinets are among the more quiet instruments in a band, largely thanks to their small bells, which are pointed right at the ground. This might not be the case with professional musicians, but I remember a few times in high school where our whole section of clarinets could barely be heard over the other, louder sections.