On my "Ask Me Anything" post, Martha of Plowing Through Life inquired: "What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?"
Like everyone, I've had a number of scary things happen during my life, some quite scary indeed. On two occasions, however, I was so afraid that I experienced the phenomenon of being "frozen with fear" -- I literally could not move, run, speak or make any sound despite desperately wanting to. Both of those incidents happened during my childhood. I'm going to tell you about the first incident, which actually was not objectively scary but was only subjectively frightening to a small child. It is one of my earliest memories, however, probably because my extreme emotion seared it into my brain forever.
When I was four, my father was in a terrible car accident. He was a passenger in some drinking buddy's car (we were too poor to own a car ourselves). I'm not sure what happened -- whether the car rolled, hit another car, got wrapped around a telephone pole or what. But my father broke several vertebrae in his neck and back, among other injuries. He was damn lucky to ever walk again. He was in a full body cast in hospital for quite awhile. All this I know because of what people have told me. But here is my own personal memory --
I remember the day they brought him home from the hospital. He was still encased in a white plaster cast on the upper part of his body. The hospital guys carried him into our house on a board and put him on my parent's bed. All I could comprehend was that a huge white scary thing was being brought into our house and I was absolutely frozen with fear. (Believe me, if you've never felt that way, it is the weirdest sensation). My mother told me not to be scared because it was my father but (always the sceptic, even then) I did not believe her.
I did not believe the scary thing was my father until he spoke to me from the bed. As soon as I heard his voice, I unfroze and was no longer afraid. He asked me to come and sit beside him on the bed and tell him a story. I remember this so well. I told him my favourite story -- which, of course, then became forever associated in my mind with that incident.