…Balloons. *shudders and braces for impact*
I’ll give you a second to stop laughing.
No, it’s fine, keep it going. I’ll wait.
You good? You sure? Okay.
Yes, those colourful sacks of air at every celebration, littering the floor like landmines, taped to the walls to taunt me, filled with helium so someone can bounce it off my head, and then popping while I cringe and fight not to cover my face and embarrass myself.
Why, people?! Why do they need to exist? They serve zero purpose and kill wildlife and babies. BABIES! Not to mention get tied up in power lines and trees, and since they’re not biodegradable, their lifeless husks hang there a good long while.
While I may seem crazy or amusing, the fear of balloons is a real phobia. ‘Globophobia’ to be exact and while considered an uncommon fear, is not rare. I’m comforted by the fact that Oprah suffers the same phobia. For many it’s the popping. A trauma induced stress reaction from being in war or under threat of gunfire, as in Oprah’s case, can ramp up anxiety and have your heart racing and your shoulders up around your ears for longer than it took for the evil doers to be blown up in the first place.
For me, it’s the threat of death.
As a kid, I went to the circus. A tented show with excess visual stimulation, sugar, and animals every kid wants to pet even under threat of being eaten. From that circus, I bought (or one of my parents bought) a balloon. When you’re a kid, you don’t want an everyday novelty for a keepsake, you want the extraordinary one to show off. So, of course, this was no normal balloon, this was a 6 foot monster balloon.
Ugh. I can still envision the day I laid out on my bedroom floor, on my back, and started breathing myself into an asthma attack trying to fill this stupid thing, having no clue I was minutes from traumatizing myself. Not only did I fill the balloon, my lungs aching at the effort, but I was so blinded by determination, I managed to overfill the balloon and it popped. I remember the sting of snapping plastic, the constriction as the assailant strained to find it’s original size by squeezing my face and stealing my breath.
Suffocation lasted mere seconds but it was enough to scare the shit out of me. If I remember correctly, this would have been around the time I nearly drowned in the fourth grade, so chances were this only reinforced that fear by giving it a new, colourful face.
Since then I’ve hated balloons. If you see me blowing them up, it’s because I must really love you, and I do so with a certain method which probably doesn’t look so attractive: eyes squeezed shut, only opened between breathes to ensure I’m not overfilling it, and my thumb and index fingers pinching the plastic, the others opened and in position to shield my airways.
I understand I could go through exposure therapy to overcome this fear, however, I don’t feel the need. At no point do balloons hinder my functioning existence, nor will defeating the fear benefit me enough to put myself through the rigor of desensitizing myself to their evil doing.
Did I mention I hate balloons?
Do you have a fear or phobia?
Big or small we all have something ready to make us pee-your-pants scared. Tell me what it is, and why, and spare me the feeling I’m alone in this.