Have you ever experienced something so traumatizing that it forever changed the way you do things?
My best example of this is when I was hanging out with my sister (ESC blogger #2) while she was preparing something for dinner. I don’t recall exactly what she was creating — very likely a salad — but in the process of chopping, slicing, and dicing, she pulled out a red bell pepper and, upon cutting it in half lengthwise, discovered a fat, white, bald, caterpillar-sized worm along the inner rib. She screamed. I screamed. And neither one of us has ever or will ever cut open a pepper without again reliving that horrific scene. I’m fairly certain we’re suffering from a form of PTSD because this happened TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. In fact, because she was living in an apartment in New York City at the time, there was no garbage disposal to grind the vegetable and its nasty, wriggling inhabitant into oblivion. The next best option was to carefully pick it up using a roll and a half of thick paper towel and walk it down the hallway to the incinerator chute. If we couldn’t pulverize it into sixty million tiny wormy pieces, we could reduce it to ashes in a fiery blaze, which was actually more satisfying because at least it wasn’t happening inside the apartment. This white worm apprehension has transferred itself to any color bell pepper because they all have the pale ribbing inside which, because it already resembles a fat, white worm, really just compounds the problem.
Another way I’ve had to alter my life is that I can’t sleep with my palms exposed. (I know it sounds stupid but that’s only because of how stupid it is.) This one goes back about fifteen years when I was a newlywed and my husband and I were living in our first apartment, which I’m convinced was haunted.* One night not long after moving in, I was lying on my back with my right hand resting on the pillow over my head, palm up. I was in that nice, sleepy place between awake and deep sleep when I felt a fingertip press down gently on the center of my palm. I opened my eyes, expecting to see my husband messing with me, but he was already asleep. So, of course, I woke him up and asked if he was messing with me even though I was fully aware that if he had made any movement at all, I would totally have known. He probably called me an idiot and was asleep again within eight seconds. (I’m so jealous of how fast he can fall asleep. Apparently he doesn’t spend hours brooding over every single thing he said that day and how it may have inadvertently made people think he was a jerk. I can’t be the only one.) Since that night, every time I find my palm exposed while getting comfy for sleep (which is surprisingly often), I slide my hand under the pillow so as not to give that ghostly finger another chance to harass me. I’ve definitely outsmarted him.
*There are other reasons I’m sure this place was haunted but I’ll have to save that for another post, which may or may not contain detailed descriptions of the neighbors’ extra large, extra stained underwear drying on a rack in the hallway outside their door, which has nothing to do with ghosts but was pretty damn terrifying nonetheless.