What horror and fear mean to me

I am a child of the ’80’s. I watched Nightmare on Elm Street on VHS, saw Freddy’s Dead in theaters with the 3D glasses, and horror was my escape.

I was home alone a lot and staying up late watching scary movies on HBO was my favorite thing. My mom jokes about me watching Children of the Corn and Halloween and how it didn’t scare me much. I think it unnerved her that it didn’t scare me, which I understand.

But for me horror has been something I’ve always gravitated towards and while I’ve talked of the reasons on this blog, I’ve still never narrowed it down. I’m sure it has something to do with dealing with trauma. There was plenty of yelling and screaming in the house before my parents divorced in ’85. That yelling and having one parent belittling me constantly about my weight left scars that will always be there.

I have a couple of stories that deal with that stuff that I’m shopping around, but I may hold onto them for something else.

When I was a kid I knew that I wouldn’t make it past 40. I don’t know why I knew this, but I did. Now I’m 45 and after living with that for so long everything is easier. I was worried the whole year leading up to 40. Anytime I was in the car I felt unsafe. It was a weird feeling to believe you would die. I was completely absorbed in the concept, though I never told anyone.

There are other things that I think about going back to my childhood that float around in my head, but that’s a bigger one.

When you believe you’re not going to make it past 40 you don’t try that hard beforehand, at least I felt like I didn’t.

Today I feel like I’m working harder to make something of myself because after believing you’re going to die at a certain age, things afterward are different. You look at life in a certain way. Nothing that happens, even today as I sit in the bedroom isolated from my family, none of this feels hard and while I’m pissed that I got Covid, it’s just another thing to get through and I’m okay with that.

I was a horror movie fan long before I started reading horror. My first experience with reading horror was King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes and Four Past Midnight. I got them from my big sister and while I loved them, I didn’t read any horror for a while after that.

There was always a stigma around reading horror, especially growing up in Utah. If you read horror there was something wrong with you mentally. I’ve read quite a bit of King since and other older authors like Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft of course and I’m making my way through the shorter fiction of William Hope Hodgson, Guy De Maupassant, and F. Marion Crawford.

I told myself I would read more classical horror, authors of color, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community this year. I have few books by authors in those categories as well but I’m always looking for recommendations.

I’ll leave you with this. No matter how hard things are I’ve always found peace in reading and watching horror. Fear is not the creature in the woods, the killer with the knife, or anything else. It’s the tricks your mind plays on you when you’re trying to get through the day.

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