Number one. When I was a child I had a tremendous fear of murder and robbery. When I was in the fourth grade an elderly woman in our little town was murdered. Someone broke into her house at night. They stole her TV, and they strangled her to death, and it terrified me. But even after they caught the person who did it, I was afraid to sleep in my own bedroom at night. I would ask my mother if I could sleep with her, so she would let me go to bed with her. I felt completely safe, and when I look back on that, I'm really glad my mother gave me that safety instead of being tough and making me sleep in my own bedroom terrified.
Number two is another fear from my childhood, a fear of rodents and dead animals. You know, our childhood home, there were a lot of animals around, you know? A lot of hunters. People would go squirrel hunting and bring back dead squirrels, and I didn't want to touch them. I wanted to be nowhere close to them. Yet, when I talk about this, I think a couple of years ago I was walking down a street in D.C., and on the sidewalk was a dead rat in a pool of blood. And of course I'm fearful of that. But at the same time, I felt very sorry for the rat.
Number three. I have a tremendous fear of water.
Number four. The fear of having to move in with my father's new wife and her family. My parents divorced when I was in junior high school. My dad actually got custody. Because my dad worked the evening shift, my mother was there at the house with us every evening. Then my dad decided to get married and announced that we'd be moving in with his new wife and her family. But it meant I'd be spending the evening with this new family and not with my mom. And so I felt certain, I still do today, that it was really about getting back at my mother and kind of using me as a pawn. And, you know, that's behind me now, but still a very significant kind of mark on my life.
Number five. How I'm going to react when my dog Gus dies.
Six. How I'm going to react when my mom is gone.
Number seven. The impact of the lack of civil discourse on the future of our country.
Number eight. My fear that LGBT rights will be rolled back and/or won't progress in the future.
Number nine. A fear of men. I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, blue collar town, very conservative, and I didn't fit in. I mean, I took piano lessons. I was a drum major in junior high school, and then the worst was by the time I got to high school I became a featured twirler. I mean, I twirled one baton, two batons, hoop batons, flag batons. This was a baton that you put kerosene on both ends, lit it on fire, and twirled it at football games. The ridicule I got for that was so unbearable. I mean, in our small town, if I went out on the weekends I was openly being ridiculed. And it was never girls. It was always boys. Eventually, to fit in, I got married to a woman. We have a wonderful daughter. That lasted for fifteen years. And finally I just couldn’t live the lie anymore. So when I was thirty-nine I came out and got a divorce and started dating men. And my husband Jeff and I have now been together for twenty-two years. And I’m happy to say that once I came out I became comfortable with men. In fact, I'm going to go to lunch today with my friend Justin and he's about as much of a man's man as you can imagine. But he's a good friend. He's totally comfortable with me and I'm totally comfortable with him. But until I came out, I basically didn't have relationships with men.
And finally, number ten. The fear of running out of money before I die.
My name is Eddie Atkins. And these are 10 things that scare me.