'The Fear' describes a state of sudden, paralysing anxiety, which arrests productivity and ones ability to observe even basic standards of civil behaviour with others (especially family members, call centre operatives and bank staff). Our in-depth research has proven that starting a business with your sister when neither of you has any idea what you are doing offers ample opportunity to experience The Fear on a regular basis.
The worst thing about The Fear is that it is catching; here is an actual example:
Abi: 'What's wrong with you?'
Fleur: 'It's all too much...I don't know what to do...I can't cope'
Abi: 'What do you mean you can't cope? What haven't you told me? Are you quitting? Who will run the business side of the company? How will I pay my mortgage? Who will look after my unborn children when I lose everything because of you?'
If I respond at this point the worst possible outcome ensues; an anxious exchange of escalating edginess flying backwards and forwards like a frantic game of panic ping-pong.
In these situations the standard co-dependent subtext is 'you sound scared, if you can't keep it together then nor can I'
Another method of expressing The Fear is by being bad tempered and scary to others. An example of this is what happened when I got The Fear mid-meeting with the bank manager. My demeanour changed from easy going organic porridge maker into Latin American dictator and commander of guerrilla forces in a grotesque David Banner style metamorphosis. Abi responded to this in a way that is unparalleled in its ability to exacerbate the situation; she took the mickey.
Abi: (as we are leaving the bank manager's office) 'Oh my God, you just turned into Maggie Thatcher'
Fleur: (with a look that says YOU DARE TO INSULT ME, I AM THE PRIME MINISTER, YOU WILL OBEY ME OR I WILL DESTROY YOU ALL) What do you mean?
Abi: LOOK, You're still doing it'
The conversation continues until eventually, from pure exhaustion I am forced to admit that I AM Maggie Thatcher and apologise for being rude in front of the bank manager and for dismantling the welfare state.
The only way to deal with someone who has the Fear is to act like it aint no biggie, Eg:
Abi: (Trembling like a frightened rabbit) 'What's going to happen at this meeting? What do you think they will ask me? (Translation: Do you think that it will show that we don't know what we are doing and that they will belittle us in a way that will mentally scar me for life?'
Fleur: (lying) 'It's not really a meeting, it's just a chat really, we're popping in, they're not expecting us to know anything about our business, it's very informal'
I know that I have The Fear when I notice that I have been lying on my bed staring at the ceiling for more than 10 minutes. Abi knows when I have the fear because she has an aerial in her head that can pick up my channel. She also uses Echo Location.