Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

May 07, 2010

the pirate boat

When Danae was three years old her parents gave her a treat that turned out to be the cause of many nightmares and a fear of boats in open water but it also gave her an important insight into what makes her tick.

"My parents took me to one of those adventure theme parks," explains Danae. "There weren't many rides that they could take a little child on, but I loved everything - except for the pirate boats."

"It wasn't the pirate in charge of the ride that scared me," says Danae. "I chatted with him and patted the parrot on his shoulder."

"It wasn't the water either," says Danae. "I already knew how to swim and had no fear of drowning."

"It was being out on a paddle boat in the middle of a lake - without an opportunity to get off when I wanted to!"

"It was the first time I had ever been on any sort of boat and I hated it - it scared me," says Danae.

"I remember screaming and crying and trying to get off," explains Danae, "but my parents just kept on paddling out further and further away from the shore."

"I think they were having an argument on the boat at the same time as I wanted to get off," says Danae, "so they were angry with me as well as each other."

"I'm not even sure what came first - my wanting to get off the boat, or their argument," adds Danae. "All I know is that I wanted to get off that boat and they wouldn't let me. I was trapped and had no way out."

"They took the boat right out to the middle of the lake where no other boats were around, and nobody could hear us," says Danae. "They were arguing with each other and I was crying, begging to get off, and we drifted there for a long time before they finally decided to get back to shore."

"I suffered from terrible nightmares after that incident," says Danae. "I'd wake up in the middle of the night with strange psychedelic dreams about pirates and boats - but I wasn't drowning or being tortured or anything like that. Instead, it was more a feeling of being trapped - being set adrift without any way to get out of the situation."

"I don't know whether children of three are too young to be taken to one of those theme parks," says Danae. "But probably I was far too young and impressionable to take it all in."

"I think, too, that the fear I experienced was a survival instinct kicking in."

"Had I been born on or around boats I might have behaved differently," says Danae, "but ever since then I have refused to get on any boats -- big or small. The thought of getting on one of those ocean liners and finding myself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is the scariest thing I can think of."

"I just knew instinctively - at the age of three - that I was in a situation that was out of my control and therefore dangerous for my survival," explains Danae. "Being with my parents didn't ameliorate the situation."

"It's possible that I was just born with an over-developed sense of 'control'," laughs Danae.

"Whatever," explains Danae, "the incident did act to give me, and my parents, an important insight into what makes me tick. After that, they never took me on any more boats - or to any place where they couldn't get me home in a hurry - and I also became very conscious of my survival 'control' instinct whenever I was in a new environment."

"Lots of people put it down to my being a bit of spoiled brat," laughs Danae, "and maybe there's some truth in that, too. I do tend to kick up a fuss when I don't get what I want, when I want it, but what's wrong with that?"

"I'd rather be a spoiled control freak than an insipid doormat!"

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