I’m so excited! We had a very interesting defense against the dark arts class today, and once I left I just knew I had to write about it! We have a new teacher called Professor Lupin this year. Honestly, I’m kind of relieved that maniac Lockhart’s out of the picture. I really hope the new guy is better. It’s weird as it is that he’s rumored to be a werewolf, which I think is a tad bit ridiculous. I mean, what’s next? “Vampires”? The “Loch Ness monster”? Silly, I tell you. I bet he’s any day better than that self-absorbed scamming bimbo. It’s kind of sad how things ended for with him the basilisc though.
Anyway, so we were in class with Prof. Lupin who was standing next to what looked like a wardrobe that was wobbling! It was all very confusing because It looked more like he had a giant rat locked in that trunk. Finally, he told us what it was. A boggart, it seems! They’re supposed to be shapeshifters that take up the shape of whatever it thinks would frighten us the most. He said that in the darkness it does not assume a form, but when let out he would immediately become what each of us fears most. The idea was to confront this boggart and Prof. Lupin lined us up and asked us to come forward one by one.
Neville went first. The poor thing was trembling to pieces! When asked, what his worst fear was Neville admits it’s Professor Snape. Lupin asks him to picture his grandmother’s clothes, and when he faces the boggart, to picture Snape in them. Neville does so, and Snape appears in a vulture-topped hat with a red handbag and a lace-trimmed dress. the entire class burst out in howls and laughter! Ron went next, and suddenly the boggart turned into a huge spider that could touch the roof! My gosh, It was so scary, but thank god Ron didn’t freeze like he always does. He cast the spell and the spider was slipping on rollerblades. It was the funniest thing! I knew my turn was next and honestly, I didn’t want to go, cause I didn’t want to know what it would turn into, but I went anyway.
It’s hard to know what it feels like until you’re faced with your worst fears. The minute the boggart was leashed on me, it kept changing shape – turning from one loved one to another. Each person saying the most brutally painful things to me such as –
“I’m only putting up with you because I have to”,
“You’re going to lose control of your life, and there’s nothing you can do about it”,
“Don’t kid yourself, you’ll never get out of this”,
“It’s just a matter of time. Everyone you care about will find out you’re not good enough”, “You know they don’t really care about you right?”
It was a chilling experience like no other. Being gripped by an insidious voice that crept up inside my head… and there was nothing I could do about it. I stood there paralyzed by fear and anxiety when the panic spirals began. I could just not stop thinking of all the horrific things that could happen with people that I cared for. They could abandon me, turn against me or worst of all, they could just die and I would lose them forever! Or maybe I would die because I can’t bear the thought of losing them! Who knows what my mind was construing when it was busy twisting my reality into a fictitious nightmare that was never going to happen.
Anyway, all this death and destruction really got to me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and if I didn’t do something about it I’d lose my mind. A calmer voice in the back of my mind said “It’s okay. It’s just anxiety. That’s the nature of it! It’ll twist things around and try to scare you but don’t be frightened of it. None of these things are actually happening, it’s just your mind playing tricks on you. I whistled slowly and tried to think of something funny. I imagined all the people the boggart kept turning into popped in a Ton-Tongue Toffee (a rainbow-colored sweet invented by Fred and George) which made their tongues the size of slugs! As I yelled the spell and the shape-shifting boggart had turned into Hermione and was hiccupping with an oversized tongue hanging out of its mouth! The whole class started laughing at a mad Hermione, who seemed like she was trying to yell but obviously couldn’t, and then Lupin laughed and asked the next person to come forward.
Humor can be a powerful tool to change perspective and let go of toxic ways of thinking. I’ve been keeping that one close to me! Every now and then my real life boggarts creep up on me in the most unexpected ways, agonizing me and twisting things around. But as you know, I shall not be fooled no more!
So to them, I quietly smile and say…
Note: I remembered my aunt talk about anxiety and how it was a learned thing. It could be a critical parent, a strict teacher, an intimidating sibling or a toxic friend – we all rub off on each other much more than we realize. But like any other skill that can be learned and unlearned, anxiety can be unlearned as well. Through meditation, therapy, exercise and/or medication, you can challenge your toxic thought patterns and change them to a healthier way of thinking.