I’ve Always Been Afraid of Edges


I’m not entirely sure when I first knew for sure that I was deathly, panic-inducing afraid of edges.  Could have been when I was about 7 and my indulgent brothers and sister snuck off the top of the chicken house while I was still gazing around, taking the ladder with them and left me there.  Or it could have been when I was about 12 and was trying to conquer my fear by climbing up the ladder bolted to  side of the large corn bin. I was about 20 feet in the air when my brother saw me, ran over and came up behind me on the ladder, forcing me to keep climbing. I didn’t. I dissolved into choking, screaming sobs .

Fear of edges is not a fear of heights.  I don’t mind being up high at all. Planes, elevators, skyscrapers, none of those bother me.  It is standing at the edge and being confronted with an unreasonable belief that I am going to tip over and something horrible will happen, the unknown something, or that I will be left on that edge forever, unable to move, paralyzed for eternity.

The fear that rules your head is the one that will rule your life and heart.  My fear of edges extends to my whole life.  There is that moment when life shifts, and I am on an edge – a place where I cannot see the bottom or even if it has a bottom.  There is that unreasonable belief that the ground is shaky, uncertain.  I know it when I get there – there is no control over a situation or person, my heart starts to race,  breathing speeds up, I tense up all over, start overanalyzing everything, obsessing about details, the edge itself consumes me, or at least the idea of that scary, scary edge.

Edges and I are old and bitter friends.

Someone asked me recently if yoga had influenced some of my views on life.  It definitely has. It taught me to breathe into those edges, the places that scare me.  Sometimes those edges are things that happen to me or others, sometimes those edges are my own reactions – hurt, anger – that I don’t like, but I so much want that edge to go away, I pretend everything is okay just so it will disappear.

Edges never disappear, and I’ve learned to carefully creep out on my hands and knees, sometimes crawling or scooting until I can sit out there on the ledge and swing my feet over,  peek over that edge just a little bit, just breathing until my heart stops racing, where I accept any pain or anxiety I feel,  just breathing until I can live in complete uncertainty with the fear, but also with joy.  Joy that I don’t know what will happen next, and that that is a great thing because life should be a surprise.  Life has taught me if I’m in a place where my life is certain and reliable, I am almost always bored out of my mind.  Certainty is not happiness, and uncertainty is not bad.  For me, reversing the two works better.

Some perfumes are all edge and make me feel really uncomfortable – they seem foreign and strange, not particularly pleasant, soothing or beautiful exactly. They are other, not me, but keep drawing me in closer because they surprise me.

Soivohle Oudh Laquer is an edge.  From the notes on Liz’s website:

sensual journey featuring a complex blend of agarwood oils, sink wood tincture and a stellar cast of supporting players. In cooking we temper the chocolate, with Oudh Lacquer we are using chocolate to temper the Oud. The scent opens with a bright balance of the Oud paired with Linden Blossom Absolute, Cepes, Anise. Orange, and Combuva Petigrain followed by a warm floral heart of Absolutes including, Orange Blossom, Rose, Aglaia, Champaca and Iris (orris butter) along with spice notes of Cinnamon and Clove. The scent is grounded in a complex pairing of notes including Cocoa Absolute, Honey, Woods, Tolu, Styrax (ambar), Patchouli, Benzoin, Tonka,Vanilla and Angelica Root Oil.”

Exactly.  This goes on so sharp and clear about what it is, with an earthy quality, surrounded by leather, and then just when you are standing on the edge looking over, trying to calm your breathing with this racy, full-throated scent, you get chocolate, florals, spices and, can it be?  Comfort.   Aoud can be difficult for me, it’s just strong and pungent and takes no prisoners, so the way a perfumer handles it makes the difference on whether I love it or hate it.  Liz does a beautiful job of not sacrificing what is the essence of oud, but rendering it warmer, wearable, not really cuddly, but approachable enough to let you at least think cuddly.  If you are an oud fan, you do need to, at a minimum, try this.

Nathan has a review of Oudh Lacquer up.  Oudh Lacquer is available on her website, the link is above.

Winners of the VCA Collection Extraordinaire samples are:  Fernando, Cynthia W and hongkongmom.

Winners of the Fourreau Noir sample:  Lara and RachelG.

Just click on the Contact Us over on the left, remind me what you won, and send me your address, and I’ll get your loot out to you!

Also, I’m so not here this week, I’m somewhere else, so not interactive comments, but feel free to chat amongst yourselves!

  • Scent Hive says:


    I hear you on the edges. They can be panic inducing for me. I can’t stand to be in the passenger’s seat overlooking a drop off. :-ss

    Lovely review of Oudh Lacquer, I have my sample from Liz and it is exquisite. It is warm and comforting…..it’s the cocoa for me that does it.


  • vinery says:

    Glad to see Gravitars are here!

    I understand about the edges – with a barrier, no problem, but a bare edge is scary. One of my worst experiences was a “joy ride” in a helicopter with no seatbelts and no doors.

  • carter says:

    The Emoticons Are Back!!!!!

    I love edges, am positively drawn to them. Must be my self-destructive, suicidal nature, but there you have it. As a kid, my poor mother was always having to send my big brother up onto the roof to get me to come down, and I continued to climb up our various and sundry houses until I was well into my twenties. I used to love to walk along the peak of pitch (or whatever it’s called) as if it was a tightrope, but mostly I’d just sit up there, and often right at the edge.

    The photo Patty has chosen is almost identical to the site of the house I lived in on Martha’s Vineyard, which was perched on the rim of a cliff overlooking the ocean. It had glass walls all along the ocean side, and, in the living room, a window seat along one of them. I would lie on the cushions and the sensation was like being suspended out over the ocean itself. I was never happier than I was in that house.

  • Lavanya says:

    I feel exactly like you about (literal) edges. I used to be petrified of falling off an edge- be it a staircase or something as ‘low’ as a railway platform. I’d keep falling off of staircases in my dreams as a child and teen. I am slightly less scared now. I am not sure, for me, if this actually bleeds into figurative edges. Maybe? maybe not.

    I love oudh so will HAVE to try Oudh Laquer.

  • Nina Z. says:

    Patty, I loved what you wrote about yoga. Yes, the edge represents the unknown, and fear of it represents anxiety about the future. What will happen if I go over the edge? B.K.S. Iyengar famously said that the mind lives in the future, the body lives in the past, and the breath exists in the present. That’s why there is so much focus on the breath in yoga. So, yes, breathing mindfully helps take your mind off your anxiety and anchors you in the present moment, calming down your nervous system and making you feel more grounded. Does perfume fit into this? Here’s the fun part. I’m starting to think that sniffing perfume mindfully (the way you perfumistas do, noticing all the subtle notes, etc.) is a mindfulness practice like any other (like the common practice of slowly eating three raisins). So taking deep inhalations of your beautiful perfume during the day anchors you in the present moment, keeping you calmer and more centered. (Of course if you’re worried about how you’re going to find the money to buy it or if you’re going to go into debt buying the stuff, that’s probably not gonna work too well!)

    I used to practice pranayama (controlled breath practices) in bed to help me sleep better (I have bouts of insomnia). Then I started wearing perfume to bed just for fun and then started noticing smelling my perfume worked just as well (and was more fun!). At first I thought it was the scent itself (you know, lavender and vanilla are supposed to be calming, etc.), so I was hunting for the perfect sleep scent. But recently I wondered if having a variety of scents wasn’t better. So I just have a lot of samples. I fall asleep taking deep breaths of whatever new and interesting thing I have on (mmmm), and if I wake in the middle of the night, I return to inhaling the same lovely fragrance.

  • Shelley says:

    Lovely & thought provoking.

    Yup, edges. Have always been leery, respectful, fascinated, vertiginous. As a person who enjoys being behind the lens, you will probably appreciate this: I was nearly horrified as I drove along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Not interested in the burro trip down. But, when a camera was in my hand…let’s say I got some beautiful shots of the ledge, off the ledge, beyond the ledge. My mother had to walk away, because apparently the sight of me hanging out there was so frightening looking.

    I do like an edge in my perfume, too, but do not wish it to be all edge. This one sounds like it belongs squarely in the “try it” space. I am not an oud fan, per se–straight up, a lot of them are like turpentine soaked mothballs stuck in my nose–but I am happy to explore the edge.

  • sweetlife says:

    Love ouds and this one sounds FABULOUS. Sample already ordered! 😉

  • Louise says:

    Another exquisitely thought out and written post, Patty.

    I had no fear of (literal) edges until a few years ago-just one slip near the top of a peak, and now I’m working my way through desensitizing myself on regular hikes.

    Now, leaping before looking, I remain undaunted at that 🙂

    I love my ouds, and this sounds like a must-try, for sure.

  • March says:

    Hm. Yes, oud is really hard for me too. But you’re making this one sound pretty fabulous!

  • mals86 says:

    Beautiful, enlightening post. Thanks.

  • Musette says:

    I love Liz’s stuff but Aouds……I dunnno. The first few minutes are heavenly, then I get a head shop headache. However, hope springs eternal and all that…

    Speaking of hope, hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxing time.

    xo >-)

  • Flora says:

    Two things:

    1. Wow, I could have written the first half of this myself! It is totally me.

    2. I HAVE to try this perfume! I love Aoud, but it can certainly be intrusive and strange. This looks like a wearable winner.