I didn’t know I was afraid of clowns! Does that sound crazy? Having a fear you didn’t know you had. Let me tell you the story of how I learned that I suffer from coulrophobia.

Photo by Lennart Wittstock on

a date night gone wrong

My husband, Clark, and I dropped the kids off at his grandma’s house and decided to do something fun and different for date night that night. I was in my early thirties and had never visited a haunted house–excluding those not scary kiddie ones, of course. Clark had visited the haunted house many times in his youth, but he’d always known a handful of the actors, and it was never the experience it should have been. Older now, he didn’t know anyone working there.

We stood in line and cuddled up together against the brisk cold of the fall evening. Every now and again a group of kids would come bursting out the doors, laughing and joking, having finished their trip through the haunted house. The line moved slowly but steadily forward.

Before long, it was our turn. We were moving along the corridor and into each exhibit room. I can’t honestly remember most of what we encountered leading up to the clown. But, I remember the clown.

We walked into her room. She was there across from me–an entire room’s length away. She was only about 16. I think she had a butcher’s knife. Her face was painted with just enough psycho to be terrifying. She was small and looked way too frightening for such a frail young girl.

I froze dead in my tracks. I stared, gasping for breath. Unable to move. Unable to make a decision. Unable to force myself to put one foot in front of the other. I clung to my husband. Terrified of this young girl painted up like a clown in a haunted house that stood amongst the cornfields down a dirt road far from any town.

She could tell I was terrified. She could see the frozen terror plain on my face. She backed away from me, giving me more space. It didn’t work as the room was closing in on us and drawing her closer and closer to me. She was right there in my face, and I could only gape at her.

Part of her job was to get me to move again. People were coming up the corridor, and they would be expecting to enter into their own fear and not be stopped dead in their tracks by mine. She knew exactly what to do.

“Run,” she whispered.

I would have sworn she ran right up in my face and shouted it. Screamed it at me.

I shoved Clark to the ground and literally ran over his back in my haste to escape this terrifying little girl painted up like a clown.

Have you ever come face to face with your fear? I met mine in a dark room of a haunted house when I was old enough to be surprised by the childlike terror I felt.


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