I am an arachnophobic.
I am truly, deeply, unwaveringly terrified of those eight legged freaks that invade our houses and gardens.
Don’t tell me they are wonderful creatures who eat the flies etc.
I don’t want to hear it!
This fear stems from a very young age. In fact I cannot remember a time I was not scared witless by them. (notice I cannot even bring myself to type the word)
It is second nature to me now to instantly scan a room upon entry, floor to ceiling, doing my recon as to whether or not it is safe for me to be there.
I have left my house and walked the streets in the rain because I saw one.
I have slept on the sofa rather than share a bedroom with one.
I have screamed and cried hysterically, many, many times if confronted with one.
My OH endures living in a practically hermetically sealed, (and possibly very unhealthy), house. Windows and doors remain locked, even on the hottest days.
I consider hanging out the laundry an extreme sport, due to the risk of eight legged visitors to my washing line.
As a child, I was mercilessly bullied by other girls, who found it immensely entertaining to catch one, or even to pretend to, and chase me with a cupped hand. I have memories of the absolute primal panic and feelings of total helplessness and being trapped as I frantically tried to escape them.
I have, of course, considered having therapy to cure me of my phobia, but even the thought of that terrifies me.
Recently, my OH and I were in a pet shop that is part of a national chain, buying dog food. As we wandered the aisles I noticed there was a dark corner at the back of the shop containing glass cases.
I just knew what was going to be in those cases.
I pointed it out to my OH and we agreed we would avoid that area of the shop. He reassured me that the monsters would be well contained and that I was safe.
Still, I could not stop myself from constantly spinning around to make sure one hadn’t escaped and was creeping its way towards me.
As we paid for our purchases I could not resist asking the assistant, a very smiley friendly guy, what was in the glass cases.
He replied casually, “Some snakes”.
I was not satisfied with this level of information and asked about the things I dread.
“Oh yeah! We have a Chilean Rose tarantula!” he said excitedly, “would you like a look?”, as he reached under the desk for keys.
“NO!” I screeched, hands outstretched, “No, no please!”
He then went on to tell us he is quite afraid of them too and that he refuses to handle them but is happy to open the cage and show people the beast.
I felt the familiar pull of being caught between a need to flee the situation and a need to get to grips with this life limiting fear. I explained to him how I felt and asked if my OH could go back there and take a look and report back to me. It’s as brave as I was willing to be, viewing by proxy.
The two men set off on their journey back to the darkest corner of the shop.
The other assistant, a young girl, stayed with me at the counter. I began to regret my request immediately and shouted down the shop to my OH to not allow the creature be taken from its glass case, and definitely not brought up near me.
She smiled at me with a half sympathy, half ‘is this chick crazy?’ look on her face.
I knew the assistant doesn’t even handle the creature, so even thinking he would bring it near me is ridiculous.
I knew my OH has saved me countless times from my nemesis, but I was now afraid he would suddenly turn all Mr. Hyde on me.
I felt like that little girl back in the classroom being chased by those mean girls again.
I began to sweat.
I said to the girl assistant I regretted this whole endeavour. She laughed a bit nervously. She clearly thought I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
I was gradually getting closer and closer to the door and car park. I realised I was doing this and joked about it with her, about how ridiculous the entire situation was.
It felt like hours since they went back into the depths of the shop. I finally saw them coming back my way and, once again, could not stop myself yelling out that they better be empty-handed.
My OH informed me that I was correct in my decision to stay away from the glass cages, as I would have died on the spot. We stayed and chatted for a few more minutes, learning that they are actually very popular pets and fetch 180 Euro!
This is mind-boggling to me. It’s not as if you can take them for walks, play fetch or cuddle with them!
We left the shop and I grilled OH all the way home in the car for details, all the time squirming in my seat and doing my finest Exorcist head-spinning impersonation, checking all around me.
It’s a mystery to me why I want to know so much about the thing I dread most.
On reflection, I guess it’s my desire to be free of the fear perhaps.
Have you any ‘irrational’ fears and do you feel they limit your life in any ways?
Are you hopeful for a ‘cure’ or do you accept it is part of who you are?