I will be the first to admit that I am deathly afraid of spiders. Statues, not so much. Well, except maybe those giant plastic Ronald McDonalds. Those are just creepy
Despite my loved ones insistence, my fear of spiders is no laughing matter. It based on serious trauma, and compounded by 50+ years of encounters and horrific reminders.
When I was just a baby, we lived in an old farm house in Surrey, BC, otherwise known as Lotus Land for its temperate rainforest climate.
And with temperate climates come abundant spider populations of all shapes and sizes. The worst of those was the one we called the Wolf Spider. They could grow pretty big and basically resembled an anorexic tarantula, complete with fuzzy hair on their creepy legs. (We wont even get into the fact that if you shine the flashlight you snuck to bed to read books when you where supposed to be sleeping, their eye reflected light in you dark bedroom)
So there I am, just a baby of just a few months old, lying in my crib. My mother told me she was so happy we didnt live there long, as she was tired of coming to get me and having to shoo away 3 or 4 of these spiders hanging out in my crib.
My experience, though not a memory, I carried with me my whole life, embedded itself in my self conscious. My encounters could have gone two ways, though obviously a talking spider cartoon bond turning me into a lover of spiders from imaginary friendships was not in the cards.
Clearly, these 8 legged freaks skittering all over my crib, body and face, (they are lightning fast), set the foundation for a life long fear.
Most call arachniphobia an irrational fear, but I beg to differ.
How would you feel to lay in bed and have this face, attached to a spider bigger than your own hand, staring you in the face….then times it by three or four.
So now you are thinking a baby that age would have no basis to be afraid, no different than having kittens crawling on me. But they did more than crawl. While their bite is rare and their venom mild, it does hurt and yes I got bit. Often. (According to my mom’s stories)
So fast forward to, well, most of my life. Encounter after encounter, painful bites that take weeks to heal, not made any easier by basically everyone who claimed to love me teasing taunting, and belittling me, and the chance of a cure for my phobia is slim to none.
It would take too long to even begin to tell you all the tales of my encounters, just know that some where so severe as to trigger full blown panic attacks require a little medicating. Like I said, this is far more than a silly irrational fear.
Although some time in the semi arid deserts of BC did offer less ridicule when friends and family agreed that spotting a black widow scurrying across the kids bedroom floor and disappearing into their closet DID justify my fear.
So now I’m on the prairies and, as much as I hate winter, I love the far smaller population of arachnids.
But then there are Orb Weavers, a species of spider made famous by the children’s book, Charlotte’s Web.
My farm is a haven for them. They especially love to share my deck with me.
I managed to learn to live side by side with them, though I won’t say I enjoy their presence.
Then, just a couple years ago, there was an orb weaver population explosion. That year my deck alone had so many up in the rafters I couldn’t even go out there. Even my husband stopped laughing and set about some crowd control.
27 dead, looney sized, spiders later, I could tentatively tip toe out on the covered deck, (though I tripped on a lot of patio furniture and stepped a few cat’s tails with my chin up in the air), watching for Charlottes propelling down to frighten me and my tuffet away.
This year, the population is under control, and I have found ways to cope better. Now I co-exist with them, though I still don’t trust them.
What I have learned through all of this is that, no matter how hard it is for me to face the fears I have, that try to control me, I get the final say.
And it all boils down to, I will be traumatized whether they are there or not. The fear I get when I see them, is not much worse than the fear of knowing they exist, even if I can’t see them.
So when I have to walk past that creepy burger peddling clown statue, I don’t feel a need to have him removed, because even if they hauled Ronnie away to the dump, I will still know he existed and my pain will also exist until I find a way to cope.
Now I laugh at it myself, but that’s just another coping mechanism. The fear is real and it will never go away.
by Joanne Francis – Editor – Nipawin News
Photo Credits- Feature Image and Orb Weaver;Joanne Francis/Nipawin News, Wolf spider images; Wikimedia Commons, Black Widow spider; Pixabay