The Number One reason I dislike camping (and there are many reasons) is because there’s really no way of knowing what type of nasty spider will hitch a ride back to my house. Like the one who introduced itself to me this morning
After returning home from our most recent camping adventure, I began to clean up some of the campfire cookware. While washing out the dishpan and daydreaming about a luxurious bubble bath later, I see the nasty beast crawling across my hand among the soap bubbles. I didn’t have time to be jealous of the fact that it was getting a bubble bath before me because I instantly flung my hand causing the sudsy creature to plop onto the floor before I ran screaming to the bathroom, jumped up on the counter and planted my feet on the opposite wall (so they weren’t dangling where something else might get to me). I’m nearly hyperventilating while at the same time couldn’t help but be quite impressed with how fast I could move. That would come in handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
My children come running from all corners of the house to see me in a wild panic. My 9 year-old daughter took one look at me and nodded her head sagely, confirming ‘it was a spider, huh?’ She’s smart, that one. My youngest said he thought I had chopped my finger off. Finding out it was nothing but a spider, he quickly became uninterested and wandered off. My oldest son sighed and went to smash it with his giant Romeo work boot.
After a while, I slid off the counter and went in search of my son; the hero for the day. I asked him for all the gory details. Was it a clean kill, or were there spider bits still in the sink? If so, would he wipe it clean with a disinfectant wipe? I wanted to know what he did with it. Was it in the garbage? If so, was the garbage full enough that I could possibly see its crumpled body when I scraped the dishes later? Or did he have the nerve to use one of my good tupperware containers to catch the thing only to toss it at me later while I’m in bed winding down with a good book? (I know this from experience, which seems to be quite amusing to everyone but me)
Hi, my name is Luna and I am an Arachnophobe.
There, I’ve said it.
This insanity has got to stop. This fear has gotten progressively worse over the past few years, and quite frankly I’m tired of it, and as entertaining as my family finds it, I’m sure they’re tired of it too. We live in the Pacific Northwest, a temperate rainforest, we are going to have lots of spiders. In fact, they are pretty much everywhere on this planet, so unless I plan on moving to Antarctica, I’d better get a grip.
But how can I get a grip when I don’t even have a handle? Just recently I dropped a can of spider spray in the grocery aisle because I saw the legs from the picture on the label peeking out from behind my hand.
I didn’t buy the spider spray.
So why my irrational fear? How did it get like this? What’s the deal? When did I lose control? Why just spiders? Hell, I don’t mind snakes, in fact I think they’re pretty cool and I even say hi to them when I come upon them while gardening. My husband has hissing cockroaches as pets in his classroom and I get a kick out of them with no problem. Lizards and salamanders? Bring ‘em on. Really, I can tolerate a lot of little scurrying things that give other people the creeps.
Just. Not. Spiders.
However, I’m not heartless. I’ll admit I have issues while reading Charlotte’s Web to my children, but I always end up bawling like a big baby at the very end.
Maybe we carry the same funny bone around with us through all of our lifetimes, and when we hit that certain nerve, sparks go awry and things get funny, but not in a good or beneficial way. Meaning, there’s a link to the madness, a certain trigger to karmically deal with or a life lesson to overcome.
The initial onset of my phobia occurred simultaneously with my twentieth birthday, so perhaps that’s the age when one of my previous lives came to a horrifying end as I was found guilty of something insane, tortured, bound, and buried alive in a coffin full of spiders.
The concept of transmutation between species never quite gelled with me, but maybe lifetimes ago I was a cute little ladybug happily munching away on aphids when I snagged the silk tripwire.
Some researchers say that the fear of spiders is genetic. Spiders of long ago were highly more venomous and could easily kill or render a person so sick they became helpless and more susceptible to other dangers. Still others claim it’s social conditioning. Neither of my parents suffer from arachnophobia, but plenty of people do. Thankfully my children show no signs of it.
I think it may be a variable combination of these things that can cause slight dislike to downright incapacitating fear of things that can potentially harm us. I don’t really know my spider story, but I am slowly finding myself slightly intrigued. Sort of.
The interesting thing is that the more I write this post, the more I’m understanding that my issue with spiders may be because they are things that I cannot control. The creature in my kitchen sink this morning is a shining example, what nerve! He has (well, had) a mind of his own. His own agenda. Spiders are insidious little critters that lie in wait for their prey (okay, snakes do that too…) So even though I have entertained the idea that my fear of spiders may be connected to a past life trauma, it may actually be caused by my fear of not being able to control my surprise encounters with them, their bites, and the nasty fact that they crawl into our mouths and noses while we sleep. (shudder) I understand that like other living things, spiders merely do what needs to be done in order to survive. But I feel encroached upon. They invade my personal space. Every once in a while one will crawl across my arm, or hide in my shoe, or bite my leg while I’m getting out of the shower.
My phobia is not out of the norm. It’s very common just as acrophobia and claustrophobia are, to name a few (there are are hundreds upon hundreds of known phobias out there) These are phobias that I can totally understand, but heights and small spaces don’t send me off the deep end like spiders do. To me these are manageable fears because I have control over whether or not I take the stairs or elevator, and I consciously choose not to skydive or go and stand near a cliff’s edge to get a “better view.” Heights and small spaces can at times make me uncomfortable, but do not incite panic attacks. I think about how much I love to scuba dive, but I can see how some who are claustrophobic wouldn’t be able to tolerate the combination of the mask and mouthpiece very well. But don’t ever put me in a submarine because I don’t know how to operate one, therefore I give up control, more than likely triggering a sense of panic being trapped in a sinking saltwater blimp. Throw a spider in there and my heart would immediately stop.
There’s really only one thing about spiders I can control, and that’s my reaction to them.
Easier said than done, my friend; easier said than done.
Today was the first time I thought seriously about finally getting over this phobia, or at least how to alleviate my fears. Interestingly, I was recently given a glazed clay spider pendant from one of my pagan spirit sisters. She joked about using it as the start of my immersion therapy. I laughed it off, brought it home and gingerly set it on my altar without actually looking closely at the design. It’s a very beautiful blue color and the spider itself is a subtle imprint design, and by placing it on my altar, I can control my level of interaction with it. Changing the way I think about spiders will be a long, arduous task, but I’m willing to try it if it means only a little improvement here and there. I think I’ll begin by taking the spider pendant from my altar every morning and holding it, for just a few minutes. A week later maybe I’ll be running my fingers over the spider imprint, picturing it in my mind’s eye, seeing the joints in the legs, feeling the shape of its body. I’m looking forward to it like dental work, but as such, it’s gotta be done. Then, eventually an acceptance ritual.
So Arachne, please be nice to me when I invoke you. Let’s smoothe things over. We can start fresh. You know, clean the slate or clear the cobwebs. (too much?) If not, can we at least co-exist on relatively good terms?