My name is Carol and I'm an arachnophobe. Just recently I turned five carefree children, who previously found spiders cute, into arachnophobes too. I was babysitting, a spider appeared out of nowhere as usual and my screams became contagious. I feel painfully guilty as now, these kids have a lifetime of unnecessary fear ahead of them, on top of the usual insecurities and responsibilities that go with getting older.
I've had a debilitating fear of spiders since as far back as I can remember. This recollection takes a lot of concentration and meditation, thanks to copious amounts of drink and drugs I consumed over the years, squishing my brain cells. I don't ever recall a time in my life when I wasn't afraid of the eight legged panic attack inducers. I don't ever remember putting my face into a web and trying to kiss one, or covering my naked self in dead flies and placing my body on a fibre-glass lined attic floor, waiting for one to devour the feast I painstakingly prepared. I don't think there has ever been a time in my life where my hair has fallen into my eyes and I haven't slapped my face repeatedly thinking that it's a huge spider trying to smother me.
I grew up in a home that was like something out of Dynasty - Blake Carrington-old and grey. The house was a haven for spiders, lots of corners you couldn't reach with a hoover or a sweeping brush. My mother wasn't afraid of them, so it's not like she was projecting her fear onto me like I did to those innocent children. I remember her swooping them up with her hand and gently putting them outside, their legs pleading through the fingers of her closed hand. I was happy she was removing spiders from where I had probably urinated myself but I wasn't happy that I could see their long legs struggling as she moved them from inside to outside. How big were they? Or how small were her hands?
I think this is where my fear may have stemmed from. My mother was kindly removing them from my home, but it was also these spider's home and therefore they always came back. It was pointless and frightening and I was only getting relief for a few hours. She'd transport one from the living room floor out into the back garden and when I was going to bed that night, this very same spider was making it's way out of the bathroom. I needed closure and I wasn't getting it and I believe this contributed to my severe Spanxiety (Spider Anxiety). I now firmly believe that the only way to deal with spiders is Shoe To Kill.
When I walk into a room I check for cobwebs. I've moved house because of spiders. I've been trapped on a kitchen table for hours because a spider had entered the room before I got a chance to leave it. On hangovers, when my nerves are exposed and my fear is heightened, I can sense their presence and sometimes I hear them gossiping about how I overreact to them. They have even effected my choice in men. I fell madly in love with a man before because he killed a spider instantly, no faffing about, no trying to be a sensitive soul - he picked up a shoe and squished a spider without hesitation until it looked like a dirty fingerprint on his white bedroom wall. When the spider died, my love for him was born.
I don't think the names of spiders help my Spanxiety, even though I hope to never encounter these ones: Huntsman, Pirate Wolf Spider, Florida False Wolf Spider, Martha Recluse Spider and the Pholcus Phalangioides AKA the creepily nicknamed Daddy Long Legs.
I've tried unsuccessfully to overcome my fear of spiders. I'm not afraid of crane flies, which some people call Daddy Long Legs. Daddy Long Legs to me are crane flies without the wings, those common spiders you find in most homes, the ones that vibrate in their cobwebs and move towards you when you're in the shower/bath. So I decided to pick up a crane fly one day as an adult and I pulled each wing off slowly in the hope I would become comfortable with the remaining Daddy Long Legs that was left in my fingers. I wasn't. The crane fly was probably less frightened. One time I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a spider using some dutch courage when I was drunk. That didn't work either and I looked ridiculous in the pub that evening, climbing bar stools searching the corners for spider riddled cobwebs.
People who have no fear of spiders can't comprehend my fear and sometimes I secretly hold this against them. My mother often says to me "But Carol, spiders here in Ireland won't kill you." To which I reply, "Joseph Fritzl mightn't kill me either Mommy, but I don't want him in the bath for hours not moving."
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