Phobias and other irrational fears
Growing up, my all-time favorite book was Charlotte’s Web. And even though I’ve been deathly afraid of spiders for as long as I remember, I loved Charlotte and would cry when she died at the end.
Homes in Massachusetts have spiders. If I saw one crawling up my wall, I would hop on top of my bed and let out a piercing shriek until someone, anyone, came to my rescue. And even after witnessing said offending spider meet a crushing blow via kleenex (or my bro carry the thing outside and set it free), I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I would feel thousands, no millions, of creepy crawly spiders moving under the covers and over my skin.
My brother (the animal lover who would set the spiders free) subscribed to a service – I forget the company name (maybe National Geographic?) – but every month he’d receive a new packet of illustrated cards, featuring a photograph of a living organism on one side and a detailed description of genus/species/habitat/eating habits/peculiar morsels of trivia on the flipside. The company provided a neato plastic bin to house the animal cards.
Why is this particular memory flooding my brain? I just saw a creepy, crawly spider in my office that vaguely resembled the one card I found in my Charlotte’s Web book eons ago. I’m a professional. I can’t panic. I can’t hop on my desk and scream bloody murder until someone runs in to kill it. My colleagues will think I’m a lunatic.
The spider is small. I am much larger than the spider. The spider is tiny. I can crush the spider with my fingertip. The spider is slow. Actually, it can crawl pretty fast. And it’s got the web action. It spins a cocoon around its victims and eats them later. A village of spiders could be waiting for me. It could kill me with its venom (could be a black widow). Or crawl into my ear and to my brain.
Who else suffers from a completely mind-numbing fear?