October 04, 2005
I have always been phobic of spiders. Even just typing that word makes my skin crawl. But as I find myself getting older, instead of getting better, it gets worse.

I am often found while walking to my car in the morning, doing the 'pope walk'. I wave my arm in front of me in a screwed-up chest cross as I fight off any possible webs. Whether there are or not, the thought alone is enough for me to walk rather nervously in the morning.

One morning, I didn't. I walked right into a garden spider. I could see it hanging from the side of my hair, out of the corner of my eye. It's gangly orange legs giving me some sort of 8-legged salute in jest as I screamed, very unladylike around my carport. If that wasn't enough, once I became conscious of my surroundings again, I was greeted by some neighbours out walking their dog and staring at me like I had grown horns. People, did you not see the beast hanging off the side of my head? Even upon explaining, they seemed to not quite understand.

I have good reason. My brothers were full of practical jokes designed to drive their baby sister insane. On at least two occassions, I can remember them dropping monstrous wolf spiders on my head. Only later, when we were adults (or at least some of us were) they laughed and admitted it was in cold blood. They would feed these demons until they got to a decent size, collecting flies and the like in order to scare the neighbourhood girls. I was just their local prey.

When I was 6, a tarantula ran over my foot in California. I remember the feeling on my bare foot to this day and even typing this, I can feel the bile rising in my throat.

I try to rationalize. I tell myself it is only an insect with 8 legs. It's more scared of me than I am of it (yeah, right!). But when push comes to shove, and I'm faced with the real thing, primary fear takes over. It is not something controllable.

Only once was I able to overcome this. In Northern California, my cousin owns a large ranch. We had just been warned of the poisonous trap door spiders, and walking along, my friend accidently stepped on a nest. She has the same feeling as I do, and she froze. Fully. Completely froze. I had the presence of mind to push her away from things, and break her paralysis. But soon after, I began to shake. Like I said, this is not a controllable reaction.

Last night, I had to go to a friend's house to look after her cats while she's out of town. Thinking nothing of it, I had planned to go alone. My mother reminded me that I'd be going late and long after the sun set, and wanted to accompany me on my drive. I thought she was being silly, but in the end, decided it would be nice to have some company on the hour-plus drive.

Driving down the long driveway, I was struck at exactly how dark the house was. My friend lives in a very rural area, on 1/2 an acre of forested land. The key was hidden in the shed, and as I tried to climb up to the spot expected, I was faced with two of the largest brown beasts I'd seen in some time.

I felt truly nauseated. The cats were inside...I had no option but get that key, but to do it, I had to pass two spiders with spans over 3". Spiders that were none too pleased with my entry into their quiet neighbourhood and were running from one end of their webs to the other.

Telling myself to face my fear, I ducked and got the key. I did my duty, and now 24 hours later, I am still feeling squeamish. My mom described my reaction as one who had just seen a horrific car crash. I went from red, to white, to a pasty grey. Then the shaking started. All I remember is telling myself not to lose my dinner.

From what I gather, those without true phobias have no understanding of how traumatizing it can be. Hell, my brothers still laugh when I talk about it. A friend of mine takes delight (or maybe she truly doesn't realize) in telling stories about them, until I must leave the room.

The best part? I need to go back to check on the cats tomorrow night. It will be in the dark again, and well, I'll be bringing a big stick and Raid.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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