As readers of my blog may know, I have kabourophobia.In that post, I also talked about the fact I’m pretty bloody scared of another eight-legged creature – spiders.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had true ‘arachnophobia’ – although I know it’s been pretty close if I haven’t. When I was younger I had to sleep in my brothers room as a spider disappeared under my wardrobe, and I have hallucinated tarantulas climbing up my bedside table before. I wouldn’t go into a room if I knew a spider was there and the thought of ever visiting somewhere like Australia was out of the question in case I saw a spider.
Just over a year ago, we lived in a house that had a utility room that was sort of ‘tacked’ on to the side of the house – a perfect haven for spiders. One evening in the late summer, Graham was working nights and I was on my own in the house. I went to lock up (to get into the back garden we had to go through the utility room) and flicked the light on. On the wall was an absolutely gigantic spider. Probably the biggest one I have ever seen. To lock up I would have had to get much too close for my liking as it was a long narrow passage. I managed to take a photo of it and then rapidly locked the door to the utility room, and rolling up towels to put in front of the door to stop him (we named him Hagrid!)coming under it into the kitchen. I didn’t sleep very well that night! The next day it had gone, which made me even more terrified. We kept our pushchair in there and I couldn’t bring myself to use it until Graham checked it over to make sure it wasn’t lurking in there.
I realised then that the fear was ridiculous. I was prepared to leave the back door unlocked all night in a rather rough area just because of a spider which wasn’t going to hurt me. That realisation gave me the kick up the arse to start dealing with it. It has taken until now for me to say I’m not afraid of spiders, but today I know I can say I’m not afraid.
A couple of weeks ago, a spider dropped off the towel I was getting in off the washing line on to my hand. Instead of screaming and running away, I just brushed it off. I’ve moved lots of little ones into the garden, but this morning, a spider not much smaller than Hagrid ran across the lounge floor and under the sofa. Before, I would probably have gone out to avoid being in the room with it, but as I type this my bare feet are on the floor and I am sitting on the sofa that he is under. We have our bug catcher glass ready so if he does come out, we can catch him and have a look before releasing him (not killing him!) outside.
I haven’t used any outside ‘help’ to deal with it, although I know that hypnotherapy and things like that have been proven to be fantastic ways of overcoming fears. Every time I saw a spider, I reminded myself that I am thousands of times bigger than him (no idea why all spiders are male to me!) and that I have all the control – I could squish him in a second. Knowing I have that power over it helped, and made me realise how small even the biggest spider is. Of course, I also tell myself that no spider in the UK is going to do me much harm, although that wasn’t really a factor in my fear anyway. I started off dealing with the little spiders and just ignoring them, before moving them with a piece of paper, and then eventually with my hand. I haven’t yet held a big one in my hand but when the opportunity arises I will. I have a friend who keeps tarantulas, and my aim is to hold one.
I can’t say spiders are my favourite creature on the planet – if I had the choice I would rather not have any running around the house, but I have come to be able to be alongside them. They don’t matter to me anymore. I’ve also realised how they’re actually pretty amazing little creatures – I never got close to a web before in case the spider came back, but now I look at them and they are incredible!
I know that for a lot of people, getting over a serious fear or phobia of something is really difficult and ‘getting over it’ really is easier said than done. However, if you’re afraid of spiders, next time you see one, remind yourself that YOU are the one with the power and control!