Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Phobia File: Spiders

Today's post is not only Number 8 in my Halloween Countdown, but it is also my 99th Post for this blog. For their hundredth post a lot of bloggers like to tell their readers a few more things about themselves that they didn't know. I won't be doing that tomorrow as I have something very special planned, so instead today I'm going to tell you eight more things about myself that you probably didn't know:
- I have a scar down the arch of my right foot after I sliced it open while walking through mud & it required six stitches.
- I don't like to eat dessert. I don't need any more sugar in my diet & desserts are moreish, ruining the end of a meal. I'll take steak over cake any day.
- I find dark-skinned women attractive, so I often find it difficult to talk to them.
- I hate the taste of ginger and the first time I ate it I vomited (despite it's supposed antiemetic properties).
- I have three large freckles on my right upper thigh, each arranged 9cm apart in an equilateral triangle (check for this to make sure I'm not a clone).
- I only ever leave the house wearing jeans because I find them to be the most comfortable and reliable legwear.
- I have mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies, such as the desire to avoid cracks in tiles, organize things evenly & close doors.
- I am terrified of spiders, which is why the Word of the Day is: 'ARACHNOPHOBIA'

Arachnophobia /əraknə'fōbeeə/ n. Fear of spiders.

I have a deep, powerful fear of spiders. I can't stand the look of them, I hate their disgusting webs I hate their creepy eyes and I even hate the idea of them. I can't even look at a picture of a spider, since it makes my stomach turn sour and I feel the muscles in my body tense as it tries instinctively to run away. If I were to look up 'Spiders' on Google images, I'd have to leave the room before the page loads. Then I'd probably stick a fork in the electrical outlet to make the safety switch go off and turn off my computer, just so I wouldn't have to enter my room to press the power button with the risk of seeing the screen (or the spiders on the screen seeing me).
Yes, I am wholeheartedly an arachnophobe.

I don't understand how anyone could be anything but terrified by them. They've got too many legs, meaning they skitter about like some overdeveloped abomination. They've got eight eyes, all of which are soulless, black pits, that never stop staring at you. They've got nasty little fangs, which can bite you and do anything as bad as melting your flesh or leaving you in writhing, froth-mouthed agony, to flat-out killing you on the spot. And they hang around in webs, which you can't see until you step through them and get it all caught in your hair and on your clothing. Then not only will you have web on your body but also, potentially, a spider.
In my opinion, the only good spider is a dead spider. And even then, their bodies either jut out at unnatural angles, or curl up into a ball like a skeletal fist.
Their only redeeming factor is that they eat other bugs. But then again, geckos also eat bugs (and spiders) and they manage to do it without being a goddamned monster, so who needs spiders?

I absolutely hate them. But the really weird thing about it is, I think I might know the reason why. I am no expert on fear; there are some things I understand, but I certainly don't understand the crucial point that makes us fear things. However, something happened to me in my childhood that, I feel, could explain a lot.
The story itself is not all that impressive. My Dad was driving me and my two brothers to school. I wasn't entirely ready, so I was still putting my shoes on. Now, at the time my Dad was driving this orangey-brown, coming apart at the seams, smelly, old, second-hand car. I don't know the brand, all I know is that we called it Calliope. It was old and dusty and it had its dark nooks and crannies, so I have reason to believe that's where the spider came from. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that, either during the car trip or some time before I picked them up that morning, a spider had crawled into my shoe . . . just thinking about it now makes me feel uneasy.
Because when I put on that shoe, the spider scrambled out and crawled up my leg. Now this was a brown, hairy fucking thing - probably a huntsman - the size of a tennis ball's shadow around. Since it was rushing to escape being squashed, he was fucking racing up my ankle towards my knee. Now I was stuck in the car, seatbelt and all in the seat, I couldn't bash it, kick it, whatever. All I could do was start stamping my feet quickly. So just as it crawled up my thigh, I managed to get it off me and drop it on the floor, where it disappeared under the front seat.
Then, since I wasn't wearing shoes and I was still stuck in the seat, all I could do was lift my feet off the floor and hope it didn't come back out.

Now, this may not seem like an interesting story. A spider crawled up my leg, so what? Well, in simplest terms, I think that it traumatized my young mind, violating my fragile understanding of the world.
I mean, I was in the car, that's a fun place to be, it took me to the McDonald's drive-thru, school, shopping centres & DreamWorld, the car was a safe place; My Dad was in the front seat and things don't go wrong when parents are around; I was on my way to school, still getting dressed, so I was unprepared for the world.
Then at that moment, there was a spider. Because, I live in Australia I was warned about Redbacks & Funnel-Webs to make sure we don't walk straight into a death-trap. We're taught that spiders can kill, so we know to avoid them.
Then the worst part was the fact that it was touching my leg. I've always been quite reserved, I don't like to be touched, and so when this monstrous creature crawled up my inner thigh I can honestly say, I felt that I was inappropriately touched by that spider. It violated my personal space. I wouldn't let any of my closest friends touch me on the inner thigh (at that age) so to have a monster that could kill me just scramble up me like I was a tree, it was very unsettling. To have one on your body is to be grasped by the eight-fingered hand of death . . .

I can't be certain this moment is what caused my arachnophobia. I never 'liked' spiders at all (I don't think anyone does) but I do know that this incident exacerbated my fear of spiders to its current state. Just because I've been thinking about them, I've been flinching every time something brushes against my leg, or when a nerve twitches on my back - paranoid that its the creep of a spider on my skin. I think that's the worst part about arachnophobia (or any fear). There doesn't even have to be a spider for me to be scared of it. I'm probably going to have arachnid-themed nightmares tonight . . .

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I'll be sleeping with one eye open and a can of bug spray on my bedside table.


  1. Arachnophobia is a common fear, and they do inspire fear when crawling against your legs or hair. Given that you live in Australia, with some of the deadliest spiders, I'm not surprised that you developed a defense against them. It's like me and deep water. Though my view on spiders is expressed in this PVP webcomic:

    1. I liked Charlotte's Web too; the cartoon version. I think the Nostalgia Critic said it best:
      "That's the sign of a true, hard-working entertainer: working behind the scenes, never taking the credit and leaving on a song."


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