[This was initially posted on another blog, but since it has to do with fear, I thought I'd share it here as well.]
I don’t fear many things. At least not tangible things. There are intangible fears (failure, dying along, debilitating illness, you know, the usual), but in terms of actual things, I can’t think of many. Ax murderers, sure. But spiders, snakes, enclosed spaces, heights, or other phobias, I’ve never been able to relate with, and honestly, have thought those phobias to be kind of silly. But I was bested this morning. As much as I hate to admit it, and I’m ashamed to even write these words, I was bested by a spider this morning.
I’ve been living on my own for enough years to realize I’m the one [i.e. the only one] to take care of the insects that wander into my living space. Luckily, I haven’t had too many experiences [despite living in basements and bottom floors many a time] to have to deal with anything that’s given me a fright. That is, until this morning.
I may or may not have taken 30 minutes, yes thirty minutes, to talk myself into killing a spider. There were, I think, several factors at play.
- I was just talking with some friends about how studies show that humans are innately scared of spiders - it’s in our DNA. Why’s this? Because spiders can be poisonous. Our ancestors were fearful of spiders and snakes because often times they were killed by their venom. [This conversation came about via an altercation with a moth and the book The Fear Project.]
- I saw this spider this morning after going to the bathroom, and as I was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and saw the reflection of said spider near the ceiling above the toilet. Not something one expects to see when one looks in the mirror at 5:30 in the morning!
- Dealing with a spider on a wall or the ceiling is a whole other beast than dealing with a spider on the ground. Am I right?!
- This spider was big. I’m not going to say it was huge, because I know there are many species much bigger than the one I faced this morning, but it was the biggest I’ve seen in a really, really long time. With its legs, it was larger than the diameter of a toilet paper roll. That’s big, folks.
Now under normal, regular-sized spider circumstances, I have no problem either a) killing them with a gigantic wad of toilet paper or smashing them with a shoe, or b) if they are indeed small, I’ll let them go on their merry way with a firm warning that if they get close to my bed, they’ll meet their maker. I’m fully aware that spiders are helpful in the environment and I’m okay with coexisting with them. But, I have my limits.
And this spider was my limit. I was shocked at how anxious I got and how long it took me to talk myself into actually killing it. I said all the usual things: Rachel, you’re 8 million times bigger than it. It’s probably more scared of you than you are of it. It’s not poisonous. And in order for you to get ready for work, you’re going to have to kill this spider. After jumping around, shaking it out, praying, texting my friend Becky [who, just last night, was texting me about the saga of having a bat in her wall!], telling myself that I wasn’t given a heart of fear, and multiple false starts of walking into the bathroom with my shoe in my hand only to walk right back out again, I did it. One swoop of my shoe, and it was over. It didn’t put up a fight. It knew its end was near. And thankfully, it was positioned above my toilet and so when I hit it, it fell right on the edge of the rim so I just have to push it in with my shoe and flush the toilet.
And it was done.
Now as much as I’m ashamed it took me 30 minutes to kill a spider 8 million times smaller than me, I did realize that maybe I’m not as tough as I thought I was. Maybe, just maybe, this was a fear that I had to face to prepare me for some of the adventures that I know are coming my way.
I’m by no means going to over spiritualize this. I killed a spider. That’s it.
But at the same time, I faced a fear today that I didn’t even know I had. And that’s something. I’m not sure what, but it’s something.