There are a lot of ways I embarrass myself on a daily basis – falling, crying in public, saying awkward things – but I think some of my worst embarrassing moments have happened due to my fear of spiders. I know that everyone says this, but guys, seriously: I’m really afraid of spiders.
This fear is nothing to joke about. When I say I’m afraid of spiders, I don’t just mean that they gross me out and I don’t really want to get close enough to one to kill them. No, I mean that spiders literally give me major anxiety, even enough for a panic attack or two. I’m not just afraid of spiders – I am genuinely terrified of them. From the way I feel about them, you would think they’re giant monsters taking over the world (actually, don’t even joke about that).
How often have I made a complete fool out of myself thanks to creepy, crawly spiders? Um, I lost count when I was, like, 11-years-old. It’s bad. My friends and family pretty much hate me for it. In my defense, I can’t always be held accountable for my actions. Most people don’t understand the anxiety spiders give me – they think my fear is more about dramatics. It’s hard to explain that knowing a spider is near me makes it difficult for me to breathe or think in a rational way. I literally have no control over myself. I’m giving you a rundown of my worst moments in the hope that I realize I am not alone.
One of the first times I hung out with my boyfriend, I spotted a spider on his ceiling while we were making out. (Side note, I have a sense about spiders. I ALWAYS know when they’re around. It’s terrible.) For 1.5 seconds, I contemplated attempting to be cool about it since I was still in that stage of trying to impress him. Then the spider moved closer and I decided, nope, being single isn’t so bad. I literally pushed him off of me, rolled/fell off the bed half-naked and started crawling towards the door, shrieking “Spider! SPIDER!” I might have started crying. After he killed it, things were weird, as he tried to decide whether or not I was clinically insane.
There are two times I can remember that I’ve managed to get my normally calm best friend seriously mad at me. One time, I was innocently driving home at around 2 in the morning when, BOOM, a freakin’ spider fell from the ceiling right in front of my face. I swerved my car to the side of the road, screamed my head off, jumped out of the car and danced around shaking my head and freaking out. When I looked in the car, it was crawling across the dashboard. I was in a terrible neighborhood but couldn’t imagine getting back in my car – so I called my best friend.
She trekked out into the freezing cold night to find me standing outside of my car considering whether I would rather be in the car with a spider or get mugged (getting mugged didn’t seem so bad). When she couldn’t find the spider, I made her drive my car back to my house so I could drive hers so I didn’t have to get in my car. She did it, vowed to make fun of me for the rest of my life, but on the plus side, won Best Friend Of The Year.
Another time, we were in the middle of a long car ride when I spotted a spider crawling towards me faster than anything I’ve ever seen. I didn’t even know how to handle myself as it came closer, so I started hyperventilating and moving away until I literally was sitting on her lap… while she was driving. She screamed, “Jessica, GET OFF OF ME, you’re insane” and pulled over to yell at me. I deserved it, I almost killed us all. She barely spoke to me all weekend.
On a more serious note, I once had a legitimate panic attack thanks to a spider. I was home alone when I saw a huge, fuzzy black spider making it’s way across my bedroom ceiling. I ran out of the room screaming for help until I realized there was no one. I called my mom at work, hysterical. She tried to calm me down, but nothing was working. I have literally never felt so panicky in my life. I finally called my brother and begged him to come home from work to kill the spider for me. Once he got home, he found me crawled up in a ball downstairs, crying and shaking. It was so bad, he couldn’t even make fun of me. That’s a big deal for my brother.
Then there was that time I embarrassed myself in front of my entire homeroom class. In high school, there was this guy we’ll call O who thought my fear of spiders was hilarious. He tortured me constantly and loved to make me look like an idiot. One day, he put a very realistic looking fake spider in my desk. I sat down, opened it, saw the spider and all hell broke loose. I didn’t know it was fake, screamed like I was being murdered, everyone stared at me then started laughing, I immediately started crying and then I ran out of the school and went home for the day.
The weirdest part of that story? A few years later, O got in touch with me through Facebook saying he wanted to take me out. I still sort of hated him for the infamous spider incident but hesitantly agreed. O acted like a perfect gentlemen, and at the end of the night, he told me he had to take me out because, even years later, he still felt horrible about the spider prank. I guess it was kind of sweet.
I could go on for hours telling you about my embarrassing spider stories, but I won’t. I’m sort of getting creeped out – I keep looking around making sure there aren’t any watching me. I wish I could say my fear is getting better… but it’s totally not. So I want to know: have you ever done anything similar thanks to your fear?
What are you afraid of? Are you terrified of spiders also? Has your fear ever totally embarrassed you? Do you have some crazy stories? Tell me in the comments!
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Posted in: Confessions
Tags: confession, embarrassing story, fears, phobia, spiders
Here’s the thing: I am terrified of spiders.
I know, I know, you’ve heard it a million times from a million different people:
“I am SUCH an arachnophobic person!”
“Spiders are, like, THE WORST.”
“I just can’t even deal with spiders. They’re, like, so gross.”
But, seriously, y’all, let me talk to you about spiders and how they make me feel.
This is as close as I could come to putting a photo of a spider on my blog.
Photo courtesy Darren Johnson/ShotHotspot.com.
This is how I remember it all beginning: as a very young child—we’re talking around 2 years old—I was sitting on the floor, playing with a teddy bear of some kind. Something caught my attention behind me, so I turned and looked around, finding nothing of real interest. (Or maybe the teddy bear was more interesting than whatever noise I heard behind me; who knows?) I turned back around to my teddy, expecting to see nothing but its furry, cute face staring calmly back at me, only to find that a spider had descended from the ceiling on an invisible thread of web and was now hanging mere inches in front of my face, twirling slowly and maliciously, as it continued its slow descent to my lap. Needless to say, the tears came fast and furious.
I’m not sure what happened after that (or how accurate that retelling is; it is legitimately my earliest memory, though also arguably one of my most vivid), but from that point on, the penny had dropped: I was petrified of spiders.
Well, “petrified” is maybe not the correct word. “Petrified” implies that my fear causes me to freeze up silently like a statue, and let me tell you, that is NOT my typical reaction. As an adult, I’ve basically managed to curb my initial impulse to scream loudly, shrilly and repeatedly—though, depending on the size and proximity of the spider, a few little yelps still occasionally sneak out—but every instinct I have forces me to remove myself from the situation as rapidly as possible, order and decorum be damned. I may have been able to curb the impulse to shriek, but the impulse to flee is practically unavoidable.
Once I’ve done the fleeing, however, I am filled with another irrepressibly strong desire: to remove the spider from my former locale in a rapid and deliberately harmful manner so I can return to whatever I was doing with as much piece of mind as possible. That being said, my intense fear of being remotely close to a spider keeps me from being able to do the deed, so I tend to enlist the bravery of those around me. I have no shame, NONE, in admitting that I still make my parents kill spiders I find at home when I visit, or that I have made my roommate, Dut, come into my room and dispose of eight-legged beasties late at night on multiple occasions, especially when we lived in our old basement apartment that was plagued by every creepy-crawly you can think of. (Seriously, if they’re native to central Kentucky and are considered gross by any fraction of humanity, I bet you we had them in that apartment.)
However, masochism plays an important role here, too: I need to SEE the spider meet its end to truly feel at peace. (My fear is a complex beast, not unlike those octo-marauders that lurk in dark corners, suspended on invisible threads of gossamer, waiting for some unlucky pest to fall into their trap.) I want to watch a trusted friend or family member crush the offending arachnid firmly between his or her fingers, knowing that the fragile body of the web-spinner has been mutilated beyond repair. I don’t need to physically see the broken corpse after the damage has been done—because, eew—but I do need to be in the room to see for myself that the spindly intruder has been dealt with accordingly. I tread a fine line between needing to be close enough to experience the spider’s demise firsthand and needing to be far enough away that the scuttler can’t get to me.
And don’t even get me started on those horrifying moments where my metaphorical knight in shining armor brandishes his or her paper towel or tissue ineffectively and the eight-legged horror gets away. It is almost an impossibility for me to reenter that room and not be constantly thinking about the lost spider or imagining that I feel its imminent arrival on my flesh. (Talk about formication, am I right, Kelcie’s fiance Mark?)
All right. Here’s the point in this post where you quote me all that research about spiders being beneficial, desirable organisms that help manage the populations of other harmful bugs and insects, yadda, yadda, yadda. You can even throw in a couple jabs at my wussiness and/or lack of manhood. Go ahead, I’m listening, I promise.
And now here’s the point in this post where I talk to you about the irrationality of a phobia: I DON’T CARE. I’m irrationally afraid of spiders, and if I’m being completely honest, no creature with more than four legs is really high up on my list. Trying to explain to you exactly why a tiny, usually-harmless creature who is likely leagues more terrified of me than I am of it strikes such a fear into my heart of hearts is far beyond my communicative capabilities. Phobias—true phobias, not distastes or dislikes or garden-variety fears; I’m talking the thing you are most afraid of, the thing that can keep you up at night or make your breath catch in your throat while a cold sweat breaks out on your forehead—are such intensely personal things that I find them nigh impossible to accurately convey. I know that a good portion of it can be chalked up to my overactive imagination, but beyond that, I can only tell you that I find everything about spiders, from their too-many eyes and their scrawny, pointed legs to their jerky, halting movement and seeming ubiquity horrific.
Before you call me crazy, let me leave you with this excerpt from an article on LiveScience.com that is ostensibly designed to lower the widespread (and I would argue, deserved) fear of spiders that runs rampant across humanity by positing that most “spider bites” aren’t actually spider bites at all.
“When spider bites do happen, they tend to occur because the eight-legged beasts are surprised — for example when a person reaches into a glove, shoe or nook that they are occupying at the moment, Buddle said. … Many spiders aren’t even capable of piercing human flesh. Buddle said he has observed spiders ‘moving their fangs back and forth against his skin,’ all to no avail.”
I want you to do me a favor: imagine that you’ve just reached into a glove and disturbed a spider. I’ll let you decide what it looks like. It tries to bite the pad of your finger as a fearful reaction impulse, but the callused skin keeps its tiny mandibles from penetrating your flesh, so it moves up your hand, dragging its fangs along your skin, trying in vain to break the surface. Its tiny, mute frustration only deepens and intensifies as it progresses. By now, it’s slipped under your shirt sleeve and has made its way to the soft flesh on the underside of your forearm. Clacking its tiny fangs in triumph, it sinks its teeth into you, shooting a tiny amount of venom into your body along with a dose of simmering rage and panicked fear. Unknown to you, the spider continues up your arm, perplexed by your seeming ignorance of its presence. It continues biting you—just an occasional nip to help its cause—as it slips onto your torso, unseen, unheard, un-felt. You think you may have experienced a tiny jolt of pain and a faint itching sensation, but you chalk it up to an overactive imagination and continue about your day: ignorant, happy, free.
Now, go ahead. Call me crazy.