I used to have a phobia of spiders. The horrible little scuttling things just Freaked Me Out. I was pretty sure that my arachnophobia developed through watching various family members display a fear of spiders throughout my childhood and I really didn’t want my child to learn it from me when she was born. I therefore decided that I should spend my pregnancy curing myself of this fear. I started off with baby steps. Whenever I spotted a spider I stood a safe distance away from it and observed it. After all, familiarity breeds contempt and contempt is better than fear (Wiggle logic – possibly slightly different from normal logic). I found that shortly I could be in the presence of a spider without my skin crawling and an urge to run away. A few months later, I was visiting a friend, when she discovered a large, black, hairy spider on the wall next to her bathroom.
“You should get rid of it!” she suggested, with the air of someone who has just found a way to spare themselves misery and look magnanimous to boot. “It will help you cure your arachnophobia.” Somewhat dubiously, I crept down the corridor to confront it, armed with the prerequisite pint glass and sheet of paper. My friend and her eldest daughter (both equally terrified of spiders), tiptoed along behind me, part moral support, part morbid curiosity. Facing my eight-legged nemesis, I took a deep breath.
Step One: trap spider beneath glass -success.
Step Two: carefully slide paper under glass -oh God, oh God, where the bleep did it go?
Having accidentally dislodged the spider, eliciting screams from all present, I frantically scanned the floor, to no avail: the spider had apparently vanished…until it was spotted by my friend.
“It’s on you!” she shrieked. I freaked.
“Get it off!” I yelled, lunging toward her. She promptly took off down the hall screaming, followed by her daughter, who was also screaming. I chased them into the kitchen. “Get it off me!” I wailed again.
“Take your jumper off, it’s on your shoulder!” She shouted.
“What if it goes in my hair?” I panicked.
“Just do it!” She urged. With the same trepidation one feels before ripping off a band-aid, I tore the jumper from my body and I threw it to the ground. The spider scuttled out with alacrity, enjoying less than two seconds of freedom before my friend stomped on it. I do actually feel slightly bad about that. (However much I may have disliked spiders in the past, I have always believed it is bad luck to kill them.) After this incident, my arachnophobia-curing exploits took a back seat.
Once I gave birth, I felt an overwhelming sense of personal strength and empowerment. I firmly believe that is what finally led me to overcome my fear of spiders. A few days after I returned from hospital, I found a small, skinny spider in my bathroom. Its presence didn’t bother me. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t feel compelled to remove it. I named it ‘Spidey’ and for the next three days that it was resident in my bathroom, conversed with it. As the months passed, this extended to all spiders I came across. Finally, I decided it was time to test it out properly. I asked an acquaintance (known as Goblin) whom I knew to possess a number of tarantulas (among other things), to help me out.
I was going to HOLD A TARANTULA. A year ago, this was a thought I could not have tolerated. The day came and I took my little Emiko to Goblin’s house. While she snoozed in her carry cot, Goblin took out a Mexican Red-Kneed tarantula named Dude. He let him walk around on the bed for a while and then picked Dude up to hand him to me. I cupped my hands and held them out: I felt quite comfortable. The tarantula weighed more than I had anticipated, about the same as a hamster. His feet felt as though he was wearing tiny velvet socks. It was not the least bit unpleasant. And I felt more than justified in crossing ‘Cure my Arachnophobia’ off my list.
All these years later, has my fear returned? Basically, no. I am much happier to be around spiders. I still prefer to remove them with a glass, if I have to move them on, because they don’t take kindly to it and tend to run. Other than that I have no problem with them. A few days ago I was sitting on the beach and one ran up my leg. I simply coaxed it onto my finger and placed it on the shingles. No drama, no legging it, no screaming.
My only regret is that I didn’t think to take pictures; since I have lost contact with Goblin and don’t know any other friendly tarantulas, I can’t see me getting any soon but as soon as I do, I will post them here. UPDATE: I found a nice man who let me hold his Chilean Rose (named Rosie): so now there are pictures, yay!