Don’t Even Get Me Started

This is a ‘common house spider.’ It’s COMMON. In HOUSES! Kill me. Kill me now.

There are few things in life that truly terrify me. An empty wine fridge? Totally. Trying on bathing suits? 100%. My reflection when someone FaceTimes me? For sure. But nothing puts me in a rocking fetal position with thumb in mouth faster than spiders. With Halloween season upon us, I see them everywhere. Jewelry. Friends’ front porches. Pottery Barn. EVERYWHERE. I understand they aren’t real spiders – just decorations. Y’all, please. My brain knows that – but it can’t process it effectively enough. My own husband even participates in this mean spirited celebration of what haunts my deepest nightmares by putting a giant spider on our banister (as seen below). I KNOW it’s there and every morning on my way to get coffee it startles me…and makes me question the meaning of unconditional love.

The multiple eyes. The spindly legs. The hair.
The big body sack full of God knows what.
Oh for the love of all things holy…

I know they are supposed to be helpful and we aren’t supposed to kill them.
Don’t. Care.
I know they eat the other insects in our home.
Don’t. Care.
I know they help keep certain diseases from spreading by eating pests that carry them.
Don’t. Care.
I just learned that spider venom is being used to treat medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy and strokes.
I.
DON’T.
CARE.

The Influence of Entertainment

I feel like the world of entertainment led to the beginning of my severe aversion to these creatures of evil. The first in my memory bank would be Gilligan’s Island. To this day I can hardly watch this specific episode. You may have seen it if you were born before the 80s. Gilligan finds the giant spider in a cave…and even though it’s fake (y’all…it’s legs don’t even touch the sandy ground…C’mon!) it still makes me cringe. When Gilligan releases Walter the pigeon and it lands ON the spider?! I can’t even. And if I was Maryanne and had to push the mirror towards this elephantine arachnid to lure it out of the cave, I would literally sh*t my clamdiggers. Plus, why is nobody concerned that they got the spider out of the cave only to have it flee ALIVE into the jungle?!?!?! It’s still out there, Gilligan!!! So yes, that might be the first seed planted in my unending fear.

Next up….Indiana Jones. You’ve all seen it. You know the EXACT scene I’m talking about so I don’t need to set it up. But when his guide turns around….No. No. No. No. No. No. No. A thousand times NO.

Perhaps the absolute worst thing I’ve ever seen involving spiders that caused me not to carry a compact in my purse for about 30 years (you’ll need to see the movie to understand why) is the scene from The Believers. If you are unfamiliar, let me introduce you to the single most awful 60 seconds in my spider movie history. (Note: this is not easy to watch for the arachnid challenged. You’ve been warned.)

IT’S ON HER EYE!!!!!!! I. DIE!

Reality

So with Hollywood laying the background of my spider abhorrence, let’s pepper in some real life experiences that directly fed my irrational fear.
🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷🕷

Traumatic Incident #1: The house I grew up in was originally covered in ivy. This was a thing in the 70s. But ivy is what I like to call ‘spider heaven’. Spiders congregate in those leaves and vines and you have no idea how many are multiplying in that mess. During certain times of the year, for a reason unknown to me, all the daddy long legs would vacate the hidden sanctuary of the ivy and gather in an outside corner by our front door. OUR FRONT DOOR. From far away you couldn’t tell what you were looking at – but the closer you got, the cluster moved…in unison…up and down…like it was breathing. It was then you realized the rippling gray brown mass was actually hundreds of daddy long leg spiders with their exceptionally long legs tangled awry. (I need a moment because I threw up in my mouth a little.) Anyway, my dad would just get a broom and knock them all down. WHAT THE HELL, DAD!?! They SCATTERED. People – scattered. Dear Jesus. Did you see my eyes roll back in my head before I had the seizure????

I just started to google ‘picture of daddy long leg cluster’ to give you a visual reference of the unspeakable ordeal I survived. I seriously couldn’t go through with it. I started crying. Google it yourself. It’s TERRIFYING.

Traumatic Incident #2: Have you ever been in the shower all soapy sudsy when you look up and notice you are sharing that space with a spider and/or bug? Naked. It’s horrifying. You’re in the middle of the shower so you can’t just….stop. You’re not in a position to really kill the thing so you just coexist – never letting your eyes off the intruder – until you frantically rinse off and get the hell out. This has happened to me a few times, but the WORST was in college. Of course, I was mid lather and noticed a rather large looking spider on the corner of the tub. The only thing I could think of in a panic was to place my shampoo bottle on top of it. The bottom of the bottle wasn’t flat but concave – so it wouldn’t smash it, just trap it. I felt relatively safe to rinse and deal with this adversary once appropriately clothed in a towel. But when I lifted the bottle to see the enlarged spider I realized that it wasn’t really a big spider after all.
It was a mother spider.
Carrying its babies.
All. The. Babies.
On her back.

Going fetal in 3, 2, 1…..

They went EVERYWHERE. I had two hands and about 200 babies. (This is the point where I am using breathing strategies to get through the scarring memory of said incident.) Eventually, dear God I hope, I managed to end all their precious baby lives. I’m not at all sorry that I was a baby spider killer -so don’t think you’re going to make me feel bad. I had a job to do and I’d do it all over again. Whilst dry heaving.

Traumatic Incident #3: I started running in my late 20s. I like running. I’m not great at it. I’m not particularly fast. It just helps me clear my thoughts and mentally organize my life, while listening to the likes of Hanson. (MMMBop is catchy, y’all.). One particular incident, though, set me back in spider therapy about 4 years deep. This was around 2010ish when I was training for my first half marathon. Up until that point, I would just run 3 miles easy peasy after I dropped the kids at preschool. But in training for this I had to amp up my runs which meant start running earlier in the morning – translation – start my run when it was dark. On this particular morning I started out confident with a good pace. I was working on my 8 mile practice run and was about halfway through. When I started it was completely dark so I was able to run on the street with little traffic. Around mile 4 the sun was starting to come up and morning traffic was increasing so I hopped up onto the tree lined sidewalk. It was that beautiful part of morning where it’s both light and dark. The hazy fuzzy part of dawn. As I effortlessly eased into a comfortable stride, I noticed up ahead that there was a leaf hanging in mid air. At least that’s what blurrily went through my mind because it looked like the leaf was not attached to anything – in mid air. Weird. It might be important to note that I’m supposed to wear glasses. I can’t see things far away – objects are smeary. So, I’m approaching this blurry leaf and my mind catches up to my pace with the following rapid fire succession of thoughts… “Leaves can’t be suspended in mid air without anything attached to them…I don’t see anything attached…It must be something almost invisible… What’s something invisible that a leaf could get stuck on… What traps a leaf… What traps things in general…Oh my God… Oh my God… Oh my God… Is it attached to a web… Is the leaf dangling by a spider web… Is this really happening… AM I ABOUT TO RUN INTO IT…”
Ya’ll….the pace of my feet mirrored the frantic pace of my thoughts and the faster I thought, unknowingly, the faster I ran. When I finally had the wherewithal to surmise that my current situation had me running straight into the leaf, ergo, the web, I was going too fast to stop. Collision was inevitable.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was that my near sighted eyes had failed me through most of the thought process. My eyesight only rallied when I was eye to eye with that leaf. Only it wasn’t a leaf.

It was an enormous leaf sized spider.

I need a minute.

I broke this web into bits. With. My. Face. And that spider was ON MY FACE.

Epic grand scale freak out ensued.

I have no idea if anyone saw my carnival freak crazy reaction, nor do I want to know but am grateful I have yet to view video documentation from the paparazzi.

Traumatic Incident #4: No matter my extreme efforts to avoid future spider incidents, things just happen beyond our control, right? Take this past weekend. We had taken the girls to Oklahoma City for a rowing regatta. My oldest has actually found something she enjoys – so I’m no longer the soccer mom from her youth but now a regatta mom. The main upside is that the competitions are on water (duh) so the venue is much more pleasant than a dry flat field. This particular event had sprint races at night where the competitors decorated their boats in glow sticks and lights. We sat along the water cheering and watching with the ballpark like lights illuminating the water. It was really beautiful and relaxing – especially after a day full of racing in the heat of the 95 degree sun. Everyone was enjoying the night sky and comforting wind. I looked up at the sky with apprecition for the respite in heat and noticed what looked like snow flurries just effortlessly being blown across the water. The more I stared at these floating delightful puffballs, I begin to see that some were bigger than others…and puffier…and thick. It was the oddest thing. One of these cottony pieces landed in my hair so I casually brushed it off and continued to watch them rain across where we were sitting. My husband, ever curious, started to google what these feathery beautiful wisps could be.

And that’s when my life ended for the fourth time.

Ballooning spiders.
THEY. WERE. BALLOONING. SPIDERS.

Not familiar? Let me educate you:
Ballooning, sometimes called kiting, is a process by which spiders move through the air by releasing one or more gossamer threads to catch the wind, causing them to become at the mercy of air currents.

Heavenly Father. TAKE. ME. HOME.

The part of the night that I actually DID sleep (which was meager) was filled with nightmarish visions of baby spiders crawling into my ears and nesting. That’s a thing people! When I brushed my hair the following morning and found webbing – I went guttural.

The good news is that these traumatic events seem to naturally space themselves out over a decade give or take. I shouldn’t be due for another incident for a while. Until then…

Fun Fact: Spiders are found on every continent except Antarctica.
I think you know where this is going…

2 Comments on “Don’t Even Get Me Started

  1. Okay, those are actually pretty traumatizing incidents. My family used to keep a giant, 16-foot-across spider decoration on the garage door for Halloween – but it wasn’t too bad, it had googly eyes!

    Like

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