Monday, June 27, 2011

A Totally Rational Fear

Here's the thing. For as long as I can remember I've had a deep and abiding fear of spiders. I can hear your eyes rolling from here! "Oh, brother!" you might say. "She's such a girly wimp. They have exoskeletons for goodness sake! You're 500 times bigger than them! Just smush them!" And your words would seem like wisdom but for the terror I feel every time I see one!

I once asked my mom if she remembered a particular moment in my life when the seed of fear may have been planted. She thought for moment and then recounted an incident. When I was a baby we went over to my grandparents' house. Their basement has always been an area of great concern to me because they get big, gray, hairy wolf spiders down there. Anyway, I had wriggled away from my mom while we were down there watching TV and crawled around, exploring the carpet beneath my little hands and knees. After a few minutes my mom thought she should probably locate me and check on me. She spotted me in a corner across the room with something in my hand moving toward my mouth. She jumped up to stop me and as she grew nearer she realized it was, of course, a big dead wolf spider, at which point she freaked out and probably squealed and smacked it from my chubby grasp. Shocked and startled, I started screaming and crying and the whole thing turned into a big trauma-fest. Who knows? Maybe this one incident in my very early development set me on course to have spider issues for the rest of my life.

It certainly didn't help that the room I inhabited for a dozen years seemed to be a spider migration zone. Over the years, I've gotten very good at spider-spotting. The second I enter a room, I can locate any spider on the floor or the walls and I know very well where the unseemly beasts may be hiding. When one would show it's ugly face, I would do the only possible thing: call for my daddy or nearest sibling to come take care of it for me. They tell me I have a "spider voice". They always know when I'm calling to them to rescue me from a spider situation. Sounds bogus to me.

I know you think I'm ridiculous. That my fear is unfounded and completely irrational. But I can tell you positively and without question that you are wrong. One deep, dark night my fear was realized and my phobia validated.

About five or six years ago, I was home on a short break from college. I had settled for the night in the bed of my childhood. All was dark and quiet when suddenly I was awakened from a deep sleep. There was a very loud crackling sound. My right ear was behaving very strangely. Half asleep, I reasoned that my ear must be experiencing some rare pressure thing and that it would be over any second. Then I felt an intense tickling, such as you feel when water runs out of your ear after you've been swimming. As gross as it seems, I thought maybe I was having an earwax explosion or something. But then the tickle stopped halfway through my ear canal and turned back around and went back into my ear where the loud crackling continued! Horrified, I snapped clean out of my stupor and leapt out of bed. I realized immediately what was going on! I ran up the stairs faster than I ever thought possible to my dad's bedside. In a manic whisper I said, "Dad! DAD! THERE'S A CREATURE INSIDE MY HEAD!!!"

He snapped awake and then lay back down thinking I was having a bizarre dream. "Go back to bed, Lacey."

"I'm not kidding!" I said, my voice shaking uncontrollably. "I can feel it running around!" I think he was convinced when I started violently smacking the side of my head trying to force it out. I was out of control. Every moment it became more and more unbearable. I don't remember everything that happened from there. I know I must have sworn at least a few times, because my dad mentioned it a few days later, crestfallen. I think I was crying and head banging on my hands and knees at one point. All I know is I felt completely insane. All I could think of was the thing in my head running around and around on my eardrum. My dad tried to shine a flashlight in my ear to see if it would follow the light out, but to no avail. Finally, whimpering, I threw on some clothes and we jumped in the car to head to the emergency room.

We hadn't been driving 5 minutes when I suddenly felt that intense tickling again! It was far out enough that I started brushing madly at my ear. I touched the beast with my hand! I felt it fall out! "STOP THE CAR!!!" I shouted. We pulled over and got out. We started searching wildly for the culprit. I focused on my clothes as my dad searched the seats and pulled up the floor mats. Now, I know what you're thinking. "Evidence, Lacey! Where's the evidence?!" I must regretfully tell you that I have none. We never did find the creature that turned my peaceful rest into a nightmare. But I'm not insane! And I would never make this up! I know what I felt that night and I know it was real!

It was so real, in fact, that for months I couldn't sleep at night. I would wake up from hideous spider nightmares, leaping out of my bed. I had no peace of mind. I tried everything from tissue and cotton in my ears to wearing a scarf around my head at night, but nothing worked. And so, in the most extreme phobic reaction I've ever heard of, I invented a thing of true beauty. I call them ear hats. Oh look! Here they are now!

They wrap snuggly and comfortably around my ears. After six months of wearing these babies at night, my sleeping habits were restored to normal and my dreams became tranquil visions once again. My college roommates had some interesting things to say about them. Some laughed me to scorn, some asked me to make them a pair after hearing my horrifying tale. I don't wear them regularly any more. Only after intense spider situations or when camping do I break them out of their drawer.

I guess my point in sharing this story is to tell you that a fear of creepy, crawly things is not irrational by any means. Those things can wreak absolute havoc in your life. So have a little respect for those of us who carry the fear. We are the ones who know the truth. It's only a matter of time before they come after you.


  1. *cringe!* What a horrible experience. I don't know what I would do in that situation! I can't even think about it! I really love the ear hats story though, great idea =)