Friends In Small Places
I think many of us will freely admit to having a phobia of some kind. Mine is spiders. I had no fear of them until a tarantula was popped into my hand at London Zoo when I was 5. Totally spooked, that was game over for me. What started as mild aversion grew and grew until any spider was a problem. Later in life, I worked hard to befriend them as a way to shrink the fear... Which is how I came to write about Dave
in The Spider And Me (in Just As You Are)
A couple of years ago, I had a spider in my bathroom who I named Dave. I actually grew to really love Dave. He was no bigger than a penny. I rescued him from the bath as I hate to see anything suffer. Worried he might drown, I gave him a ride to freedom as he clung on, flying through the air on a piece of toilet paper (long enough to keep him from touching my hands!). I popped him beside the open window so that he could choose between venturing outside or staying in the bathroom. He chose to stay and kept me company for a few weeks, never failing to pop out from his latest hiding place to say hello - constantly reinforcing my belief that he liked me too.
I grew to love Dave so much that when some plumbers came in, I was careful to make sure he was tucked away... being so small, some steel-toed boots might have cleaned him out in one unknowing step. So he stayed safe under a cup until they left. Not knowing how long Dave might naturally stick around for, when I went away the next week, I was unsure whether he'd be there when I got home. Upon my return, his tiny eight- legged self popped out from behind the window ledge and I was certain he was happy to see me and was welcoming me home.
It took quite a while to get to a point of enjoying the company of a spider, but I knew it was possible, especially if I started small. Put me in a room with a big one and I'm not sure I'd be telling quite the same story, but I'll keep working on it.
Fear itself can be a scary thing. Fearing not only the thing, but the fear of the thing too can keep it all growing and growing. For me, that might look like fearing places where spiders might be as much as fearing the sight of them. It was something I was thinking about a lot as I wrote the new story, Hidden Monsters... What kept them growing? And could making friends with Dave be the key to shrinking other fears too.