As I look back at my phobias, I see them like a comedy show because I no longer feel the terror that I lived with for most of my adult life.
I do however appreciate the paralyzing fear and anxiety that I must have experienced with the following stories that led me to act this way.
The Clothes Line
Having to use an outside clothesline every day was a nightmare I lived with for more than 20 years. I had to create various rituals that enabled me to do this activity, despite it being an everyday chore for everyone else.
I had a special basket to keep the pegs in, and would carefully bring them inside with the wash each day, then soak them in water overnight, or buy new pegs each week and only wash once a week. Sometimes I used rubber gloves so I didn’t have to touch the spiders webs on the pegs.
My clothes often stayed on the line for days on end, until I could convince a friend to get them for me while I stood on a chair, diligently watching for any sign of web or movement.
Once, a lovely elderly neighbor knocked on my door, asking if there were a problem as my clothes had been on the line for 2 weeks, and if she could be of assistance. I smiled, grateful for her non-judgmental help. She even put the clothes straight into the washing machine to be rewashed, as I couldn’t touch them. They dried on an inside clothes rack this time. It was about a year before I used an outside clothesline again.
My children became wonderful catchers of Huntsman spiders. I would stand on a chair at the other end of the room with my swipe-a-fly spray in hand, while they stood underneath the beast, ready to place a container on top of the spider when it fell to the floor.
One time, when my eldest was at a sleepover, my son and I decided to be brave and take charge of the monster Huntsman that was keeping us from going to bed. As always, I stood on my kitchen chair at the far end of the hallway, while he stood with bowl in hand, ready to pounce and trap the monster (which would remain under the bowl until a neighbor or friend removed it).
I sprayed the swipe-a-fly and screamed as the spider ran frantically across the ceiling, then dropped. My son ran as fast as he could to cover it and end this drama. But he had forgotten that the new slate floor was harder than the previously carpeted one, and his hand went straight through the glass bowl as he slammed it on the floor.
My son dropped to the floor in shock seeing the blood pouring from his hand. Meanwhile, the spider ran into the office, where the telephone was, and I was left standing on my chair shaking in terror.
After attending to my son’s hand and shock (a regular occurrence due to his disability), and laying him down on the living room floor, I was faced with a dilemma. I needed to get to the phone (we had no cordless phone at that time) which was trapped in a room with the Huntsman spider.
I was brave. I ran for the phone (which was on an extension cord) and called the hospital. My son was fine and didn’t need stitches. The Huntsman ruled the office until a search-and-capture was undertaken by a brave friend the next day.
Long Drive To Work
This episode is the most embarrassing.
As a young bank junior, I secured a lift to and from work each day until I was old enough to get my license. One morning, just after getting into the car, a huge Huntsman climbed out of the dashboard. Well, I screamed so loud that my two companions thought I was dying. They stopped the car as quickly as possible. Still screaming for them to move so I could get out, I literally jumped over the person next to me and out the door to safety.
The spider had vanished – and we were still 20 minutes drive from work. I had to sit on top of the bench seat headboard, holding my extremely short miniskirt tight around my legs all the way to work.
Since they couldn’t find the spider, I refused to get back into the car for the journey home. I never drove in that car again. Luckily I got my license a few weeks later.
Night time is very scary for Arachnophobics (people who have a fear of spiders), as the Australian Huntsmen build huge webs from the gum trees to the houses. You can shine a torch outside and see dozens of black hand shapes everywhere. I just didn’t go out after dark.
When out on a date, I would tell him the safest place to park (where I knew there were no webs). Then I’d make him go to the house, unlock and open the front door, and come back to my side of the car – so I could get out and cower behind him as we both ran as fast as we could inside. It was a well-organized epic.
The Gerbera Daisy
I could not go to bed and leave a Huntsman un-captured. I just couldn’t do it. I would sit up watching the spider until daybreak if necessary.
One night, Dave, my best spider catcher was kind enough to help after a frantic call at midnight. But this spider was being difficult and tested his bravery. So Dave decided to use the fly spray.
Never ever use fly spray on an Australian Huntsman spider. They go psycho. Use swipe-a-fly -It is brilliant!
This spider was running from one end of the house to the other as if in an Olympic race. Poor Dave had no hope of catching it, so we waited for it to run out of steam. Three hours later, the spider was tired and decided to stop running.
I had the prettiest hot pink Gerbera daisy that sat on my kitchen table. Guess where the spider decided to go to sleep? In the center of the daisy. Goodbye daisy, and goodbye spider.
Painting The House
Being a single parent, I often asked for help with capturing spiders. But sometimes I had to be brave and face my other phobias on my own.
One day, while painting the front window frames on the house, I decided that I could get up on the ladder and finish the top edge myself. All I had to do was not look down. It worked brilliantly, and I quickly finished my painting project.
But there was just one small problem: I had to climb down the ladder. I froze. I stood there for 30 minutes trying to convince myself to take that first step, but couldn’t. So instead, I climbed up, onto my flat tin roof.
I was happy on my roof. Drinks, food, and even cigarettes were brought up to me. The hours ticked on and the crowd of neighbors gathered. At one point there were 30 people having a party in my front yard, as I happily sat on my roof.
They all tried, but no-one could convince me to climb down. Finally, as the sun started to set, one neighbor decided that enough was enough. He climbed the ladder, had me lay down on my stomach and then back up to the edge. This poor man, who I barely knew, laid his body across mine and ever so carefully guided me down the ladder.