Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Of Moths, Slime, and Nasty Tastes in the Mouth

We have a lady in our neighbourhood who is terribly afraid of snakes. We’re talking climb on a chair, shriek like mad, and possibly faint level of fear here. Our next door neighbour has the task of chasing the snakes out of her yard every few months or so and he’s just enlisted Neil as his backup should he be away or dead (he is in his late seventies after all) the next time the need arises.

Now, the sort of snakes in this woman’s yard are 100% harmless. Personally, I find them about as scary as a really thick shoelace and that’s about the size of them too. Her fear makes no sense to me because wee little garden snakes won’t, can’t, hurt people. Unless stretched out and used as a garrott perhaps, but that’s getting a little bit gruesome, I think.

Myself, I have a few fairly rational fears. I’m scared of wasps and bees, spiders with pincers or hairy legs on them, and large clawed and/or pointy teethed animals. I’m scared of harm coming to those I love, of hurting people, of being hurt. I’m scared of fading into the background like I used to once upon a time and feeling worthless and invisible like I used to feel.

I’m scared of a lot of things it makes sense to be scared of.

I’m also scared of moths. Of trying new foods. And of getting my hands all slimey (as in gardening or doing dishes without gloves).

As I look at those three irrational fears all in a line like that I can’t help but grin at the irony of having moved somewhere where moths often grow to the size of small birds, having inherited a huge garden and well landscaped yard, and having married a man for whom culinary variety is one of the keys to happiness.

Apparently these are fears I’m meant to conquer.

What strikes me is that none of those things can hurt me. Moths don’t bite (though they sure as heck look like they’d like to), dirty hands don’t hurt (unless, you know, you never clean them), and an unpleasant taste in the mouth is just a fleeting moment (long memory notwithstanding). Much like the little garden snakes, my irrational fears have no power to do me real harm.

And yet…I get panicky when someone opens the front door at night and a swarm of moths flap in. When I can’t find my rubber gloves the dishes sometimes sit for a day or two till I get a new pair. We eat a pretty boring diet around here because I shudder at the thought of a nasty taste in my mouth.

Joseph B. Wirthlin said:

“Fear can make us run away from things—things like setting and achieving goals, developing relationships, or becoming the people we know we should become. Fear can be a thick fog that smothers our dreams.”

Much of my life is coloured by fear, and that fact saddens me. It is encouraging to remember that as with many things we feel are our outside our control, we can make a choice for things to be otherwise. I can choose not to let fear rule me. It’s an easy thing to say, but realizing that is, I think, essential to beginning the struggle and striving to conquer those many fears which prevent me from progressing.

I’m going to go do the dishes now. With the gloves off.


Anonymous said...

With the gloves off? NOOOOO! Your hands might melt!

BTW - the word verification this time is "dedhar" which made me think "dead hair" Blaahahahah

Laurie said...

Ah yes, those stinkin' fears!! I definitely let a lot of fears get in my way! I'm going to try to overcome one this week!!!

heather said...

I have learned a lot about fears lately. And I'm really proud of the progress I've made. They do hinder us from progressing. Good luck to you!

hayngrl101 said...

I love your post. The quote from JBW really hits home because in my house, we are really struggling with Fears and I can see how it has hindered us in moving forward and stepping out of our comfort zone... thanks.

the MomBabe said...

I'm afraid of mirrors. Every time I walk post one, I run away shrieking in fright. {shudder}