When we first moved to Guatemala I was very excited.
Who wouldn’t be! We were going to live in a beautiful lakefront cottage with an amazing property surrounding it. The best part: we would be staying for six months, our longest time in one place for over two and a half years! How could it get any better!
That was before they told me about the bugs.
There I was, floating on a cloud of anticipation and excitement. I could hardly contain myself! Then, Mom burst my bubble of joy by announcing that for the first few weeks, we could expect a few scorpions living with us, but “don’t worry, they’ll clear out quickly I imagine.”
My expectations plummeted like a banana crepe dropped off the Eiffel Tower. Scorpions! You’ve got to be joking! And we’ll be living with them!!!
The day we arrived I kept a sharp lookout for any of our armor plated enemies. None were found. Until that night. Mom had one on her dresser. We were all awaked by her frightened screams, the slaps of Dad’s shoe on the dresser and finally a swift crunch. The rest of us didn’t sleep very well that night.
The next day we found our first black widow spider in one of the school boxes.
“They didn’t mention black widows!” I yelped. “Oh, Hannah!” Mom said “It’s not a black widow! Look how beautiful it is!” She then stuck her hand in the box with it as I looked on in horror. It wasn’t until Dad explained that it was in fact a black widow that she realized the truth. We found three more that week.
But I couldn’t go on for six months in agonized fear of these creepy-crawlies. To do so would be childish and unreasonable. So I set about realizing my fears, and learning to deal with them. Every time we would find a spider or scorpion, I would smash it. There were some exceptions of course, I still freaked out now and then. But no matter how it scared me, I would kill the spider. One of my favorite poems concerning this problem is as follows:
When facing your horrible, nervous, tense fears,
clench the emotion, don`t grab those dreadful tears.
Take a deep breath, stand straight, stay strong,
keep your head up, don`t encounter the wrong.
Face the mad, sad fear, get yourself involved,
till you overcome it…and the problems solved.”
And it is true. Now, months later, I have no qualms about smashing a scorpion or a black widow. It is quite satisfying to conquer your fears and regain the ability to think rationally about what exactly you are afraid of. Some fears, although you never quite get over them, can be brought into your control and tamed to a certain point so that they don’t hinder you.