Thursday, April 5, 2012

How I Learned I Am Ophidiophobic

ophidiophobia: (noun) a fear of snakes

My skin is crawling.

I am sitting in our charming little den with a charming vaulted ceiling with nothing but charming candlelight and the cloak of night... and my skin is tingling with fear, all because of that first line.

I've always known that I didn't like snakes.  I would state it with the same displeasure as "I don't like the smell of Freesia" or "I hate it when toilet paper rolls out from the back of the roll."  While I love animals, snakes have always seemed unpredictable.  They're speed and power are not to be tested.  Exactly one week ago, I learned exactly how much I do not like snakes.  Scratch that.  Exactly how terrified I am of snakes.

Leading up to our move last weekend, I had gone to our place to drop off some things.  On both occasions, our landlords/neighbors were there completing landscaping, so I was able to chat with them about the property and the town.  I'd spent over an hour with them during both visits, because I wanted to get to know them.  While talking to Chris last Thursday, I remembered something that Mr. TBS and I had wondered about.

"Is there anything we need to know about in terms of bugs or critters?  Obviously, there are a lot of mosquitoes in Houston, but do we need to worry about ticks or anything?"

She explained that there would be more mosquitoes than in the city, because there is a creek nearby.  She said not to worry about ticks at all.  "Just wear bug spray if you're going to be outside all day."  And then she said, "But we do have copper heads."  Seeing my unaffected expression, "Do you know what copper heads are?"

"No."  I was expecting her to describe flying beetles.


** Sweet baby pandas.  I am getting the willies just typing this.**

And this is where everything started to kick in.  I'm talkin' rising body temperature, a ball of heat dropping from my head to my feet and climbing again.  My impulse was to pull in all limbs like a tightly wound ball of yarn, but my legs wouldn't move.  My mind started playing tricks on me.  I felt the urge to move my feet, as if there were snakes on the ground to escape from, but my legs still wouldn't move.

Chris, who happens to love snakes, continued on to say that she has only seen one in the twenty years she has lived here.  That disappointed her, because "they have such a beautiful pattern!"  Vision started taking on a soft black frame.  "If you ever see one on a rock, just take one of the rakes and push it off.  You'll want it to know not to come back."  Tunnel vision starting.  Visualizing myself willingly approaching a snake, I could feel my heart screaming.  She continued to assure me that it wasn't anything to worry about but that she wanted me to know just in case I was lucky enough to see one.  Reality blurred by images of Fear Factor.  

As this conversation took place, I grew increasingly sweaty, and every hair on my arms reached for high Heaven.  I gave my best attempt at apathy to the matter, but I couldn't even muster a fake smile.  And flashes of black started swishing in front of my eyes.   

Wave your hand back and forth in front of your face.  That is what I was seeing.

I officially discovered how scared I am of snakes.

Even while telling Mr. TBS about the conversation that night, I felt like I wanted to cry.  Calm tears, mostly from feeling completely out of control.  Being proactive, Mr. TBS Google'd "copper head snake" to see what they looked like.  My feet were immediately tucked under me on the couch, and I only looked at the thumbnails from a distance.  Again, glazed eyes.

It's been five days since we moved here.  I know that the longer we live here, the more I'll get used to the idea that I might see a snake one day.  While everyone else in this neighborhood walks through grass and bushes without a care, I'm prepared to buy galoshes and an astronaut suit.  But then I started worrying that a snake might crawl in a boot even if I keep them in the house.  It's an endless cycle!

I love animals.  I don't want snakes to be killed.  But I don't want them within my line of sight.  Not even toy snakes.  Because I will scream and then cry.

Is anyone else ophidiophobic?
Do you have any true phobias?


Elisha said...

I am afraid of choking on food because of bad experiences I've had. :P

Jess said...

I could barely read this post.
I had to tuck my feet up under me.

I am just as bad as you about snakes.

I have a crazy fear that I probably shouldn't share but you've probably already thought about it anyway.
I'm always terrified that a snake is going to come up from the toilet while I'm on it....AH! Seriously the worst fear.

Obviously I have no help to offer, but I can totally relate ;)

Love you!

Bev said...

holy geezeeee! HATE me some snakes too!!! I first saw a "grass snake" whatever those are... when I was taking my dogs out to the bathroom... BOOM.. something moved super quick and BOOOOM I was in the door withOUT my dogs behind me!!!

You'll be fine girlie... MR. TBS will be your hero and remove any snakes before you can even see them!!!

Ellie said...

I feel that way about a couple things...mainly going into the bathroom when there are no lights on (Bloody Mary still freaks me out). As well as ghosts. They scare me, too.

But I seriously did used to feel that way about spiders. I couldn't even handle the ones that are the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Although I'm still afraid of them, I have a much less irrational fear than I used to (however, not to the extent that I enjoy spiders). Part of that was the fact that my first office at my first job was literally COVERED in brown recluse webs in every corner - to the point where I had to kill a family of them that lived INSIDE my printer before I moved offices.

Basically, that was my own exposure therapy. It really does work well, and if you're willing to seek it out, it may help you to at least not feel so much fear when walking around. Let's face it, you'd make galoshes look awesome, but they're not your best choice in fashion. Even if that means taking a baby step and buying a plastic one to start with and going from there...

Melissa said...

I found this story on my friends Blog the other day...just proof that you're not alone and some day you'll be able to wander in the grass :)

deertale said...

Snakes and tornados! I also get the whole blurry eyed shallow breathing sweaty everything nervousness. It's a serious anxiety problem! My family thinks I'm crazy, but I think those two things are awful! Yuk!

Micaela said...

I have slight coulrophobia, or fear of clowns. I'm actually quite terrified of mimes, but there's no scientific name for that.

Leanne said...

I can't say that I'm afraid of snakes like that. I do actually find them fascinating. I've actually went "hunting" for them and have kept a few as pets. They're fun to hold...if they're the nice ones.

I guess it's because I grew up in Arkansas. Snakes are everywhere. Big and small. So you have to learn from a young age, which ones are good and which ones are bad.

Copper heads are the bad kind. I know all about those. But, if you don't bother them, they won't bother you. True statement.

Sorry for your fear. But I think you'll be okay :)

Holly said...

Snakes are definitely not my favorite animals either. Eeks!

One of my biggest fears is water I cannot see the bottom of. I love the beach/ocean but if I go out so far that I can't see my feet I start hyperventilating. I have no idea why, I can swim but for some reason it just really freaks me out!

Laura said...

I love reading your blog! You are so good with words - I could envision you freaked out by the possibility of snakes... I don't like them either. Luckily I've only seen one out of a zoo in real life - I panicked and ran over it with the lawn mower!

Leah said...

Snakes are really scary. That and tarantulas and scorpions.

My dad was mowing the lawn one day, picked up a piece of the fence that had fallen, and found a snake which immediately lifted its body as so to strike. He manage to kill it, but it was scary!

Whitney said...

I don't really mind snakes as much, but I absolutely cannot STAND spiders. I'm just like you and your snake phobia, even pictures terrify me. I become paralyzed with fear and can't do anything but stand still. Even worse? I was playing a video game once (yes I'm a nerd) and a few spiders were in the game and I started crying. I'm pitiful.

Katie Price said...

I feel ya! My fear isn't snakes though, it's fish! I get all icky & anxious just thinking about fish. You can imagine my dismay moving to the island..

Michelle said...

That whole reaction you had to snakes?! Exact reaction I had just reading it! I'm shaky and panicky and sweaty and just generally freaking out. I've been scared of snakes since I was little. We lived in the desert for awhile and I saw them all the time. Every single time I see one I completely hyperventilate. Can't breathe. Shake uncontrollaby. The whole 9 yards. I have nightmares about them. Whenever I'm out in the country I constantly have my snake radar up. Ughhh!! Nothing worse in the entire world.

Unknown said...

Ohhhh gosh. No fun. Snakes suck. They are scary I totally get you. If it makes you feel any better my 13 years of being a Texan I have only seen 2!!

And I sure hope you never see any!

tiff@thecoffeehouse said...

ok, going to be completely honest here as a new follower. i grew up with snakes. we took baby snakes to school for show-n-tell. BUT, i am TERRIFIED of spiders. so, i feel like we are even. :)

Devon said...

I love the way you wrote this, but I feel for you. I'm not a huge fan of snakes either. Just stay clear of dark cool places, I think they like to chill out in such locations.

Have you read that book Crictor the Boaconstrictor? He's a cute snake (if you' can buy that) maybe it would help to find a snake you could "like".

Katerina said...

I'm not bothered by snakes at all. But when it comes to roaches...dead or alive...I don't know how to function!!! lol


RadiantKristen said...

You poor thing! So sorry you had a panic moment there. On the bright side, if the neighbor has only seen one in 20 years, you probably won't run into one in the time you are renting.

I have a fear of black widows. My boss at work got bitten by one on her neck, and the story is so awful, it gives me nightmares.

Erin James said...

Ohhh my WORD how scaaaaaaaaary!!!

I am just shivering reading this - I am the same way!!


Jasmine said...

I just found this post from the one you linked from!

I feel so bad for you :( it's how I feel about cockroaches, which seems strange because they're so tiny and not dangerous, but the thought of them makes me cry.

Living in Australia hardens you up to dangerous animals I think... We get the occasional snake but they're more scared of you than you are of them generally. Our biggest concern is red-back spiders which can kill instantly if they bite you and they like to bite. You just gotta check inside your shoes before you put them on in the morning if you leave them outside ;)

Good luck in Knoxville with the snakes. I'm sure you'll be fine! Xxx