We all have our fears.  Those things that make us squirm or quiver, act in irrational ways, or that cripple us.  Some of those fears are very valid and understandable – the fear of death for example.  Even if that’s not a fear of yours you probably would never scoff at someone who harboured that fear. Some of those fears are so deep rooted and personal that we can’t even bring ourselves to speak them for fear even saying the words could make the fear a reality.  Some of the fears are more on the surface and are just straight and simple being scared of something, whether our logical mind says we should be or not.  No matter what fear we’re dealing with, trying to conquer that fear can feel like stepping up, grabbing our measly sling shot and preparing to slay a giant.

Some of my fears that fall under the last category are very pint size.  Earwigs and maggots.  These creatures disgust and worry me in ways that I recognize are not legitimate.  My biggest fear of them is that somehow they will crawl inside me. (I’m sure there’s some deep rooted, psychologically based explanation there but I have no desire to discover what that is).  As a moderate example of my fear, a few weeks ago I was staying at someone’s house, sleeping on a mat on the floor.  Just before turning out the light I saw an earwig crawling near my pillow.  I hurried to the bathroom, grabbed a tissue and killed the little bugger.  Lying down, however, I feared there may be more.  I probably lay there scared one of them would crawl inside for 3-4 hours.  Now I’ve never heard any accounts of earwigs crawling inside people’s ears or any other part of their body, but I’m still ridiculously paranoid about it.  (If you have heard of it, PLEASE do not tell me.)

Today I decided I had to deal with this type of giant – only on a much larger scale.  About four days ago I opened the compost container on my balcony to see dozens and dozens of maggots.  The past three days I’ve been semi-trying to ignore this (knowing I would have to deal with it eventually when the container was full) and passively dealing with it by spraying vinegar and then bleach on the terrors.  Despite my efforts, more and more kept appearing (I’m getting queasy just recalling this).  Today when I took off the lid there were dozens and dozens around the edges of the container.  They slid down the sides and dozens more dropped from the cover, which held even than the top and sides combined.   In shock and terror I dropped the cover and then, of course, had to pick it back up.

I went inside, washed my hands, and – shaken – tried to go about my day.  But then the creepy crawlies started.  I felt things crawling on me everywhere.  Now, logically, I knew there was NO chance one of them could have gotten to my feet and crawled up a leg without me noticing it.  I’d checked my hands and arms and none of them had made it there from the cover.  I started to relax and then I thought – but what about eggs? – what if they were so small I couldn’t see them. What if they hadn’t been washed off well enough and somehow . . . ok – I’m going to stop here.  If I tell the rest of this story and the lengths I went to in trying to satisfy myself that there was no chance maggot eggs would have the opportunity to hatch inside me and feast I’m sure more than one of you may suggest that some time in a mental health facility may be of benefit to me.  What can I say?  Irrational fears make us do irrational things!

After realizing how this fear had overtaken me and after some prompting and assurance from my long distance boyfriend (if he were here I would have had him deal with it four days ago) I decided I needed to take care of this myself and get rid of them once and for all.  I was stronger, I was smarter, and dammit how pathetic is it that I’m letting little relatively bugs have this much control over me!  And so about 45 minutes later, after much stress, much mental pep-talk, an overuse of plastic bags, an overuse of bleach (I know – very un-environmentally friendly), and about 5 hand washings the task was done.  Besides the bleach inhalation and a queasy stomach that lasted an hour or so I was none the worse for wear.

Now, this was a long story for what in all honesty, and to most people was a simple act to overcome a simple fear, but it wasn’t simple to me.  It really wasn’t.  And I feel ridiculous, yes for how big and hard this was for me but I also feel proud that I did something about. I went onto the battlefield, I slayed my giant, and I came out stronger.  I didn’t wait for my fella to take care of it when he gets back in two weeks (I asked, and he agreed).  And I’ve gleaned a lesson from this experience.  Throughout my life it’s inevitable that I’m going to face way more things that scare me.  Some will be fears on a similar scale to this and some will be much worse and even harder to overcome, but I’ve now got this experience to hold onto.  I made a decision, I set my teeth (figuratively), and maybe I’ll still be equally afraid about some squirmy bug crawling inside me in the future, but I know I won’t be nearly as afraid to do something about it when I have the opportunity.

Have you overcome any fears that, deep down, you know were irrational – is there a story there?  What lessons or advice do you have for helping others get past the fear in their lives – be it a maggots, the fear of death, or those things we cannot bring ourselves to speak?

* As a final note – from now on I’m keeping my compost in a paper bag in the freezer.

Join the conversation!