I used to be terrified of snakes ... all snakes ...
It began when I was four or five and chased into deep mud by boys carrying snakes ... not sinking sand but mud that sucked off rubber boots ... mud that required the other kids to get a Bell telephone repairman off a pole to rescue me ... I think I would have run the mile in three minutes if anyone had chased me with a snake after that ... and did ... a couple of times ...
People have tried to teach me about them ... have taken me to places where I could learn about them ... used logic ... used my feelings about animals ... all to no avail.
I realized they were right ... but my gut reaction was abject terror.
I tried to control that terror in order to prevent my own children and theirs from inheriting it from me ...
One daughter was walked across half an acre of land, her tiny hand in mine, so that I could show her the nice garter snake. I nearly broke the bones in her hand enroute.
A grandson was similarly introduced to a snake in the bottom of a canoe ... and it was all I could do to stay there with him as I encouraged him to admire its lovely colours and appreciate its role in the natural scheme of things.
But my own gut said "KILL ALL SNAKES, before they kill you."
Today I realized that I may have overcome that phobia.
Kenya and I were down at the shore where I put the kayak in the water. I was filling a bucket for the garden.
A tiny water snake slithered past and Kenya was very interested.
I realized that it had a leech in its mouth. I seldom see leeches on that side of the cottage so I was more interested than frightened or horrified. I told Kenya to leave it be ... that it was cleaning up the shoreline of leeches.
And that is when I realized that I may have overcome the irrational fear I used to have.
I overcame my second phobia (fear of heights) which began during my first pregnancy, when, about a dozen years later I was living in a school house that was still being renovated and lacked a staircase to the mezzanine. My sewing room where I made almost everything my children and I wore was up there ... and the only way up was via a step ladder. I zipped up and down that ladder several times an hour some days ... and without even realizing it I discovered one day that I was no longer imprisoned on the ground by an abject fear of heights.
Tomorrow I will teach all morning ... my teaching partner is very ill ... she suspects giardia ... and won't likely be in till Thursday. The news required an abrupt change of plans ... but that is not the sort of thing that terrifies me ... not the sort of thing that immobilizes me ... not one of my phobias ... thank goodness.