For as long as I can remember I’ve been scared of snakes. Now I know what you’re thinking, “most women are scared of snakes, what’s the big deal about that?”. But for me it’s more than just a little shudder after crossing paths with a snake, it’s a deep fear within me that has no self control or reason.
Yet more times than I can count I’ve found someone who is convinced they can cure me of my fear if only I would just (insert their remedy here).
When I was a child my dad decided to cure my fear by bringing home a little garden snake that someone had left at the feed store in a glass jar. Now I’ll admit that eventually I would sit in the same room with it. Eventually I even held it. You might even say that I was warming up to it.
But then my brother found the cage empty because the snake had escaped. It was never found except for in my mind where daily I found it crawling up my pant leg or hiding under my pillow.
When Mr. Byrd and I were newlyweds he decided it would be fun to chase me around the yard with a garden snake that was smaller than a worm. I broke the fence trying to get out of the backyard.
That’s how he found out how deep my fear ran.
Let me say this, it makes no sense. Can a snake smaller than a worm hurt me? No. I know that. My head and my spirit both know that. But there is something inside of me that changes when I see a snake.
My head starts throbbing, my heart races and I instantly start looking for the best way to escape the space that I’m in.
I have no control, just a deep set panic.
Truthfully it’s something I’m ashamed of and I hate with a passion.
Not only do I hate how it makes me loose control but in the past few years I’ve noticed my fear of snakes being planted inside of my children as well. I can’t tell you how much it hurts my heart that I might give my children this same fear because it truly is horrible.
About two years ago when I saw my oldest run away screaming from a grass snake when she was only 8, I decided to do everything I could to get over my fear or hide it as best as I could from my kids.
Slowly I made myself start looking at information about snakes. I learned which ones truly will hurt you and which ones are safe. I taught my kids about it as well while trying to give them a curiosity and fascination of them. I put on my peppy voice and talk to them about scales and how snakes warm themselves in the sun, all while having a secret panic attack on the inside.
I’m doing so well that now I even look at the snake cages in the pet store and I beg my daughters to come look as well.
“OH look at how it’s shedding it’s skin! Can you believe that can get into a ball that small? That one looks like it wants to cuddle!” I proclaim so they’ll come over there and look willingly, slowly erasing any of their fears.
Then they skip off to the next aisle to look at the hamsters and I shudder and give myself one or two seconds to recompose myself before I join them.
Yes the fear is still there but I’m learning to conquer it. I have to beat it. Some days I think I’m doing so well.
But then there was this weekend.
We went to a get together at a friend’s house that I trust fully. Except I didn’t know that they own a pretty large snake.
I walked into their entryway that had two doors. One door on the left led into the area where all of our friends were gathered with a huge terrarium guarding the entrance and the other door led off to the right.
I headed through the door to the right, away from the terrarium and hopefully not into someone’s private bedroom.
I just couldn’t walk past the snake in the cage. It was a surprise. I didn’t know and I was already frazzled from the busyness of the day. I didn’t have time or knowledge to prepare myself for the snake.
Luckily I didn’t head into someone’s room but instead was able to loop through a living area and into a back door that led to the other living area where everyone was.
You could still see the snake’s cage from that room. Every now and then I would glance over and see it in the cage, climbing and slithering all over it. And the longer I was there, the more I adjusted to it.
We might make it out alive after all.
Until it happened again, someone decided to cure me of my fear.
Someone reached into the cage and pulled out the snake while telling me that it was so sweet and if I would just hold it, I wouldn’t be afraid of it.
And I lost it. I ran out of the back door, around the living area and hopefully to the front door to leave but there they were, with the snake. So I screamed and ran back to the other door but there was no escape, that person was there in between the two doors with the snake in their hands.
In my head all I could see was that person trying to put the snake on me and I had no way to escape.
Within seconds I was in panic mode. My nerves were shot, I was crying and breathing heavy. I had no control. Nothing in my head at that moment was making sense and my heart was beating so hard someone probably thought they heard drums.
It’s feelings that are so hard to describe because its like someone has put me in a washing machine with the hottest water humanly possible and turned it on high. There’s no sense or control, just something jerking me all over the place while I panic.
I hate it. Part of me wishes I could hold that snake. I’ve always wanted to try it just once but a flip goes off in me and I loose it.
Was that person wrong for trying to cure my fear? No.
No one knows how bad my fear truly is because I never tell them. My husband is the only one that knows which is why he cleared a path and whisked me out of that party faster than you could imagine the other night. Then he left me alone as I sat in bed with nerves shot to pieces. I couldn’t handle anything else. I just needed to sit and be still.
No one is wrong for trying to help someone else. Their hearts are in the right place and that’s what truly counts.
But sometimes we do need to realize that sometimes when people say they have a fear it doesn’t mean that they just want to avoid something or that it might give them goosebumps. Some people have a fear that will give them panic attacks.
We can’t heal people of their fears, they have to make that choice for themselves.
I fully believe that one day I will conquer my fear of snakes. But until then let’s not try to convince me to wear one like a scarf. ok? Do we all agree?