Part of the 52 Week Blog Challenge
I have two big fears. Spiders, which is pretty usual, and people with entirely black eyes – especially if those people happen to be young girls.
A fear of spiders is pretty commonplace, but I do remember a time when I wasn’t afraid of them. Until age five, I would quite happily catch them for my mother and sister and put them outside. At some point growing up, this changed. I believe wholeheartedly that my arachnophobia is a learned behaviour, given that both my mother and older sister are afraid of spiders; however, my brother did hide plastic spiders in my bed and throw them at me, so perhaps it developed naturally after all.
The effects my fear have depend entirely on the size and type of spider. Spindly-legged creatures don’t bother me, nor do craneflies, which are essentially drunk flying spiders. As a general rule, the bigger the spider is, the worse my reaction, but I have on occasion frozen because of a small spider if it is too close or has taken me by surprise. The worst moment I’ve ever experienced with a spider was when I accidentally locked myself in a room with a house spider that was – and for the sake of posterity, I’m not exaggerating – about the same circumference as a DVD. Take a look at the size of a DVD. Go on, just look.
Ommatophobia (Specifically Mavrosommatophobia)
This fear is slightly stranger. It developed in my mid-teens, after a series of nightmares that lasted over five months. These nightmares would involve a young girl with blonde curly hair (done in a 1920s style) who had completely black eyes. The dreams themselves were almost premonitions; the same night my nan was burgled, I dreamt I was hiding in her attic with the black-eyed girl, looking down on two men raiding her living room, and praying they wouldn’t come up the stairs; in a second dream, the black-eyed girl showed me an empty hospital bed and the following week, my nan died in hospital. I don’t typically believe in such things as prophetic dreams. My guess is that my subconscious was just excellent at picking up cues from my life.
However, the dreams obviously had an effect on me; I now associated black eyes with negative consequences. As a result, whenever I would see a picture or a television show featured such things, I would become physically nauseated and start to shake. This is a fear I have tried to overcome in recent years and now only struggle if I see someone in real life with ‘black eyes’. As you can imagine, this doesn’t happen often (!) but examples can be as simple as a trick of the light, or someone wearing a mask that overshadows their eyes, or that one time I held my niece during a powercut and the darkness made her irises completely indistinguishable.