How does one go from having a healthy dose of fear, to an overdose of unhealthy, obsessive-like fear?
I was once a happy, carefree girl. Sure, encountering the occasional insect or arachnid put a damper on my happy, carefree attitude, but Daddy was always there to kill it for me. Once the pest was dead, I could move on with life.
As I got older, I was expected to kill these beasts myself. Instead of gladly killing a bug, my parents did it begrudgingly. I had to use every ounce of persuasion in me to convince them to drop what they were doing to find and kill the creature. Still, I could survive. At least someone was protecting me from the constant attacks I faced on all sides.
Then, I moved to Macon for college. Not only was I on my own as far as bug-battling went, but I had to face beasts of an entirely different nature in the strange land that is Macon, Ga.
The cockroach, or Periplaneta americana, is the most terrifying creature of the insect world. Disgusting, brown things that hide in the dark recesses of dorm rooms across America and cannot be stopped by the walls of Higher Education. Nay, they scurry lightning-quick across the floors of faint-hearted scholars, leaving them flustered and unable to function properly.
I had entered the front lines of a hopeless battle against these awful creatures of the night. A battle humanity is losing, for there seem to be more roaches in Macon than people. Not only are they numerous. They are large. As my dad would say, “You could put a saddle on that thing and ride it.”
Ride it, indeed.
After several run-ins with the gruesome fiend (including the time I accidentally stepped on one with my bare foot), I began having nightmares. Nightmares of roaches in my room. Roaches in my bed and crawling on my body. Huge roaches rolling out from behind my toilet, blocking my exit from the bathroom (that actually happened).
Everywhere I turned, I feared a cockroach encounter. I had no rest from the terrifying thoughts plaguing my mind. My only comfort was the Raid Ant & Roach Killer always sitting by my bed.
When faced with an attack, the only hope for success laid in the poisonous-chemical-filled aluminum can. Even then, the roaches had to be attacked aerially with a constant stream of noxious fumes for at least 15 seconds. I swear these things must be genetically modified…
Even after my savior had succeeded, who was to pick the roach up off the floor? Surely not me! I barely stayed lucid long enough to kill the thing!
I finally went home for the summer. Metro-Atlanta has infinitely less cockroaches. In fact, I’ve never been viciously attacked by a roach in my home.
My sanctuary could only sustain me for so long, however. The calling of my degree pulled me away from safety and back into the line of duty. I did not feel safe in my apartment until I went to Wal-Mart and bought insecticide. Still, my fear is in the back of my mind everywhere I go. I’m not safe in my own room, my own apartment, outside, in class or at church (yes, there was a roach attack during the worship service one Sunday). I still have nightmares and daymares (Is that a word?).
I am taking precautions this semester, though. For I am no longer unaware of the dangers of Macon-living. I do not step into a room until the light is on and I’ve looked inside. I continually scan the ground outside before I take my next step.
The insecticide I bought is also a repellant. I have sprayed the perimeter of my apartment, kitchen, windows, room, closet and bathroom.
I think it’s safe to say I crossed the fine line between healthy and unhealthy fear a long time ago. But there’s no turning back now. Even writing this blog post has made me paranoid. I may never be able to live alone, but hopefully I will survive.
Chat échaudé craint l’eau froide,
P.S. What are your fears, irrational or otherwise?