Facing Phobias

I’m a fairly average, boring person. Even my phobias are pretty standard. They include arachnophobia (spiders), coulrophobia (clowns) and claustrophobia (small spaces).  The second one isn’t much of an issue because we rarely attend the circus.  In fact, the clown phobia could probably be down-graded to a mere annoyance.  Spiders present a problem in the fall when they all decide to move inside where it’s warm. I hate killing them though and the outside spiders don’t bother me as long as they keep their distance. Usually the girls and  I just scream until my DH comes and removes the beasts.  When he’s not home they usually meet an untimely death from a shoe.  A spider loose in my hair or clothing will result in maniacle twirling,  jumping, knocking over furniture and screaming while simultaneously stripping.  As for the claustrophobia, I tend to avoid closed in spaces, but when I start feeling closed in I can usually cure my claustrophobia by going outside or opening a window and taking deep breaths.    In the past I’ve scheduled social events to avoid crowds or closed in places.  Heck, I even managed to postpone my Readiness School (kind of like survival training) for two years because the mere thought of donning MOPP gear (gas mask and charcoal suit) then going into the gas chamber scared the crap out of me.  The purpose of that exercise is to prove how effective chemical suits and masks are so that troops will want to wear them, even when it’s 110° F.  How the training worked was groups of people entered a small metal building that had a door at each end. Once inside the entry door was shut and a gas cannister was set off. There were no windows so it was pretty dark, but you could still the people around you.  Everyone had to stay in for about three or four minutes until the air was saturated with the gas and everyone was breathing through his or her mask (some people try to hold their breath for the duration).  Then trainees removed their masks long enough to get a good dose of the gas before being allowed to exit through a door in the opposite end of the building. Rather than tear gas the trainers used banana oil on us.  The effects were the same though, and everyone exited oozing and drooling. 

Sorry, my train of thought became derailed… back to the claustrophobia issue at hand.  This weekend our whole family (even my DH) went on the Brownie Troop field trip to the Ape Caves (lava tubes from a volcanic eruption that took place several thousand years ago).  Oh holy!

I’ve never seen blackness like this before! Our flashlights only lit up the ground immediately in front of us so taking a picture was the only way to see what was really on the walls and ceiling in detail.   In some places the ceiling was quite low, but in others it soared. Even so, the thought of all of that rock and earth overhead was unnerving.

  

For the hike in I took up the rear adult position. I let the leaders know that if any of the girls became frightened that I’d be willing to take them out of the caves. Unfortunately, they were all quite adventurous so we went all the way to the end. It seemed like we hiked for miles. In fact, it was only 3/4 of a mile for the portion we hiked.

 

The cave floor was mostly wet and sandy, with large puddles. There were more than a few boulders to navigate and lots of rough spots.  Constant water dripping from the ceiling made it feel like being caught in a rain storm.  The combination of dampness, sand and darkness made it easy to pretend that I was just walking on the beach at night. The key was to just shine the light on the floor and only look down.

 

Overhead, strange vaults and precariously perched (not really, they weren’t going anyplace) boulders  were both fascinating and frightening. I took point position on the way out and set a record pace.

 

At one point my flashlight beam reflected back flash of colors near the cavern floor.  I took a picture and was surprised to see the bright reds and yellows. My most favorite sight of all though was the exit back at the mouth of the cave.

 

We were all sopping wet and cold from the hike so the sunshine felt marvelous.  I’d just started to relax when I read the sign near the top of the cave that told of the bats, mice and SPIDERS that reside in the caves. Crap, the only thing missing was a crazed clown near the end.  I’m glad I went, but I’ll never go back and it’s safe to say that spelunking is not a hobby I’ll willingly pursue.

Because it was such a beautiful day we drove the meandering, back roads and took our time to get home.  In this picture we were stopped at a one-lane bridge letting the other cars and motorcycles cross. It was a laid back afternoon that almost felt like summer.  The lure of camping and fishing is getting pretty strong.

  

My DH drove so I was able to knit. I finished two more pairs of sock for co-workers.

 

The school year is almost over though so finishing another 5 pairs isn’t looking plausible.   It’s no big deal though, there’s always next year. Not much else happened this weekend. It rained again all day on Sunday. Cheers!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Facing Phobias

  1. Wow, I am so impressed. Truly.

    People who do not suffer just don’t get what happens in the grey matter of those of us who do.

    PS – I refuse to confront my major phobia. Ask me about it sometime.

  2. knitwonpurltoo

    Missouri is loaded with caves and I have found that i can go in as long as I can see the sun. Otherwise, I’m a whining screaming mess. And, of course, that means I only get about 6-10 inside before I have to leave. You did well!

  3. Roxie

    Bravo! You are SO brave!! I have panicked out of caves at the thought of all the rocks and dirt waiting to answer the call of gravity. And I, too, avoid crowds whenever possible. You are awesome, and your DH is a prince!!

    And wasn’t Saturday glorious?

    What beautiful socks. Great work!

    • You are so sweet! I was a complete chicken throughout the ordeal. My muttering and fits of hyperventilation about drove my husband insane. I will not be able to attend your wonderful June tea and knitting soiree, but thank you so very much for the invitation. I know you will all enjoy great food and even better company. Happy Monday!

  4. Caverns aren’t bad but lava tubes and small caves are. A bit like closed cupboards, locked toilet doors and tight clothes that wont come up and over your shoulders in the changing room at the boutique where you were trying on a too-tight-and-tarty-top.
    Well done.
    Cheers Gillian
    p.s. spiders get the nearest weapon to hand.

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