AND THERE ARE WASPS EVERYWHERE. E V E R Y W H E R E.
They slam in to my windows, their abdomens pulsing on the other side of the glass; they perch on my car, a daily scourge mocking me as I try to leave my house. They hover at the exits, black and yellow, deep red, deepest black and metallic harbingers of terror. Bastards.
I have spheksophobia, the fear of wasps (and hornets), and my fear is extreme. It is my only true phobia, but one that interferes with my life daily. I can say confidently that wasps and hornets are probably the number one reason why I hate summer and prefer the colder months. They are everywhere, and as the heat rises, they become more prolific. It is completely impossible to avoid them during the day in summer, and it's become even worse since I moved down south, where it is hot longer than it is cold.
I was three or four years old the first time I was ever stung by a yellow jacket. We were visiting Florida and it was my first time seeing a nest. I was fascinated -- I had already developed a complete obsession with anything nature-related. I wasn't close to the nest, just watching from a distance, but I still provoked an aggressive response in one of the wasps, and I didn't understand what I had done.
Since then, I've been stung three more times, but all of them by honeybees -- once on my arm, and twice on the bottoms of my feet (I run around barefoot a lot and still do today). And I'll clarify here: while bees make me nervous, I can gather enough strength to tolerate them. I don't want them right up in my face, but I can handle them flying around a few feet away. If I can see a wasp and am aware of them being there, I can't be in that area, whatsoever.
A few days ago, I was doing my dishes and looked up to see a black wasp sitting on the kitchen window above my head. A sight like that reduces me to complete flight mode. I wanted to be able to just grab a shoe and squash it, but I physically cannot make myself get that close to a wasp. It was 8:15 in the morning, I had to get ready for class, but I could not do anything knowing that wasp was sitting there. I called Clint, and he woke up and came over to help me. He squashed the wasp with his bare hand!! I was screeching like an old lady, just terrified. I've felt like wasps are crawling on me since seeing that one inside.
That isn't the first time Clint has witnessed my fear of wasps either. One time last summer, we were parked at a gas station. It was hot, we had the windows down, and I was sitting in the passenger seat of his Jeep. A wasp flew up to the window, right in front of my face, I could hear its wings beating. I hardly have a memory of what happened next -- it was a primal response, no thinking or cognition at all. Somehow, despite having my seatbelt on, I was able to slide out of it into the backseat, launching myself as far away from that wasp as I could. Clint didn't even know what was happening (neither did people outside of the car). I just remember yelling to roll up all the windows, and I couldn't calm down for several minutes.
Another time many years ago, I was at a barbecue. There were yellow jackets all over -- in the soda cans, flying around cake and other food. I ended up jumping in the pool with all of my clothes on, staying under the water as long as I could, to get away from the wasps.
Even last week, I was at the bank and when I came back out into the parking lot, there were yellow jackets flying around my car. I ended up walking all the way around to the back of my car, got in through the back seat and climbed to the front seat to avoid having to go near the wasps.
Furthermore, the past couple of days up till now, it's even becoming hard for me to go out on the deck to water my plants because of the wasps. And the cicada killer wasps haven't even arrived -- have you SEEN those things?!
|By the way, this is a male, the small one. Females can be larger than 2 inches long. Image found here.|
And I'm not just plagued during the day by actual, living wasps. I have nightmares about them too, the most recent being a wasp that followed me around my house, stinging my back. I couldn't get away from it and it was trapped under my shirt. I've had other nightmares where I'm locked in a room full of swarming wasps and hornets, all different sizes.
How I hate this phobia...but it's really impossible to overcome. People say just be calm, keep your heart rate low, just ignore them and they'll ignore you. It really isn't that simple. I'm not just nervous about them, or I don't like them, or whatever -- I am absolutely terrified, as well as humiliated. And this fear humbles me as well. It has to, especially when both friends and total strangers have seen me run screaming in public, when fellow classmates have seen me leave the classroom because there's a wasp on the ceiling and the professor is saying it's not a big deal. I try so hard to control this fear, but it's a futile effort. The worst is when people tell me that I shouldn't be fearing any part of Nature, that I should respect it but not fear it. Especially when Pagans say this to me! It's infuriating. And this phobia is disrupting my life and preventing me from doing a lot of the things I want to be doing.
It makes me feel a lot of shame as well. I've spoken to people before who have had terrible wasp experiences, things like stepping on a rotten log housing a hive and being attacked by that entire hive simultaneously. Hornets flying up shirts and stinging people repeatedly. I haven't had these experiences, yet I'm more terrified of them than any other person I've met. I don't think I have the strength it requires to ever control this fear, and I really think I'm missing out on so much because of it. It is beautiful outside right now, warm but with a cooling breeze, a little cloud cover so the sun isn't so intense. Birds everywhere. But I can see the wasps, flying around my windows, landing on my deck. And I remain stuck inside. I'm always stuck inside.