“SPIDERS ARE EIGHT-LEGGED TERRORISTS.” – Americana Injustica
My CPTSD is in abstract form; surprise, surprise…”complex” is an understatement, at best. An “absolutely unreasonable” fear of spiders woke up with me in the hospital after I survived the Ripper; a strange manifestation indeed. It made me sick with myself; I remember how disgusted I felt by my own feelings and behaviors surrounding the fear I SUDDENLY felt of arachnoids. I didn’t understand it, couldn’t find a way to understand it, it just simply took over entire areas of my persona without my having a say in it. The arachnophobia took over my existence at first; and I found myself reshaping that existence to fit around the presence of the affected fear. I began to worry constantly about spiders falling into my hair from ceilings; I boycotted going outside, altogether. I even put a mosquito net up over my hospital bed for a while because it somehow offered me comfort (though, in hindsight – a mosquito net only could’ve translated into a huge, prefabricated home to any eight-legged creep lol).
Point here is:
I did things, felt things and perceived things very differently from the way I had before the traumatic event/injury. I mean, I earned my stripes at age 6 by hatcheting a baby rattler snake to bits while it was still inside the bottom of my sleeping bag – reflexively. I was never afraid of nature, like I should have been – until my do-over. And then, suddenly – I was lying awake at night on the lookout for Daddy Long Legs. Therapy didn’t help much at first, either…the therapist was a hippie, and preferred to go outside to the lawn for most sessions…I eventually stopped going at all and allowed myself to become rather incorrigible to the nursing staff upstairs. They likely had the BIGGEST party imaginable when I was finally released to leave. If I were any of them, I would have undoubtedly found a bag of spiders into the “goodbye” gift bag that they assembled for me – to begin with. So time went on and I went “home”.
The spider thing became an instant family favorite with my brothers and friends, none of them comprehended that I was truly terrified beyond of description of them now. Prior to this experience, I had never actually been stricken by the inability to move my feet when I was hit with fear; after I woke up in the hospital however, I was dumbfounded to learn that such fear DOES exist – as well as to regularly experience the associated “lock-up” pretty much on a daily basis. Being too afraid to move is a terrible, terrible thing: it humbles you beyond comparison; it limits your entire perceptive realm down to a teeny hole that you have to lean close to in order to press an eye against to see anything. It not only immobilizes your body – but your brain also chokes and defaults to idle; the only thing that is there is the fear.
I still struggle to put it into words that cast true light on the convoluted nature of the “arachnophobia thing”, all I can say is that you may as well put a rabid and ginormous dog with razor-teeth in front of me when I see a spider…my response is the same either way. I know, I know…it is lame. I have been to psychotherapy, hypnosis, etc. to try and un-fear spiders…to no avail, thus far, at least. But I have, at least, come to harbor a deep understanding of its roots, which in turn has empowered me to some degree.
In my former life, as a perpetually violated female body, I spent a lot of time in semi-consciousness as a result of physical violence; a sad amount of time, if I am being honest here. After a few times of getting my ass handed to me, the numbness began to kick in and I eventually evolved to survive via “dissociation”. I spent the majority of my time alone in solitude and helplessness (outside of the Ripper and my then baby daughter); I was a blank page, so to speak. During this era of my life, I would often awaken somewhere I didn’t fall asleep, or have things turn up missing often (when there was nobody else there to have taken or relocated them). Sometimes, I know it was the Ripper who had moved me while I passed out unconscious; but other times, I know that it hadn’t been him.
During a session of group therapy about two years ago – the memory was resurfaced in a matter of moments, the one that undoubtedly bore my arachnophobia on a subconscious level, so long ago. In the desert, there are all kinds of insects that we NEVER see in the city – ALL KINDS. It was June, a month when you can’t safely open your doors and/or windows, in spite of the insane heat, due to the multiplied masses of newly hatched and hatching generations of bugs from every genus. The Ripper had broken out three of my front teeth and kicked me so hard in the chest that my ribcage was stabbing me from the inside. I recall laboring to breath and the heat and dry air didn’t help. I got my ass kicked again at some point for being hurt, and wound myself up in HIS garage (actually, in a “secret room” he had in the very back of it – shiver).
He wasn’t in there when I woke up, luckily; but I could not move for the entirety of the time I lay there in near darkness. I think I must have either been temporarily paralyzed due to some freak nerve damage, or in physical shock or something…not sure, but I was literally stuck like glue to the dirt floor rolled on my left side. During the therapy ah-ha moment, I remembered that a spider crawled out of my mouth that day, while I was unable to move or scream or even spit. Most likely because of the more pressing and immediate life-threatening circumstance that I was bound to from day to day back then, this instance went right out the window with other “mundane and meaningless bullshit”; only to rear its delayed reaction after I was no longer in immediate danger at the hands of my husband. Just a little food for thought on the issue of PTSD/CPTSD, and it’s ripples…