Saturday, November 21, 2020

Conquering Phobias

 I have two phobias. One is a fear of heights and the other is snakes. As I have gotten older, I've learned to control my fear response to both things, which I find interesting. 

When I worked for the county doing West Nile Virus surveillance, trapping and counting mosquitoes, I spent a lot of time trekking through swamps and back woods setting up my light traps. Snakes were a part of the job. Since I couldn't be screaming my fool head off every time that I saw a snake, I gradually taught myself to freeze, clench my jaw, and wait for them to glide by on their way to do whatever snakes do. I continue on doing whatever it is that I need to do. 

Same way with heights. I still don't like them, but sometimes I need to just suck it up and deal with it. Our business is buying houses and rehabbing them either for rentals or for flipping. I work with Tim and we haven't got time for me to be a baby. That being said, I can't do pitched roofs because walking on uneven surfaces sometimes causes my wonky knee to give way without warning, but walking on a flat surface is okay. It makes me squeamish and I have to move slowly. I avoid looking down. 

There are a lot of snakes at the retirement property. As we remove debris, we find them and we get rid of them. I know that people will disagree, but when you're hauling stuff away and find 30 snakes, well, that's more than any habitat needs.

PS this is not an exaggeration. 

It is also why I'm not ever going to live in that house. But since that house holds a lot of the stuff we are going to use in the new house, we need it to stand at least through this winter. So once the trees were removed, we needed to repair the damage. 

It was chilly and we worked all day. Despite my fear, I climbed up and down ladders fetching and carrying. I also hauled sheets of tin from a pile of used tin that Tim saved because it was in good shape and he knew it would eventually come in handy. At one point I was pushing a large sheet of tin up a ladder to the second floor roof for Tim, It was heavy and bulky and dirty. I was high up and trying not to look down. As I pushed it over top of the ladder a snake shed slid down and across my hand. 

I've never dealt with two phobias simultaneously. I clenched my jaw and there was no screaming. I did not fall off the ladder. 

Sweet mother of God, this was a stressful day and I'm so glad it is done.


  1. Wow you are brave! it all sounds too much like hard work and frights!

  2. It actually wasn't holy moly or holy moley either one. I did say 'shit!' a lot and it was as sincere as any epithet I've ever uttered.

  3. I'm surprised there are so many snakes in such a small area. Makes me wonder what they're eating. Is there also a rodent problem?

    The thing about snakes is, they really just want to be left alone. It's natural to be scared of them but they don't want confrontation any more than we do. Given a chance out in the open, they'll retreat. It's probably different when you've got a nest, because that's where they would retreat TO.

  4. I don't mind snakes, but am not keen on heights. Arilx

  5. The rodents are what drew them. It is a 10 acre parcel. There is 3 generations of trash there. One outbuilding was full of nothing but trash bags which drew rodents. The decomposing garbage generated heat inside the building and became a snake incubator. We burned it to the ground. The house was left with contents. We burned every piece of upholstered furniture. We share slowly reclaiming it. My husband wanted it desperately because it has its own producing gas well. Free heat. But ack...

  6. Well, you had me clenching my jaw, too. I don't think I would have been able to stay on the ladder. I assuming, no, HOPING that these snakes are not venomous. And, like Steve says, snakes just want to be left alone.

  7. They are non-venomous. There were just so many of them. As we get stuff hauled out of there, or burnt, we are reducing their hiding place and therefore their numbers.

  8. Oh my goodness! I have a major phobia of all snakes. I totally would have passed out or at the least had a heart attack! You did very good to not fall! You are a far braver person than I think I could ever be!

  9. I only had trouble with heights when it was time to come down as hard to avoid looking down. I do hope you continue to take care climbing about if you have a wonky undependable knee. Snakes I can do without. If you have to encounter them its good you don't freak out.

  10. The same two phobias I have though you didn't mention my third one which is fear of water in which I can't see the bottom. I have learned to control all of them but I'll never like any of them.

    Since bottomless water and heights are not really in the same plane, I will probably never experience a situation in which I get all three at once and I hope I never have to do with any two at once. I think I would rather deal with a snake on a tall ladder though than a snake in bottomless water.

  11. I did scream and shudder for you right there.

    I don't have a fear of heights - I do have a fear of sudden drops, though.

  12. I never learned to swim, and so I have never ventured in to bottomless water. When my son and DIL went to Bermuda, they were quite excited to try snorkeling. They are both strong swimmers. When they pushed off the boat and into the water, they set off. Brittani looked back at the boat at one point, and realized just how vast the ocean was. Terrified, she headed back to the boat and stayed there.

  13. Ah... so I had better not suggest an encounter between horde of snakes discovered between you and the edge of a cliff then eh? (Ooops, sorry, sleep well) :)


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