Ever since I can remember I have been scared half to death by Things With Big Wings. Bees, wasps, OK I can cope, but if a beautiful fluttery butterfly enters my airspace or a bird gaily flaps nearby I would break out into a cold sweat, have shivers down the spine and overwhelmingly nauseated.
Birds, butterflies, daddy-long-leg’s, dragonflies and the creepiest of all the fluttery creatures MOTHS, all activated my fight or flight mechanism so well that I could move faster than a cat out of hell (did I mention bats, also?) to avoid them, even before anyone else had spotted the darned creatures. It was my Phobia, and though of course I had considered facing it, it was not such a biggie and I figured that I’d managed to pretty much avoid the creatures for 40 years, why put myself under the unnecessary bother of changing anything? I like the fresh air in the evenings so I bought window nets to keep the flying stuff out.
I was so bad that once, a bird had entered and left my flat but left a deposit on my sheets. I discovered this as I came out of the shower and ran from the flat still in my towel to get a neighbour’s (light fingered) son in my flat (alone) to check that it had definitely gone. I slept on the sofa for a few days after that. Last year, a moth died on the lawn and I was so scared of this dead thing that I had to chuck mud over it so that I didn’t have to look at it. I couldn’t watch silence of the lambs – Hannibal was scary but the moths made me want to vomit.
And then I had The Cub. Not wanting to pass on my fear, I hid it, for the first four years, so well, that he really loves birds and butterflies, even though I would secretly just want to run away and hide if he started chasing ducks or chickens. But THEN, the zoo opened a butterfly house and I knew I couldn’t hide my fear any longer so I told him. “That’s silly”, he said, and yes, it is silly, phobias ARE silly, but I wanted to sort it out so that I could enjoy my life with him without silly things getting in the way. My Dad is scared of birds and I suppose in a way that reinforced the legitimacy of my own fear, so I decided to just think about breaking this silly thing of mine.
“I can cure that” (or words to that effect) promised Dawn aka Think It Change It. She’s an amazing woman that has overcome so much in her own life (see her books) and has helped me in the past with cognitive hypnotherapy. Take a look at her website, there are some free downloads and a very informative email newsletter that is worth signing up for.
The method she uses is so simple, but based on studies of human emotional evolution, that has some parallels with mindfulness training, along with a deep seated belief in you as a human being and an individual. I know that I can trust Dawn one hundred percent, she is professional and discreet, but what I love the most is that she believes in me. She knows I can do it, even if I don’t. I think that’s what many of us miss, the missing link, somebody who wholeheartedly believes in you, the individual, without judgement or bias. It’s pure, and simple, and a big difference from the internal dialogue and the negativity that life keeps chucking at us.
I think the session took around half an hour, via Skype, and that was it. Done. Phobia over. NOW….this is not to say I am 100% comfortable around fluttery things but I have lived with this fear for 41 years and my neural pathways are going to have to change a bit. Two days later:
OK, you can see from the second photo I was not comfortable, but I kept on going. The butterflies were very big and very active, and a third of the way round I HAD to leave, but I did it! I went in (gung-ho, a bit too soon).
Then, a few weeks later:
Seriously, last year I would never have even contemplated doing this! I couldn’t bring myself to have an owl fly to my hand and there was no way I was ready for the big one whose wings would have brushed my head but I did it!
At the moment on runs there are an awful lot of dragonflies and butterflies about. I would have just avoided those routes in the past but now I don’t even get freaked if they brush my skin. There was a massive moth in the house two nights ago and although its fluttering was definitely uncomfortable, I did get close enough to fly-spray it (yes, I know, sorry massive mothykins). Yesterday a butterfly entered my living room but I passed the responsibility of removal to my sister. Just because they don’t make me want to cry any more, I am not sure that I’m ready to be their best friends just yet.
The cold sweating fear, palpitations and tearfulness have been replaced by a little curiosity, and I am able to actually look at a butterfly’s markings without the discomfort of terror.
I call that a result, don’t you? What fear would you have removed?