Today in work, I surprised myself at my reaction to a teeny tiny mouse. I screeched at a pitch high enough to shatter double glazed windows and raced into the next room. And I hadn’t even seen the thing. I’d heard some rustling, then another girl had said, in a wobbly voice, “I think it’s a mouse.” And that was enough. Several times, we ventured towards the bin the unfortunate creature was trapped in and each time it moved, I sprinted screaming from the room. Why was I acting like (excuse the sexist simile) such a little girl?
As I ponder this tonight, I recall an incident from a year ago. I had just moved into a flat that was infested with mice (a fact I unfortunately only learned after signing the lease). The landlord “kindly” deposited tempting trays of poison around the place. I had a friend over one night, who got to witness my banshee-like shrieking at the sighting of a petrified baby mouse on the stairs. The following morning, my friend left early. She texted to inform me that the poor infant mouse was dead in the hallway, obviously after a late night binge on the aforementioned delicacy. I approached the deceased vermin slowly, planning to scoop it up with an envelope. As the paper touched the corpse, the mouse moved! I screamed so loudly that the neighbours evacuated their houses to investigate.
And when I took myself even further back in time, I remembered that 10 years ago, I was sleeping on a stud farm (I can explain. But I won’t.) One morning, a mouse scurried into bed with me. I leapt up so fast I gave myself whiplash. Ever since, I’ve had a slight phobia of mice. However, once I started digging below the surface of my apparently irrational fear, I discovered some rational explanations.
Think of all the people out there living with crazy and seemingly unexplainable fears. There are those who are terrified of being alone in a house at night. If someone else was with them or if the sun was beaming through the windows, they wouldn’t expect to see a dagger-wielding psycho in every shadow-ridden corner. Perhaps, on closer examination, they have had a bad previous experience. Or they fear loneliness. Or they don’t have enough trust or confidence in themselves. Maybe darkness or silence reminds them of something they would rather forget.
Others have fears of dogs, cats, spiders, birds, water, flying, open spaces, closed spaces, the word moist, the colour blue, feet, tomatoes, David Bowie…
What is your “irrational” fear? Delve into the feelings surrounding your phobia and pay attention to what it brings up in you. You’re guaranteed to learn something about yourself and it may even be enough to lessen the anxiety.
For me, with the mice, I think it’s a fear of the unexpected. When I catch something moving from the corner of my eye, hear something when I’m anticipating silence, or feel the presence of something that “shouldn’t” be there, I freak out. Even when, in reality, the terrifying creature looks like this.
(I freely admit that even Googling “cutest mouse” made me shudder.)