Chilopodophobia: A story of my fear of Centipedes

Chilopodophobia: A story of my fear of Centipedes

As I have mentioned my previous post, I am somewhat of a chicken. Really, I am. I’m scared of many things, heights, singing in public, rejection by guys, work, and friends alike. Don’t even get me started on the Superman ride at Six Flags Great America. I could tell you about all the things that scare me. There is one thing that terrifies me like no other… Centipedes.

Oh, Mylanta. It almost makes it hard for me to live by myself. Especially because in my budget, all I can afford is an old Chicago apartment. Centipedes love these old plaster and brick buildings.

I’m so afraid of centipedes that if I see one, I will literately burst into tears and jump on my bed or the couch. Then I have to scoot said couch or bed away from the walls to limit points of contact. I can’t have that thing crawling on my little island of safety!

Once I am safely away from all walls, I start looking for something to help me. Maybe it’s a can of hairspray or bug spray and I go to town. My last apartment probably had more hairspray on the walls than paint!

I found one in the kitchen once. It was running in circles around the floorboard like it was Dale Earnhardt, Jr. racing the Daytona 500. I had no safety zone. Counters aren’t safe- I can’t get those away from the wall. I couldn’t leave the room because then I might lose the monster. The worst possible imaginable scenario is if that centipede goes out of sight. Thank you object permanence for making me realize that there is still a bug in the room with me.

I did the only thing I could. I braved the treacherous journey over to the sink where I kept ant and roach spray. My hand was shaking and my chest pounding. I put my finger on the trigger and sprayed the sucker. BAD IDEA. It was like I gave the centipede some sort of drugs! He ran faster and faster in every which direction. Not predictable in the slightest.

I had no choice but to leave the room and block the crevice under the door with a towel so it couldn’t escape. I sat on the couch in the room next door, my leg shaking anxiously and prayed for the best. I headed back to the kitchen after about ten minutes. There it was by the door, upside down and dead. Safe at last.

A few weeks later, another one appeared while I was playing with my new kittens; precious innocent, eight weeks old, tailless black kittens. I had this laser pointer that they loved. Nothing entertains those two like a little red roaming dot, except, this time something drew the smaller one’s attention away from the red dot. I was curious, walked up to her and looked down. She was pawing at my arch enemy… the centipede. When I approached she lost focus and the centipede got away.

I responded like any rational person would and jumped on the couch. I shouted at the cats to get away. They should be scared too, right? They didn’t listen. They tried jumping up the wall to get the sucker but it was too high. There was nothing in sight I could use to kill it from my safety zone so I just stared, paralyzed. It felt like hours had passed yet my clock had only moved minutes. The cats lost focus and feeling safe the centipede made its descent back to the floor. Mistake on his part!

With cats by my side and laser pointer in hand, I came up with a war plan. I would use the pointer to draw the kittens to the centipede. Slowly, while never taking my eyes off the bug, I drew the cats in closer and closer with that little red dot of hope. IT WORKED!

The cats both started pawing at it until the bug stopped moving. Without the chase, they lost interest. I went to the kitchen, got a bowl, and placed it upside down over the bug. It would remain there until my brother, who was my roommate at the time, got home to throw it away in an outside dumpster.

After one of these events, I’m usually useless. I can’t concentrate on homework, clean or even have a phone conversation without checking all centipede commonplaces over, and over, and over again. It would be another week before I would feel safe again in my own home.

I am 27 years old and I can’t defend myself from a tiny 100 legged bug. My fear of centipedes is extremely traumatic for me, go ahead and laugh. So now, I am sitting in my living room looking from one corner to the next. I feel things crawling on my arm, though nothing is there. After reliving these events, I’ll be lucky if I can fall asleep tonight and even luckier if I can dream centipede free.

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