My five-year-old son has developed what I’d describe as an irrational fear of spiders.
He saw one in a bathroom at his grandmother’s a few weeks ago. And now, when he visits Grandma, he won’t use that bathroom without someone going in there with him.
Throughout the past four months of dealing with my wife leaving, I’ve developed what I’d describe as an irrational fear of many things:
- Dating – I’m afraid of doing the wrong thing. I’m afraid of hurting someone. I’m afraid of getting hurt. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid of prolonged loneliness—and prolonged celibacy—which, let’s be honest, sucks ass.
- Single parenting – I’m afraid of making choices that don’t represent the man I want my son to become. I’m afraid of not doing enough to give him the best chance academically, spiritually, in his athletic endeavors, in his social life.
- Financial health – I have less money than I did when I had a partner. Because life is more expensive now. I don’t like worrying about money. Good thing I didn’t just buy a new car. Oh, wait.
- Writing – What if this is wasted energy? What if no one reads it? What if they do and they hate it? What if I run out of things to say? What if people think I’m a fraud?
These are irrational fears.
These are my spiders.
I asked my son: “How big was that spider you saw in the bathroom?”
He showed me with his fingers. Maybe a centimeter. Like that lamesauce face cut I had a couple weeks ago.
“And how big are you?” I asked him.
He puffed his little chest out. “This big!” he said.
“So why are you scared of that little spider?”
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Practicing What You Preach
And that’s when it hit me.
Because I’m not going to be the kind of asshole dad that says: Do what I say, not what I do.
My spiders are no different than his. I’m big enough to handle them. Smart enough to handle them.
And I’ll respect myself a little more in the morning if I whine less.
Much of this blog is a massive manifesto of whining. That’s not something I’m proud of.
But my writing is honest. A reflection of how I’m feeling in a given moment.
This divorce thing is a roller coaster. Ups and downs.
And I’m kind of on an upswing. So I’m just going to go with it.
Because spiders are bullshit. At least the ones chilling on your wall. Or crawling on your floor. Or dropping down from your ceiling.
I’m an arachnid assassin. I haven’t met one yet whose shit I couldn’t ruin with a swift newspaper swat or shoe beating.
And my metaphorical spiders? They’re bullshit, too.
I can accept feeling sad. I can accept feeling angry. I can accept feeling lonely.
But I’m not going to accept feeling fear. It’s debilitating. And the greatest obstacle to our pursuit of happiness.
I’m not suggesting I won’t fear things. It’s always going to rear its ugly head.
But those are merely opportunities to display courage.
I’m not going to fear spiders. The real kind. Or the metaphorical kind.
Because my spider Kung Fu is strong.
I’m not afraid.
A special thanks to the author of the blog Too Many Spiders for the post-title inspiration and for being steady and brave as a writer, wife and mother.