Wow! I just discovered that I have actual readers on my blog! And even a few followers!!!! Thank you to all who take the time to read my blog. It is a big deal to me to know that, after 47 years, my voice is being heard.
I hope you all will keep checking back, because next week I will be starting a series on places to go in Michigan that not only include my personal reflections, but some fascinating histories behind areas in this great State of which you may not be aware but will perhaps peak your interest. I am anxious to hear feedback from any of you who have also visited these places!
Before I begin my series of great places in Michigan, there is something personal I must share, because it will pop up in just about every post. My name is Kiki, and I'm an Ophidiophobiac. I have an unreasonable fear of snakes. The conscious part of my brain knows that the tiny little garter snake in the grass can't hurt me, but I can't even begin to tell you what the subconscious part of my brain believes when I see a snake. The act of writing down the things that run through my mind would induce a major panic attack and I would be unable to finish this post.
When I see a snake, whether live, or on the TV, or even a picture of one, I instantly need to get my feet off the ground, my heart starts racing and skipping beats, I can't breathe, and after a minute or so I black out. When I come to, sometimes I wake up screaming and the process starts all over again, or, if someone is with me who knows how to handle the situation, I can be calmed down. When it's all over, I sleep deeply for hours.
To give you an idea of how severe this phobia is, when my youngest child, Nina, was 6 months old, I was sitting on the couch one day while she played happily on the floor, rolling around and scooting back and forth. I asked my older daughter, Keely who was 6 years old at the time, to watch Nina for a few minutes while I started dinner. A short time later, Keely burst into the kitchen, and the look of utter and complete horror on her face made me jump to the immediate conclusion that something was wrong with the baby. I grabbed Keely's shoulders and shouted at her, "What? What's wrong?!!!" She replied, in a whisper,
"There's a s-s-s-s-snake…in the HOUSE!"
My reaction was instantaneous and severe. One of my worst fears was happening, my home is my safe place and suddenly it wasn't safe anymore. I dropped a spoon, ran out of the house and jumped in the car out in the driveway, struggling to breathe, panic taking over my body. Keely called my husband, Steve, on my cell phone and handed it to me. When Steve answered, I choked out "snake, in the house" and he immediately turned his truck around on the highway and headed home.
About 10 minutes later - and keep in mind that technically, Steve was about 15 minutes away - he came tearing into the driveway, tires squealing and brakes protesting. He ran to my car, looked in the back seat, woke me up and shouted at me, "Kiki! Kiki, focus! WHERE IS THE BABY?"
Steve covered the distance between the car and the back door in one second. In my panic, I had forgotten Nina. He came out moments later, holding a laughing Nina, and then disappeared back into the house.
Keely held Nina in the backseat while I rocked and moaned and tried to stay conscious. When Steve came out of the house, he was holding a hockey stick and breathing heavily. My hero, my Knight in Shining Armor, had killed the snake and disposed of it in the woods.
Later, I found out that the snake was very, very small, a baby garter snake, that had been hiding under the same changing table I had stood at, barefoot, an hour earlier, changing Nina's diaper. I spent the next three days sitting on top of the kitchen table - even at night - holding two hockey sticks.
We hired a Critter Control guy to inspect the house and seal up any areas where a snake could get in. To this day, if I see a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye while in the house, I jump up on the nearest piece of furniture until I am convinced there is no snake in the house.
Many people wonder, if I am so afraid of snakes, why do I spend so much time hiking and sleeping in the woods. Just about every time I go into the wilderness, I encounter a snake. My sister believes its personal with the snakes, they actually seek me out, because she says she never sees one. I always see one. The reason why I keep going is because my love of the outdoors is greater than my fear of snakes, and I will not allow this phobia to keep me from doing the one thing I love most to do. So I go, I panic, I recover, and I go again.
In my mind, imagination comes alive. The images that flash through my brain the instant I see a snake are not real, but to me they are very real. When imagination comes alive, there is little I can do to combat it. The good news is, in my imagination there are lots of things that aren't real, and every once in a while, those things come true in a positive way.
For years, I have been writing to an imaginary audience. All of a sudden, you are real. I didn't conjure up my readers. I took the steps to expose my writing, and the real readers followed. If I can take steps to make imaginary readers real, maybe someday I can take steps to make real fears imaginary.
I never give up hope that I will conquer my fear of snakes, just as I've never given up hope that someday, someone will want to read what I write. So while many of my posts about traveling in the great outdoors will invariably include a snake story, because I really do think snakes seek me out, I hope that you will be amused and confident that, as long as I can laugh about it (laugh about it much, much later!) I can keep doing what I do and loving life.
And hey, thanks for reading. Today, my heart is light and my hope is high, and it's all because of you, my very real audience.
P.S. Sorry there are no interesting pictures in this post. I cannot post a pictures of a snake, for obvious reasons.