a phobia…

“…is an irrational, intense, persistent fear of certain situations, activities, things, or people. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject.” -Wikipedia

I have a phobia. Mottephobia is (un)commonly known as: THE FEAR OF MOTHS.

I know, I know. Why in the world???

“…When the fear grows intense there must be some incident in the past linking to moths that triggered the cause of fear in your mind.

A real life scare usually give rise to the phobia that resides in the mind for so long that at a point it becomes impossible to get it out of the mind. ”

I don’t at all recall this incident that occurred in 1986. But, according to my parents, it happened. It was a late summer night like any other. The wind must have been howling, the lighting and thunder so fierce that a power line probably blew. And it did. Naturally, I probably wailed for the comfort of my mother’s arms. The lights were all gone. Will they ever come back? Why can’t I see? What in the…?

And then it touched me. Something. All over my face, unevenly, awkwardly. My neck, my hands, persistently. My theories of bedroom monsters were confirming themselves right before my blind eyes. Soon enough, Mom came dashing in haphazardly with the flashlight. Through the weak trail of light it emanated, something flew in crooked, hazy circles. My bedroom monster–a dark brown moth.

Though I have no recollection of this incident, I’ve never been able to allay my paranoia that somewhere, in some corner, a winged creature that rules the night is out to make my life a living hell. All my life, I’ve dreaded dark summer nights when moths would have the opportunity to escape inside and make their way to the nearest source of light. INSIDE MY HOUSE. Make no mistake: that was then, and this is now. And my fear still persists.  

Over the years, my father took on the unofficial role of moth terminator, always with the neon yellow fly swatter in hand, the “chitta mosca”, as he’d say in Italian. Until the winged creatures were killed or completely vanished from the house, I wouldn’t even begin to consider relaxation. It just wasn’t an option. I’d spend an hour, at least, inspecting windows, corners, door hinges, and the ruffles and folds of curtains for flat, triangular, brown, white and black bodies. It never ended.  They all had to die.

To my luck, our upstairs “play room” had a moth infestation shortly after we bought our hamster Pumpkin. They left their larvae in his bag of food and reproduced more evil for me to encounter. They were everywhere. Walls, lights, ceilings, filing cabinets, toys, curtains, my clothing, and made their way into my bedroom. The infestation lasted around a year. I don’t want to talk about it.

Moths with holes, moths with stripes, black moths, white moths, brown moths, grayish moths, little ones, big, fat, hairy ones…would collect in dead heaps by the hallway light. Victory at last. Stupid creatures. Something they’re so attracted to can fry them in an instant, and they don’t even realize it. No matter, they all needed to die. 

To this day, I cannot be in the house when a moth lurks about, or my night will be very sleepless. When an image of a moth flashes in my brain, I immediately turn around and expect something awkward and winged to fly in my direction and invade the personal territory of my face.  I hear a simple flutter somewhere around the room, immediately shield my face with my hands and inspect every corner meticulously. I feel a tickling on my arm and I’m inclined to slap it. Most of the time, it’s just nerves doing their usual work.

Just the other day (Friday morning), I was brushing my teeth before work. I heard the infamous fluttering right behind me. A black moth was slamming itself repeatedly on the newly installed shower tiles. I screamed, hurting my throat in the process. I immediately grabbed the nearest flip flop I could find. Too afraid to come too close, I threw it at the creature…a failed attempt. It flew toward my face. I slammed the door shut, locking it in there for its demise later. In the process, I landed on my shoulder, bruised it, and twisted my neck. My hands and arms tingled, my eyes twitched, and yes, I felt stupid. Humiliated. Childish. Pathetic. Pretty much all of the above. And, I have a nice, aching black-and-blue.

Guys, I’m not acting. I’m not faking this for attention. I’m often alone when this happens. I acknowledge that this is a ridiculous fear. It’s completely irrational and pales in comparison to real-life fears like terrorism, war, death, murder, destruction, mayhem, or what have you. But, this is a real phobia that my mind has created out of its own free will. It often affects my day-to-day routine. 

I’m not afraid of butterflies. Just moths. However, a butterfly has yet to escape into my house.

Many of you have asked for an explanation, and, well, there you have it.  Laugh all you want to, but I’m pretty sure I’m not joking. At all. I need to do something about this.

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Published in: on September 9, 2008 at 2:53 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. I understand totally and completely about your black moth phobia. I also feel ridiculous and even more so on the day I went to use the toilet, sat down and was past the point of no return when large dark moth flew out from behind the cistern. I left the bathroom in a screaming panic with my shorts and underwear down around my ankles.
    After the panic wore off, the embarrassment set in and to this day has never been forgotten.
    My grandmother was also terrified of large dark moths and it’s obvious I inherited her fear. To her they symbolised death. To me, they were creatures that would flutter and fly in your face without purpose other than to singularly target me and make my life miserable.
    My friends can’t understand how I can pick a huntmen spider up in my bare hand without a second thoughtand relocate it outside, but can’t stand to be in the same room as a large dark moth. I KNOW it’s irrational and riddiculous but as you say, there you have it. I also know I need to do something about this, but the thought of a psychologist making me come into close contact with one deliberately makes me want to vomit.


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