Bats. As in the flying rodents (yes I know that technically bats are not rodents but rather a member of the wonderful order Chiroptera). The mere mention of the word can send chills down my spine and force my stomach into a painful stress cramping cycle. I donít even like to talk about baseball because inevitably the word bat comes up and despite knowing the context is different I still physically react in a way that can be downright embarrassing. Iíve always hated bats. Now before you extol the virtues of them to me just be warned that nothing you say will change my mind on the horrific creatures that have terrified me since I was a little girl. Once I had children even trips to the zoo became an exercise in not passing on the phobia while madly plotting excuses why we could not visit the bat exhibit, but maybe weíll go next time. Yes, I was even willing to lose my credibility if it meant I would not have to set foot in that darkened, god-forsaken bat exhibit.
So imagine my horror when lo and behold, we moved into a home that was bat friendly. When I say bat friendly I mean a home that welcomes bats by boasting numerous holes and crevices made just for bats to come in and surprise you while you are sleeping. Or as the case was unfortunately for us, while sleeping, or doing laundry, or watching TV, or quieting a fussy baby. And now imagine what itís like to be married to a man who had a dormant fear of bats that surfaced not when we married but worse, upon discovery of our unexpected guest. The same unexpected guest you are screaming for him to get rid of as he instead runs for cover while yelling that you really need to get over your fear. Now to be fair, my husband did eventually realize that my hysterics were indeed real and possibly life threatening (to him). He then courageously donned many layers of clothing and hats, pulled on winter boots and pep-talked our then 7 year old into accompanying him on the search for the rogue bat.
Eventually the bat was found and sadly, brutally killed but only because of the enormous fight it put up. Well, okay it was really that it had the audacity to enter our homeÖ but I digress. Even more unfortunate were the fates of all the batsí friends and family that came into our home over the next three years when they were probably just searching for their missing cohort. My phobia has not gotten any better. And neither has my opinion of exposure therapy. All that happened was in the days that followed each bat visit I was incapacitated in my own home. I wanted to sell the house; move far away to the suburbs where the homes are new and the rodents lack the bravado of their city peers. But had I succeeded in convincing my husband in that irrational train of thought, Iíve lived long enough to see that somehow, someway I would have come up against something else that terrified me. Thatís why running away doesnít achieve what we hope it will. By running we give power to that which we run from. God didnít give us a spirit of fear, and even if this declaration isnít specifically about bats, it is about cowardice. So hereís to facing our fears, you donít mind if I stand behind you covered in netting wielding a tennis racket do you?