I saw it out of the corner of my eye, all brown legs and twitching. I yelled and backed out of the bathroom. It’s incredible I didn’t wet myself, given what I’d gone to there to do. The spider crawled sideways up the wall, further into the bathroom, away from me.
Another one. Ugh.
I first heard of huntsman spiders because they were the ones used in the movie Arachnophobia. I’ve never watched the entire thing, but I’d watched a couple of scenes while flipping through the channels, looking for something to watch one night. The movie wasn’t for me—I don’t care for spiders.
The spider in front of me in the bathroom was the second hunstman I’d seen in my apartment that night. The other was sitting motionless on the ceiling of the main room. This one was much more lively.
I knew species of huntsman live all over the world. They’re large and scary-looking, but essentially harmless. Their bite hurts about as much as a bee sting, but doesn’t do any lasting damage.
You see, I may not want to watch a silly fictional movie about spiders, but I will spend hours reading up on them. Anxiety is the kind of condition where you tend to ruminate on things that upset you. My fear has led me to know a lot about spiders.
Earlier that day, before I realized I had eight-legged roommates, I told my coworker about one of the spider blogs I follow. Catherine Scott, the blogger, is a PhD student at the University of Toronto Scarborough and she was featuring a different spider every day for #spiderweek. That day was fishing spiders (aka dock spiders).
Shortly after telling my coworker all my new spider facts, a black and yellow spider descended from the tree canopy above us and almost ended up in my hair.
I was having a bad spider day.
I managed to go to the bathroom while watching the huntsman skitter about on the far wall. Then I got into my mosquito net sanctuary and warily watched the other spider from the corner of my eye.
“I don’t like you,” I said. “Go away.” It ignored me.
It took a long time to relax enough to fall asleep. To keep my mind occupied I read a great thread maintained by Museum Victoria in Australia that calms people worried about huntsman spiders. As I already knew, they’re quite harmless. Some species also like living in houses. A lot.
Eventually I did asleep and managed not to have spider nightmares. When I woke up, the wall huntsman was gone. The bathroom spider was in some sort of sleep state and when I threw shoes at it and it just stepped over a couple of inches. Not wanting to shower with it, I ended up killing it and feeling guilty.
When I came home this evening, the other spider had returned.
Another thing I’ve learned from living with anxiety, is that being constantly afraid eventually means not being afraid. The fear dulls to a low hum in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes I even manage to feel brave in the end.
I’m not at zero fear yet and I have been checking on it every few minutes to see if it’s moved. My neck is a little sore. But I’m not cowering in my bed or making plans to change apartments.
My coworkers reminded me that huntsmen are harmless and eat the cockroaches. I’ve read they eat mosquitoes, too. So if I’m not delighted with my new roommate, it’s kind of like it pays the rent in a way.
I’m thinking of naming it. Maybe I’ll even come to like it.
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