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In Western Australia, the main prevalent poisonous* spider is the redback. There are other poisonous spiders, of course, but the redback is very common and very poisonous.

When I was a child, I lived on a farm in the country. I gained an irrational fear of spiders that got worse over time, probably by observing my mother and her fear. She used to kill them still, but I couldn't bring myself to manage that and would always get someone else to. Being on a farm, critters were not uncommon. There might be an occasional snake or scorpion, but spiders were often in the house.

I had a recurring nightmare as a child. The nightmare would always start in the toilet, which was a small room because it was separate from the bathroom. I'd close the door as I entered, see a normal sized redback, scream, and run out of the toilet, through the laundry, and to the hallway. Behind me, the redback was coming out of the toilet doorway, but it was bigger, the size of a cat. I run in fear to the kitchen, then look back. The redback enters the kitchen and continues coming after me, the size of a large dog. I bolt out of the house entirely and into the driveway. Multiple redbacks from small to dog size come out of the house and the carport, all of them heading for me. I'm running, crying, terrified, down the long country farm driveway, pursued by my phobia. More redbacks, bigger redbacks, car sized redbacks, keeping up with my pace easily. I reach the end of the driveway and realise I cannot outrun them. I leap into the air, swim-flying up into the sky against the air resistance like thick soup. The ground grows more distant beneath me, but the spiders start flying too. The original spider is in the front and is the size of my house. I wake up, absolutely petrified.

This nightmare would visit me every so often for many many years. It was always the same, never changing other than myself getting older to match my waking age. I had other recurring dreams too, but this was the only recurring nightmare. In my early teenage years, all my recurring dreams went away, including this one. Then in my mid-teens, I had each of them just once again, but with a change.

I'm in the toilet. I close the door, the redback is there. I run, it follows but bigger. I reach the kitchen, look back and the redback enters, the size of a dog. I am terrified. I don't run. The redback and I stare at each other across the room. I realise I have to face my fear. Slowly approaching the redback with my hand outstretched, I touch its head. It accepts me. I am granted special super powers, similar to Spiderman's but not quite the same. The scene changes. I am older and I fight crime and save people in the city using my spider powers. The spiders are always around me and they do my bidding. I live in a city apartment building by myself, and enter and exit by the window. It seems pretty great, but there's a catch. Every so often, my fear of the spiders starts to rise in my stomach. The spiders can sense it and turn towards me, ready to attack. I force my fear down and they do my bidding again. I must control my fear at all times, never letting it escape my control, or the spiders will turn on me and kill me.

I never had that nightmare or any of my recurring dreams ever again after having them that one last time with the changes. It's been a long many years now, but it's still a relief to be rid of that recurring nightmare. I'm still scared of spiders and still have difficulty killing them. Killing them is somehow harder than tolerating them living in the house in their out of the way webs. We have a deal. They stay out of the main areas I need access to, and they get to live. My partner isn't bothered by the spiders and doesn't understand my irrational fear (I don't either, I just live with it), so my partner doesn't kill them either. So, the spiders multiply. They fill up the corners, then they fill up the edges. They start to encroach on areas that matter. If one gets too bold and it is small enough, I screw up my courage to deal it the death blow myself. Otherwise I avoid it completely until my partner can kill it instead. If it is a roaming spider, I stay much further away, and can't be in the same room or watch when my partner goes to deal with that type.  I can't stand pictures of spiders, and even typing this out has my hackles up, but there's several spiders in the corner near me right now that I'm ok with because they stay in their webs. There is an unspoken truce, for now, until they multiply too much again.

 

You may be tempted to share your spider stories with me now. Please don't. Please, please don't. *shudder*


*I noticed 6 hours after posting this that I had used the word "poisonous" incorrectly, but I decided to leave it as it was.  Since then, a fellow noder has also pointed out to me that technically spiders are venomous, not poisonous, which is indeed correct. I'm going to stubbornly leave my "poisonous" description up there though, because a significant number of the population here in Perth tends use the incorrect word "poisonous" to describe redbacks, and thus it is still the word that rolls off my tongue naturally without thinking twice about it. Socially, noone would bat an eyelid hearing "venomous" for snakes, but that sounds wrong in conjunction with spiders because it's not commonly used that way in local language. Opinion based purely on my own observations and could be entirely wrong.

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