For as long as I can remember, I have been irrationally, stupidly, embarrassingly afraid of frogs. As far back as high school, continuing on into University biology courses, I had to always place sticky notes over any picture of a frog or a toad because otherwise I would not be able to concentrate and read the text on the page. I remember once pulling into my driveway at home when I was in high school and noticed a frog on the front porch; I stayed in my car for over 2 hours until my sister had come home and I could be carried on her back into the house. My phobia runs deep. So deep that I’ve buried whatever scary incident it was in my poor childhood that triggered this unfortunate sad state of mine every time I see a frog.
Having lived in a condo for the past 10 years and not being a camper I have luckily not had to face this fear often. In fact, thankfully I’ve only had a hand full of encounters with these scary green things. Probably one of the worst encounters by far was one dark morning, back when I used to wake up at the crack of dawn and be whipped into shape by a Corporal running a local boot camp. We were doing hill sprints in a field and at the bottom of one of my sprints I yelled so loud, that I’m sure I woke up any of the local residents who were sleeping. What could possibly be worse than seeing a frog? (Yes, there is something worse)…. I saw a frog's back legs hanging out of a snake’s mouth…. Ughhhh I’m getting goose bumps and an elevated heart rate as I write this and recall the moment. It was horrible – just horrible, I started to hyperventilate and cry; my poor trainer/Corporal must have thought I was a lunatic. Needless to say, I did not finish that workout – I ran straight to my car and drove home.
This past week, my husband and I received the keys to our new home. As we are doing some pretty hefty renos, we decided not to move in for another 5 weeks. We do however spend most evenings at the house checking in on the progress and putting around in our new backyard. Let me preface this story by mentioning that our new home happens to be only 500 meters from the entrance to the last remaining lakefront marshes between Toronto and Burlington. Cool, yes. Not cool, and what I did not even consider when we signed the papers to this new home is the increase in probability of frog sightings. Last Wednesday, I was feeding Liana dinner on the deck. As we have no furniture yet, we were both sitting right on the deck. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it – there it was, looking right at me (oh boy my heart rate is spiking again as I recall the incident). My parasympathetic nervous system kicked into high gear and it very quickly became a flight or fight situation. I scooped up Liana, grabbed her plate, ran into the house and yelled “EMERGENCY!!!”. Poor Luch came running up the stairs thinking that something happened to Liana. Due to my crazy shaking and inability to put a sentence together, my 2 year old daughter piped up and said, “daddy, frog outside”.
Since this incident, I kid you not, I have thought about it every night before going to bed. I’ve played out future scenarios in my head of me sitting out on the deck and seeing more of this green things, I’m actually considering not going outside when Luch is travelling for work (I know – borderline crazy, but something that I’ve thought about).
So what causes these phobias? I did some research and discovered that for most fears to escalate to such irrational levels both environmental and genetic factors may be at play. Although no specific gene has been identified as being responsible for phobias, it is estimated that the genetic factor ranges anywhere from 25-65 percent. The environmental factor is typically associated with a specific event; in my case, I have suppressed my event so far into my subconscious that I do not remember it, which gets me thinking that it must have been pretty traumatic. It’s commonly noted that one of the best ways to face ones fears to face them head on. And even though I am a firm believer in this treatment when it comes to fears, I’m just not quite sure that I could apply this practice to my phobia. Although, I’m afraid that I may not have any choice but to face this phobia as my new home happens to be shared by these green creatures.
This week, rather than me hoping to shed a ray of inspiration to my readers, I am asking my readers - you, for your support. What do I do to overcome this phobia? I can’t possibly go on living in fear of these little creatures so I’m quite open to taking any advise that you can share. All comments are welcome and appreciated J