The full horror of spiders hit me when I was eleven. On the cusp of puberty in fact, which might be deeply significant. A boy called Billy Ashton slipped a big fat juicy one down the back of my jumper and that was me finished. I was so hysterical I wet myself. I hated that boy. He whipped my legs with stinging nettles, called me names and taunted me with creepy crawlies. He must have fancied me but what did I know at the time?
Come to think of it, looking back, I can see that my own awareness of boys ‘in that way’ was inextricably mixed up with the terror of spiders. No wonder my sex life got off to such a slow start. All through my adolescence I was haunted by the prospect of scuttling feet and a sudden movement on the periphery of my vision. As I spent a lot of time in old outhouses with pets and projects, I came across a lot of spiders, as they were always lurking behind jam jars or gardening tools. I always reacted in the same way. Ughhhhhhh! I’d cry and feel a shudder rising from deep inside my body.
In South America I saw many ugly and dangerous beasts but none came within spitting distance. It was Africa that brought me face to face with my nemesis- a bird eating spider the size of a dinner plate and in my kitchen too. Again I had hysterics and hid myself illogically in the bath.
My relationship with men wasn’t so very different. Up close they were also hairy and frightening; both fascinating and horrifying me in turn. Something eventually had to be done. I was theraped within an inch of my life and so successful was it that I emerged the other end into a world where spiders seem not to exist. I can’t remember when I last heard scuttling across the floor or saw a beast hanging flaccidly within the folds of a velvet curtain.
I sometimes catch sight of them early in the morning in their exquisite webs, waiting. But I am amazed not frightened.
So it is with men. My perception has changed. I no longer fear them and so they no longer impinge on my reality in their former form. Billy Aston no longer runs my life. But maybe there is something that I now miss. Perhaps I am ambivalent about Giles because he is gentle and unthreatening, doesn’t make sudden moves on the periphery of my vision, setting my heartbeat at odds and releasing a rush of adrenalin into my system. Maybe the absence of fear means that my life has lost its edge. I am no longer afraid. Is this the result of therapy or ageing or growing up or a mixture of all three that has brought me to this strange and unfamiliar place.
Then I realise that what has departed from my life is not only spiders and cruel men but a fear of death. I have in the years since spiders disappeared grown steadily in the conviction that there is no such thing as death. I believe that when my physical body is finally sloughed off I will reach out towards a more subtle state of consciousness. I say reach out because consciousness is expanding just like the universe in all directions without limitation. It is a place where everything is one and is my home for ever and always. Life and death I believe are but segments of the entire process.
Death is the great adventure that none should fear. In life we expand our consciousness beyond our limited vision of ourselves. Well we do if we’re on a spiritual path, and in doing so we progress away from the material world into luminosity and bodyless form.
I am part of a crystalline continuum that exists beyond time and space. My task here on earth is to polish that crystal ready for the next phase. With the disappearance of my fear of death has vanished also my fear of life itself that I inherited from the parents my soul chose before my conception.
So now I am in a place more measured than my wild and passionate youth. I will go to Paris as soon as I can and reunite with my silver fox and in the reunion will recognise that it is no big thing to be engaged intimately with another human being. No promises can be made beyond the veil. Giles understands me. He reads my blog and knows what I am talking about. He will understand and forgive my ambivalence. I have a man in my life with a story and a journey of his own.
I can hear him now.’Allie, my little chou, you worry too much. Relax. All is well.’ And he will take me by the hand and there with the curtains open and the neon sign of the Hotel Picard flashing red and yellow and blue I will learn that the shudder that engulfs me is not the end and not the be-all. It is just a part of being in this vehicle my body that allows for growth. Relating to Giles is an important part of that growth.
So the spiders and the hairy men and the idea of death as the end are still here but they are not what I am chosing to focus on. They are no longer my reality. My motto for this stage of my life is ‘The more I experience the less I fear.’
I’ll take what’s on offer as long as it is there. After all, erotic ageing can be a part of one’s journey into eternal bliss.