Everyone has something they are afraid of, whether it is fear of heights, fear of the dark, fear of death or fear of failure. I don’t think I have ever had a fear that overpowered me like one fear I still have today. Anything I was afraid of, I felt challenged to get over it. When I was a child and scared of monsters under my bed, I learned to get over it. I was never afraid of heights; in fact, I think shorter people are better at heights because they have better balance.
I welcomed any roller coaster or scary ride. I was not afraid of horror flicks – I just don’t like them. I think they are gross and the content doesn’t interest me.
One major fear I carried as an adult was in getting lost while driving. Yes, now we have the wonderful invention of the GPS and it makes it easier for me since my brain just doesn’t seem to have a sense of direction. But the fear I have had since I was a girl that I still cannot seem to get over is …the fear of worms.
There, I said it. I am afraid of worms. Not spiders, not snakes. I like spiders and snakes. I have been in pastures with bulls and horses and not afraid of them. I have been in an airplane; I have climbed high trails on mountains. Why a squirmy little creature frightens the beegeebees out of me, I don’t know. Maybe it stems from something that happened in my childhood.
I remember I was angry once and I took off running out of the house. It had been raining and I didn’t take time to put shoes on. I was upset and took off running as fast as I could to deal with my anger. I ran and ran all of my energy out until I just couldn’t run anymore. After I cooled off I began walking back. I noticed many worms on the pavement that came from the ground after the rain. I saw the path where I ran and saw that I had stepped on them. I was so grossed out, I tip-toed and hobbled back to the house with a grimace on my face trying to dodge the worms that I became aware of. When I got inside, I ran the hottest water I could stand on my feet and was just traumatized that I squished worms when I ran.
I knew that must have been when I first realized that worms were something I couldn’t stomach. But after that – you’d think I would have grown out of it. I knew I hadn’t. I’m not so strange – I know many girlie girls that just don’t like creepy crawly things. I feel I have surpassed that stereo-type just because I am not afraid of spiders or snakes. But the worm… I can’t stomach a worm.
My bright idea was to finally come “face to face” with that fear. But seriously… WHERE is the face on a worm?
I asked two of my country-girl friends who love fishing, to take me with them. They knew how girlie I was and they were all for helping me to overcome this handicap that seemed to paralyze me. Why did I want to face my fear of worms? Was I planning on fishing a lot? No. Did I need to have worms in my life for any reason? No. It was just the one thing that I fear and why NOT get over it?
Not only was I going to see a worm and touch a worm, I was going to stab it with a hook! Stabbing doesn’t bother me - blood doesn’t bother me. When my sons were little if they needed stitches out or if I needed to lance an infected area to save a doctor bill – I did it. When I worked for a surgeon I observed surgery watching him cut into people and operating on them. Didn’t bother me. The worm… that bothered me.
I went to Harrison Bay State Park where I was to meet my friends Melony Martin and Michele Chattin. Melony is my former sister in-law and my children’s aunt and Michele went to the church we all used to belong to.
Melony had told me that I had to get a fishing license so I went into the Park Grocery and got one for a day. The first thing was going to be baiting my hook. Michele captured the moment on video (the You Tube video below) as I tried to face my fear.
I really, really tried. If you knew me, you could see me mustering up all the will I had just to get through it. I made myself touch the worm. It took a few tries. My hands just would not take the worm from Melony’s hand. Finally I told her to just put it in my hand and let me hold it. Melony obliged without hesitation. It felt nasty! If it had wriggled around I am sure I would have lost it. It was sort of still. Then I tried to pick it up with my other hand and it wriggled. That freaked me out! I was ready to jab the thing and get it over with.
Once I got the hook in my hand and just hearing Melony tell me to ‘poke its belly’, sent jitters inside my body. I couldn’t even find its face! How would I know where its belly was? Then it wriggled some more and I let out a scream and dropped it. Melony let out a “bless” (her short version for ‘bless your heart’). She told me she would do the first poke and that I could do the second poke. But once that thing was out of my hand I could not touch it again!
Melony held the worm up for me to grab but it pointed at me! This faceless creature seemed to know where I was and I think it was even trying to put a hex on me! I could have sworn I heard it hiss! My body already wrote off trying to conquer that fear. I just couldn’t do it. Melony had to bait my hook each time. She did it like threading a needle - just touching the worm as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Melony had been ill with a virus just days before and she was still feeling a little urpy. We were laughing and talking and it came up about the time I took her daughter Kaitlyn to try sushi for the first time. Kaitlyn had octopus and I was laughing about her putting the whole thing in her mouth (which looked like a baby fetus, that I named ‘fetalpus’). Watching Melony “thread my needle” for me while I was talking about Kaitlyn eating the fetalpus was a little funny when I realized that Melony still wasn’t feeling so hot while she was squooshing the slimy creature onto my hook.
I was instructed briefly on how to cast out. My first cast was like “ahhh”. They even said it was beautiful. Ever hear of beginner’s luck? After the first beautiful cast, the rest were not so great. In fact, Melony laughed at me each time I tried to cast and the line dropped because I would let go of the button too soon.
Being at Harrison Bay and watching the ducks, the fish, the turtles so early in the morning when everything was still quiet was so peaceful after the last few days I had, (just days before I dealt with a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains and had car trouble. I will share that in the next installment). There were about four colorful ‘feller’ ducks and one female, white duck. Well, she used to be white – she was sort of dirt-beige. Melony explained that the fellers had been rolling her around quite a bit.
There were cute little turtles swimming in the water, I wanted one but I think that would have been illegal. Melony caught three or more fish while I was there, though they were small. She said it was so hot all the fish were probably down at the bottom of the lake. After I reeled in my line and the worm had stopped wiggling, Melony scrunched up the dead lifeless worm onto my hook better.
I asked her, “If it’s not wiggling, how will the fish know to bite?” She said, “They can smell it.” I had no idea how fish could smell under water and I knew they breathed through gills – so I wasn’t sure if Melony was pulling my leg or not. Michele was getting frustrated because the fish were not biting for her.
Michele’s husband Michael pulled up and grabbed a pole. Melony had suggested in the beginning, that I not get too close to the boats because she was not sure how I would cast. After my first ‘ahhh cast’, the other cast were not sloppy – they just were not as good as my first, so she trusted me to get near the boats where she felt the fish would bite more. I went over to that area and we tried to catch something.
It didn’t take long for me to cast my line over the telephone wires.
Michael had to unhook it. He tried to give me pointers telling me it wasn’t in the arm but in the wrist. He tried to use an analogy telling me to snap my wrist as if the pole was a whip. He made the whip sound that all guys are good at, and I laughed telling him that I haven’t ever used whip before either.
At one point, Melony had caught a fish and the hook had gone through its eye. The point was to let the small fish go, but this was not pleasant for Melony while not feeling well, to have to pull out the hook from the fish’s eye. Finally, I got to be a hero. Minor surgery! I could handle that! Melony held the fish while I operated. I gently and motherly took the hook out of the fish’s eye while he stared at me – sorry, poor fish.
The company was fun, the water was peaceful - just being there early in the morning, watching the sun play on the water and seeing the wildlife was enough to say that I enjoyed myself. But I still don’t think I am a fishing kind of girl. This was exactly what I needed though, after having my life endangered a few days before that I will tell you about next week.
Still… I think the worm was scarier.
Girlie-Girl Baits a Hook