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The message of the bat (for adult readers only)

Posted: September 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Column, Editorial | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I got this message from someone who read my blog. My epic struggle with Chester, the bat who terrorised me at home, touched a chord in her and she wanted to share her own bat story with me.

Warning: this post is on a very sensitive subject. It contains graphic language.

She wrote:

“When I was 30 I was raped and attacked by a man (I remain convinced it was the security guard who eyed me for days).  The long and short is that I was strangled for a while – just enough to almost lose consciousness and die.  I still will never know why he released the hold around my neck (I had black and blue imprints of his fingers around my neck for days……) or why in the end he agreed to leave me alone….I did some serious negotiating with him including getting him not to blindfold me as well as wearing a condom – in the darkness he actually let me feel his dick so that I was sure it was on……

“So with all the negotiating and treating him like a person he lost his desire to control me and left me on the bed naked, bruised and terrified….I lost chunks of my hair from the terror…..called the police after I allowed him enough time to leave (that was part of the deal I struck with this man)…….

“Some days later I went to my parents house – the family didn’t have a clue what to do with me…..and in the bedroom there was this bat – after opening up all the windows I hoped and hoped it had left…I went to sleep (was so exhausted)…..and woke up the next morning…..and guess what the bat was dead and ‘asleep’ on the pillow next to mine…..I think it came to teach me about facing my fears and the ugliness of what had happened to me…..I still don’t love bats but I do have a soft spot for them (at a distance……..) – I received a real blessing……and I remain grateful……”

Thanks, friend, for sharing that story. It doesn’t make me feel any more fond of bats but I value your decision to openly talk about that life-changing experience and what it teaches about fear. They say God doesn’t give you more than you can bear but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way at all. I’m glad to know you survived to tell the tale.


Things that go “Dumb!” in the night

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Column | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about my late, great housebat, Chester. (He’s now decaying in a ravine somewhere, I hope. He was taken out. I’ll say no more.) I talked about how scared  I was of this animal zooming towards me, his leathery wings flap-flapping around my head. But bats are not the only thing I’m afraid of.

I’m afraid of spiders. Not just any old spiders, but the big, creepy ones that thrive in our lovely, lush, tropical climate. Guys like this:

from: http://www.antiguamuseums.org/fauna.htm

I also am afraid of roaches, centipedes, scorpions, etc etc ad infinitum. Pretty much any crawly character turns my blood to ice. Even if I know it’s not dangerous.

Snakes are even worse. When I was a little girl filling water by the tank outside–before the halcyon days of indoor plumbing came to my childhood home–I was shocked to screaming by the sight of a harmless grass snake oozing over my toes. I was probably afraid of snakes before that because of the cultural apprehension most western people have about snakes, but this made it worse. Now, I see a snake and I literally start to stammer, shake and sweat. Frogs, less so, but they still give me the heebie jeebies. Big, maco crapauds will make me run screaming in the other direction.

from: http://alpesoiseaux.free.fr/batraciens/crapaud_commun_bufo_bufo.htm

It’s not only things outside in the bush (or boldface bush denizens who visit indoors) that spook me. Some dogs–pitbulls, especially–scare the daylights out of me. And some animals on two legs have a similar effect.

Cocktail parties nearly top the list of non-animal things that frighten me. Strangers in general make my stomach churn. Oddly enough, public speaking gives me the willies, but you’d never know it from the amount of it I actually do.

Scary?

Top thing that I’m scared of? Being “outed” as dumb, incompetent or a failure. Of course, this biggest fear of all is the most irrational. So what if somebody thinks I’m stupid or untalented? (Big shout out to my homie Raymond Ramcharitar here!) The truth is that I try, harder than many, though no harder than some, to do my best. And whether I fail or not, I have to be satisfied with my best because it’s all I’ve got. In the light of day I am mostly secure in that knowledge. But when the lights go down, insecurity attacks. I can run away from a frog, squish a spider, call a hit on a bat, but there’s no avoiding that ugly voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough.

This story has no happy ending. I wish I could say I talk myself out of it, or that I have a friend whose reassurance makes it all better. Those things happen sometimes but more often than not I just have to work through the fear–“feel the fear and do it anyway,” as the popular book says.

What are you afraid of?


Terror from the skies…!

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

I want to start a Society for the Extinction of Bats.

Yup, you read that right.

Extinction.

As in, “Population: Zero.”

I know everybody is all into conservation and all that. Whoever wants to conserve bats never had a couple of them living in their house.

Well, to be fair to the bats–a big one and a little one; we call the big one Chester, ’cause he’s like a member of the family now, a hated, feared, avoided member of the family–they were here first. My new apartment spent many years as the semi-abandoned unfinished apartment under a family home. The backyard is the forest, so it’s no surprise that all manner of forest creatures, including a colony of fruit bats, made this their digs.

Nevertheless, when construction started up for us to move in, most of the charming previous residents moved out.

All except Chester and his little furry paramour. Chester seems to resent my presence here, I swear. Why else would he be going out of his way to terrorise me at night? Even as I write this I’m ducking and screaming as he zooms around between the kitchen and the bathroom, the two darkest areas of the house.

My ten-year-old daughter reassures me regularly that Chester won’t hurt me. And my friend Gab echoed her in saying, quite rightly, that unless I look like a giant fruit, Chester won’t be interested in biting me. Still. Have you ever come face to face with a small, furry animal hurtling towards you at eight miles an hour? Yeah. It’s like that. No night-time pee-er is safe. I won’t get out of bed for a glass of water anymore. My own kitchen scares me.

The neighbours recommended incense. Annie recommended loud dancehall music. Sharon recommended putting up foil strips. They worked for a while, sorta. Now I think they just piss him off more. There’s bat poop on some of the foil. As if to say, “Here’s what I think of your little traps, Ma’am!” Gab has recommended moth balls. I’m going to get some. And a bat. A baseball bat. One small volley for Chester, a giant relief for Lisa.