I have a deathly fear of rattlesnakes which I only learned of after moving to The Holler six and a half years ago.
I have encountered nine rattlesnakes at The Holler, none of whom seemed very nice.
The first one I nearly stepped on with my flip-flops. It did not back down. I did in the nick of time. But I was terrified and a second from being bitten. Of course I should have been watching and not wearing flip-flops, but I was a newbie to rattlesnake country. I now wear Chippewa rattlesnakes boots when out and about at The Holler. I have them for everyone, even guests.
The ninth rattler I encountered, I felt compelled to kill because it came at me while I was barbecuing, necessitating me to dispatch it with a bbq spatula…. all while preparing some nice filets with chipotle-chili-pepper-sauce.
I was terrified, and thought the snake was going to bite me, and I was angry that I was afraid yet again of another rattlesnake. There is of course a direct causal relationship between fear, anger and aggression. I was sure it was either me or the snake, and I was motivated to live…. remember those filets!
I know, I know, some people (like my son) think I over-reacted. He was unimpressed with me.
People have strong opinions about killing rattlesnakes.
This person has a lot of opinions.
The only opinion I have about these opinions is that trying to read all of them on this car bumper while driving, nearly made me crash, which I have a bad opinion about.
I have a compulsive reading disorder (which you probably guessed from my compulsive reading of your blogs) and you had to tailgate this car in order to read the sticker that warned you that the driver braked for tailgaters, which in my opinion, wasn’t really super nice, especially considering how interesting the bumper stickers were.
Anyhoo, you know what they say about opinions……”Opinions are like a**-h***’s, everyone has one.”
Sorry…..don’t blame me, I didn’t make this up, I’m just citing it as a reference.
Besides, in my opinion, it is kinda true……..
But, I digress from the topic of this post, the one thing I am really scared of, which are rattlesnakes.
So, of course my son is studying them in grad-school, which necessitates that he locate them in the wild, PICK THEM UP, and tag them with telemetric tracking devices, follow them wherever they go, PICK THEM UP again, and so on! Just the mere thought of this whole endeavor creates heebie-jeebies in me that won’t go away. He is doing this for purposes of species conservation as rattlesnakes are little understood yet critical components of the ecosystem. He didn’t actually purposively select this species to study, it was an encouraged option from a revered advisor. I consider this my contemporaneous Karma.
As a licensed psychotherapist with over 27 years experience treating and evaluating many 1000’s of people, I am, unfortunately, able to diagnose my own particular disorder(s), in this case Specific Phobia, AKA an irrational and excessive fear of rattlesnakes.
I have a opinion about mental disorders too of course. Everyone has at least one…… just like a**-****’s.
Sorry, but this includes not only me, but errrrrrrr…… possibly you? If you think you are completely mentally healthy and have no sort of disorder, than you may suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, although I can’t diagnose you without meeting you, and I am retired. So if you have strong opinions about this, I’ll just agree with your opinion.
We all have our issues and therapists are no exception. I don’t like it when therapists pretend otherwise. It’s best to be straight. We all have feet of clay. This is of course, just my opinion…..
Matt goes INTO places like this and lifts things up: to find the snakes:
He opines that, “people (read me) are not conservation-minded about venomous snakes.”
When I responded to this with, “No s*** Sherlock,” he took it upon himself to rid me of my irrational fear by a tried and true psychotherapeutic technique called Exposure Therapy.
I have used and touted this technique to good effect with many, many clients over the years who suffered from anxieties, fears and phobias. Now in true, “Et Tu Brute,” form, Matt was calling me on my own errrrr opinions and practices (read shit), and suggesting that I, in effect, subject myself to my own recommended therapy.
This is how I ended up driving, for three long hours with rattlesnakes, getting up close and personal with them, taking their photos, and setting them free. The obstentive reason for me being there was to take photos, but Matt and I both knew this was BS, and I was really there to try and get over my irrational fear of rattlesnakes through advanced exposure therapy. Forget steps 1-9, I was going directly to BINGO, step 10, direct exposure to the feared object or event.
So join me on this adventure please, and if you are afraid of rattlesnakes, take heart, this is low level exposure therapy, reading about your fear and looking at photos of the object of fear, and I am a trained therapist….. Besides, if it really bugs you, you can just double delete it and read some posts about more uplifting things.
So, we meet Matt at the crack of dawn, which for us is 10 am, for the excellent rattlesnake adventure. I was to drive, Matt to navigate the mostly dirt roads, and my husband to sit in the back seat and not boss anyone around, or Matt might get distracted, which is not good when managing multiple rattlesnakes.
My husband took one look at the rattlesnake canister in the back seat which he is to sit next to, and said, “I thought they would be in the trunk.”
Matt replies, “They couldn’t all fit.”
My husband retorted, “No way am I sitting next to those bastards.” (This is an actual quote). He then takes it upon himself to excuse himself from this adventure just like that, saying, “They can sit by themselves.”
Jim is smart.
So now it was just me, Matt and the snakes.
The trip was really uneventful and I was quite relaxed except for two occasions. One when we stopped for gas and Matt inadvertently electronically locked me in the car with the snakes while he went to the restroom. I found this experience somewhat nerve-racking, but tolerable….. barely.
My second scare came when we were driving down the final bumpy dirt road and Matt suddenly said “Oh shit….” in a dead serious voice.
I said, “What?? What?? Don’t say that when there are rattlesnakes in the car.”
I looked back and saw the canister was tipped over despite the fact that it was carefully seatbelted.
“Can they get out?” I asked horrified.
“No” Matt said. “Righting the canister. I’m just was worried they might get hurt.”
Maybe I was too conservation focused as a parent?
When we arrived at our destination, the release back into their habitat commenced. It required these holders:
And these trackers:
It also required intricate snaring and telemetry placement which was done beforehand thank God! Finally, it was lid-off and lift-off:
Telemetry firmly attached to rattle:
And what happens?
The lightening fast bolt I was afraid of?
Snakes coming after us in a tear?
Chaos and snakedemonium?
Fear is what happened.
The snakes were immobilized by fear, afraid to leave their confinement. They were afraid of us. They retreated back into their terrariums, unwilling to move. They tried to hide.
I was shocked. This was not what I was expecting.
Slowly, cautiously they used their tongues to check the environment.
Oh, so fearfully and cautiously they started to move away from us.
Matt cheering them on, “Come on, come on, your free…. Go, Go!”
And then he said to me, “They’re beautiful aren’t they?”
And all I could say was, “Yes.”
Because in their rattlesnake way, they were.
It’s good to have kids, they teach you about yourself, if you’re willing to let them.
The exposure therapy did work and I am far less afraid.
Cheers to you from my less rattled self at The Holler!