Wednesday, October 10, 2012

One Last Snap: Insect Phobia Corrections

Jet lag isn't that bad, assuming you don't mind sleeping at inappropriate moments anywhere, anytime.  A therapist has to be prepared to take a power nap.  It is why we have a comfortable sofa.  And you though it was for you.

With jet lag, however, you doze off in the afternoon, and then, late at night, find that your brain is on Central Standard Time.  Still.  Meaning it is really late afternoon.

One night I'm reading myself to sleep, something that has always worked in the past, doubly so upon learning that the reticular formation in the back of the brain stem expects, no wants, desires, demands that we lie down, enable additional blood flow to accomplish this seemingly elusive state of being, sleep.  Lying supine, an easy thing to do, a familiar buzz in the ear sets off an alarm.  

I swat at it, a mosquito.

"We have mosquitoes," I inform FD.

"You didn't know?"

There was a rumor.

This relatively small insect lands on page 433, The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen.  Is it not insult enough that the rain in Israel occasionally carries red mud, and a light drizzle through a bedroom screen has initiated this book, one that I do not own, but could not leave in the States?  Once I begin a Franzen novel, there is no stopping until the last page has turned.  (For the uninitiated, be prepared for much unrestrained, very raw, literary pornography; an unapologetic obsession on the part of every primary in a Franzen novel, at least the two I have read, add Freedom, with s-e-x.)

I swat at the mosquito.  Miss.

"Excuse me," I tell FD, climbing over him.  "I must find him."  I stand up in bed, survey the room, and flash back to a distant memory, a child of five years old, myself,  in the same position, too many years ago to count.

The child cries for her mother, her father, anyone who will rescue her.  "There's a mosquito in here!"  A kind woman, a mother in a thin nightgown, offers advice.  She seems very tired.

"You won't sleep until it is dead," she says, the voice of experience.  "Let's turn on the light, kill him."

The child agrees.  The two search the walls for an insect.  The walls are white.  There are none, however, no mosquitoes with bent spidery legs clutching walls, regrouping, thinking.

"Do you want to try to sleep?  Or would you prefer to stay up and wait?  It is okay with me if you stay up and wait, kill the mosquito.  If you don't, that buzzing in your ear will keep you awake anyway."

The child agrees to do this, lie in wait, alone, for the pest.  The woman kisses her good night, leaves the room.  The light isn't bright; there is a dimmer on the switch, and the child is tired.  But suddenly she sees it, a mosquito on the wall.  She takes destiny into her little hands, and with one blow, ends the life of the enemy.  She goes to sleep.

"My G-d!"  I exclaim, waking FD again.  "This is why I've never had any insect phobias!  I learned at a young age how easy it is to kill them!  This is how it feels to play Master of the Universe!"

Unwilling to lose valuable page turning time, I slip back into bed and read for a few minutes, hoping my nemesis might return to pages 444, or perhaps page 445, when an unmistakable prick stings my forehead, just above the bridge of the nose.  With all too much enthusiasm, I adroitly slap at my head with the palm of my hand, a hard but quick slap, not a smashing slap.  The mosquito falls onto my pajama top, slips down toward my belly, curls into a tiny ball of thorax, the proboscis no longer an issue.  Marveling at this skill, confidence returns.  Nothing can harm me now.

I sleep like a five-year old.



Therapist Counseling said...

I appreciating with you.I know how would we face it.Thanks for sharing!!

therapydoc said...

Oy vey.

Barbara Kivowitz said...

I too have stayed up swatting mosquitoes. Better than staying up swatting at the mistakes of the day or things to be done tomorrow. Thanks for the post.

Therapy Sites said...

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a phobia is an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia involves a sense of endangerment or a fear of harm. Knowing your phobia give you awareness and the preparedness to face it! Thanks for sharing.