I knew it wasn't just me.

Spiders. I hate them. I have no use for them. The only good spider is a dead spider. I could go on and on. And believe me, I have. I've also heard about how the majority of spiders are good for the environment because they eat all of those pesky insects that would otherwise make our lives miserable.

I don't care. If I have to spend the rest of my life buying insecticides, so be it. And the best part is I'm not alone. If you do a search for common phobias on the Internet, spiders consistently show up on the top ten lists of most sites. Why? I don't know. But I do know that even looking at one in a book can send shivers up my spine worse than watching Kate Gosselin on "Dancing With the Stars."

What is it about spiders that terrify me so? I wish I knew. I would love to get to the root of my fear and conquer it. But I don't see it happening in this lifetime, mainly because most websites suggest confronting your fear. And there is no way on earth you are going to stick me in a room with a spider and expect both of us to come out alive. In fact, I wouldn't place bets on the walls of the room surviving either.

I suppose it is human nature to be afraid of something, lots of things. Fear is probably one of the greatest motivators humans have. Fear has forced me to take positive steps in my life that I might not otherwise. Going to college, graduate school, leaving my hometown, flying, all were scary when I first did them. But they all paid off in their own way. But when that fear takes control of you and becomes paralyzing, does that make it a phobia? I don't encounter spiders every day, especially spiders that could be potentially harmful to me. But the knowledge that a spider will probably never cause me any real harm wasn't enough to stop me from slamming my hand into the side of my parents' house and moving it two feet off its foundation when I realized that a spider was biting my wrist. I'm not sure which hurt worse, the spider bite, or smashing it so hard that I left a permanent indention in the side of the house. At any rate, the spider bit the dust, and that's really all that matters. Did I feel remorse? No. Did I want to crawl out of my skin and run it through the washing machine? You betcha.

Most of the websites I read on phobias agree that phobias are learned reactions and feelings. So where did this phobia come from? I'm sure it wasn't from watching "Kingdom of the Spiders" when I was eight. Stupid cable television. If not for that I have no doubt I would be a fully functioning, normal human being. So it's really not my fault that a furry little arachnid with eight legs can make me want to invest in a used flame thrower.

I really don't mean to make light of phobias. I know of people who are so afraid of certain objects or situations that it truly does impact their day to day lives. As for my fear of spiders, it helps to remind myself that, as I said before, I am not going to run into spiders every day. But that will start to change as warm weather approaches. I can also take steps to avoid certain areas where I am more likely to find spiders, such as woods, basements, or a witch's spice cabinet. Can you tell I've read too many children's books in my time as a librarian? And I can at least admit to myself that my fear is irrational. But that doesn't make it go away. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who can do that. Darn it.

I've always been fascinated by phobias, and I wonder if in some ways we all have a phobic reaction to something. I've seen people handle tarantulas (psychos, obviously), like they were cotton balls, and these same people might be terrified by a Chihuahua. But I have yet to run across a web site that doesn't recommend facing your fear in person. Why does it seem like the best advice is always easier said than done?

Most web sites also agree that people only seek treatment if the phobia produces a reduction in their quality of life. I can't say that my phobia affects my day-to-day living, so maybe for now it's enough to acknowledge that it exists. Isn't there some wise old quote about admitting a problem being half the battle? If not, some wise old person should say it and make it official. But make sure you get it copyrighted. I'm sure there is a phobia that involves not getting credit for your work.