I have a rather annoying phobia. Not a reasonable, rational fear, but a truly textbook defined irrational fear phobia – Bees.

Well, also hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, etc. If it’s a flying stinging insect that generally tends towards yellow and black, I’m probably freaked out.

This has caused a number of issues over the years, as I unexpectedly burst into tears or freeze into a statue when I truly cannot deal, which does nothing to remove me from the stressful situation. It is a personal goal to overcome this, and over the years I have become far more steady, managing to keep thinking, moving, and so on.

This means at county fairs I visit the plexiglass observation hive, touching the clear plastic while trying to restrain myself from tears. When a bee lands on me I do everything I can to speak enough to explain to those around me that it has happened so they can help resolve it.

But this week has put me to the ultimate test.

First: Middle of a busy sales period, with multiple groups asking me questions, at my booth at the Ren Faire I saw a yellow and black streak heading straight at me. Before I could even squeak it collided with my neck and settled on me – but the questions kept coming! I could hear my voice getting rapid, I wanted these people to back off so I could deal, but there was just person after person that needed me. My hands were full of our picture book, so I couldn’t even free myself from that burden as people were looking at the book. I hadn’t been stung, but it was still there! I couldn’t stop talking, the crowd had no idea it was there and if I acknowledged it I was going to utterly melt down. My boss was nowhere to be found so I couldn’t leave the front gate of the booth if I did melt. Eventually it buzzes off, literally, after a few passes of flight in front of my face and me having to keep talking, endlessly filling the air with answers, and dancing around it slightly…. but still the questions didn’t stop! Nobody else saw it, and I kept my panic in check enough that none of them realized I was terrified. It was well gone by the time I got to breathe and collapse into my chair, which means the worst of the nerves had to wear off by sheer length of time.

Followed by: Lunch with the head of my region at work. The group has finished eating, and we’re having a great conversation about the state of our departments. Since we’re eating outdoors there have been a few flies and the like, totally normal.  Then suddenly the “flies” are bigger, fuzzier, buzzier… and someone looks behind me to say “That’s a LOT of bees!” A full swarm was descending on us in the most unexpected way! Empty lunch plates and half-drunk sodas were swept away as we ducked inside to plan our true escape. But my regional boss discovered his hoodie was still back at his chair. I made a point of not looking at the swarm while he bravely recovered it, and we scooted around the edges back to the clear walkway to our building. No tears on my part, though a lot of babbling about it.

In both cases I used talking, expressing, instead of tears and freezing up. That kind of progress is possibly the best that I can ever hope for, but it is, indeed, progress and helps others help me. Maybe someday I will be rational around bees, though that may be a long way off.

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