Less than 24 hours away from Christmas, I've already had my Christmas miracle! It was unexpected and totally life-changing.
See, as long as I can remember I've been terribly afraid of dogs... and cats... but mostly dogs. The cat thing was just an addendum to the long-held phobia files. It all started with being chased by a neighbor's rottweilers at the age of 5. The rest is a blur of scary dog 1980s movies like Kujo and Pet Sematary (Not 100 percent sure if I actually saw Pet Sematary - like I said it's a blur.)
No, this is not just a simple distaste for pets. No, it's not one of those "all-you-need-to-do-is-to (fill in the blank) and-you'll-be-over-it" kind of fears.
I mean I've jumped on top of chairs, in bushes and even on strangers in mid-interview whenever I'd spot one running around. I know it's funny and I've even told these various stories to make people laugh, but it always run deep for me. It may seem simple or crazy to many folks, since this is obviously a pet-loving world. But for me, and those who know me, the phobia is as real to me as anyone else's fears.
Yesterday everything changed, hopefully forever. I was in Monroe attending the funeral of my best friend's dad.
Afterwards, I was heading to her grandmother's house where all the family was gathered.
My best friend was already at the house, because, as most funerals go, the family all rode together in the limousine. So her boyfriend and I rode together and as I headed toward the house, a familiar panic button starting going off in my head: They may have pets! I need to warn these people that I'm afraid of pets!
I looked nervously at her boyfriend, whom I'd just met earlier that day and I said "I don't know if my girl told you about this, but I'm TERRIFIED of dogs! Do they have any pets?!"
He laughed and mentioned that her sister had one. Time to go into my routine: "I'm sorry, but I'm sooo afraid of dogs," (insert nervous, friendly smile here) "So would you please keep your dog away? Please? I'm so sorry, but I'm just really afraid." (Insert sincere, nervous expression here.)
Fortunately, the sister knew me and knew I was being sincere and assured me she would hold on to Sebastian, her Yorkshire Terrier. Whew! No embarrassing scenes today, I thought to myself. After all, I was meeting alot of these people for the first time in my life and I'd hate to leave a humilating first impression like that.
But then I get in the house and hear everyone laughing at this dog that's just barking away. It was in another room, and sounded like some huge dog, but actually turned out to be a chihuahua. That didn't do anything relieve me though, big or small, they're all predators waiting to attack me, that's the way I always perceived it.
But I felt like I would be safe. I mean, it's in a whole 'nother room and my best friend had warned everyone of my "special situation." Well, as most pet owners and lovers do, they didn't take me seriously. "Oh she's not going to bite you!" "She's so small." "She's not going to bother you."
No, people, none of that works here. Understand this, I'm TERRIFIED of dogs, period! A-F-R-A-I-D! That's whatI tried to express as the loud barking in the room got closer and closer but before I knew it, the chihuahua was in the room I was in and was headed straight for me!
Normally this would be the time when I'd transform before everyone's very eyes. I change from the sweet, composed, seemingly normal young woman into a panicked little child with sheer terror in her eyes.
I would break into a run or jump on top of the nearest, large stationary object amidst everyone's yells to "Don't run!"
But amazingly, that didn't happen this time! I only grabbed my chest and said a quick prayer as the dog got closer and closer, and then I just....sat there!
"Donecia, I think you're cured!" my best friend yelled out in amazement. I think I was still in a daze, but I felt like I'd won the lottery!
Then, it happened again as we stood outside about to leave. The little chihuahua ran straight toward me again and while I was screaming in sheer panic on the inside, on the outside, I just...stood there! Incredible! I still can't believe it!
What's even more incredible to me is that I think I could do it again... At least with small dogs... For now.
It's like I'm finally free from a lifelong fear. Yeah, I couldn't ask for a better Christmas gift.