I am single now, so I’m doing everything on my own. I fucking love it. There’s an immense and roaring joy that comes with the power of being alone. The power to do or not do something based purely on whether the fuck I want to. Singing loudly in the kitchen. Dancing… well… everywhere. Learning new things and remembering old things and saying ‘yes’ when someone asks me for Skype drinks. I’m a strong, independent woman. In every single area except one.
I know that there will always be ups and downs, but broadly I enjoy my time alone. I remember being single long ago, and being happy and carefree and fuck-drunk and gleeful. I’m good at being single, I enjoy it. I revel in the freedom and power of answering to no one but myself. I tell myself this when I’m learning BSL, or teaching myself how to hula hoop. I remind myself of my strength and independence when I snap panniers to my bike and cycle off for a long ride in the drizzling rain.
I’m a strong, independent, capable woman.
Then a massive fuckoff spider turns up in my kitchen, and suddenly I realise I am not.
It was huge, gang. Gigantic. Sitting with its hairy back and plump body and scuttly legs, smack bang in the centre of the white tiled wall – the better to highlight its every angle and curve. I swear when I walked in and discovered it, I could almost hear it cackle.
I am not a fan of spiders. In the same way I’m not a fan of having IUDs fitted or listening to foxes fuck or watching Matt Hancock try to talk about sex without giggling. It’s not just that I can’t catch them with a cup and a piece of paper and put them outside, it’s that even if there’s someone else around to do the cup-and-paper thing, I have to run away before I let them start.
I’m a strong, independent woman but there’s a spider in my kitchen the size of a seaside donkey and I swear if you wanted you could saddle it up and gallop down the high street.
‘So this is it,’ I think. ‘The test of how independent and capable I am. The time has come, the dawning of a new era of my singledom, during which I shall slay monsters (a spider) and prove to myself just how strong I really am.’
Spiders of the past
Brief pause for a flashback. Imagine the screen going all wibbly and you being transported back to a time, about eleven years ago, when I first moved in to my own place. I’d recently broken up (and then got back together, and then broken up, and then… you get the idea) with my previous ex. We’d parted ways for a variety of reasons, none of which matter any more. All you need to know is that I’d moved to a new flat that was mine, all mine, and I was excited to start my brand new life as a strong, independent woman.
Until a really massive spider arrived in my kitchen.
2020’s spider was huge but this other was immense. Enormous. I don’t think my memory’s playing tricks when I tell you it could have used one of its hairy legs to arm wrestle Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
It sat in the middle of my kitchen floor, all knees and hair and scuttly potential, while I stood stock-still in the doorway and wished to fuck I owned a sword. Or a flamethrower. Why oh why had I wasted two hundred pounds on a washing machine to keep my clothes clean? That money would have been far better spent on a giant anvil rigged to a rope and dangling from the ceiling, so I could cut the cord at this exact moment and smash that fucking spider into a hairy, knee-peppered paste.
Luckily, this strong independent woman did happen to own a mixing bowl. Made of sturdy metal, enamelled green on the outside, and just large enough to trap this monster if I could only pull off the perfect throw.
It was an audacious plan. An ambitious plan. The bowl was only marginally bigger than the spider itself, and it was worryingly light. Thin aluminium might not have the gravitational force to hold down this monstrous beast, and even as I stretched out my bowl-throwing arm I was aware that there was a possibility it would just lift the bowl off itself with one creepy leg, give me a cheeky wave with another, then launch itself in one huge spidery leap from the kitchen floor into my face.
They do that, spiders, don’t argue.
Anyway. Long story short, I am an absolute goddess-badass-bitch-boss-queen and I successfully trapped that spider under the might of my green mixing bowl. I leant carefully forwards, bowl in one hand, and with a single neat throw I entrapped the beast beneath the metal dome. I had done it! I had imprisoned a spider! I was a strong, independent, capable woman after all! My joy knew no bounds, my power was limitless, and I would never again doubt my own might.
Then, for the next two weeks, I stepped around the metal mixing bowl as if it didn’t exist, because I had absolutely no idea how to get the spider out of it.
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but that spider starved to death.
I am not proud. In an ideal world, I would never harm an innocent creature. I don’t quite believe that spiders are more scared of me than I am of them because if they actually fucking were they wouldn’t scuttle towards me so often, but still: I don’t believe they deserve to be harmed. I just wasn’t ready to take my strong, independent, capable hands and use them to lift that spider off the floor and outside to scuttling freedom.
Two weeks after I’d trapped the spider, I nudged the mixing bowl gently towards the back door with my foot, opened it wide, then swiftly and decisively kicked the whole lot into the garden.
How to be a strong independent woman
The moral of this story isn’t that I’m not strong and capable, it’s that I need to stop placing my self-worth in a box entitled ‘is able to deal with giant spiders.’ No matter how much of the rest of my life I can tackle with competence and strength, there are some things I simply cannot do. I will never be able to deal with giant spiders. I couldn’t do it then, I can’t do it now, and I won’t be able to do it in the future.
And I know it’s a fucking cliché, to be a single woman who whines about not having someone around to deal with spiders. I’m aware that it’s even more ironic because there’s no way my ex would have been able to cup-and-paper this monstrous hellbeast: at best he’d have smashed it with a shoe and we’d both have had to eat some cake while we recovered. I don’t need a man to come deal with my spiders, I just need to understand that no mere spider will ever break me.
My strength doesn’t come from being able to do everything, but from living with the things I cannot do, and allowing myself a few failures without letting them shatter my soul.
As for my recent visitor, I mustered all my strength and competence, stood tall and proud and mighty… then hurled two paintbrushes at it and ran away. It scuttled behind a cupboard and I haven’t seen it since.
I’m a strong, independent, capable woman. Who is – and always will be – scared of spiders.
It was only after I drafted this post that I learned today is Singles’ Day. Happy Singles Day to anyone else who is: may your day be carefree and powerful and entirely free from spiders.