I wish I could say that I am phobia free and therefore I have a “fear of none.” But instead, I must confess, I have an irrational “fear of nuns.” I fear all nuns, young nuns, old nuns, and even fun nuns. I know it sounds ridiculous since it’s not one of the common phobias but it’s real to me and there is even a medical term for nun fear. It is called sphenisciphobia.
I realized I had this issue when a friend of mine told me she went away for a weekend all by herself. Being a stressed out busy professional, she said she needed to be quiet, think, sleep, and not be interrupted. I asked her if she stayed at the Ritz Carlton. Being disgusted by my question, she sighed and said, “No silly, I went to a monastery where the nuns fixed my food, served my food, ate in silence, and didn’t talk to me. It was a wonderful weekend.”
I yelled my response, “A freaking monastery, why on God’s green earth would you go to a place where there are nuns?” After that, I seriously started sweating and hyperventilating.
The more I panicked, the more she laughed. I was dead serious but she thought I was teasing. She said, “Why are you afraid of nuns, they’re harmless?”
Harmless I thought to myself! But, her question forced me to answer. I had to identify the source of my panic attack. I traced it back to the days of the “Flying Nun” when Sally Field stayed in trouble with the Reverend Mother and Sister Mary Jo Somebody. Sally Field passed her fear of getting into nun trouble on to me.
To keep my friend from having me committed to the psyche ward, I went on to list all the reasons why I suffer from sphenisciphobia. This is my top ten list:
1. Nuns don’t wear make-up. That is scary, where I come from girls fix their faces every day.
2. Nuns don’t pluck their eyebrows or their lips and chins. Yep, stray hairs make me twitch. I bet they don’t shave their armpits or legs either.
3. Nun outfits are called habits. I was raised to believe that all habits are bad, like picking your nose, biting your nails, smoking, etc….
4. When I was a child I was sure nuns kidnapped children and hid them under their habit. All that black fabric could hide a multitude of sins and numerous kids.
5. The only difference between a nun uniform and a witch outfit is the color of the collar and the kind of hat they wear.
6. Nuns wear sensible ugly shoes and tights even in the summer. Jesus wore sandals. So what’s the deal?
7. They cut their hair really short when they join the nun club. Ask any sorority, hazing is against the law.
8. Nuns use a language that I can’t understand. They say cuss words like, “Hail Mary” and “Mother of Jesus.” I hear they say them often, repeating them over and over.
9. They are celibate. Enough said!
10. Finally the scariest of all, nuns make people go to confession. I like to hide my shortcomings, thank you very much. Do I really need to tell my secrets to a strange man in a small dark booth?
So, now you know my phobia, I feel better. It’s good to get that out in the open. Somehow I think my burden is lifted. Maybe the nuns are right. Confession is good for the soul.
Cindy Molder is married to her high school sweetheart Mark. They have two grown sons, Mark Jr. and Jake, a daughter-in-love Kandi, and twin grandsons Cameron and Grant. She is the Director of Adult Ministries at Grace Community Church in Bartlesville. Cindy enjoys reading, boating, and freelance writing. She blogs at Pensees, Simple “Thoughts” Along the Way.