Today I did something that made me uncomfortable and in the process I semi-conquered two of my fears. If we measure our days by doing things that provoke discomfort by intentionally facing down our fears; then there are very few precious days during our lives that we get to experience the elation that comes when we find that our fears really weren’t so scary after all. Oh, the power we give to things that don’t deserve it!
All my life I have been afraid of two things…heights and relinquishing control to others. Both make me break out in a sweat and I have spent way too much time giving these fears too big of a place in my life. I have avoided, rejected, over-analyzed and spent time over- compensating for those things (fear,control) that have had me tied up in knots.But not this afternoon. Today I made a change.
After spending eight hours visiting and cooperating with a doctor, I promised my son that he could do something special. Turns out the thing he wanted to do was indoor skydiving. Frankly, it sent shivers up my spine and after his broken ankle this summer I feared a repeat. I really wanted to say NO but didn’t.
Yet, once inside the facility something strange came over me. I decided that I WOULD FLY too, come hell or high water. After all, I rationalized, it would kill two fears with one stone…flying HIGH and RELINQUISHING CONTROL of my body to someone else. And even through it was expensive, I found I could justify it by invoking rule #378 from the Book of Life “Do it if the price of a shrink will cost you more.”
Now, usually I deny myself these “opportunities” to stare down my fears in a multitude of ways. Lifetime favorites include:
- I say we can’t afford it and “save” money by siting on the sidelines watching everyone else partake.
- I believe my kids should have these types of opportunities and deny them to myself because … (go back to #1)
- I convince myself I am too fat, too skinny, too uncoordinated, too old, too young…or any other such thing that would cause the idea to come to a screeching halt.
- Hey, someone has to take the pictures… don’t they? Damn straight and I am the perfect person to do it!
So instead of “listening” to my usual playbook of excuses I plunked down my Visa and before I knew it the time came to suit up. This didn’t mean that there were not plenty of anxious moments in between. As I watched members of the group ahead of us fly I began to list all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing this in my head. This included such things as:
- At my age, all my wrinkles would be pushed back into my face and with little bit of collagen I have left… they just might become permanent.
- That money thing again.
- Broken bones scare me along with signing release of liability forms which emphasize dislocated shoulders and other rather painful injuries that may occur should I be stupid enough to do this.
- The thought that wetting my pants could cause a floating vortex of pee spinning around me and the instructor was terrifying. I mean at least in a swimming pool no one knows but this could prove problematic and I knew that should it happen it would be up on YOUTUBE in 2.4 seconds!
- I might kick the instructor unconscious and slam my body all the way up the glass only to be stuck at the top of the tunnel… kind of like Charlie of the Chocolate Factory fame.
Then, just as I was about to go and ask for my money back, Paul with all the exuberance of an 8 week-old puppy said, “Mom, I am so glad you are doing this with me. We will have so many memories of this time together that we can share for the rest of our lives!”
And that was when I had my AHH-HAA MOMENT. That is when I realized just how much I had let my fears hold me back from more than just myself but I had let them hold me back from creating memories with the people I love the most. And so I did it! I got in that flight suit, I put on those goggles, I put in the ear plugs and I strapped on that helmet….and I had a blast! And for several minutes I didn’t care how high I went, if I broke something, or if I should have bought Depends…I let myself be free and I willingly let someone else take over.
Now this doesn’t mean that I have entirely conquered my fears but I have got them roped and tied. From now on am going to make a conscious effort to get into the Game of Life and not just watch from the sidelines. I have vowed that once a year I will actively work to decrease the amount of influence a fear has on me. And who knows, maybe even sometime in the future I may just decide to jump out of a airplane …according to my 28 year-old Aussie accented instructor I am a natural at this sort of thing and I wouldn’t want to let him down!