If I assigned hierarchy to my fears, heights would win by a landslide. I wasn’t always afraid of heights. When I was 19, I decided to go skydiving. That’s another day, another blog, but the end result was that I knew what it felt like to fall out of the sky and I had no intention of doing that again. To fly, I take Xanax – only one, and only ten a year. But, I can’t take Xanax to climb a ladder or mountainside or enjoy the view from atop the Empire State Building.
I pretty much keep both feet firmly planted on terra firma.
So . . . today I decided I needed to tackle that fear by rock climbing. We have a local club that boasts the largest climbing surface in the State.
I called my youngest daughter, Shauna, and asked her to come be my cheerleader and also document the event by taking photos. She brought along her husband, Bryan. I’m not sure Shauna was the best choice. When we got there and I was looking up at the wall thinking how high and scary it was, she was saying, “It’s no big deal.” I think she was trying to be strong for me, but I was in the mood for a little pity party.
My belayer, the guy responsible for holding the rope so you don’t fall to the ground and break your neck, was so patient with me. On my first attempt, I made it about half way up before I chickened out and climbed back down. I did this several times, each attempt inching my way closer to the top. On attempt number five, I was about three-quarters of the way up when I hit a “rock” that was loose! That scared the bejeezus out of me. Back down I went. By this time I was shaking, tired, teary-eyed and determined to quit.
Shauna and Bryan encouraged me to try one more time. They told me how close I was and that with another foot and a half I would reach the top and could ring the victory bell. I asked what I was supposed to do about the loose rock and everyone said, “skip it!!!” Oh yeah, I thought, you freaking go up there and SKIP an entire rock. No problem. It’s not like there were other rocks close enough to take its place.
But, I headed back up. I got to within a couple of feet of the top and stopped. I was frozen on the wall. I really didn’t think I could do it. I felt defeated and scared. Voices drifted up to me and it finally registered that Shauna, Bryan, my belayer, and others were cheering me on.
Somehow I borrowed their strength and pulled myself up to the top. I smacked the victory bell with attitude.
After I repelled down, everyone gathered around and congratulated me and asked me if I was happy that I conquered my fear.
I can honestly say, no. I was simply scared to death.