I didn’t know what I had signed up for. How in the world had I said yes to this? Who in their right mind would want to go on a large machine that would make frequent stops, dangling its occupants above the earth for what seemed like years?
It didn’t look as bad from the ground. But when I was in the car and slowly moving in a gigantic circle, it was not what I thought it was supposed to be. Why did people flock to do this? Why did they stand in line to be put through such torture was all I could think of. And, when it stopped, to let passengers off, I wished I was one of them.
I didn’t realize my fear of heights had been so severe until I ventured on to this ride. The person who went on it with me rocked the entire thing like a swing for fun. I decided to close my eyes so in case I died, I would wake up on the other side and not be a witness to my demise.
That is how I dealt with my fear of high places for a long time. If I didn’t have my vision, I could pretend I wasn’t there. It was similar to a state of disassociation to cope with it to try and calm my racing heart. If I barely opened one eye, all of the colors and sounds would rush at me, paralyzing me with sheer terror.
I had chosen to go on something that didn’t continually move. That was a poor decision. Just go fast, get it over with. This was stop, start, stop, stop, start. Die, breathe, is it over, no.
It was different than having motion sickness, which I didn’t have. That is a physical issue, while this one was purely mental. I always felt somewhat guilty after an experience like this. Why couldn’t I act like everyone else and not have this reaction? I don’t think they have support groups for persons with this affliction; if so, they would have to meet at the lowest level of the building. Even the basement might be too high for some. Then you then run the risk of claustrophobia.
I think most keep it hidden because we know it’s irrational, and it makes you feel like an outsider.
Some people stood up dangerously while they were at the top while others were getting engaged. You might just as well skip the formality and get to the ‘until death do you part’ portion because it could be minutes away.
There was laughing while most people were thrilled, and all I envisioned were bodies falling headfirst to their deaths.
Every time I went through this self-inflicted trauma, I should have looked at it as nonsense. Instead, I just thought I had gotten lucky. I had been spared, but what about the next event? One of these times, I just knew it would end with me departing. I was dodging death, I thought. Really, it had gotten to a form of paranoia.
While at a waterpark, there was a zipline that went across a big pool. Both of my girls wanted to go. I had gotten to the point of dying a million times internally so that they wouldn’t see me afraid. I climbed the ladder with them in front of me and a long line of people behind. If I had been given a chance to go on it immediately, I would not have had time to think. Usually, I could distract myself, but for some reason, all of my mental tricks weren’t working.
There was no way down except to go across or turn around and weave my way through the masses. I considered my choices, and fear got the better of me. I had to go past elementary school-aged kids and their parents to get back on the ladder to the ground. Even in the middle of that, I felt such disappointment in myself that I couldn’t just stay where I was and endure it.
The downside of giving in to the panic was that the next time I was in a high place, my body wanted a repeat performance. I had to fight myself to go through with it. Everything screamed at me to not go forward but to turn around as I had previously, but I knew if I did that, it would only get worse.
I was standing on a set of stairs with water dripping all around me from the slide that they wanted to go on next. That made me feel like every single screw was on the verge of coming undone.
This is so unsafe! Why is there water falling? The whole thing will fall apart around you, and you could have avoided this. You won’t feel guilty for dying later if you just leave now. Make them get off these stairs. What kind of mom lets her kids go into something so dangerous like this? You aren’t protecting them.
As drops of water fell on my shoulders and my head, these were the thoughts that relentlessly pursued me.
When they looked at me, I would just smile and pretend that nothing was going on with me at all. That becomes easy to do if you do it enough. You say you are fine, you act like nothing is bothering you, but it is absolute misery as you stand there, feeling alone like no one gets it.
Once at the top, I was fine; the standing to go would get me.
“You always would start to stare off,” my daughter told me later. “Or talk about things that didn’t matter, and you would look at other people.”
That is precisely how I got myself not to flee. I looked around, trying to focus on something that would make me feel safe. I found comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only irresponsible parent if something bad were about to happen.
I have not been up high for a while. So, I am not sure whether or not I have beaten it thoroughly. I had at one time gotten it so under control that I did not react physically to what would have before made me feel extremely scared.
It took sheer willpower to continue to face it, and while I wanted to rush through it, I was often made to stand in it to get over it.
When you are forced to do that, all the ugliness of it will come to the surface, and you find out how patient you are. Or not.
You discover whether you trust God when all of your surroundings tell you just to give up, don’t try anymore, surrender and live the way you always have. Comfort zones provide safety, even if they are dead ends and are miserable in the long run. Have you heard the saying that misery loves company?
Some voices will come from outside yourself to convince you to do the same. It’s so impressive how people will show up during these times to interject their voices of negativity to let you know that they are experts and you should not pursue what God tells you to.
I recall having this happen and being influenced by it, but now that it has been such a repetitive occurrence, I see through it for what it is. When you know the tactics that work against you, you don’t fall for them anymore. It is all orchestrated to keep you down, in your place. They lose their power as you take yours back. I also learned not to tell everyone all my plans.
Some things are best left between you and God.
That is where I found my freedom over fear in this particular area. I didn’t have a therapist standing by on speed dial, waiting to hold my hand through every situation. I am all for therapy; I have been there myself, but there comes the point when no one but you will be able to overcome. I had to do the work by listening to what I was told.
The other day while working with a computer that takes its time being ready to do its job, I was tempted to shut it off and start all over again. I had my finger poised above the off/on button, ready to show it that I was not about to be on its schedule. Yet, I knew that I would probably have to wait longer if I did that. That had been my experience in the past.
I also realized that if something isn’t working, it will be replaced by something new. Eventually, no one wants to keep putting up with something that wastes time. Years you can’t get back.
God will do that. If He has a specific time for you to act, you must even if you are afraid. Because He shows you and tells you that it is for your good.
Then, there are other times like what I ended up doing. I walked away from it. I let it malfunction by itself while I was productive doing other things. You will be led to do that as well. If it’s not working for your highest favor in life, then it’s probably not what you need to focus your energy on. Do something else while it sorts itself out without you.
God does not want you to live in fear. If a person, place, or thing is causing that for you, you can work with heaven on resolving it. It might take a while to get there, but you will realize you are free one day.
In 1 John 4:18, it is explained what living exempt from worrisome thoughts should be like:
There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (Message)
I don’t live utterly devoid of it. I know that if you are trying to combat it, running away usually isn’t the answer because it’s easy to do that, and it never gets repaired. You just move on to the next scary test and are no further along.
The idea is not to let outside forces alarm you after you have asked God for help. In that strong presence, you can stay undisturbed and unmoved.