Morning Monday | Dealing with new fears...

Monday 12 September 2016

As you may know if you read this post, this month I'm all about being brave. Now generally speaking, I'm talking about being brave on a daily basis, to push myself to go and get the things I really want out of life, as opposed to sky diving or wrestling a crocodile brave. But today I thought about that second kind of braveness. The brave that comes with a side shot of adrenaline, and a prescription of deep breaths. 

The type of brave you can't be without also being a little scared.

There aren't many things in life I am really truly scared of.

As I've got older I've dealt with a lot of new fears. The fear of Monday morning, the fear of not knowing what I'm going to do with my life, the fear of going on a first date. Basically the fear of growing up and having to deal with life. I feel that kind of fear on a relatively regular basis, thankfully a little less now than I did a couple of years back. But being truly, deeply, shaking all over scared? 

I'm not somebody prone to fear or phobias. I don't like spiders, but I don't scream when I see one, and my only real phobia in life is of somebody breaking into my house or flat while I am in it. It's a relatively irrational phobia, but it's one I've always had. Needles, dentists, mice all things I'm ok with and always have been.

And heights...

Heights are something I've always been ok with. I love good views, and rollercoasters. I don't mind flying or top floor apartments. I'd think twice before jumping off an aeroplane but I wouldn't rule it out.

Or at least I wouldn't have before... now I'm not so sure.

Of all the fears and phobias I've grown into, a fear of heights is the newest and most confusing for me. It's a fear I didn't even realise I had until I found myself on top of the Berlin Dom, taking deep breaths and clutching the walls. 

It was a feeling that took me entirely by surprise and hit me for 6. At first I wouldn't have even described it as fear, it was so unrecognisable to me. I felt dizzy and hot, despite it being freezing on the roof. I put it down to the sudden change of temperature, and the long, narrow spiral stair case. I took a moment to compose myself and then stepped out wanting to admire the view, as the sun began to set (you can see more of the photos I took here.)

For a while I was fine, then I saw somebody lean over the railing with their mobile phone in hand trying to catch the perfect shot and my stomach dropped. and that's when I realised that it was the height that was freaking me out. But it was fear of heights in a very specific set of crcumstances. A fear that had been born out of, having to go up a very tight narrow spiral staircase (I thought myself more prone to feeling a little claustrophobic), into very cold fresh air, after a pretty long tiring day, and maybe one cup of coffee (or gluhwein) too many.

The next day I got in the elevator for the TV tower and travelled up 23 flights without batting an eye lid. When I made it to the top I rushed straight over to the window, gobbled up the view, and my stomach digested it all without a grumble. I was AT LEAST 3 or 4 times higher up than I had been the day before and I didn't feel even a quibble of fear.

As far as I was concerned I clearly, wasn't afraid of heights. 

But, when I was faced with the prospect of going to the top of Cristo Rei in Lisbon even looking up at the viewing platform, with my feet securely on the ground made my head spin. 

That is HIGH.


Again my stomach dropped and my head began to spin, and I felt all the colour drain from my face. Every other inch of me wanted to stay exactly where I was, on solid ground. But for every inch that screamed no, there was one that said go. That said go and see the view. That said Go because the Young Man, clearly really wants to (even though he insisted he wasn't that bothered). That said go, because you are not the type of person that lets fear stop her from doing things.

I sat for a good ten minutes while one inch argued with the other, before getting in the que and trudging in to yet another cramped elevator, and going UP.

After the elevator, there was yet another spiral staircase, then a gift shop (yup a very religious gift shop) and then a door way, AND THEN finally, there was the viewing platform and the view.

And guess what? I was ok. Of course. I was ok as I stood away from the edge looking out. I was ok as long as I ignored the people with there arms and there mobile phones hanging over the edge (for some reason people holding their mobile phones out is a real trigger for me!). And I was ok, as I very, very, slowly edged from the wall in the middle, to the fence at the edge.

I didn't like looking down so I looked out. I didn't like looking up so I looked out. I looked out taking in the amazing views and was glad I'd done it.

I am afraid of heights, just not all heights. I can now recognise my triggers. I don't like outdoor viewing platforms. I don't like tight spaces or spiral staircases. I don't like really religious gift shops. But I won't let that stop me.

I am somebody whose fear, half the time, comes from being afraid of feeling afraid. When I looked up at Cristo Rei, I was more scared of getting the top and being afraid than I was of the actual height, and I knew that if I didn't go up I would always be scared. Too scared to do all the things that I thought I had always wanted to do.

But I also knew that I was more afraid of missing out than I was of the heights, and that while many people are cripplingly afraid of heights I, thankfully, am not one of them.

In life there will be many things I will be afraid of. There will be things that scare me to my core and that will probably stop me from doing things, and that's ok. I will deal with those fears when they come, but I also know that for now, heights is not one of them.

Child birth... that might be, but not heights. 

Have you found yourself facing fears that were never there before? How have you handled them? Let me know in the comments or over on twitter x

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