My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Conquering Fear

on August 21, 2012

Everyone has fears. If someone says they don’t, they are lying … either to you or to themselves or both. I’ve written about fear before. This post is different. This post is about conquering fear.

One of my biggest fear is heights. To go along with the fear of heights, is the fear of bridges. If I’m driving over a bridge and I’m up high, I can feel myself wanting to panic. It’s worse if I can see straight down to whatever is below, usually water. If I can only see out across the water, it’s not so bad. If the bridge isn’t up high, it doesn’t seem to bother me as much. I’ve been able to walk over short, low bridges, although that did take some doing. I felt like I could fly the first time I did it. So now that I can do that, what do I do next? How do I continue to work on my fear of heights and bridges? That’s easy — find a taller, longer bridge.

Lucky for me, there happens to be one right here in my little town. Just looking at it terrifies me. I’ve driven over it many times. It’s pretty high. I used to think people who walked over it were a little bat-shit crazy (to borrow a phrase from a friend, thank you Nick). So why am I going to do it if it scares me so bad? To prove that I can. To prove that I can conquer my fear. To make Tyler proud. To make myself proud.

When Tyler first suggested we walk the bridge, I thought there is no way I could do it. It was just insane! I thought he was bat-shit crazy for even suggesting it. But somehow he got into my head and soon I was thinking that maybe I can do it. I still think it’s a little crazy, but I’m going to do it.

(The above paragraphs were written days before we actually walked the bridge. They are the thoughts and feelings I had after deciding that I would do it. I had been a bit nervous and anxious and still a little scared about it. But none of that was going to change my mind. I had decided to walk the bridge and nothing, not even my own fear, was going to stop me from doing it.)

So after much debate as to when, we decided it would be today, August 21, 2012. At first it was just going to be me and Tyler. But then he asked if his mom could join us. I had only met his mom once before but immediately liked her, so without hesitation I said yes, she could join us. It would a milestone for her as well.

When I woke up this morning, I felt a calm inside me. No longer was I terrified about what I was going to do today. I knew it would be alright. I knew it would be a good day. Part of me still wanted to be terrified, but I knew I couldn’t be. I showered, dressed, and made my way downstairs. I made breakfast, a smoothie as usual. And made extra for Tyler and Joe. I killed time on my computer, straightened up the kitchen, and put a few things in a bag I was taking with me today. Then I waited. Waited for Tyler to let me know they were on the way to get me. I was not nervous as I thought I’d be. When they arrived, I could barely contain my excitement, although I tried to hide it as best I could. I helped navigate the way to the bridge. There is a parking lot near the base of it. After parking the car and getting out, I stood and stared at the bridge. I was not terrified of what I was about to do, which surprised me a little. A part of me was a little scared, never having done anything like this before, but the greater part of me was calm and knew it would be fine. Having Tyler there, I’m sure, was a big part of that.

So we start walking towards the bridge. There is a walking path along one side. So we begin our walk. Tyler has an app on his phone to tell us how far we will end up walking and how long it will take us, so he turned it on. The incline feels steep. My legs begin to hurt a little from my workout yesterday. But only a little. I can feel my heartbeat go a little faster. I try to calm it down. I don’t feel the panic I expected. It’s a beautiful day and the view is fantastic. Most of the way, I’m looking down at the water. Even as we walk higher, I don’t take my eyes off the water for too long. Occasionally, I can feel the bridge shake as a giant truck drives over it. There seems to be quite a bit of traffic, but I try to block it out. We reach the top and stop. I put my hands on the railing and gradually force myself to look straight down to the water, not just across it. When I did, I realized I was not scared of it as I thought I would be. And I look up and out across the water. It really is a beautiful day. We continue walking to the far end. When we reach the end, there are high-fives and smiles. Distance .72 miles; time 26 minutes. Not too bad, better time than i thought. We stand there for a few minutes, catching our breath and chatting. Then we begin the walk again. Again I can feel my legs hurt a little, but I do my best to ignore them. Again we reach the top and stop and take in the view. Again we continue back to where we started. And before I know it, we are at the end. I did it. I walked over the bridge and back. I conquered my fear and I feel good. I felt so much pride in myself at that moment. I could feel myself smiling, and not just on the outside.

Never before would I have attempted it. Never before would I have even thought I could do it. Never before I met Tyler. I’ve said it before, to him and to others and in this blog, that his unwavering belief in me, belief that I can do things I never thought possible makes me believe that I can do anything. And I’ve done so much thanks to him. I am forever grateful for him, his support, his friendship. He has done more for me than I can even say. He has helped me find a life I never knew I could have, a life I never knew I could live. And that means more to me than I can ever say. So I will only say thank you and hope it is enough and hope he knows how much more I wish I could say. So, thank you, Tyler, for everything so far and for everything yet to come.

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