Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cimbing the Steps and Getting on the Roof

A couple of weeks ago (2 1/2 to be exact) some of the e3 "Tribe" went on a training ride.  If you read the post I wrote about what I need to sacrifice in order to reach my goal, you'll remember just how not-well that ride went.

I have been told this Saturday I'll be participating in my first ever bike race.  I would actually be excited, if not for the fact the route includes a HARDER climb than the one I failed on two and a half weeks ago.  I had anxiety dreams about it all last night.

****IRONIC SIDE NOTE:  as I'm writing this post I have my blog opened up on another page, listening to my music...just as I typed that last period, "Gonna Fly Now" came on.  "Getting strong now...won't be long now...getting strong now.......gonna fly now...flying high now....gonna fly...."...  It's actually hard to keep freaking out with a song like that playing in the background, especially with the mental image of Rocky bounding up all those steps!!

Okay...instead of writing all the things I intended to write-mainly about how MUCH I'M FREAKING OUT, all the anxiety I have about the climb involved in this race, and all the reasons (REASONS not excuses) I have about being completely JUSTIFIED in that freak out, I'm going to do my best to put my big girl pants on.

*** WARNING, you might get a little whip-lash reading this post because I'm sure it will reflect the back and forth going on in my mind right now. ***

I remember one time when my ex-husband and our kids went to an amusement park.  My two kids were born fearless and LOVED roller coasters.  My ex-step-son, however, HATED them.  He was terrified to even climb the steps going up to a non-scary ride--the steps alone were enough to freak him out.  The first time we (okay, I) tried to get him to go up the steps I remember trying to rationalize with him...the stairs were VERY wide (like 7' across), they were sturdy and strong, there was a high railing all the way up, he didn't even have to be close to the edge.  He wanted to go on the ride, he just didn't want to climb those steps thanks to a completely irrational fear, something I was all too familiar with myself.

When I was a little girl my brother and I went to this park down the street.  He could swing so high I thought he would go right over the top.  Not only that, he could jump out at the height of the arc and FLY through the air like an acrobat.  Not only could I not go that high, no matter what I tried, I couldn't make myself jump out.  

When we moved away, my dad made a rope swing for me in the back yard, sort of like the one in the picture (but way cooler).  After quite a bit of practice, I could swing high and jump out, although never as good as my brother.  

One afternoon I got on that swing and starting pumping my legs...the next thing I knew I was flat on my back and couldn't breathe.  It was one of the worst things I had felt in my young life; skinned knees are nothing compared being unable to inhale!  When I got up I realized one of the ropes had broken.  Even as young as I was, I knew I needed to get back on that swing.  In my infinite wisdom, I grabbed up the rope and tried to play Tarzan.  I was shaking so violently I couldn't hold on and, low-and-behold, I fell again.  

A few years later I almost had a panic attack when I had to climb a ladder about 14 feet.  I didn't know where the fear was coming from because I couldn't remember ever being afraid of heights...but it was there for some reason.  As I thought back, I vividly recalled the breathless terror I felt when the rope swing broke.

The panic attack ladder experience, combined with everything I had learned about desensitization therapy in college (my degree is in psychology) led me on a quest to overcome the acrophobia which had advanced to the point I was unable to get onto my husband's shoulders (he was 6'4").  I started with climbing a ladder, then ventured up onto to the roof of our house, and eventually was able to peer over the side, even sitting on the edge, with my feet hanging over.  (A few years later this skill came in handy when I took a job as an insurance adjuster.  I climbed on over 1,000 roofs in the ten years I worked claims.)


Yeah...this isn't working.  As much as I want to be a big girl and "climb those steps" I just don't think I'm mentally prepared.  Daisy asked me today what I'm afraid of.  The honest answer is, I just don't think I can do it.  If I had a doctor tell me she had run some tests which proved conclusively I had the physical capability to lift 500 pounds, I wouldn't even try because I don't believe I can.  I would rather be told I have to go ride 100 miles of rollers than to be told I have to climb one continuous mile of steep hill.  The century would be hard, but in my mind the steep hill is beyond me.  And...I know with thinking like that, it is.  That very thing killed me last time--I got scared and put on my own brakes. 

There is part of me that understands the only way to overcome the fear I have is to face it head on and tackle it...at the same time, my experience with myself tells me the best way for me to do that is one step at a time.  The only other fear I've had (that I can think of) was a fear of mice.  I honestly couldn't even THINK about a mouse (except MAYBE Mickey) without FREAKING OUT.  Overcoming musophobia started with just getting used to talking about them...which progressed to going to the pet store to look at them from a few feet away...eventually being able to walk up to where they were kept...until I finally I got up the nerve one day to hold one of them.  I can't say I like mice, but I could see one today without screaming and jumping onto the nearest high thing around me.  As far as heights go...I was completely fine until I broke my tailbone skydiving!!  (I'm not scared of heights but I probably won't go skydiving again any time soon.)

I also know there is nothing anyone can say or do to take this fear away from me.  It's irrational.  It's stupid to be afraid of riding a bike up a hill.  I know that.  "Knowing" how stupid and irrational it is doesn't help.  Having someone beside me won't help.  But, I do know riding flat roads will only allow that fear to persist.  That is unacceptable to me.  Will I conquer the fear this weekend?  I'll let you know.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!
:D

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