Facing my second biggest fear
They say humans are born with only two innate fears. The rest of our fears are learned within the first six years of our life. We learn these fears via our own experiences or from the behaviour of others. Your fear of spiders no doubt comes from hearing one of your parents scream when they saw one in the bathroom!
I’m not sure when I first learned to be scared of heights. Maybe it was a TV show or maybe it was mum and dad telling me to get down from a tree because I could ‘seriously’ hurt myself. All I know is that other than cancer heights are the only thing that fill me with absolute stomach churning fear.
I’m not a big fan of falling either. The sensation of falling sends me into a panic I can’t seem to control until it’s over. Which I guess means I’m not controlling it at all.
In this photo I am jumping off the back of a small boat with my camera in my hand. The (warm) water is approximately 2 inches from the platform I’m standing on and judging by the look on my face you’d think I’d just jumped off the edge of a mountain without a rope. This is the look of absolute fear. It’s actually hilarious!:)
Thing #20 on my list is to Skydive. I have wanted to this ever since I watched the beautiful skydiving scene in the legendary film Point Break.
I had always saved this particular thing on my list for New Zealand. New Zealand has the highest skydive in the world (I might as well get my money’s worth) and the most beautiful scenery ever in the shape of the mountainous paradise of the South Island.
The only thing is I’m so scared it’s untrue. I don’t really have dreams anymore but I found that just before I left for New Zealand I started having nightmares about skydiving. When I think about sitting on the edge of the plane and jumping out my heart starts racing and my hands and feet start to sweat. For the past few weeks my itchy head has come back. I haven’t suffered from this since my worst periods with PTSD. I even drew blood the other day scratching it. I am also constantly biting my fingers. Not good.
Well here I am now in a beautiful little place called Cadrona near the skydiving and adrenalin mecca of Queenstown on the South Island.
Now, my reason for telling you this is to discuss my coping mechanisms with this kind of self made fear. I don’t actually have to do this thing on my list. None of you probably even know it is on my list so I could just slip away from NZ without doing it. The thing is I really want to do it because I want to prove to myself that I can.
Apart from breathing deeply and imagining how much I will enjoy it I keep telling myself that this can’t be worse than being told you have cancer. After all I’ve never heard anyone say that they didn’t enjoy a skydive and I can safely say that I’ve never heard anyone say that having cancer was a real hoot!
Unlike having cancer I really want to do a skydive. I think I’ll love it. So I keep telling myself that it will not be as bad as being told that I’m going to get my insides cut out and then have treatment that will make me feel horrendous for 6 months.
The strange thing about all this is that it’s not the fear of dying that bothers me as I don’t think I will but it’s more the fear of falling. The sensation I’ll feel when I jump out of the plane sends shivers up my spine.
It’s very similar of fear of cancer. It’s not dying that scares me, it’s the suffering that comes with the treatment.
So I’ve decided that I will do this thing on my list or ‘Thing X’ as Ruth and I have started calling it.
I am telling myself that to feel the joy of life after cancer you have to go through the pain that is the operations and the treatment. It’s a similar thing to skydiving. In order to feel the joy I have to jump out of the plane in the first place!
I’ve already faced and beaten my biggest fear twice so taking on my second biggest fear should be a doddle….shouldn’t it?:)
If anyone has any other coping techniques they’d like to share I’d love to hear them as would a lot of other people I can imagine.