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Pushing Through Fear

14 Oct

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Yesterday we celebrated my husband’s 41st birthday by going to SkyVenture, an indoor skydiving place here in Highlands Ranch. We went to SkyVenture last year for his 40th birthday and had a blast. This time, it was just my 17-year-old son Josh, my husband Bryan, and I who decided to “fly.” Our first experience skydiving last year was incredible with our instructor Rusty. He helped us feel secure and safe under his guidance. I was so excited to try skydiving again.

 I thought since I had done this before that I would remember how to hold my body in the proper position. My first turn in the wind tunnel proved that I did not remember! I kept losing control and banging up against the wall or flying upwards out of the reach of the instructor. I was petrified, but of course, I couldn’t scream or tell the instructor I wanted out NOW! I had no choice but to keep trying. The instructor kept giving me hand signals, the guy in the control booth kept giving me signals, and the television screen in front of me had commands written in big bold letters saying: BEND LEGS, LIFT CHIN. I seriously thought I was going to be sucked up and out of the wind tunnel. I was wimpering, but I was the only one who could hear it. I felt like I was in survival mode. I truly believed I was going to die. I just wanted my minute and forty seconds to come to an end.

 As soon as I was done with my first flight, I sat on the bench shaking uncontrollably. I honestly did not want to go back in a second time. But then, I thought about my youngest daughter, Beth who is dealing with some anxiety issues right now. I remembered all the times I thought, Why can’t she just get over it? As my heart was pounding and my mind was racing with irrational thoughts, I also remembered my snorkeling experience in Hawaii years ago and how I had let my fears rob me of what could have been an amazing experience. I could see my daughter sitting out in the viewing area watching me. She waved and smiled at me and I knew I just couldn’t let her down. I had to find a way to push through my fear even though I wanted to quit.

My husband and son of course, had no problems in the wind tunnel. Both of them were so confident and didn’t seem to have any reservations at all. In fact, they were totally enjoying the experience while I, on the other hand, was full of panic and dread. While I perceived skydiving as a risky and dangerous event, both of them felt exhilerated and ready for more. It was one of those moments when I had to reach deep within myself and give myself a pep talk. After rationalizing that no, I would not be sucked up and out of the wind tunnel (because the instructor told us the wind dies off about eight feet up) and reminding myself to keep my chin up, I entered the wind tunnel a second time.

My second flight was much better as I tried to relax and change my perception of the experience. I focused on the instructor’s hand signals and was more successful at balancing my body on the wind. Then without warning, the instructor grabbed my arm and leg and whirled me up around and around then back down again several times. I couldn’t protest and tell him that I get dizzy easily or that I don’t like moving so fast. All I could do was trust and hope that I would end up safe and sound on the ground again and of course, I did.

Am I ready to go skydiving again? Well, maybe not anytime soon 🙂 Perhaps next year, when that dreaded feeling of apprehension has faded, I’ll only remember the thrill of pushing myself past my comfort zone and triumphing over my desire to flee in the face of perceived danger.

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