It’s really tricky to pinpoint the exact time when I started getting more afraid of stuff. I’ve always been a worrier, my childhood tics and twitches were physical evidence of such. (just writing that makes my face itch)
I swear if there was an award for worrying I could win it (but then winning would mean a whole load more worries to contend with…as would NOT winning….being a worry-wort is the WORST)
A huge part of my worrying used to centre around what people think of me (I know, huge ego right? As if people haven’t got better things to think about than me) And as I’ve grown older the people-pleasing gene hasn’t diminished entirely but it’s definitely more under my control. I’m cool with who I am (and I’d happily be my friend) and I’m also cool with knowing that not everyone is going to like me. (Like, what’s WRONG with them?)
When I became a Mum – jeez – I encountered an entire world of worry like never before. Suddenly there’s two of us to worry about, so that constitutes at least double the amount of anxiety. Lots of it was utterly irrational (What if that car mounted the pavement right now & ran over me & the pushchair?) to the only slightly more realistic (Is it chickenpox? Oh my god is it meningitis? Oh it’s just jam…ok) Again, you learn as you go and begin to get to a place where you can laugh at your own ridiculousness.
Fear is a crippling emotion. It holds you back, it takes up your time, your thoughts & energy and stops you living your most fulfilling life.
Acknowledging that I am afraid is something that has really helped me cope with all of the worries of the world (because it’s all down to me guys, don’t sweat it, I’ve got this) Talking myself up or down depending on the circumstances is often enough to get me to the other side of it.
Knowing someone else is depending on you is also a huge motivator for me. My son loves adventure & action & feeling like I was letting him down due to my fear would devastate me far more than any anxiety. He makes me push my boundaries and try new things (in the loveliest way) even when I am wracked with fear. I want him to live a fearless life and so leading by example I have to suck it up, plaster on a grin & be brave enough for the both of us. Let’s do this!
Somehow this resulted in me standing at the top of the UK’s biggest zip wire wearing a harness & preparing to jump.
I felt nauseous and SCARED. Really, truly terrified in a we-might-die-doing-this fashion. The views from the top were quite sensational, you could see for miles with amazing views of the Severn Bridge. I just really didn’t want to have to take a leap off the wooden platform & rely on a 16mm wire to get me back down to the bottom of the quarry. I get dizzy at the top of a step-ladder…this height was something else!
Honestly, had it not been for my son, I’d have absolutely chickened out. No question, I did NOT want to do this. My fear was overwhelming & all of my instincts were telling me to walk back down the path we’d just hiked. No shame in that. Some things are not meant for everyone. We actually had a conversation where I pitched the idea of not doing it (but just telling people we HAD anyway…no-one would ever know! “We’d know!” came the honest & lovely reply from my boy)
Once again, showing wisdom and courage way beyond his years and utterly role-reversing our relationship “Let’s just get our harnesses on & then see how we feel? Just don’t look Mum, we can do this.”
And so we got our harnesses on. And took each preparatory step one tiny toe at a time – still not looking – slowly reaching the point where we’re being clipped on to the wire by a really friendly chap, as we perch on a tiny wooden box on the 70m high cliff edge…”You ok mate?” he says to F. As I look across I can see my son paler than he’s ever looked in his life & answering in a very uncharacteristic one syllable “Yup”
…He was scared too. Excited, but it was really really high! We were both trying so hard to be brave for each other. I grabbed his hand & told him how proud I am of him – he’s such a fantastic human – “See you on the other side! Love you”
And then we were pulled back & told to lift up our legs. I said a tiny prayer & we launched out over the water-filled quarry (incidentally, the water is 80m deep)
The next 700 metres were a blur of screaming & whooping. I have never felt more alive! I looked back & could see F whizzing down beside me, the biggest grin on his face.
Reaching speeds of up to 40mph dangling off a tiny wire, suspended from a cliff is pretty damn exciting.
Once we were released from our harness at the other end (after dropping bit by bit to the ground like Spider-Man – totes cool) we hugged, still shaking.
WE DID IT!
I can honestly say I would never have done it without F. No way. I was going to bottle it. He calmed me, took me through everything at baby-steps & encouraged me to find my bravery – all whilst battling his own fear. He was definitely the grown-up.
I will forever be proud of my boy and the lessons he teaches me every single day. I have so much to learn from him.
There are all of these great things to feel if we’re only brave enough to take a leap. Sometimes we just need to hear it’s ok to be afraid…and it’s all going to be ok.
“What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, what if you fly?