I don’t consider myself someone to be overwhelmed with anxiety or a generally fearful person, but I do have some irrational fears than can feel suffocating at times. When we were in Iceland, one of my fears kept cropping up. It sounds so trivial that it’s almost not worth mentioning, but I am honestly really afraid of slipping and falling.
I’m not afraid of the embarrassing nature of slipping and falling, although I did have one of those traumatic moments in high school where I slipped on some ice on my way to the driveway to meet a car full of friends. Of course–everyone being seventeen and all–my friends (or should we say “friends”?) laughed hysterically and I was more or less shamed into the car. That’s the stuff high school is made of!
Anyway, it’s not the mortification that scares me, it’s the freak accident that I can’t get out of my head: what if I slip and fall and break my wrist? what if I slip and fall in front of a bus? what if I’m going down a hill and never stop slipping and falling? what if I slip and fall and go into the waterfall and then everyone else goes into the waterfall? It escalates into absurdity rather quickly, but like so many worries and concerns, it’s not the sensible we’re so often preoccupied with. My mind can go faster and further than I’d like into some pretty dark corners. My body tingles and sometimes I start shaking, or my body shuts down and I feel paralyzed. As you can imagine, it’s a rather uncomfortable situation to be in–and to explain.
In the above picture I was battling with those tense and anxious feelings. We had stopped at a scenic overpass and stumbled upon this waterfall while walking around. Adam wanted to get ever closer and walk around a narrow slope to get a better view of the falls. My instinct was to say “no” and keep saying it forever until we were back in the car, but I managed to get myself this close to the water’s edge. I didn’t follow Adam down the footpath but I felt brave for letting go of my insecurities.
It’s hard to tell Adam and others that I don’t want to or can’t do seemingly ordinary adventures. I know it has to be frustrating when I say no to seeing the extraordinary view or going on the big hike. I don’t like saying it any more than he probably likes hearing it. But that doesn’t override feelings of panic and often baseless anxiety.
I’m trying to work on being more confident in my decisions and beliefs. To be honest, it felt good to trust that I could walk up to the edge of a cliff and know that I was grounded enough to stay right there on the cliff’s edge; a freak wind wasn’t going to push my off, nor was the ground going spontaneously crumble beneath my feet. It can seem silly to feel brave at 28 years old or however old you are, but truthfully it’s just as exhilarating now as it was when I was 5.