Thursday, March 1, 2012

Facing Down the Fear

I have never considered myself a fearful person. I was always drawn to the highest and fastest roller coasters growing up. I was the typical invincible teenager that never gave a thought to the consequences of the stupid stunts I pulled (I got very lucky a few times....)

Even as I matured and began to recognize my mortality, I still wasn't consumed with much fear. A healthy dose, but nothing more. When I was six months pregnant with my first child my husband and I took a cruise around the Gulf of Mexico. It was my first cruise and I couldn't wait to sit by the pool and soak up the sunshine. As we walked around the deck, I was struck with a paralyzing fear of looking over the side of the railing. I was completely taken by surprise. I couldn't even get within two feet of the rail. I'd never experienced anything like this before. I was stumped.

We came home and I never gave that feeling much thought. I chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and just put it aside in the back of my mind. Fast forward about five or six years. We now have two children and we were heading to a camping trip on the other side of the Cascade Mountains. I grew up around mountains; I'd drive through them many times as a child. HA! The Appalachian Mountain Range is nothing compared to the Cascades. I knew that in my head, but I hadn't really considered what that truly meant.

As we were returning from our camping trip, coming over the crest of the mountain pass I had a complete, full blown, text book panic attack. We were flying down this mountain with nothing but a guard rail separating us from the tippy tops of 100 year old trees. Nothing, in my mind, to stop us from plunging from to our deaths should we hit a gravel patch, or blow a tire, or, or, or.....

I realized at that moment that I had somewhere along the way developed a severe fear of heights. Motherhood. I'm terrified of losing my babies. I'm terrified of orphaning my babies. It's easy to be fearless when there is no other person in this world dependent on you. It's easy to be fearless when the only person your stupid stunts can hurt is yourself.

For the most part I can keep my fear in check. I only start to hyper ventilate a little bit on the mountain passes now. I can appreciate the beauty as we're driving along. I can mostly keep my heart rate in check when I think back to looking over the side of the rails on the cruise ship. I've almost agreed to go back to the top of the Space Needle with my kids. I recognize that it's an unreasonable fear and I can mostly keep it under control.

Then, last week, a rope climb was part of the WOD at CrossFit. As we stood in the middle of the gym and watched the coach pull the ropes down and instruct us on the proper technique to climb them all of these fears came rushing back. I teared up. I cried. I stood in the gym and cried because I was expected to climb 15 ft up a rope.

In the past I would have just said "I'm sorry, I can't do this." Not anymore. If there is one thing I've learned about myself since starting CrossFit it's that I'm way more badass than I've ever given myself credit for. I've pushed myself further than I've ever known I could go.

I wiped my tears and walked right up to that rope and grabbed it with a white knuckled death grip. Everyone there knew I was the new girl and they'd all seen that I was terrified. I had the biggest cheering section. It was amazing. I am almost tearing up again, sitting here reflecting on that feeling.

I only made it about 4 feet up the rope or so, and I did the workout laying on the floor and pulling myself to a standing position using the rope ~ only because I wasn't strong enough yet to complete the full workout climbing the ropes.

I have made it my goal, my mission in life, to conquer the rope. You fear the things you can not control and this is one thing I can control. I can control my strength. I can control my health and I will climb that rope.

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