I have a fear of falling, and that’s very different than having a fear of heights. My fear of falling goes way back, and I believe it stems from trust issues I have with my body. I don’t trust my feet, or my own ability to maintain balance, or my own strength to pull myself up. I’ve tried to buy some confidence by making sure my equipment is of the best quality. My hiking poles help just in case I lose balance, or sometimes they help to leverage my balance when I have a step up or a step down and my legs are too short to reach.
Today’s hike challenged me, and it was the worst moment of my time here at Movara. We left our packs and our poles at the bottom, and ventured to the top of a hill called “The Watch Tower”. It isn’t super high, but it is rocky and the top is technical.
At a point about 3 yards from the very top, I got stuck. I had no where to put my foot, so I was clutching on to a rock and I didn’t know where to go. The guide said to me “put your right hand on the rock and pull yourself up”. I looked for a hand hold, and there was none. I asked her where the hold was, and she said “there’s no hold, just spread your hand flat on the rock and hoist yourself up”. Of course I pictured my sweaty hand sliding off the rock and causing me to fall. I told her I couldn’t, and then I started to hyperventilate. Stuck clinging to the last hand hold on that hill.
My guide then scurried down and put herself behind me. She spoke calmly and promised me I could do it. I consciously slowed my breathing and decided to believe her. I placed my hand flat on the rock ahead of me, and pulled myself up. 4 or 5 steps later, I was at the top.
Although I made it to the top, I felt defeated today. I started to search my intelligence to find a logical solution. I know it isn’t a fear of heights. Should I learn rock climbing? Maybe if I get really good at putting my big hiking shoe on a tiny little edge, I’ll gain confidence. Or do I need to conquer my fear on a psychological level? Or maybe I just need to draw that line in my life and decide there are just some things I can’t do.
I’ve been searching my memory for the reason behind this fear. When I was 7 or 8, I signed up for gymnastics. I loved tumbling around on the mats, but when they introduced the balance beam, I quit. I remember shaking like a leaf while all the other girls danced their way across that 2″ wide piece of wood.
Even when I’m not really high up, and a fall would be nothing more than an embarrassment, I still get that same pit in my stomach. Again, I have no fear of heights. My fear of falling is completely unrelated to height. And this isn’t just a fear for my own safety, I also get it when other people are precariously close to an edge.
Two years ago I was in Costa Rica. I rappelled down waterfalls, zip lined what seemed like miles above the jungle treetops, and did the Tarzan Swing. What frightened me the most was riding that damn inner tube down the river. It’s because without straps or harnesses to keep me safe, I have to depend on my own balance and strength. Trust goes right out the window, and I become petrified.
Well, tomorrow’s hike is aptly named “Saddle”. And I, as you should expect, will get right back on it, so wish me luck.Share This: