I can count the times in my life when I have been truly terrified on one hand. There were the births of both my daughters; I hold my hand up and admit that, despite voraciously soaking up as much knowledge about hypnobirthing, water births and earth mothers chilling with a brew minutes after popping their little one out, I was utterly terrified about the whole experience from about six months pregnant onwards. The actual events did nothing to put my fears in to perspective, I may add.
There was the time when I found myself in a tricky situation with a violent ex boyfriend, who decided that he wasn’t too chuffed about me dumping him and took it upon himself to break in to the house I was staying in and telling me, with the aid of a hammer, what he thought of me.
Then there was the skydive that I did a few years ago when, despite me fooling myself and anyone who would listen that I was a crazy, extreme sports fanatic who just couldn’t get enough adrenaline into her bloodstream, I was actually convinced that I was going to die when I jumped out of that miniscule bi-plane, and spent the few weeks leading up to the big day utterly terrified and unable to sleep.
And the last time was Sunday, my birthday, which I spent with my bloke and my eldest daughter, both of whom are (I have come to realise) much braver than me. We went to Go Ape! which is a circuit high in some treetops in Buxton, Derbyshire, made up of rope ladders, cargo nets, bungee jumps and zip wires, for visitors to make their way around whilst testing their strength of mind and character. I booked it because I wanted to have an exciting experience for my 37th birthday which didn’t revolve around sitting in a pub with a load of people getting drunk, and I’m so glad that I did. Although when I booked, I had forgotten the fact that I suffer a little from vertigo.
An hour in, we reached a bridge of rope swings, hung between two trees about eighty feet in the air. My other half stepped across first, swinging wildly but pulling himself valiantly from one swing to the next until he reached the safety of the facing platform. My daughter went next, froze on the first plank of wood that wobbled violently in front of her, before harnessing her courage and managing to cross in just a few minutes. Then it was my turn – extreme sports extraordinaire…As I put my foot on to the first swinging log and grabbed on to the adjoining ropes that held it to the cable above, I made the mistake of looking beyond my feet and to the ground, way below me. My stomach went in to my mouth, my legs turned to jelly and I froze. Completely. Then I began to make strange wailing sounds that have never been emitted from my mouth prior to that point. It took me twenty minutes to cross just six feet of rope bridge, with the aid of my very supportive and lovely family, who did not burst out laughing, but encouraged me every step of the way whilst I cried like a baby and tried not to throw up my breakfast.
There were many fun elements too, I must add, mainly the zip wires and ‘Tarzan jumps’ – all in all it was a brilliant day out. Facing the fear when you are terrified is a fantastic way to feel alive, and to remind yourself that pretty much anything is possible if you are prepared to meet that terror head on and take it by the horns. There is nothing as satisfying as proving to yourself that whatever life throws at you, you can tackle it by just putting your mind in to ‘brave mode’.