Churning stomach turning to jelly, knees knocking, nausea rising…
I seemed to have been born with an inbuilt fear of heights, as those physical reactions had always shown their ugly faces, uninvited and unwanted, yet inescapable.
A family joke was “Mum and suspension bridges.” I simply could not bring myself to walk on those unstable wobbly contraptions. On a trip to NZ earlier this year, the main focus was the great outdoors, which given the topography of South Island had to include suspension bridges: high ones, long ones, wobbly ones…
Determined to finally beat this, I began endless rounds of starting, taking a few hesitant steps, stopping, retreating. I also needed the bridge to be empty. If others were on it, especially those who strode and trod heavily, I could not cope with the wild wobbling and swinging added to the height. What a ninny!
Eventually my friend supported me physically. I must have squeezed her poor hand numb as we took very small shuffling steps and I steadfastly avoided looking down. At last I could breathe again - we were actually across.
The pay-off was magnificent! That feeling of achievement, of having faced my fear, of getting to the end despite the queasy sick sensations and the shaking legs. Walking through the virgin forest on the other side was magical, with the moss-covered strange shapes of the dead wood creating an enchanting Hobbit-land. How glad I was that I had persevered.