Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is My Fear Being Conquered?

I guess that conquering a fear means you are no longer afraid of that thing. If you know me or have been following my blog for a while or perhaps have just read the little About Me on the right-hand side, you know that flying has been one of my biggest fears. I remember the first time I flew in a plane was when I was about 8 or 9. We were on our way to Disney World and every time I’d hear something strange, I’d ask my dad what it was. He’d explain that it was the wing or landing gear. I was fine.

I flew to Europe when I was 15 and I was absolutely fine then too.

Back and forth to Disney World again for dance competitions. Still fine.

Then, I started traveling alone for work. You can put me in a car for 12 hours by myself and I’m fine. Make me stay in a hotel for a week alone, I’m fine then too. But, for some reason, I started flying alone more often than not and I developed the WORST anxiety for flying. Take-off to be exact. I know, I know all you little daredevil-rollercoaster-loving people think I’m crazy.

But my fear really started to affect me physically. The night before I would leave, I couldn’t sleep. On the drive to the airport, I’d develop the biggest knot in my stomach and as soon as I boarded the plane, I’d start breathing rather heavily. As soon as we taxied out and I heard the engines start to speed up, my heart would beat faster than I knew was possible. My hands would tremble, everything would spin and I literally thought I would go into cardiac arrest. Ask anyone who’s flown with me the past several years – it’s not a pretty sight.

It’s like the fear took over my body. Xanax would help calm my heart and put me a bit more at ease, but I’d still go into panic mode.
I decided I’d try NyQuil instead. That helped too. Now, when I’m sick, that stuff knocks me out. When I’m flying on a plane, that stuff does NOT knock me out. My body still goes through too much panic to completely relax. For someone who flies quite frequently, I couldn’t understand why I had such a fear/anxiety of take-off and why it only seemed to progressively get worse.

Pinned Image

Then, this past weekend happened and I started to notice a change.

I am someone who loves to travel. Love is probably an understatement. I feel completely alive when I’m traveling, even if that means waking up at the crack of dawn and not going to sleep for another 24 hours due to layovers and time changes. In just the past week or so I flew on 6 different flights. Did I get anxiety moments leading up to take-off? Yes. However, I started to notice a change, especially in the last two flights.

My prayers were a little less excessive. {I have to say the same prayer over and over as soon as we start to taxi away from the gate until take-off. OCD? Perhaps.}
My heart was beating at a normal rate.

I actually looked out the window as we raced down the runway!!!
I even kind of, sort of watched as we got higher and higher up into the air. That didn’t last too long though. Vertigo set in.

But, for the first time ever, as I realized what was happening and the big changes that had occurred, I asked myself one question:

Is my fear being conquered?

I’m still not entirely sure what exactly it was that made that fear subside. It wasn’t completely gone but the physical trembles and shakes and rapid heart rate had dissipated. I felt a small sense of peace in a place I hadn’t felt it in a long time.

Other than spiders, maybe fear really is something that can be conquered. Maybe we don’t always have the solution or the cure, but maybe one day our body just learns to let go of that fear. I never gave up.
No matter how fearful I became or how badly my hands shook during take-off, I never stopped wanting to travel and I never stopped traveling.
I never let that fear hold me back.

So, whatever your fear may be, I encourage you to never lose sight of the things you love. Let those things be what pushes you through the fear.
Maybe one day your fear will dissipate too :)


Rebecca said...

This is so inspiring. I've been afraid of so many things recently, particularly love. I took the plunge though, despite the fact that I was terrified and things seem to be playing out well. It's so great to hear that you're facing your fears as well and that they are beginning to subside. Maybe things will get easier for both of us as we go forward!

Chelsea L said...

You competed at WDW?! For UDA? We probably competed against each other, we went every year. What team were you on? I was on The Hartford Energizers. My husband hates flying too, he won't talk to me on the plane...not fun.

Cristie Young said...

No matter how many times I fly, I still get a little anxious on takeoffs and landings. It is only normal, but it happens to the best of us.

Great job on conquering your fears. You can do it!


Holly said...

Wow, girl. I feel bad that you had such an overwhelming fear. But I am so glad you kept flying. That's really the only way to make your fear subside. I know it's not gone, but the more you keep traveling and flying the easier it will get hopefully.

Tara said...

I didn't fly for the first time until I was 18 years old, and I was terrified, but now that I've done it several more times, it's not so bad. I still get a little anxious, though. My dad, however, refuses to fly at all. He's very claustrophobic and he just can't do it. I think he's only flown once in his entire life. His family lives halfway across the country, so instead of flying, he drives.

Gina said...

Wow, what a story. It was very inspiring, especially since I know I want to travel more. Thanks so much for sharing this! Fear is definitely something that must be conquered in order to live the life meant for us!

xo, gina

Jen said...

I wish I could get over my fear of flying. It's paralyzing. I have nightmares about being in plane crashes all the time and every time they leave a scar. I really want to do a mission trip this year and the biggest part holding me back is my FEAR of flying and I know I would so regret if I let that stop me! I'm just so scared of them. Congrats on starting to conquer your fear :)

Daisy said...

What a great post! I hope it completely goes away. Being afraid of something is so crippling.

Alynne Leigh said...

I love this post! (and your blog)
Absolutely inspiring!

PS: I saw that you had entered a giveaway for MyMemroies Design Software in the past! I just thought I'd let you know, that I'm doing a giveaway for the software, as well! Feel free to enter at :)

-your newest follower, Alynne

Clare said...

I relate to this SO much. I've been flying since before I can remember and was never afraid to fly. Then a few years ago (around the time I met my husband) I started to get really bad flying anxiety. I,too,have taken Xanax or had a few glasses of wine before getting on a flight, just to calm myself down. But like you, this fear doesn't stop me from traveling because I love to see the world. I don't know that I can say I'm conquering my fear, but I do know that I'm not letting it stand in the way of something I love. And I think that says a lot! Good for you for being able to face your fear head on :)