Challenging Myself, and a Fear of Fear

I was pretty bold when I was a kid, and a teenager.  Not too far off from that kid you can dare to do anything.  Then I had kids, starting sort of young – clipped my wings a bit.  Your greatest fear as a mom – apart from losing your kids – is them losing you.  Still though, even in my 20s and 30s, I had a lot of fun.

Then I got boring.

Mike and I went to Puerto Rico this past October and had an amazing time.  Mike’s a machine on vacation; you have to have some kind of activity or adventure planned every day or he gets horribly bored.  We went ziplining.  I was great the first few lines, then an employee of the company made me feel bad for being terrified but happy and excited – after that, I was just terrified.  I know, I let it happen, and I’m now partly disappointed and partly proud.  I had to psych myself up to do it – what the hell kind of sane woman dangles herself off of a wire 200 feet above a jungle?  I was all, “I will DO that shit.”  And I did – I volunteered third place, because the only way I was going to do it was to do it.  Mike tells me now, he was heartily wishing I’d back out so he could, too.

But I didn’t.  Back out, I mean.  I clipped on, leaned back, and did it.

zipline2 There I am, the first line.  I was scared but enjoyed it, as well as the next couple.  When I came off it onto the platform I was shaking so hard but laughing, too.

After that, I let someone freak me out and couldn’t finish the damned thing fast enough.

Mike continued on to the more advanced lines, and I gratefully returned to the base, sat on the drive, and smoked a cigarette.

That wasn’t enough for adventure man.  When I was planning the trip, I found some really cool information online about this cave.  You hike up, climb down a hole about 20 feet, then walk for maybe a minute in pure and utter blackness (with flashlights, of course) until you hit the end – a window onto the valley.  I got down the hole then sat on the ground.  I said, NO.  I meant it too.  Mike kept trying to talk me into it, and he was so ticked off – he was all ready to go but not without me.  And HE had the flashlight.  I finally managed to calm myself enough to do it – I didn’t let him get more than 3 feet from me (why did we only have one flashlight??), and my heart was pounding.  I was convinced we were lost forever in that cave with one crappy LED flashlight between us.

Even though at the cavern entrance, we passed people walking back to climb out….   With toddlers.  I guess that’s what gave me the guts to do it.  I did it.  Maybe a minute into flaying around blindly behind Mike in the darkest dark you can ever imagine, we hit the end:

Caverna VentanaThere it is.  The reward.  Heart pounding, I so wanted to turn around – but Mike said, “Wait, I can see light” and then I did too.

We rounded the corner and we saw this.

I actually wouldn’t mind going back, but a Puerto Rican couple was in the chamber too and thoughtfully filled us in on cave spiders.  That was all Mike needed to hear.

So anyway, where I’m going with all this is – when in the hell did I get so afraid?  That’s what I asked myself for the rest of the week, once I finally got him onto a beach and relaxing.  Kids are grown, and we have a life to live.  I need to be bold again.  What have I been missing?

After all that, we rented a jeep and pretty much went anywhere we damned well pleased.  When we got home, we found bike trail and Mike bought me a mountain bike.

I’m liking this and want to do more.


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