Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Take Me As I Am
Today after we got done with tearing up lots of stuff in the herb garden at Red Butte, our fearless leader decided to have us quit a bit early and to take us on a little hike through the natural area of the garden. The natural area is at the back of the garden. It's maintained but not cultivated. There are a series of trails that go up the hillside. The trails all form loops so you can't get lost on them. I had never been up the trails at all and had no idea what they were like, where they went.
I don't have the lungs to be able to walk fast the trails like most of my co-workers could do, so I was the last one in line most of the way up. My friend Robert was nice enough to go behind me and not "push". He stopped when I did to catch my breath. Most of the time we were gradually climbing through areas with a lot of short trees and shrubs.
We got to a nice bench that was close to, but not quite at, the top of the trails. We all rested for awhile there and then set off again. This time Robert went in front of me. It didn't take to much longer before I was quite far behind everyone, and they were all pulling out of my sight. I was alone, way behind the group.
I was also on a very narrow trail that had lots of rocks and bumps and a steep drop off on the right. The view opened up; we were no longer in the trees. We were walking switchbacks on the steepest part of the trail. It kept climbing. The trail remained narrow and rocky. I stumbled and nearly fell. I realized that I was truly frightened. Tears came, and I just stopped.
I called out to Robert and asked him to please come back for me. I was sobbing and just said, "Robert, I'm scared. Please help me." I asked him to walk slowly behind me, which he kindly did. He talked with me about some light hearted stuff. We stopped a couple of times to look out at the lovely view. Eventually we got to a place where the trail widened out and the sides were more flat. I was able to manage all right then, and in due time we looped back into the main part of the garden.
This was not my first experience with having difficulties doing something like that. I know what makes me afraid. It's not the height, but rather it's a fear of falling. I am overall very afraid of falling and getting hurt doing so. I don't have to be hiking up a mountainside. The same thing happened to me in Washington DC while going down one of these HUGE escalators into the subway. I get nervous on stairs without handrails, down escalators because I can't see the difference in the steps very well. I don't have a problem with flying in small planes or observation decks on tall buildings or being on top of a mountain. But if I become aware about how easy it would be to fall, I can become very afraid.
Most of the time, this fear is of little consequence. I always use handrails on stairs. I take stairs (or elevators) instead of escalators (better exercise anyway!). I watch where my feel are going even on city sidewalks. I am not ashamed at all with just stopping, turning around and going back down the way I came when things get dicey to me in natural areas or in parks. Nor do I feel compelled to even try a trail that I think might be too difficult for me. I'll wait happily for my friends at the bottom or just change my plans if I'm alone. I've missed some fabulous views this way, no doubt, but I can live with that.
I learned a couple of things explicitly today. This is how I am. I'm not going to waste any time or energy in trying to change. You don't always need to change. Coping and adapting are fine strategies with many things. There's nothing really wrong with my life because I am afraid of falling and getting hurt. This doesn't stop me from doing anything really important or necessary. Maybe it's even a sensible fear.
The other thing is that's it's good to ask for help when you need it. Your friends (and probably strangers too) will be there and give you what you need. I don't need to be strong and go it all alone. My friends WILL have my back when I need them.