I’m not sure when it happened, or why, but I am afraid of everything. My shadow, a tap on the shoulder, a strange sound. In my mind, it all triggers chaos and death by fevered imagination. I’ve always been a bit skittish and jumpy, but now I’m convinced there’s terror lurking around every corner, in every shadow.
On our first night together in our new home, a strange sound made me sit upright in bed. My boyfriend, John, the Most Patient Of Men, reassured me that it was not, in fact, the Hash-Slinging Slasher coming to get us as I imagined. I wouldn’t relax until he got up and looked around the house, though. Of course, all was absolutely fine. Still, I slept fitfully, half awake and ready to bolt if necessary.
If the doorbell rings, I freeze like a deer. Who could that possibly be? I’m not expecting visitors! It’s a madman, intent on killing random strangers in Ranch houses and he’s chosen me as his next victim. Goodbye, cruel world! Tell my children I love them! This is why I can’t watch CSI or any cop shows. I’m too delicate.
As I say, I have no idea why these ridiculous thoughts seize me, I only know I’ve become crippled by them. One only needs to examine the nail marks on the dashboard of my van to know I’ve lost my mind. John is an excellent driver, but you’d never know it based on my histrionics in the passenger seat. God forbid it rains or we go over 40 mph.
My most crippling fear, hands down, is my fear of flying. I had one bad flight from Philadelphia to Ft. Lauderdale back in the early 90’s and that was it for me. No more flying unless absolutely necessary, and by “necessary” I mean, someone had better be dying. Several family members have come close, but I still wouldn’t board a plane until absolutely certain we only had a few hours left. I remember, with embarrassing clarity, an ICU nurse telling me it was time to fly from Philadelphia to Seattle, because my dad was fading fast.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You say he’s ‘fading fast’ but how fast is fast? Like, a day or two, or what?”
“Ma’am, all I’m saying is, if he were my father, I’d get on a plane today.”
I’m sure she was very impressed with my loyalty and obvious love for my dad. After several trips to the bathroom, I finally managed to book the trip. Thankfully, my dad survived, and on the return flight to Philadelphia, I celebrated by inadvertently overdosing on Ativan and wine. Dad was fine, but I’ll be honest. I was a little pissed that I’d had to fly. Incredibly thankful. Slightly pissed.
Fast forward about six or seven years. I’ve not had contact with any real planes since that fateful trip to Seattle, thankfully. But about eight months ago, my delightful and wonderful boyfriend wanted to take a trip to England. With me. Now, it must be noted that I am a SERIOUS anglophile, and this trip would be a trip of a lifetime, spending a week in the Cotswolds and a week in Cornwall. Are you kidding me? All signs pointed to GO, but I was still hedging.
I’ve been to England before, and loved it. Let’s quit while we’re ahead, shall we?
You go, and send pictures.
As much as I love John and England, and the idea of the two of them together, I was seriously considering not going. We all know why, I was convinced I was going to die in a fiery plane crash. Thankfully, I decided to face my fear head on and screamed all the way across the pond and back. But I did it! Yay, me! I was thrilled I’d conquered my fear, even temporarily.
The trip was fantastic, and we talk frequently of going back, and I pretend that’s a very real possibility. I had successfully flown! So why does the idea of getting on a plane still make me panic?
Over the years, I have made attempts to tackle this irrational fear. I know all of the statistics about the safety of air travel, but they never fully penetrate my forcefield of fear. I’ve been in a flight simulator, for about three minutes. Even though I knew it was a tiny box sitting on the ground in a huge airplane hanger, I was still petrified and had to get out. I’ve read countless articles and even talked with the wife of a pilot. Her advice? Pray. Oh, dear God.
The simple thought of flying makes me sweaty. So why am I writing about it now, six months after our trip? Because my beloved wants us to travel more and go back to England sooner rather than never. He’s so nice. But, nice or not, having experienced it first-hand, he now understands how real my fear is. After all, he had to sit next to me while I became a born-again Pentecostal Christian apparently bent on converting all the lost souls on the plane if JESUS WOULD ONLY GET US HOME SAFELY, PLEASE AND THANK YOU, PRAISE THE LORD. But because John is an Engineer and is nothing if not prepared for any situation, he has a Plan – he has asked me to take a Fear of Flying Seminar at the airport.
At first, when he emailed the information, I laughed. I wrote, “Hahahaha….maybe.” in response to his request. But then he wrote back,
“Do it!!! I’ll do it with you. We want to travel to our cottage in the Cotswolds.”
Well, if you’re going to be that way about it.
So, I signed up. And now I am filled with fear about my Fear of Flying seminar. I have anxiety about my ability to cope with anxiety. Nice.
Having registered for the scary seminar and paid all required fees upfront, I’ve decided to pull up my big girl panties and tackle this once and for all. I’ve done extensive research on hypnosis and apps developed specifically for this enormously popular fear. This is big business, almost as big as weight loss. Did you know you can receive hypnotherapy via Skype or Facetime? I’m intrigued, but I’m also poor, so for now, I’ll be test-driving some of the fear-busting apps during the two weeks leading up to my seminar. I really don’t want to have to take Ativan to attend a workshop on anxiety.
Now that the wheels are in motion, it’s go time. Stay with me, friends, as I chronicle the journey, detailing the success or failure of these apps, and eventually, the frightening-beyond-all-belief seminar. But be sure to buckle up – we may be in for some turbulence.
Oh, I feel sick.