I took my fears with me on vacation. In June, I rented a lovely cottage on the shores of Lake Superior, in Bayfield, Wisconsin; only to find it was on the cliffs. I have a fear of heights. I had two of my grandchildren with me, the younger two. Even when my own children were young, if they got too close to any railings that overlooked anything, my heart would choke, and my knees go weak. I had this feeling on and off while we stayed there. I worried that I’d rented a place that was ‘dangerous’. We were all fine, there were fences around the property, with beautiful overlooks. Never mind that there was a huge drop and cliffs and rocks below.
Before we even arrived in Bayfield; I had a panic attack going over the Blatnik Bridge in Duluth, this bridge takes you from Duluth towards Superior, on the way to Bayfield. I was driving and I just kept going even though I wanted to just stop the car. Once over the bridge, we realized we were going the wrong way, and guess what? To get to where we needed to go, we had to go back over the bridge. Right, I can do this. Both being lost and having to cross the bridge were difficult for me. My daughter turned on her navigation on her phone, and then realized, oh--we have to go back over the bridge again. She offered to drive but we were on the freeway system in Duluth, without any easy exits to switch seats.
I drove over the bridge again. Three times all together. Why does my body do this to me? Why do some people get a thrill at things that totally turn me into jelly? I was angry too, and wanted to problem solve. There should be a warning, or a lane that goes 20 miles per hour for those of us who not only don’t want to be up that high, in the wind, but also going so fast. Don’t the people who build these bridges and set the speed limits on them understand that some of us have fears, phobias? It seemed insensitive. My heart still tightens thinking about it. I white knuckled it and talked myself through it.
Taking all this in stride, I did kayak Lake Superior. The whole family went. This was excitement I could handle. We had two amazing guides and when the water was too rough by the cliffs we turned back. The views were stunning and keeping the kayaks going in the right direction was a fun challenge. I’d been doing yoga for over a year now, trying to build my strength to kayak, and so this was a huge personal success, even though my daughter Megan (in the back of the two seater kayak) did most of the heavy paddling work.
All in all, the vacation was wonderful and too short. I did not pull over on the bridge; that seemed even more scary that to just keep going. I want to trust my body, know that it can do amazing things, even if it tells me it was not created for such heights.