Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Near Death Experience

Some of you may (or may not) know that I have an extreme fear of heights. I also have a fear of bridges (not as bad as the height fear). I also have a fear of many other things but that's an entirely different post!

So on Wednesday Erik, the munchkin and I decided to go to SF for the day. Erik suggested walking the Golden Gate Bridge and as much as I was reluctant - I told him yes, okay, sure, we can do that. Why in the world I said that is beyond me. I think deep down I figured I'd be able to weasel/manipulate/whatever my way out of doing it. I secretly hoped we'd find something else more fun to do that would take up too much time and we wouldn't make it to the bridge. I kept reminding him he also had a union meeting that night in hopes it would cause us to miss this great idea of his!

So as we ventured into the city we took the exit right before the bridge to explore. As we are winding our way up this VERY VERY narrow and VERY VERY high road, my anxiety was rising. If I am freaking out in the car on this road, there is NO WAY I could walk that bridge. I was literally sweating and in tears as we were on this road that I was so certain it was about to lead to our deaths. But...we made it and once we got to a place that wasn't so narrow and hanging off the edge of a cliff we took our time to explore. (The funny thing is I have been up here before and was never scared! It's a shame how bad my phobia has increased over the years!).

So we investigated an old military battery that we came upon. It was EXTREMELY windy and cold but it was fun! There were some very scary moments for me as once height phobia set in but I made it through. I was wearing Emily so that helped me a lot and Erik was there to lend a hand when I was beyond freaked out.

See how windy it was! Check out the hair!

View straight down from where we were standing...see why I was scared!

So then it was time for us to leave. We drove around some and I kept reminding Erik of his union meeting and then...we made it. To my death sentence...The Golden Gate Bridge. I am freaking out because I know once I am on that thing, it will be hard to turn back. It's 1.7 miles long and 220 feet above water. Yes...I researched it before we left.

So we start out. Erik bought himself a Snickers Bar and me some M&Ms for our journey across this monstrosity. At the entrance to the bridge there is a phone that has a sign telling you there is still hope and to call for counseling or crisis help. I thought about picking that phone up...after all it was still telling me there was hope! So we started. I was popping M&M after M&M to help ease my fear. I was literally in tears as we started. I felt foolish but my fear is that great. The sidewalk is pretty wide so that was going for me. I didn't dare stand on the side near the water...I'd rather be hit by a car than plummet to my death thank you. I just kept looking down at the sidewalk and popping M&M after M&M to keep me focused. Crap. There wasn't enough in the bag to get me across the 1.7 mile span. So then I started praying the rosary. I was doing good until I realized what I was saying..."Hail Mary blah blah blah "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death...". WHAT! Is this the hour of my death? Okay...that isn't going to help me get any further. So then I kept looking at the people walking towards us and I was telling myself people walk this every single day and no one dies. I remember looking at two men walking toward me who were just talking and walking like it was no big deal. I don't know how it wasn't - didn't they see what was to their left (my right)! WATER! A FALL! DEATH! Whatever. If they can walk this, I can walk this. Thoughts crept in about the earthquake where part of the Bay Bridge fell down but okay...just keep going. You can do this. Look at the sidewalk. Erik kept trying to talk to me and I honestly don't have a clue to what he was saying because was windy and noisy...and two...I was concentrating! I do remember him asking me to check Emily to see if she was fussing and as I looked in the stroller I caught a glimpse of the water and got dizzy. I just focused on Emily, told him she was fine and get moving.

So as we neared the center of the bridge Erik told me to stop. This was the very center and look how far I made it. I didn't dare look back. He said he had to take my picture. He told me to stand up against the railing. IS HE INSANE???????? No thanks. I moved close to it...a little closer than I was comfortable with...but nevertheless he took my picture. I didn't look out into the water, only in the pictures can I see it. But nevertheless...I made it part way and so did my family! :)

So we kept on truckin' and before I knew it...we made it over! It was a mix of emotions for me once we hit the other side. I was so proud of myself. I did it and I didn't die! But...I still had to go back! I got a little teary eyed as we finished up and I think that was just from a flooding of emotions. The fear, the anxiety, the adrenaline, the whole thing. I don't think Erik saw me cry but I was proud of myself.

So we stopped, fed the bean, peed, and just took in the sights before we made our almost 2 mile hike back.

We stopped right at the beginning of the bridge for one last picture and then made our trek back. It wasn't as bad this time. I even found myself looking VERY briefly once or twice (and in briefly I mean 2 seconds worth). Towards the end we were singing to Emily and I was actually relaxed and enjoying it!

Believe it or not...I think I may be able to do it again! :)


Darcie said...

I sort of have the same fear. I don't do well with open-air heights...cliffs, lighthouses, etc. I freak out! I hyperventilate, I shake, I cry. I do okay on bridges though, oddly enough. I've never been on the Golden Gate bridge though, that might be a different story, especially after seeing "The Bridge."

I'm very proud of you for braving it!!

Anonymous said...

YAY, you survived!!! Congrats. Wanna go again next week? LOL