Bitchin' About - Phobias

Friday, August 16, 2013

The tower doesn't look that high. You've been up higher before, for sure. Did you not just get on the tallest, fastest ride in Texas?

But as it gets nearer, the tower looms over you in a menacing way.

Photo by: scaparri 

You usually don't go up on it. But it's only an observation deck. There's fence all around. You couldn't fall off if you tried.


You know this and yet the closer you get the faster your breathing becomes; the sweatier your palms get. Your dad, your brother and your boyfriend laugh at what they think is your overly dramatic display.

They allow 28 people onto the elevator. You're already in the middle of the crowd before you even notice the elevator has no walls but instead two sets of doors and two sets of metal grates that let the breeze pass through as you ascend the 300 ft. observation tower-used-to-be oil derrick.

Riding the Elevator on the Oil Derrick at Six Flags Over Texas from Richard Huntington on Vimeo.

The breeze feels nice with all the warm bodies pressed against you but nothing else about this situation is. You feel yourself still moving upward.

How tall is this thing anyway? you wonder. You want the elevator to stop but are terrified of having to actually get out of it once it does.

Finally after what seems like hours the elevator slows, until finally coming to a full stop. As everyone gets ready to exit you feel the entire elevator move slightly.

The doors open and you practically run everyone over getting onto solid ground.

Finally. Finally.

But then you remember where you are. You can feel the entire tower sway slightly in the breeze.

There are people and children everywhere, leisurely strolling the perimeter. You slide sideways, crab-crawling to the nearest pillar. Something sturdy. Something safe to ground you.

The sight of the city is beautiful but it doesn't matter. You feel your stomach clench and your throat tighten. Kids are climbing on the fencing trying to look through the telescopes, trying to peer over the edge.


You're still stuck to that cement pillar, focusing on your breathing so that you won't embarrass yourself by fainting.

You are as far away from the edge as you can possibly be. You're griping that stupid pillar so hard your knuckles are turning white. You mentally know that even if you wanted to jump you couldn't because of all that fencing encasing you.

You know all this.

All these things are logical. They are repeating themselves over and over in your head, trying to get your body to respond rationally to them. But for some reason you can't. You can't get over the fact that somehow you will end up falling. You can't stop your legs from shaking, your breathing from speeding up, your stomach from clenching.

Not until you are back on the ground. Not until the solid, hard earth, miles and miles, deep lies flatly below your shoes.

The elevator has returned with the next group of observers. You hear them get out and you half run - half throw yourself into the elevator to make your way down.

There are less people that the ride up making the elevator sway even more noticeably. And though you're clutching onto your lover, a friend, a random stranger for support you're get the feeling that this ride is actually longer than the one going up. Will you never reach the ground again?


Finally the elevator stops. The doors slide open and now that you're on solid ground once again you're completely yourself. Your breathing returns to normal, your stomach relaxes, you walk out of the elevator confidently on your steady legs. You walk out onto the solid ground knowing it's exactly where you belong.

This is my phobia. This is what I experience when I'm somewhere high.

Phobias are different than fears. Fears are a rational response to a scary situation. Phobias are anything but. They cause you great anxiety even when you know nothing can harm you. They distress you despite the voice in your heady saying everything is going to be OK.

This picture is like the scariest thing to me. 

My phobia is even weirder in the way it manifests itself. Acrophobia is the fear of heights. But I can do roller coasters, rock climbing, airplane travel. But there is just something that gets me about being able to see how high I am. About not being in some sort of restraint, or rope, or harness. I can't really explain it.

I know that being afraid of heights is natural for humans as we weren't made to leave the ground but I never had a fear of them when I was younger. I don't know where my phobia stems from as I've never fallen or had any bad experiences being up high. It almost feels as if one day I was just too scared to lean over stair railings or lean against thick glass windows.

Sometimes I hate that I have this problem. But then I just think of Scottie Ferguson and I tell myself it could be a lot worse. Like, my job could actually depend on it. Or Kim Novak's life...twice.

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