Erin Lausten

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Why do you always have to look down??

Posted by erinlausten on April 10, 2011

The saga continues as I pull out all stops and tell you things I don’t know about myself. I mean, that you don’t know about me. Sigh, ever heard about writing as a self discovery tool? Yeh, it is, at times far too effective a tool. I find it interesting that we’re taught free writing at an early age. They say it helps break writers block. I never have writer’s block. I also find free writing terrifying. I mean, do you see some of the shit I write? I don’t want to know that much about my inner thoughts. Really.

Alright, moving on. So. Time to reveal something new about myself. One of the problems I have is I am quite aware that a good portion of you that read my blog actually know me. This causes issues for me. For instance. If I were to tell you that I was terrified of heights, you would say, “yeh and what else is new.”

Fine. So the fact that I am terrified of heights is no great secret. So instead of the confessional how about I tell you a story related to my fear of heights. I don’t think I’ve told this one to most of you, so, here it is. My secret for today is an untold story.

When I was a young svelte 21 year old I was hopping around Arizona on numerous archaeological digs. It was great fun. Adventurous. Everything a young girl in her early twenties wanted out of life. Well sort of. The work was exhausting, I wasn’t making nearly enough money to live on, and I had zero sense of security. This ultimately created the downfall that was my interest in an archaeological career, but that’s beside the point. It was a great time.

I met this guy at the dig. He was interesting to say the least, but this story isn’t about him. Lets just say we had a thing, and he was a trail guide. He took me into a canyon. It was awesome. Great day. But it required a certain amount of fear confrontation.

We had to climb up about 40 feet to get deeper into the canyon. He tied me in and I somehow hauled my ass up those 40 feet without dieing or screaming my head off. I felt awesome! On top of the world! I was superwoman (minus the skimpy clothes, I believe I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.)

We went another several miles into the canyon and then it started getting late, so we turned back. Did you know that if you go up you eventually have to go down? Yeh. Surprised me too. So here we were, the sun was setting in the distance and I had to repel 40 feet into a waterfall to get out of this rugged landscape and back to civilization.

Did I forget to mention the waterfall? Yeh. It sounds cool. In hindsight I would even say it was cool. But tell that to a terrified girl on the edge of a cliff (yes, I would say that 40ft qualifies as a cliff. This is my phobia, I make the rules).

Long story short. I froze. I mean, literally froze. I could not move. He begged, pleaded, yelled, consoled, etc, etc. Hey, I told him I understood the situation and I really did feel for the guy. I mean, it wasn’t like he could throw me over his shoulders and haul me out of there (I don’t care what the romance novels say, this is not a feasible option).

How did we get out? Well he ended up repelling down with me at the same time with some fancy knot tying and barely muffled grumbling. I am pretty sure it wasn’t all that safe, but we got down and made it out of the canyon. It was pitch black by the time we got to the cars, but we were out. And honestly, had I been alone I might still be out there.

What did I learn from this? Well, for one thing, this was the first time I had ever been actually paralyzed by fear. This is a handy thing to know. As a writer I love to describe things like this and I actually know how it feels. Pretty cool I think.

But beyond that I learned that I have weaknesses. I’m not superwoman. There are definitely times I think I am, but these memories remind me that even I have that fear that I can’t push through. Granted, I honestly believe that should it come down to life or death, I could have made that plunge on my own, but I would prefer not to test the theory.

So, yes I learned I have weaknesses. But that’s not the biggest piece I learned. You see, every one has a weakness, it’s no big surprise. But what I had to acknowledge was that it’s ok. I have a debilitating fear of heights. If we’re on a plane together and it’s going down, I am probably not the one to trust to keep it together. But I am ok with that. I am strong in so many other avenues in my life, I think that when it comes to this one, I can be the weakest link.

It takes a lot for me to say and think something like that. But I think I’m ok with that. Maybe I am growing up just a bit.


3 Responses to “Why do you always have to look down??”

  1. […] I am not quite overcome with life stopping fear (the type found a the top of a cliff, see this post to see what I am talking about) but when spotting these nefarious creatures of the urban jungle, I […]

  2. William Kendall said

    I had it once when I was halfway up a fire tower. I must have been eleven or twelve, and I just froze. I couldn’t move, because I was consumed by this fear of falling. Then I forced myself to go up, come back down, go back up, and down, until it was gone. I’ve never felt that since. These days, I’m a rock climber, so I’d be the grumbling guide…

    • I admire anyone that can rock climb. It is one hang up I do with I didn’t have. Especially with my predilection toward hiking in the mountains. But sometimes we just have to live with ourselves. I don’t let it stop me, but I respect it as well.

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