I saw a frightening photo this morning that made me reflect. It was of a woman bravely crossing a suspension bridge. You can see it here. It made me feel queasy and my legs felt weak, just looking at it. I would not be crossing a bridge like that unless I absolutely had to. I’m not confident in my physical ability and although I’m strong and healthy I shy away from anything that challenges me. I was always the last one picked for any team in Gym Class. Everyone knew if a ball came my way I would duck or run away. 

The photo was a metaphor for crossing bridges in life. The caption read, “Because we all need to cross them once in a while”. I have crossed the hardest bridge a person can cross, according to some people. I lost a child. I’ve overcome grief, heartache, loss, anger, and other emotions. I didn’t fall apart. I’ve used my loss to inspire others. I’ve written a book. I work. I’m very confident in crossing the bridges I encounter in life.

When you live through such a devastating experience, you never really move on, like you might from a broken relationship. You live on. You learn to live happily and joyfully because that’s what your loved one would want. None of this makes me tremble in fear like crossing a real, shaky, shifting, high suspension bridge would.

I often think I should challenge myself more in facing other fears. I’m height phobic especially if I can see the ground below, like that bridge or stairs you can see through. I’ve climbed up many times, only to have to sit down while bumping down them once I get too high and remember how terrified I am. I don’t like being in a boat if I can’t see the shore. Cruises never sound fun to me. I get sea sick too so that would be a horrible holiday. I used to think sky diving would be wonderful but you’d have to shove me out of the plane now, even if it was going to crash. Hot air balloons? Nope! Zip lining? Nope! Skiing? Definitely not! I hate the cold too! I think I need to be more brave.

What fears have you overcome?

13 thoughts on “Bridges

  1. You have done well, and no one can fault you for not doing things with which you are extremely uncomfortable. Being autistic, myself, having gone overseas, by myself, was a challenge. I did it, and had a great time. Driving cross-country, by myself, was a challenge, and yet I’ve done it a half-dozen times. Little things, like going to the Observation Deck of the Space Needle, and looking out at the beauty of northwest Washington, from all outside, but enclosed, vantage points, challenged my acrophobia.
    My point is, approach your fears, a bit at a time. The Universe, and Justine, are there for you.

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  2. I think the biggest fear I have overcome is getting on with my life after a breakdown caused anxiety and panic attacks on a daily if not hourly basis. I have managed to curtail and control these so I could get on with my life and be out amongst people without feeling the need to run away. Amazing when you think I have no issue standing in front of a camera!

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    1. I’ve had 4 panic attacks but I haven’t had one in many years. I’m sure you understand that I avoid doing something that scares me in case I have another one. I had one in an elevator when too many people got in and it stopped but I still use elevators (but not if they’re full). I try to not let that rule my life. I think I would freeze in front of a camera but I’ll have to get over that when I promote my book.

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  3. You have such strength within, Cathy. It is true…you have already crossed and are successfully crossing everyday the most challenging ‘bridges’ in life there are. When I consider what you have already overcome, tangible fears such as heights…though seemingly unconquerable…are in reality just molehills compared to the mountains you have already surmounted. So I have no doubt that you can overcome them. 🙂

    Wishing you a blessed day,

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  4. Although I’ve always been comfortable with my own company, my greatest desire was to feel “chosen” – so one of my biggest (unconscious) fears used to be abandonment. I was forced to confront it by an ex-boyfriend who believed he could control people by refusing to engage. One night, after he initiated a discussion but didn’t like my response, he set his jaw and said he was leaving. Young and immature, I responded with, “Walk out that door and we are OVER!” – hoping to control the situation myself.

    Almost as soon as he was gone I started to panic. After several hours, I opened a bottle of wine. (Don’t try this at home). When he was not back by 2AM I began to worry about his safety. By 4AM I was worn out and eerily calm, tho’ more than a bit tipsy. I put myself to bed.

    He had not returned when I opened my eyes the next day, and I had a moment of calm and clarity that stayed with me for the rest of my life. “So that’s IT, huh? That’s the big bogeyman I’ve been afraid of?” He walked back in, sans explanation, later that afternoon, and not long after, we parted ways forever. My choice.

    He began dating someone I knew, and eventually married her. I learned from her that he never stopped that refusing to engage nonsense. He cut off his own father, even sending back Christmas presents after the death of his mother (whom I adored). His wife excused that behavior as “stubborn” – and, although I missed his parents, I couldn’t have been happier to have him out of my life.

    Since that night, multiple decades ago now, I haven’t wanted to spend so much as a nano-second with anyone who wasn’t eager to be with me.

    Other than that, the toughest fear I had to overcome was PTSD after a gang-mugging a few years ago. It left me in a cast for 3 months because my dominant hand had been crushed. I was housebound for much of it because my doctors said I needed to treat myself like glass to avoid the consequences of further injury. Once the icy/snowy streets were safe to walk, I had to force myself to venture outside after twilight or put myself to bed when it was dark outside. I kept taking baby-steps, and now I can calmly walk my dog at night – even after midnight.

    I’m not likely to force myself on scary carnival rides, however. I save the bravery for places where it really matters – like returning to life after losing a child. I can only imagine the emotional fortitude needed to come back from that one – but I have seen it “up close and personal” in the life of a friend whose mentally ill son was murdered by the police a few years back.

    We do what we can – and what we must. Bravery for it’s own sake is a foolish goal, or so it seems to me.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

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    1. Thanks so very much for sharing this. So many of our fears are irrational and since writing this I have decided that I’ve been missing out on much of life. I’m retiring in a year and I’m going to challenge myself to saying “yes” to all requests. My husband is already planning a walk around the CN Tower in Toronto. Yikes!

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