I’m afraid of heights. I have been completely frozen on the top of a ladder. I stand back from windows in a tall building and the idea of skydiving is sheer terror to me. Strangely enough, I love roller coasters and I don’t mind flying. I think the security in being seated helps combat the fear of free fall. I guess it’s not actually the height that I’m afraid of, more so the impact of the landing. Maybe, subconsciously, my fear of falling kept my height to 5’6’.
Flying has always been a mixed carry-on bag. It’s a good thing it’s invisible or I’d probably be charged for extra luggage. Flying puts me high out of my comfort zone. I’ve always worried that something will go wrong with the plane. I’d say that is normal but losing Clayton has created a new set of in-flight fears as I fly through my day. I fear what happens to others when I’m up on the plane.
Let’s start this share but stating that I don’t let these thoughts completely control me. Some days the have a tighter grip but I know that they are irrational most of time. That being said, it is normal to have new thoughts, fears and feelings after your loss. Going through a trauma creates an immense new space like a giant galaxy of grief. Light-years between things and you never know what you’ll discover. Black holes of bereavement, planets full of potential, confusion causing comets, and intergalactic emotional explosions that continuously generate more room to grow. So as long as you control yourself in space, you’ll be able to steer yourself through the stars.
Clayton and my father passed away in their sleep. I have fear first thing in the morning that I’ll learn someone I love didn’t wake up. Up 30,000ft, holds a similar fear. Yes I know there is in-flight WIFI but messages may not come through and, if they do, I’m still stuck on the plane trapped with no escape. So I keep my phone on airplane mode and beg that when we land there’s no sudden life-crashing message.
Three years ago, in-flight fear was very real for me. The second year after losing Clayton and the need to escape my reality over shadowed my fears of flying. I had 13 trips in one year and was feeling freer than ever. Always something to do meant I didn’t have to be in that empty apartment until suddenly the world came to a stop. For my third widowed year, I was trapped in the place I feared the most. No escape from myself, my thoughts or my grief but hindsight is truly 20/20. Not that I would say the world shutting down was a blessing but it certainly forced me to focus on myself. Life was on airplane mode for an undetermined time so all I had was me.
The man afraid of flying was now grounded indefinitely with no choice but to walk my path I was avoiding. The road was rocky at first but since smoothed out as I kept moving forward and paving my own way. Earthbound, I stopped running and had to take root. I watered the grass where it was planted and it has begun to turn a bright shade of green. I poured into myself all the things necessary and after 3.5 years, I stand much taller than I ever knew I could. Focusing on my fears has taught me how to flip them and where grief once prevailed there now lives gratitude. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I can’t waste away in worry. The start of this widowed journey began with one single step. Now I’m able to run, jump and spread my wings again. I want to experience adventures, be in love and be a light for others. There’s too much power in possibility to stay terrified in the terminal. Time to take to the skies without the weight of in-flight fears.