There are two different types of fears: rational and irrational. Therapists will tell you that in some cases in order to lessen the fear or conquer the fear or make it have less of a hold on your life that you have face your fear. Everyone has something they fear. What strikes sheer horror in one person may make someone else smile. That is the tricky part of irrational fears not only do they not make sense but you may not have support from others with your fear. Here is an example: my sister does not like spiders... like REALLY does not like spiders. If she sees one and does not kill it she wonders where it has gone and if it will be crawling across her in the middle of the night. On the other hand, I have picked some spiders up and moved them by hand to outside my home. Big spiders or "hoppy" spiders, well I do need to squish those... but only those large tarantulas strike terror in me at the thought of them leaving their cages in pet stores.
For me, I have fears that cause me to tremble. And much like my peace with spiders while others fear them, I fear heights -- my knees tremble, my pulse races and my heart pounds so hard I think I can see my shirt move with every beat. I feel that way when I am only one story high! You can only imagine the terror I feel when I am 200+ in the air. This is what makes it to amazing that I faced this fear this year. I not only faced it once but 3 times. I am not by any means over it and I would not by any means say that I have lessoned it by large amounts. I am still like a vampire running from day light when I have to go high up -- wanting to run as far away as I can from the heights as I can.
This summer my family went to Cedar Point many times. My fear of heights makes going there a little challenging at times. I look at some of these roller coasters and I think to myself how they look like so much fun but I look at that first hill -- that mountain holding people up so high with so little protection around them and I cringe. I remember being on the Magnum as a teen and crying at the top of the first hill... well I was not even at the top, it took so long to get there I started crying half way up! I can handle corkscrew and blue streak... I think many people would call them "baby coasters". They only send mild palpitations and I have more fun on them than terror. This is why I know if I could just get over that first hill I would probably enjoy others. I stand at the bottom of them looking up just wishing I had enough in me to get on and enjoy it. Iron Dragon is not a huge coaster, but the swinging of the cars... oh the swinging -- I feel like an eagle has picked me up and is taking me to her nest. I am not fond of that feeling but I can tolerate it for those that want to ride it with me.
There are two coasters that made me want to give them a try. Both of them are floorless. Now, this is a big deal -- a REALLY big deal. You see the first thing I do when going down a big hill is brace my feet on the floor... HARD! Riding a coaster that is high AND has no floor... well that is a recipe for terror unlike any other. It is with this in mind that I tell you that not only rode but also enjoy the Gatekeeper. It is one of my new favorite rides. No, I do not think it will be easy for me to just jump on it each time I go but after having ridden it twice now (once in the day and once at night) I can say that I know I can do it and if someone were to want to ride it with me I could do it. I am certainly not ready for the front car and I may never be but I know I can do this.
All summer I have looked up at the Raptor and thought that I would like to give it a try. Each time I walked up to the entry I would look up and feel that intense pounding in my chest. I would use a 20+ minute wait as an excuse not to ride. But on our last trip this year the line was only about 10 minutes and I knew it was now or not at all this year. I went up and each step forward put another level of intensity to the pounding in my chest. My hands began to sweat and thoughts of turning back continued. Since my husband can't ride due to motion sickness and my kids are too afraid to ride with me I felt so alone in line. With no one to talk with my mind focuses only on the impending trip up followed by the steep drop down. To take my mind off of it I try to listen in to the conversation of the kids in front of me. I watch the little questions go by on the screens that I pass... Anything to stop thinking about what I am going to be doing in a few short minutes. I start to climb the stairs that lead to the boarding platform. The pounding is so intense now that I think I will just walk by the seat when they say I can board and not ride after all. I go through the turnstile and look at the options for seating. NOT the front seat... Ah if I ride in the very last seat I can get on the next car and get this over with.
Still uncertain if I am just going to walk through or if I am going to sit on the seat the gate swings open. The two people in front of me are an older couple. In line I had been praying that God keep me safe and that I would be able to do this to show the kids that I can face my fears (like I ask them to do). I finally sit in the seat next to the woman and lean my head back. She asks me if I am ok. I tell her "Yeah, I am just scared." She smiles warmly and says "You'll be ok, I will pray for you." Did I just hear that right? She offered to pray for me? I thank her and said my daughter was doing the same. We are now climbing the first hill. I still feel my heart pounding but I am strangely at peace. Soon we are zooming and swooshing around. I can't tell when I am upside-down and when I am right-side-up since, unlike the gatekeeper, I can't see what is going to happen ahead of me... We come to that sudden stop and my head feels like it is still going. The lady next to me asks how I did. I tell her that I survived and it is just that I am afraid of heights. She tells me that she is also afraid of heights but she just prays and she makes it through. Wow... God met me right where I needed Him to... Just like He says He will... It was amazing to have a complete stranger there praying for me on the ride.
Now, I did not like the raptor too much. Not being able to see what was coming was not so cool... when we stopped my head felt like I was still going. But, I can say I rode the Raptor. I can say I rode the Gatekeeper and you might just find me on that one again. But, you can bet I will be praying in line and all the way up. I am not sure if you will ever find me on the Top Thrill Dragster (appalled that there are not shoulder harnesses) but I will slowly face those things that scare me... next stop on the facing fears train... my son is getting a pet snake... I think I would rather ride Top Thrill...