Learning How to Not Fall

Over the weekend The Square + the amazing Foo went rockclimbing in a big warehouse out in one of the suburbs. It was alright, I guess. I enjoyed the scrambling up a wall, I did. I watched The Fourth Quarter zip up walls like a spider, and listened to The Second Quarter talk about his knee, and the physics of such things. The Third Quarter + Foo did lots of cheering, and there was a good time had by all, I think.

Well, mostly good. I dislike falling. I dislike swift downward motions, and I dislike them with a passion. I do not mind heights, it's the falling part I don't like. So, I climbed down every wall I climbed up. The instructor showed Foo how to belay my odd request, and part of the agreement of my climbing down was that only Foo would belay me. She was amazing, and agreed.

I enjoyed the climbing up. Reaching for the next handhold and pushing myself up with my legs. Going up was no problem. The climbing down was harder, holding myself to the wall with my arms as I slowly lowered myself to the ground. I was careful, too. If going up I could see I would have difficulties climbing down I'd stop. And that was fine. I didn't make it to the top of some of the climbs but I was happy with that.

After a few hours of climbing I think I got a bit over-confident. And I climbed up a wall that I couldn't climb down. The hand holds were awkwardly placed, and they weren't overly generous. My hand slipped from one, and I got a fright. I knew at that point I wanted to get down, but after a moment of scrabbling around it became very clear that there was no easy way down. I was stuck, and I couldn't see how to get myself down.

I hate panic attacks. Your heart beats so fast and hard it feels like it could beat itself out of your chest. You can't breath, you can't think (everything is happening so fast), you tense your muscles and everything just condenses down to pure panic.

Not exactly what you want to experience as your clinging to a climbing wall several metres above the ground.

What yanked me out of it was that the instructor guy came over and told me not to hang on the drawers (caribeenas attached to the wall). He asked if I was okay and I let out a small 'no'. I was pretty impressed with myself that what didn't come out of my mouth instead was the quick continuous string of four letter words that was running through my head on repeat, and I think it was that more than anything the allowed me to find the next hand hold down. And then the next one. And then the next one. And the next one, till I was safe on the ground.

Getting to the ground was almost as bad. Once I was down I wanted out of the belay system immediately. I wanted to cry and I was still panicking a little. Instead I bit my tongue, held on tight to the front of my harness and walked away from the wall. This was obviously written all over my face because the instructor told me that I had good composure. I walked away after that. I watched the other quarters clamber up walls and held onto tight to my harness safe on the ground.

These panic attacks aren't a rational thing. I know that I was safe, attached to the harness system with the amazing Foo on the other end. I know that even if I had fallen, I wasn't in any danger, that everything would have been fine. And that's cool, but that's all post the falling part. I don't know why I don't like falling. I don't know why I don't like it. Other than I don't, and when something happens, a panic attack is likely. It's not a rational thing, and I was pretty annoyed at myself afterwards (also probably not a rational thing).

Still, it was awesome to hang out with The Square + Foo, and even the climbing was awesome. It was only really the last climb that I had any issues with. Today my muscles hurt, the muscles in my arms and legs and even some of the small muscles in my hands. I think I'd go again. It was pretty cool, though I'm pretty sure I'd avoid the harder climbs. Panic attacks? They are not awesome. Rock-climbing though? Totally is. :)