Saturday, September 29, 2012

Go Jump off a Cliff!

Seriously... Do it!
If you are anything like me, you will shake, almost cry, freak out, get over it (the edge and the fear) then cruise to the bottom, because you don't know how to stop!  
If you haven't guessed yet, today I went abseiling. 
This is not me - I didn't have my camera when doing it...
The last time I did it was approximately 29 years ago, at Form 1 camp ( I think - my memory isn't what it used to be, but it was about then) same age as my eldest daughter is now.  
If I had been like she is, I would have wholeheartedly thrown myself into the challenge and tackled the fear head on, but no.. I avoided it, cried, tried to quit, and eventually realised that they were not going to let us out of it, so I did it... and from what I remember I actually enjoyed it. 

For years I have said that I'd like to do it again, but it took until today to make it happen.   A few weeks ago I saw a scoopon deal for abseiling (with instruction  for $19 (normally $39) and with only a few hours to grab the deal, I bit the bullet.  Well ok, I first had to coerce another crazy fool to come with me... Cass agreed, and we booked in with RiverLife to walk over the edge of a cliff at Kangaroo Point.

I need to point out that I have a fear of heights, actually that is not technically correct, I actually have a fear of edges... that fear gets worse the higher I get, but essentially I don't like edges even a foot off the ground.
My children enjoy torturing me when we walk to the end of piers or jetties, when I walk smack down the middle, don't go near the edge, and freak out when they do.  If I get to the edge, I get vertigo, get shaky... you get the picture. So why oh why am I now going to lower myself over the edge of a cliff?... Feel the fear, and do it anyway.  My new mantra to make sure that I no longer deprive myself of experiences, just because I'm scared.

So today was the day, we travelled over an hour by train and foot to get there, and we were surprisingly calm, even after climbing the hundreds of butt-screaming stairs to get to the top of the cliff, and still when standing at the top of the cliff with harnesses and hardhats on.  We learn how to hold the rope behind our backs as the brake, and to bring it out to the side for the accelerator...seems simple enough.
We split into two groups and we watch the first girl go (first timer, a little nervous, but no problems). Then we turn around to see the other group with the first guy over the edge with his feet i the air!  How the hell...? Oh great, this does not instil great confidence.

Anyway back to my group, 2nd one to go, a cocky know-it-all guy who has obviously done it before leapt of the edge and was at the bottom in seconds flat... shit, that means my turn is closer.  Next guy goes, newbie, no probs.
Next girl, she's nervous... phew, I think... I will be better than that, I don't even feel nervous. 
Then its Cass's turn. I watch her heart rate monitor jump from 94 to 140 in the seconds when she climbs over the railing and walks out to the edge (Safety harness attached of course). 

She looks anxious, a bit grey in the face, and she looks at me with a look to say "you got me into this"... and over the edge she goes.

Oh god, now its me. Stepping over the railing, and out to the edge was hard. I held on tight, and Proud (the instructor - yep thats his name) could obviously see i was already struggling.  He reminded me to breathe, reminded me that I was attached to him, and that he had the other rope that could take control if necessary. "Now just slowly walk backwards towards the edge"... Shuffle, shuffle... I'm staunch, I can do this...."bit more, bit more, lean back, right on your toes, bit more"... Oh God, this rope won't hold me, I'm going to slip and fall face first into the rock... I looked him in the eye, and said "I'm Scared". 
Then I leaned back, lowered my butt until i was almost horizontal.  That is by far the hardest part, having to let all your weight go on that rope. I stopped thinking and just listened to his instructions, and "there you go" he said,  "Rock and Roll", one step then another.

But I did have my camera after and took this shot afterwards

Once I got moving it was actually quite easy, but halfway down I realised that no matter how hard i squeezed that rope, and tried to pull it behind my back to brake and slow down, I couldn't get my arm back there. I wasn't going too fast, but a part of me wanted to stop for a second and refocus, but because I couldn't figure out how to stop, I decided to just go with it, and actually started pushing off the wall and swinging out a bit, like what the real abseilers do... yeah, yeah, I probably felt like that, when in reality it probably wasn't like that at all. 

And there I was, at the bottom. Only seconds after finally getting over the edge, I was at the bottom. 
The muscles in my right arm were screaming, from the intense grip I had been using, and my legs were shaking, but most of all the feeling of 'I did it and I did it without a fuss' was enveloping me, and I was so proud of myself. 

We could have climbed the stairs for another go, but both Cass and I agreed that once was enough. It was far scarier than I expected, and I still did it. 
Now, 8 hours later, I'm wishing I had had that second go... isn't hindsight wonderful, and just like with childbirth, I've forgotten that terror I felt, and looking forward to the next time. 

Anyway, while there are a lot of the goals that I set earlier in the year that I haven't achieved, I can proudly say that I have achieved this one. 
And you know what... if my Mother now says "If all your friends were jumping of a cliff, would you?"... I would probably say "YES!!"

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