Two weeks ago I went with our Collide young adults on a retreat. My mom kept the boys, so I had a wonderful time hanging out with adults and not cutting up meat, or sharing my food, or tucking in 3 kids at night. On Saturday, Jason came back for one of Cade's baseball games, and I decided since there will be many baseball games in my future to stay at the retreat and try something new. Thirteen of us went to do the "high ropes." Now I have seen ropes courses before, but never had the opportunity to try it, usually because I wasn't going to pay extra to do it. But I thought I would give it a try.
We walk out there and I look up, WAY UP, and just stare for a bit. Someone asked me what the look was on my face, and I said, "I'm not really sure if I'm afraid of heights or not." So we all get harnessed up and get directions. There are three ways to choose from to get to this platform up in this tree which you then take a zip line off of. One way is a short section where you walk sideways on a "rope", really a steel chord, while holding on to a horizontal rope above you. Another way is a bridge, only the sections of the bridge are separated and move, so you might have to jump from one section to another, or move them together with your feet or walk on the ropes to get to them. The last way was two sections long, one was a huge log at a 45 degree angle that you walk across, and then walk across a rope while grabbing on to vertical ropes hanging down. So people start climbing the poles to do one of the first two ways, but no one is going to the third way, and the camp staffer at that one says he doesn't understand why no one is coming there because its not that bad. Somewhere in my brain, that translates to, "this way is really much easier than it looks, its no problem." So my brave, confident self heads over to the third way, and with much enthusiasm, I say "I'll do it!" as if I have not a care in the world.
I get hooked up to the ropes, and head up the pole to get to the log. As I'm climbing up, I think to myself, "is this the smartest thing I've ever done? Well, no, self, but you can do it! You can do anything you set your mind to!"
As I get to the log, I have to swing myself around the pole to stand on top of the log, and at that point, I realize something about myself. I am indeed afraid of heights! I am not a good judge of distance, so I have no idea how high it is, but let me tell you that when you are standing up there, its REALLY HIGH! I'm supposed to just walk across the log, no problem. But my feet start shaking, I grab on to the rope that is attached to me, but the camp staffer says that's really not going to help, and the easiest way is to walk fast. I bet he's never done it! At this point I am freaking out!
I start walking a very small step at a time, not really a step, more of a scoot. I cannot pick up my feet. I am petrified. I get about halfway across and think, if I don't get off of this log, I am going to pass out or throw up.
So let's try the going fast thing to get it over with. MISTAKE! After a few steps, I fall off! As I'm falling I grab on to the log! And hang on for dear life. Now I know that I'm safe, the staffer guy has me on his rope, and I'm not going to die. At this point though, I think, if I let him drop me off, I'm not getting back up again, but I am not a quitter! So now what. I try to pull myself back up, but I have no arm strength. So I'm just hanging there, upside down on the log. (Whoever had my camera for some reason did not get a picture of this, which I believe, would have been the best picture of the whole thing) About that time, sweet Amy Jennings, yells from the ground, "YOU GAVE BIRTH TO THREE CHILDREN! YOU CAN DO THIS!" And I think, "YES I DID! AND YES I CAN!" And somehow, I swing my legs back up on top of the log. I don't know how I did it. The inner strength of a mom I suppose!
Now I'm really thinking, now what? The staffer says, "just stand up." Again, have you actually done this? So I sit for awhile, and he finally says he's going to pull up on the rope, so I hang on, and stand up. And walk, scoot myself to the middle pole, and grab on for all that I am. I made it!!!
Then I have to do the second section. I did think for a minute that I could ask to be let down, and be done, but I am not a quitter. People were cheering for me, and even though I know they would have understood, I would have been disappointed in myself and embarrassed. I was determined. So I move around to the other side of the pole, only to realize that the first rope you have to grab to start going across the rope, is just out of reach. You cannot hold on to the pole with your right hand and grab the rope with your left. You have to let go of the pole!!!!
My feet start shaking again, and I reach as far left as I can, while holding on the pole as long as possible. I asked Amy to count to 3 so I would let go at 3, but that didn't work. At some point, apparently something took over my body, and I just lunged for it. I don't remember making the decision to do it. I almost fell off at that point, but I hung on, and from then on I focused on a tree across the way, and went from rope to rope.
Everyone says my eyes were closed for part of it, and maybe they were, I honestly don't remember. I just wanted it over as fast as possible! And when I made it to the other pole, I just felt the biggest relief ever! And I held on to that pole with everything I had. Everyone was cheering for me and clapping. It was a great moment.
And then, the zip line. Everyone who had gone on the zip line up to that point, which was a few since I had taken so long, said it was the best part, so much fun. But as I sat down on the platform, I realized I really did not want to do this part. You are basically free falling, and I hate that! That's why I don't ride roller coasters. I told the staffer on the platform she was going to have to push me off, and she said she would scoot me off.
So she counted down, and I think scooted me off. And I thought I was going to die! I hated that part. I think I was tearing up as I flew down the zip line. Luckily it was a short one.
As I came back on it, another staffer held up a rope I was supposed to grab to stop myself, and I must have looked really bad, because he asked if I was going to be able to grab the rope. Somehow I did, and he helped me down. I was shaking and trying not to cry, pale, and dizzy. But I had done it! Accomplished something that I can now say I have done and won't do again, more than likely.
Everyone was saying how proud of me they were, how brave I was. The other staffers had told them that was the hardest option (thanks!). A few people did it after me and said how hard it was and they were amazed how well I did. On and on. I just wanted a nap and a shower!
I have been pondering that experience for a while now. I am frustrated at myself for making the log so hard. I wish I had closed my eyes and pictured myself as an Olympic gymnast on a balance beam and just done it. I realized I never prayed, other than "Oh God, Oh God, Oh Jesus, Oh Jesus!" Technically that was a prayer, I certainly meant it, not taking his name in vain. But why didn't I pray for peace, balance, courage, confidence? Does that say something about my true spirituality that I didn't pray?
When Jason got back, everyone was telling him how proud of me he should be that I finished it. His answer was, "why wouldn't she finish?" I am trying to take that as a compliment, that he knew I was capable. I'm kind of glad he wasn't there. I think I would have been focused on what he thought of me instead of what I thought about myself(that's an ongoing struggle in my life). I needed that for myself, to make me find strength inside myself. I am very proud of the experience. I might do a ropes course again if I had an easier one and didn't have to do the zip line. Or I could just stick to taking pictures.