My first skydive was a tandem with Neels van der Walt on June 6, 2011. My dear friend Gina went with me for I had never jumped from an airplane before and well, she jumped from an airplane by herself. I was extremely excited to do the jump, obviously nervous, but not admitting my anxiety. I simply wanted to experience the experience.
Once the door flew open at 10,500 feet, my brain pretty much shut down. I then thought to myself, I’m fucking crazy. This is insane. When asked if I was ready, I simply nodded, because my brain was on auto-pilot.
The step onto the strut caused a little yelp from me, and then I proceeded to scream during the entire free-fall. I also completely forgot to arch and get into a stable position. Neels actually had to pull my hand off of my harness so that I went into a somewhat stable position.
Once the chute opened, I could not believe what I had actually done. If I was not being recorded I would have screamed a lot more and would have let a few expletives fly
The canopy ride was simply fantastic. Unfortunately my stomach turned every time we did a steep dive, but I did get to pull the toggles and do some turns. Only now do I realize what baby turns they were!
I landed, and did not stop smiling and talking about it for DAYS!
A month later I finally called back to the Drop Zone and asked about the tandem progression, and working with Neels. Since Gina and I went on a Monday, there weren’t many other people there, only Neels and Gary. Since I had worked with Neels and trusted him I wanted to continue working with him as opposed to signing up to work with someone else who I had never met. Only now do I realize that I really had a few different issues to work through. Wait, did I say a few, I meant to say a LOT, never mind the fact that the issues cover a wide range!
Let’s see, first was the excess weight I was carrying around; affects of not dealing well with dad’s diagnosis and stresses of work for the last 8 months.
Second ties in very much so with the first, and that is the lack of physical ability on my part. I had no strength and my body fatigued very easily.
Third is the fear of not being in control, the fear of heights and the fear of being part of some horrific incident. I continue to be amazed at how our brains so easily turn to mush when watching tv for hours on end, and how society gets sucked into the news reels which typically spotlight events with a tragic ending.
Lastly is my realization that the last time I did any type of sport with coaching was a traumatic experience. I think back to the situation and if it occurred today, people would have been disciplined for bullying. Being the victim of a group of middle school girl bullies in which the coach did nothing is not an experience people want to live through. Strong, self assured people, or bullies themselves can scoff at this remark, but bullying does happen, and it can and does have a lasting affect on people. Being bullied: Being told practice was cancelled, when it wasn’t. Being yelled at by teammates for missing a simple basket. Being screamed at in the locker room and blamed for losing the game. Being ‘pantsed’ in front of the entire team during drills. Being bullied. Being in small town rural America where my class size was 10, with 8 girls and 2 boys. I always knew that this awful bullying experience left its mark, but only now do I realize just how much. I am working with a coach, and am being watched by others. It is hard to not believe that I’m being critiqued by others during the exit, the free fall, the canopy ride and the landing, never mind the feeling of failure as I’m being watched and mess up.
Our minds are a fascinating thing. I realized that part of my problem with the skydives was the bullying after affects, and the fact that I have not truly participated in any type of sport since I was bullied in middle school. Now that I’m 42, I think it’s time to combat these fears one by one, work through them and enjoy the feeling of living life to the fullest. After all, how much more alive can I feel than when I am in free fall with friends, practicing maneuvers, and looking above, below and around at the fantastic vast creation we are a part of!
Life is good
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