As some of you may know, I was introduced to indoor climbing by my good friend Sunniva from The Kitchen Mechanic and I have to say from the moment I put my hands and feet onto the wall, I was hooked. What I found interesting was that I was under the impression I was terrified of heights. Turned out when on a wall, I wasn’t, which was nice to know.
So I went off and did a climbing course so that I was allowed to belay and to ensure I understood the safety aspects of climbing. I enjoyed the course and couldn’t wait to get on the wall again.
I met up with Sunniva and her husband and we all did a bit of climbing and belaying. However, during one of my turns to belay, I made a mistake which caused her husband to fall from the wall. At this point, all you need to do is pull down on the rope and it locks off and they stop falling. Depending on the weight of the climber, the belayer may get lifted off the ground. Again, all they then need to do is put their foot out when they get near enough to the wall and all is well.
However, to me, getting lifted off the ground was not a natural sensation and my instincts kicked in. Sadly those instincts aren’t to pull down on the rope. Instead, I grabbed the top bit of the rope, which was running away from me at some speed. This of course burned my hand which in turn made me pull my hand away. The husband kept coming down. Thankfully an instructor happened to be standing next to me and grabbed the tail of the rope and lock it off, meaning no-one hit the ground.
I left after that. I was really shaken and couldn’t help but think what might have happened had the instructor not been there. They normally aren’t. What was worse is minus the mistake I made (which isn’t the only reason someone might fall), everything that happened was a natural instinct on my part. That made me wonder if I was cut out for climbing. I never, ever, wanted to endanger someone else’s health. No way.
So I didn’t go back. I kept turning down invites saying I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Eventually I was persuaded to go back, but this time the aim was for me to become comfortable with belaying. This took the form of my friend climbing up the wall, then jumping off. I was lifted off the ground a few times and I soon realised that it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t terrible. However, despite me beginning to get used to it, I was still really uncomfortable with it as every instinct was screaming at me saying “no! this is bad!”. I explained this to my friend, saying that I was really quite scared of this and that it was making me really uncomfortable, but, I wanted to overcome it and be able to climb. She pointed out that I should use that as a metaphor for life. How right she was.
So that leads me on to all of you out there who are parents, and I suppose even those that aren’t. We all know that at points we will need to help our kids to push through fears and maybe even explain that sometimes you have to do things that scare you in order to get the benefits.
However, when was the last time you really did something that scared you? I don’t mean something that you found hard work, but something that really made you want to run away, made you shake with nerves and just want to be somewhere else?
From experience, I have to say it is exhilarating to deal with a situation like that and come out the other side a stronger person. This can only be a good thing for parents and will allow us to pass these experience on to our children.
So a big thank you to Sunniva for forcing me to face this fear.
P.S. I’m still not 100% ready to belay lots of different people, but I think a few more sessions of Sunniva jumping off the wall and me learning the ropes (literally), I think I’ll get there.