Write about a time when you did something you were afraid to try. How did you feel afterward?
I have been afraid to try lots of things. I still fear snorkeling and scuba diving but I will deep dive without equipment because I trust me, just not equipment. I have no desire to jump out of a plane – I don’t know if that is fear or common sense, but heights have been a problem for me for my entire life. Glass walkways paralyze me. I am way better than I used to be and that is all Murdoch’s fault.
Murdoch was a guy I met when I was 20. I didn’t end up being his cup of tea but he sure was mine. I learned a lot of practical outdoor skills from this guy. We were camp councilors in 1988. That summer was one of the best experiences of my life. I regret not bringing that courage with me into the early 90’s. I eventually got back to it but it did damage my soul. Courage was always in my back pocket, it just took me a while to find it again.
All councilors participated in a leadership training weekend. We all did things that challenged our comfort zones. We each had different demons we needed to face. I was fine with performing and loved it. I was terrified of heights and avoided it. There were a series of Initiative tasks we needed to participate in. A scenario is given and the group needs to problem solve a way to over come it. Getting me over a ten foot wall was one of them. I had fear and shame around my body weight because a boyfriend I had (and eventually married only to divorce his ass immediately) was constantly harping and shaming me about how fat I was. Dude….I WISH I was that fat today. I was thin. I was very muscular and could move a piano. I cycled endlessly and had strong legs. I could paddle up and down the North Saskatchewan river. Was I a size 2? no. I was a size 10. I wasn’t a petite fairy princess, I was a 5’9″ outdoor adventurer. The team I was with accepted me for who I was. They got me over the 10 foot wall – I had baggage and shame about it for a long time but they did it. They were supportive and loved me for me. This is the important part of the story. They loved me for me.
Later that weekend, the final event was the zip line on the ropes course. You had to traverse over a single wire with your safety line firmly in place to get to the platform. In my head it was 100 feet high. I think it was 50 feet high it was likely only 20 feet high. Either way, for someone who was scared her body would let her down, this was a big freakin’ deal. I hid down at the beach so I could avoid it. I was petrified. I watched the fellows build it all spring and I didn’t trust the equipment, more importantly, I believed my boyfriend when he said I was too fat to do anything. I had firm abs for crying out loud. (DON’T LET PEOPLE TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE).
Murdoch found me at the beach and he sat beside me. We were close. Very good friends. I wanted to be his girlfriend but I wasn’t his type. I blamed being fat, but I think it had to do with confidence. I was pretty worried what people thought of me and I was always trying to please everyone. He told me I had to do it. Everyone did. It would be the final decision whether I would stay or go. I wanted to stay. I loved it at camp. I loved how the people made me feel. I felt important and special and most of all, accepted. He promised me he would be beside me every step of the way and help me if I needed it. I reluctantly agreed.
We walked to the ropes course and he strapped me into my harness. I trusted him. Then we climbed up to the traverse. I connected my carabiner and began the slow process of hand over hand. Murdoch was right behind me. My team was on the ground cheering me on. My palms were sweaty, my ears were ringing. All I remember is how shaky my arms and legs were. My fear of falling and not being able to pull myself up was real and deep. I was too heavy to save myself (If I could go back in time and beat the crap out of my boyfriend I would. How dare he treat anyone like that.). I made it to the platform and Murdoch helped switch the carabiner to the zipline. My hands were firmly on the bar that would take me into the tree canopy. Murdoch and the camp leader Brian were kind to me. They could see the fear in my eyes but I made it halfway already so I was less fearful. Brian said, “on the count of three, I want you to jump off the platform. Jamie will catch you on the other side.” I nodded my head and gripped the bar. Murdoch whispered in my ear, “you got this”. Brian started the count, One. And I jumped. It took them by surprise but once I got there I wanted it over with. It ended up being fun but I never did it again. I wasn’t that proud of myself again until I completed my first half marathon. Doing something people tell you can’t do is exhilarating.
I took a lot away from that experience. It wasn’t until I began thinking about leaving my first husband that I got the true benefit from that moment. Courage to do hard things. I am more than what people think I am and most importantly, I am what I think I am. I can do it and don’t bother telling me I can’t because your opinion doesn’t matter.
I have no idea whatever happened to Murdoch. I think about him occasionally and wish for him to have a spectacular life. He made a real difference to me. I hope he is happy and fulfilled. I couldn’t be who I am without him. I am grateful.
What about you? What were you afraid to try? Stay healthy friends!