Until last month, I didn’t like roller coasters. It’s actually a bit of an understatement to say that I didn’t like them. More accurately, I was terrified of them. Absolutely petrified. I could do little ones like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. There are no drops and it’s pretty tame. But anything bigger was too much. The feeling of falling sent me into a panic and it actually felt like I was in a nightmare.
I think this had a lot to do with a loss of control. When you grow up with no security and no feeling of safety, you tend to try to create safety in any way you can. At least I did. I wrote out schedules for myself for summer vacation as soon as I could write, because it made me feel safer. And I certainly stayed away from roller coasters.
But in May, I got tricked into going on my first real roller coaster. Not tricked, exactly, because people have tried the same tactics on me many times before and I would never budge. But this time I was ready. I was terrified, but I was ready. I screamed the whole time, I think I yelled about how I wanted to get off and I hated it, and I kept my eyes closed. But I loved it. And I went again. And I’ve been on other roller coasters since.
Somehow, the terrifying aspect of it changed and began to feel freeing. I don’t know why this would be. I could see how something terrifying could become exhilarating, or addicting – and those two things are also true – but it felt freeing. The fear was still there, but it was manageable and didn’t rule me any more. I felt like I could fly.