This past weekend I went on a short camping trip with my husband in Quebec at the Grands Jardins National Park. Aaron was going to join a two week french immersion program through Western University. We were just going to have a relaxing few days up in the mountains before he started school, reading books, hiking and sitting by the campfire. However, we decided to sign up for the Via Ferrata. We chose the 3.5 hour “beginner” course since heights are one of my fears. But I was eager to face that fear!
For those of you that know me, know that I have been dealing with some health issues over the last 15 years. For those that don’t know me, that’s a story for another time if I haven’t written about it already. However, this summer after getting help from my family doctor, rheumatologist and naturopathic doctor, I feel better than I’ve felt in a very long time! There were some days where I had a very difficult time walking and moving my arms. So to do something like rock climbing, was a pretty far reach. Physically and mentally!
We really thought it might be 30 maybe 40 feet high, maybe a bit more. It was a course that kids could handle! Boy, were we wrong!! We were up at about 720 meters at one point. I have to say, I handled it way better than I thought! After about 5 mins. I said to Aaron that I thought we were in the wrong group. I mean we must have been! He half jokingly, half serious asked our guide. Nope. We were assured we were on the right course. The intermediate group did about 1/2 – 3/4 of the course we were on and then continued up higher. Regardless, we were on that rock and I had no where to go but up!
There were moments of total fear, some excitement, so much concentration that I didn’t realize how far I had gotten until a real tricky spot came up, negative self talk about what would happen to our kids if we both fell and died (but that was short lived – I managed to shove those thoughts aside pretty quickly), along with lots of smiles, laughs and wtf did we get ourselves into faces! Thank god Aaron was with me to encourage me. Between him and our guide, I had this! It was one of the most frightening, yet rewarding experiences of all time! The view was spectacular and I was able to be very proud of what I had just accomplished. It’s pretty hard to put it in to words.
I know that we encourage our kids to face their fears all of the time. But when do we ever show them that we can do it too? I don’t know how many times we’ve worked with Gracie over her fear of spiders, or friendships, or math, etc. etc. All these years, pushing her, encouraging her, yet I hadn’t faced a single fear of my own. I didn’t realize the thought process and different ways we handle ourselves when under pressure. But I can now say, it’s not as easy as it seems. The great thing is, it can be done and the gratification you get when facing something terrifying is pretty powerful. It doesn’t matter how they face what scares them the most, as long as they have our support, guidance and encouragement. Take it step by step, at the pace they feel comfortable with. It may be a very long process. But it is so worth it at the end!
If your child has some serious worries/fears, give this book a try! It has some great strategies! It uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for kids and is very visual and interactive.