24 - Fear, and love on the beach
I had intended to take a couple of weeks off from writing this blog while I attend to preparations for Isle of Wight Open Studios (16th – 26th July) and the virtual exhibition Arabesque in which I have ten oil paintings as a member of Artikinesis (throughout July, access via the ARABESQUE EXHIBITION page tab of this website), both of which have kept me indoors more than usual. Oh, and I forgot to mention I'm also getting ready an exhibition based on this blog and the artworks it has spawned, coming up in mid-July in Ryde.
So I really needed a walk today, but I’ve mentioned in previous posts that actually getting out the door isn’t always easy, especially when I haven’t been out walking for the best part of a week. Eeek. I suddenly remembered a video I’d come across yesterday made by an EFT guru named Georgina Noel (EFT stands for emotional freedom technique, which was all news to me). It involves tapping certain chakra points, and uttering affirming thoughts and releasing positive energy at the same time. So, before I tackled the hurdle of opening the front door and stepping outside into the wide world, it occurred to me to give this tapping lark a whirl. Feet flat on floor as instructed, I tapped positivity into myself and left the house feeling great. As I swung my arms I remembered being impressed by a simile the chakra guru had used. She said that often we tend to dwell on negatives and, if we imagined our positive and negative thoughts to be like our arms, the more we practise either of them, the better toned they will become, so if you always tell yourself negative thoughts, your confidence arm would be as thin as a noodle, and your negative arm would be strong and muscular. Today I was going to flex my confidence biceps and work up some strength in that little noodle. I swung my noodle arm bravely as I strode along. On the beach, I recorded the amicable chatter between a couple of black-headed gulls who had caught my attention with some extraordinary behaviour. I watched fascinated by their wonderful and perfectly synchronised sedate walking and worm-pecking dance, swerving back and forth in perfect time with one another on the shoreline. I was still feeling great when I came to a decision point. I could carry on up the beach, take the middle way which was the sea wall, or the very safe higher path above it, my usual choice. The sea wall, casually cycled and jogged by so many, is my danger zone as I suffer from vertigo. But today I’d tapped my chakras, and the positive energy was flowing through me like never before. What could possibly go wrong? I took the middle route. I kind-of had to. I felt great. I knew I could do this. The noodle arm was building up some fine muscles, swinging confidently as I marched along the sea wall. I even stopped to look at the view and take a photo. A couple of people wading out into the water with metal detectors, someone out on a paddleboard in the distance, the sand bar so long at low tide today that there were people walking right out into the middle of the Solent on it. I was three-quarters of the way along, my little noodle arm swinging bravely, and a curve in the wall was coming up. I think it was that curve that did it. I suppose the illusion was that I was stepping out into thin air, as I couldn’t see the path beyond. Suddenly everything failed. I couldn’t go on, I was completely terror stricken, all I could do was to press myself against the wall as far as possible from the edge and the open drop onto the beach below. I couldn’t move. I stretched my arms upwards and clung to the lip of the wall, crucified with fear. I inched along a bit talking positivity to myself but had to stop. My head was dizzy, I began to tremble and my heart was pumping like mad. I was in the middle of a giant panic attack and the yawning chasm behind me was sucking me irresistibly towards it. I prayed someone would come along to just stand between me and that gap. But it was evening, and the weather was dull, and nobody came for what seemed like an eternity. Then someone walked round the bend. I must have looked bonkers, face flat against the wall and clinging on to the top of it above my head. But in typically British fashion, the person lowered their gaze and pretended to have noticed nothing and made as if to walk on. “Would you mind very much walking with me to the nearest steps?” I asked. Somewhat confused, the stranger hesitated before agreeing. I inched back the way I'd come, trying to explain what it was that had me glued to the wall like this. It was only a few yards to go and my hero chattered sympathetically about how awful phobias and panic attacks are. Little by little I edged my way still flat against the wall until I was able to bound up the steps to safety, thanking my rescuer profusely. “Don’t do that again!” they said.
Would I? I’ve done it before…
If you aren't already subscribed and would like to keep up to date with new posts, please put an e-mail address in the blue form. Scroll right down to the comments box if you'd like to say something.