My sympathetic nervous system stands on the edge of a skyscraper.Toes tucked over the edge, looking around there is no way down. So I keep standing.
My legs hurt and the wind is cold and I’m nineteen years old but still standing on the edge of this tall building wondering if the fall down is worth the hassle or if I should stay up here where the wind makes me shake and the height makes me fear, but my comfort zone extends to the perimeter of this building and not much further.
Suddenly the floorboards shift and my parasympathetic system and my logic and every other part of my brain is below at ground zero bellowing at me to come down. Learning how my brain works and now my brain hurts because suddenly someone is offering me a ladder instead of the fall.
But it is I who feels like a fool because, when you shout danger, I shout where and my toes curl tighter round the edge of the platform to nowhere. But when you shout safety my ears are blocked and the siren has yet to silence itself so the shrill echo in my ear never turns off even when I ask it nicely. Even when I tell it that danger is two thousand miles away; but to no avail my hands are shaking and my heart is beating and my forehead is sweating. My ears have disappeared into my shoulders and my skin picking and hair pulling and finger biting yells for me just in case I forget to say what my body is saying – I am still running and fighting and my adrenaline filled blood fuels the anxiety that makes my world turn round and round and never stop spinning and this nausea is almost winning.
Except just when the load gets almost too much to bear and my feet have made age old grooves in the place I am standing I pick one foot up after the other and begin to reach for the ladder and boy am I glad that it’s here. Now the only thing heavier than the boulder of fear I made myself shoulder is the fatigue that is almost as old as the grooves on the floor.
I lived a lifetime in eighteen years and traveled the world, my world in just eighteen months and now I have seen that there is more than this tiny ledge that I stand upon, so instead of just holding on and hoping that the fear dissipates on its own, I am honing the skills to lower the levels so that my flight mechanism only comes out when there is a real fight. So I can stop double checking and triple checking everything and everyone and every time that the door slams shut or I am caught by surprise I don’t lift off the ground.
It’s time to surround myself with the things I found on my travels that make me happy, that make me feel like the whole world is not on one rooftop, that my story doesn’t stop at the edge of a building because of my fear of ladders.