With the easing of lockdown restrictions, I took the opportunity to catch up with a friend and meet the newest addition to her family. Unfortunately for me, I had to travel over the West Gate Bridge to get to the meet-up destination.
For those unfamiliar with Melbourne, the West Gate Bridge is the fifth-longest bridge in Australia at 2.6 kilometres, has ten lanes (5 inbound, 5 outbound) and sits 58 metres over a large river.
As I have an intense fear of heights, possibly a phobia, driving over this bridge had me shitting bricks. Instinctively, my hands were gripping the steering well for dear life. I felt nauseous and dizzy, my stomach was roiling and I was trembling in fear the whole trip across.
Rationally, I know the likelihood of unintentionally driving off a bridge is zilch. It’s even more absurd to think that a truck could bash into my car and push it over the steel safety barriers. Yet, it didn’t stop my anxiety from escalating and delusional fears from surfacing.
The drive had me thinking that perhaps I had let this phobia get a hold of me. It was a stupid bridge, albeit 58 metres above water, but it was nothing compared to some of the things I’ve pushed through before.
Some years ago, my husband and I travelled to Queenstown in New Zealand for our honeymoon, wanting to experience extreme sport and outdoor activities. Being an adrenaline junkie with little fears, Queenstown suited my husband perfectly. For me, who preferred sedate and sedentary activities, this was the jumpstart to being more active.
We did jet boating at high-speeds through rocky gorges. We went skiing on the beautiful white snow of Coronet Peak. We cruised on Milford Sound and were amazed by the majestic mountains and gorgeous natural surrounds. We zoomed down 1.6 kilometres of Skyline Luge tracks. I even sat on the bottom of a gondola that hovered 450 metres above ground… with my eyes closed the whole time. The buffet at the top was worth it!
But it wasn’t until we did the bungy jumping and swings that my fear of heights swallowed me whole. My legs were shaking before I even set foot on Kawarau Bridge. I remember it vividly; the chokehold of fear, looking down at the waters below. I remember the man telling me to dive and just feel the moment. I also remember wanting to back out but my ego not letting me.
So I jump. Yeah, you read correctly. I didn’t dive. I cannonballed off the ledge. Can you guess what happened? It was a bungy jumping fail of spectacular proportions. As the cord recoiled, I ended up pinging up and down like a pogo stick for what seemed like forever. I felt sorry for the dudes given the task to reign me in. I kept missing the stick that one of the guys held out for me to grab and more than once, he overbalanced trying in vain to end our collective misery.
There were many MANY people on the sidelines that video recorded my epic bungy jumping fail. It probably went viral – look up ‘crazy Asian girl does epic bungy fail’ or something like that. My husband was so amused that he insisted we pay the exorbitant fees for the video and photos. In fact, he purchased the most expensive package so we would have digital evidence for our grandkids and their grandkids to have for laughs.
So really, what’s one small bridge when I’ve conquered that, right? Next time I drive over the West Gate Bridge, I need to remind myself that I’ve faced worse and survived. I even have video evidence if I ever need a reminder.
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