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During a recent family vacation to an amusement park, we discovered that our youngest son loves roller coasters. Like a true adrenaline junky! We visited the park on two different days, and the highlight of both visits was the roller coasters.
While my husband and son enjoyed the rides, I was the designated backpack holder and cell phone keeper because I hate roller coasters. In fact, hate seems too mild to describe my feelings. Under no uncertain terms do I enjoy going uber fast, compounded by steep and unexpected drops, sudden, jerky movements, and/or being flung upside down. No thank you!
In spite of my aversion, I agreed to ONE ride. It was a family vacation after all, so I agreed to give it one try. It was the worst two minutes of my life. Afterwards, we walked around the park for an entire hour before I spoke a single word to my husband or my son. Did I mention that I hate roller coasters?
Later on that the evening, my husband asked me a question that really got me thinking: why do you hate roller coasters so much? And I really had to think about it. I can’t recall a bad experience or anything traumatic related to roller coasters. I don’t even know when or how I decided I don’t like them; I just don’t. I was stumped.
Since I couldn’t come up with a why, I started thinking about the way I feel on roller coasters. And that is when I had my “AH-HAH” moment. It’s the physical sensation that I dislike. It starts in the pit of my stomach. It’s a tightening deep in my belly, where my insides constrict. The feeling slowly spreads, moving up through my stomach, creeping upwards towards my chest. Next comes the sensation of being restricted, a literal squeezing that extends from my lower belly up through my chest cavity that grips me.
It is paralyzing.
It is oddly familiar.
It is fear.
So here’s my truth: I don’t like roller coasters because they are a physical manifestation of fear.