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Oct 02

My Fear? Flying!

I know it’s completely irrational.  I’ve heard a million times that I’m safer in a plane then in my car.  I know all the statistics of air travel and even know a few pilots.  I’m still afraid.  That’s why it’s called an irrational fear.  When I sit on a plane and buckle my seatbelt I feel sick and nervous and very out of control.  I plug my ears, put my head in my lap and recite Hail Mary’s as we speed down the runway for take off.  Just writing this, I have a nervous stomach.  I’m that afraid.

This is how safe I feel on a plane.

This is how safe I feel on a plane.

I’m not sure how this all started.  I’ve been flying since I was about five years old.  Every year my family and I would fly to Florida to visit my grandparents and I thought the flight was part of the fun.  Right after college I moved out to California and would take trips back and forth across the country and I had a few rough ones.  I think that’s when it all began but I’m still not sure why.  I know it had nothing to do with 9/11 since I was freaked out before then. I actually flew from DC to San Diego on September 9th that year.  Yep.  I ended up taking a bus and then a car home to Connecticut.  It took four days.  Even if flying home had been an option at that point, you could’ve have dragged me onto a plane.  So, I guess it didn’t help.

These days I need Xanax and a stiff drink to fly.  I’ve held the hands of complete strangers during “rough” flights.  I put rough in quotes because pretty much anytime it’s not a perfectly smooth ride, I think it’s rough.  If the captain comes on and tells the stewardesses to take their seats I have a freakin conniption fit.  The first time I flew with my husband he asked me if I had a cattle prod under my ass since I was jumping at every little bump.  It’s not pretty.  I usually tell warn the person sitting next to me that I’m a freak and if you see me hysterically crying and sweating if there’s some turbulence, just ignore me because I’m insane a bad flyer.

I DID NOT see this movie.

I DID NOT see this movie.

Then we planned a trip to Disney World with the kids.  Shit.  I was determined to not have them see me afraid to fly.  There are lots of things I want to pass onto my kids.  Being a nutcase is not one of them.  I also couldn’t take my meds because they make me fall asleep for hours.  I was actually in favor of this but the hubs was not.  This left me with one option.  Suck it up and act like every other rational passenger.

RIGHT!

RIGHT!

The day of the trip came and I think my husband was more nervous then me.  After all, he had seen me lose my shit on countless flights when I was ON my meds.  We also had to take two different flights en route to Florida which of course is not good when you’re praying your way though take-offs.  I tried to mentally prepare myself for weeks prior to the trip.  I filled my head with all the safe statistics of flight and reminded myself of how much strength and courage I have in all the other aspects of my life.  I was ready!  Right?

I marched onto the plane with two excited toddlers, my husband, my dad and my stepmom.  I looked around and saw every person I love and thought about the trip ahead.  During take off, Vaughn’s head was in my lap and I started telling him a story.  I stared into his eyes and fought off the rising panic in my stomach.  My right hand had a death grip on the seat next to me but my left hand was brushing away my baby’s hair.  I stayed calm the whole flight and then for the one after that.  There were a few scary moments when I needed to round up my best acting skills but I did it!  I didn’t scare my kids and I made it though a flight both without meds and without having a massive anxiety attack.  Congratualtions on being a normal human being.

Now I’m off to Vegas.  I’m bringing my Xanax and I hope there’s an open bar at the airport so I can have one tiny massive drink to take the edge off.  Let’s face it, without the kids there, all bets are off…at least until we hit the strip!

Mother's little helper

Mother’s little helper

Do you have a phobia?  What scares you that you do anyway?

47 comments

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  1. Michelle

    I get nervous flying sometimes. I try to close my eyes and go to sleep to try and not think about it! I used to have a phobia of public speaking and I had to do it for one of my jobs. I just practiced and practiced over and over again until what I had to say was second nature and it helped immensely. Now I can do it with a lot less practice time and I’m not nearly as afraid of it because I had to do it so often.

    1. vita88

      Public speaking is tough! I’m ok if it’s a subject that I know well, with an audience I’m comfortable with. I still get nervous but it’s do-able. I wish I could practice flying over and over again without such long stretches of time in between.

  2. Nellie

    I don’t mind flying but my husband is just like you, but he has gotten better over the years. I ole that Vaughn was able to keep you calm. I am convinced being a mommy gives you super powers. I say channel that same energy on the way to Vegas! Remember the adventure you are about to take and stay focused on that!

    1. vita88

      Moms definitely have super powers!! I’m going to try and stay focused and positive. Hopefully reading some of my fav blogs on the flight will help re-focus me.

  3. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    You are an amazing mama & lady! The fact that you could set aside your fear for your children speaks volumes about you as a person. I used to get a little nervous flying, but then I started traveling more for work and got over it. Turbulence is the pits though! Especially when you’re traveling away from your baby and trying to pump in the airplane bathroom. There is nothing fun about that!

    1. vita88

      OMG I can’t believe you had to do that!!! The things we do for our kids, right? Super hero moms for sure!

  4. thedoseofreality

    I have an insane snake phobia…like honestly I really feel like I would not be able to keep my children front and center in my mind if we were staring at a snake. You have given me hope since you rocked your flights with your kids! :)-Ashley

    1. vita88

      It’s amazing what the power of kids can do! However, being afraid of snakes is a pretty justified fear. I wouldn’t worry too much about letting lose in front of the kids. Unless maybe it’s a garden snake…then it’s probably just funny to them.

  5. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance

    I’m not really a bad flyer but I definitely am not a fan of turbulence. I had one really bad flight in college that had me in tears but normally I’m ok. Just out of curiosity, how easy was it for you to get Xanax (from the doctor, not the street, though I needed to clarify that) and does it actually make you sleep? I’m going on a loooooong flight in December and I’m trying to figure out ways to make it more bearable. I have a fear of public speaking. I hate it. I am much better at sitting down, thinking and writing my thoughts than getting up and articulating them.

    1. vita88

      It was very easy to get a script from my doctor – I just asked. I think it’s a very mild dose and I’m supposed to take a half but I take a whole one and it absolutely allows me to sleep for a couple hours or more…depending on how tired I am to begin with. I’m a little groggy when I wake-up but it usually wears off pretty quickly. Go for it!!
      A choice between public speaking and a long flight? Public speaking for sure!!

  6. Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness

    hahhaha oh man, i have a general anxiety toward just about everything, but no major phobias. although- flying in small planes- terrifying. also when flying in big planes- whenever i feel a bump or a noise or a smell that i swear smells like a burning engine, i look around like a frightened meerkat at everyone else. if nobody else seems alarmed i slump back down in my seat hoping the guy next to me doesnt hear my heart pounding out of my chest. but yeah- when the pilot tells the flight attendants to take their seats- ahh i hate that. anyhoozle, have an amazing time in vegas!! and a little xanax never hurt anybody 🙂

    1. vita88

      OMG I totally smell burning engines too and my husband is just rolling his eyes, laughing at my anxiety. I also use the “if no one else is freaking out then I shouldn’t be” technique. That has served me well!

  7. Vicki M. Taylor

    I too have a very real fear of flying. And, I’m not sure when it started. In my 20’s I was training to get my pilot’s license. Then I had a really bad car wreck that kept me from flying for over a year. After that, priorities shifted and I never went back. I have very bad panic attacks and need Ativan to settle me during take off and flight. I’m actually ok during landing. I guess it’s because I think we’ll be safely on the ground again. It takes me weeks of praying and talking to myself before I fly. I have one coming up. My new grandson is going to be born in November and I’m flying across country to see him. I have to remember to refill my Ativan! Followed you from SITS. Have a blessed day!

    1. vita88

      Someone who understands!! I also don’t mind the landing and probably for the same reason. Congratulations on your new grandson!!…well, soon-to-be and that will be a happy flight for sure…just don’t forget your refill!!
      Thanks for reading. I love all fellow SITSahs!

  8. Tamara

    I’m afraid to fly. It’s more of a fear than a phobia. I am an emetophobe, though, and it’s hard to admit that.
    They pretty much go hand in hand. It’s mostly about fear of loss of control. That’s the root of it for me. I haven’t been on a plane for ages, but that’s mostly because of lack of money. My first flight after 9-11 had the worst turbulence EVER. I was strangely calm, though. Who knows. I’m so unpredictable to myself!

    1. vita88

      I’m glad you posted this comment. Not only does it make me feel better about my fear (and writing this post), but I also have a lot of control issues and they present themselves when I’m flying. Although I’m not sure I would feel any better if I were piloting the plane …but who knows? Thanks Tamara!

  9. Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady

    I don’t really like flying either Allie. I won’t go as far to say that I’m at the same level as you, but I always feel uneasy at the start of flights and I am not here for the turbulence AT ALL!!! I have to take Dramamine for my motion sickness and I chew gum for the ear popping. I just don’t like flying in general. There’s NOTHING good about it to me except the fact that it shortens your travel time to your destination. I am sure the kids gave you courage you never thought you’d have. That’s how I hear it happens. I’m glad you didn’t loose your shxt on the twins 🙂 As for Vegas…what happens there…. Have fun! I love that place!

    1. vita88

      I’m not here for that at all either!!! No thank you turbulence! When you lay it all out like that, it’s really one of the *least* enjoyable experiences ever. But then, when you get to your destination in half the time, it’s ALL GOOD!
      I’ll be (warning) reminding the rest of my group that I’m a blogger so if it happens in Vegas and I’m there….:-)

  10. Kim

    Oh – so sorry – one of the guys that Chris was in pilot training with had a wife who was terrified of flying. She was flying cross country to where he was and was physically ill the entire flight just from fear. It is such a real and scary thing.
    So amazing that you made it through 4 separate flights with your boys and they never once saw your fear – that says a lot about you as a mom and one tough chik!!!
    I know the Vegas airport will have an open bar (they even have slot machines and everything!!). Good luck!!!

    1. vita88

      Oh Kim that is awful for that poor woman! Luckily I’ve never been physically ill from it but I may as well be since I can get pretty hysterical. The kids really bring out the best in you sometimes and reveal powers you didn’t know you had.
      Love the slot machines at the airport – classic Vegas!

  11. Melissa Burton

    First, we might be soul sisters on yet another level! I used to fly cross country to see my father when I was little and loved it and then something happened (age, maybe) and boom, I started to become absolutely chicken to fly.

    I fly with my little guy and have to tough it out and it’s not easy. I had a horrendous flight home from Fitbloggin’ in June (so bad that the frequent flyer next to me was holding my hand and repeating a manta outloud to will the plane to fly smoothly) that I nearly vowed never to get on a plane again.

    I was so freaked out about getting on a small plane (13 rows) to Denver just last week that I let volunteered to be transferred airports to get on a bigger plane. A friend had given me Xanax because I had been freaking out about it for a few weeks. I wasn’t offered the return option so I did fly on the same little plane back. When I saw an old couple get on the plane I had 2 thoughts – if they’re not freaked out why should I be AND perhaps this is the way they’re going to go. It took all I had NOT to think about John Denver as I was flying over the Rocky Mountains and his little plane.

    Let’s just say that I’m still not a great flyer but for some reason bigger planes make me feel safer. I wanted a medal on Sunday for surviving a 13 row plane ride because it took much more of my energy than any race I’ve ever run!

    Sorry for the looooong post! Have fun in Vegas and know you’re not alone with this issue!

    1. vita88

      Oh Melissa!! We really do need to meet up sometime. I’m nodding my head to every word you wrote. I totally size people up on planes and I always hope there’s a baby on my flight, like babies cannot die in a plane crash!! It’s such a mind game. Holding hands with a complete stranger on a plane? Been there. Thank God for the kindness of strangers!! I’m so sorry you had such a bad flight. I’ve been through it and you’re so right about the exertion level and amount of energy it sucks from you. Fear is a horrible thing.
      There’s only one issue with us meeting up…who’s going to fly to whom? Ha Ha!!!
      Thank you for writing this. It has truly made me feel so much better.

  12. Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness

    Don’t feel bad. I was a bad flier for as long as I can remember. I went 20 years without flying until my work trip to California. And what did I use to help me, yep Xanax. I would be the one the Air Marshals would restrain in their seats then promptly arrest after the flight was over if it wasn’t for that little pill.

    1. vita88

      I’m with you!! It would be like that scene from Bridesmaids!! Thanks Kris.

  13. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    I am not a fan of flying either. It actually has gotten worse for me the older I’ve gotten. I think because I now better understand the dangers and know that I’m not invincible?

    1. vita88

      That has to have something to do with it. I hate having that kind of fear but I’m working on it!

  14. Kate

    I’ve never been a nervous flier but recently had an experience with a very rocky flight. It might have changed my mind. Definitely hit up that bar and have a fun trip!

    1. vita88

      One really bad flight can make a big difference. Flight attendants are insane. For me, that would be a torturous job. Of course that’s probably what most of them think about running!

  15. Alison Hector

    I’m scared of heights, but planes don’t bother me, unless there’s extreme bumpiness in the flight. My love, we all have our fears. Go ‘head and claim yours!

    1. vita88

      Thank you for giving me permission! I definitely own it and working on getting better. Thanks Allison!!

  16. Kennie

    I don’t really have much of a problem flying, but turbulence??? Now THAT freaks me out! I have problems with my ears, so I have to take pain pills about 1/2 hour before take off.
    Now one thing I make sure of, I always wear pants when I fly – in case of emergencies. Sounds like a strange reason, I know. My mom was on a flight once that had an emergency. The plane landed and the passengers had to use the emergency slide to get off the plane. My mom was wearing a dress, and when she slid down the slide (which she said was made of rubber), the back of her dress came up and that rubber slide actually burned holes in the cheeks of her underwear! Umm, yeah. Since then, I wear pants when I fly. Don’t tell her I told you…

    1. vita88

      OMG that is crazy!!!!! Talk about friction. Your poor mom! I usually wear pants anyway because I get cold but now I have a really good reason to always wear pants! Wow, that is crazy. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Christine @ Love, Life, Surf

    I think that’s one of the hardest things to do as a parent – set aside your own fear and hold it together for your family and kids. I have a fear of swimming in open water. Totally irrational. Totally not cool when your kids love the water and the ocean. Have fun in Vegas!

    1. vita88

      Well, you’re not alone. I also have a fear of swimming in open water. Just looking at those pictures of you surfing in Hawaii I was getting nervous. At least both of us were strong enough to overcome those fears when our kids were involved. I know it’s brought me one step closer to being less afraid.

  18. jenn @ runnderlust

    i really hate flying too! i get really nervous and worked up. we took a family vacation to hawaii last summer (from the east coast) and, although i wouldn’t regret anything, it will probably the only time I ever go to Hawaii!

    1. vita88

      Oh I know! I really want to go to Hawaii someday (who doesn’t?) but I told my husband that we need to make it a two week trip and stop in California for a few days because I won’t make it!! Way too much time in the sky!

  19. Carla

    My phobia is turtles. It’s a long story. As far as doing something that I’m afraid of though, I honestly can’t think of anything. Not because I’m the bravest person in the world but because I can pretty much avoid anything I’m that scared of. Unless you count public restrooms.

    1. vita88

      I definitely count public restrooms – very scary!! I would love to hear why you’re afraid of turtles…blog post perhaps?

  20. Leah

    I love that you were able to “suck it up” with your kids – pretty admirable of you given the kind of fear you have. I sometimes think I am stronger when my kids are around because I want to be a good example. Or sometimes now that they are older, i can share my fear, but then let them see me do it anyways. They give me courage I so often need!

    1. vita88

      They’re really great courage makers! It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but my fear of them seeing me so afraid somehow trumped my fear of flying. That and it was a very smooth ride!!!

  21. GiGi Eats Celebrities

    TERRIFIED – TERRIFIED – TERRIFIED OF FLYINGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!! And for some reason, EVERYWHERE I GO there is always massive amounts of TURBULANCE!!! The movie FLIGHT did not help at all. I ALWAYS have to say hello to the pilot to make sure I know who the heck is flying the damn plane. I have been known to cry like a little baby and scream so loud everyone looks at me. Yep. One time the plane I was in even did a barrel roll and I about died. DIED I TELL YOU! OMG I HATE FLYING. That’s 1/2 the reason I haven’t gone home in so long, because I don’t want to go on a plane, sadly, it’s the QUICKEST WAY to get home! GRRRRRRR!!!

    Oh and I thought you might find this interview I did with Denzel Washington about the movie FLIGHT funny:
    http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/975081/denzel-washington-talks-pilot-role-in-new-movie-flight

    1. vita88

      OMG I totally check out the pilot and say hello. The one on this flight had a goofy tie on and I was like “hell no!” this is serious buddy!!!! When are they going to invent teleportation??? Damn planes and turbulence make me crazy…or just bring out my crazy.
      SO going to check out your interview right now. You are one hot ticket GiGi!!!

    2. vita88

      OMG GiGi!!!! The stories he tells about his bad flights are AWFUL!!!! If the flight attendants started freaking out and hanging onto arm rests I would have an absolute heart attack!!!! So crazy!

  22. Hope

    I don’t like flying either. I wouldn’t call it an irrational fear, but I can seriously do without it forever. I’ve flown with my kids and they were a distraction periodically, but believe me, I was fully aware of every bump and every ear pop, but like you (that one time 🙂 ) I kept a calm facade for the kids. Don’t like heights either. I did watch Denzel Washington’s movie fight…yeah, i don’t recommend it. lol

    1. vita88

      It’s definitely not an enjoyable experience but better then the car ride it would take, right? I love how moms can bolster themselves in front of the kids – it amazes me every time!!
      I encourage everyone to watch the clip GiGi posted of her interviewing Denzel. Turns out he’s had some VERY bad flights!! Plus it’s crazy cool that GiGi actually got to interview him!!

  23. Claude

    I LOVE FLYING! Ultralights, Props, Jets, Hot Air, etc. Better, I like jumping out of them, nothing like falling to Mother Earth at terminal speed!!!!

    I think part of your answer to this ‘irrational fear’ is locked up in the conflicted response you experienced when your children were by you. Another part may be in your response to it as a 5 year old and the flights to FLA. The flying hasn’t changed; but Allie became an adult.

    I’d like to add that I’m always scared when I do the above I mentioned; but I’m also thrilled! I would be worried if I didn’t experience fear on a certain level.

    Face your fears and learn to love it! JFK always pops into my head ‘there is nothing to fear but fear itself’. It’s totally ok to experience fear, it’s about the controlling the irrational aspect, not the fear itself. That’s a start!
    Claude recently posted…Cycling weeks 9-12My Profile

    1. vita88

      So true – all of it! Flying has not changed (although probably gotten SAFER) but I have. I too think about the JFK quote and I have a flight to Colorado coming up soon and another to Italy in the Spring so we shall see…

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