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