by Ava Ming: My Oriental Life
It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that I’d stood looking out the window at the building works going on a short distance away that I realized that being twenty stories up was actually okay.
No More Fear
For the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid of heights! Just in case it was a fluke and only worked in that room, I ran through the Xu Zhou, South China, duplex apartment and stood in front of every window, upstairs and down, feeling more and more elated.
There was no trepidation. No nervousness. No dry mouth. No clammy palms. No calling out to Jesus to save me. All was well. Somehow I really was cured and my acrophobia, just like the cold wind that had formerly been blowing outside, had vanished!
I tried to work out when it happened realizing that it had to be sometime just after my arrival in China. I hadn’t been afraid on the plane rides over from the UK, but for some weird reason planes never triggered my acrophobia.
I wanted to remember the last time it had occurred back home in England, but nothing stood out. Acrophobia was just something I endured like many people. So, although I couldn’t gauge the exact moment I was freed, it was more than wonderful to just know that I was.
Can’t Stop Me
Now, I can go to the tallest part of anywhere and experience only the butterflies of a person with normal fear rather than the gripping panic of an irrational sense that death could occur simply from being up high.
Imagine not being able to drive higher than the fourth floor of a multi-storey car park! Once I merrily cruised up onto the sixth floor without thinking, probably singing along to the radio or something. Everything was fine until I got out of the car and noticed that I was looking down on the rooftops of surrounding buildings, yikes! As I’m not a bird, this felt totally unnatural to me. My poor sister had to talk me down over the phone and then later retrieve my car.
Sad but True
Imagine stepping out of the lift on the fifteenth floor of an office building, being greeted by a wall of glass and sinking to your knees as acrophobia kicks in.
Yes, this really happened to me in a real office, in front of real people!
Imagine climbing a small (ish) mountain in France, determined to see the views of the Languedoc valley and taking shaky pictures through your tears because even though you’ve made it up there in one piece and you’re on a flat, safe plateau, you’re still terrified?
Not surprisingly my photographs didn’t come out very well.
Now China, mystic land of the Orient, place of great philosophers and historic monuments, has worked its ancient magic and I’m finally free of the terrible phobia.
Hope it stays like this when I leave.