Facing your fears

We have recently booked a flight for us and the kids to Paris at the end of November. For most folk, this is no great shakes…. just something to look forward to, a festive family trip to Paris and Disneyland no less. (No – my fear is not theme parks with kids. Although after this trip, I may review this). The only problem is, I am scared of flying.

Or maybe not scared of flying, flying I just find unpleasant. No, it’s more the fear of falling out of the sky from a great height I have an issue with. As you can imagine, this makes me great fun to fly with!!

Because I have flown. In spite of the fact that flying turns me into a crazy, anxious wreck for at least 3 weeks before going anywhere, I have flown. Many times. Holidays in Europe, cheeky weekenders to places like Dublin, Prague and Amsterdam (on the return flight home, our plane was struck by lightning – twice), oh, and a small round the world trip – taking in India, Australia and Thailand. But this isn’t a brag list of where I’ve been, the point is, I never let my fear stop me. I travelled and sucked it up and made a nuisance of myself to whomever I was flying with. I have practically stalked air hostesses just to spot any sign of trouble in their eyes. And yes, where it’s been appropriate, I’ve got ‘mildly’ squiffy and zonked out.

And then we had our eldest. My fear doubled, then tripled then swallowed me up. I became very knowledgeable about trains and ferries. My poor husband (who is not worried about flying in the slightest) has had to endure shortened holidays to allow for extra days of travel. Our holidays have been very much UK based, with one trip to Spain via train when we just had our 2 boys… not to be repeated.

Our eldest is 10 is October, meaning we have been grounded by my fear for 10 years now. We never flew as kids, we enjoyed many a driving holiday abroad, sweating in the back of the Volvo estate, being subjected to Neil Diamond and Dr Hook. I still feel slightly car sick if I hear certain songs, even now. But I don’t know it’s this lack of flying as a child that bought on my fear… I have sisters who enjoyed/endured those car trips with me and have no worries about flying at all. Maybe it’s my not too relaxed nature, maybe it’s valid to be afraid of falling out of the sky – although most people don’t seem to understand what I’m so scared of.

Whatever it is, it hasn’t gone away. But there is another fear now, one overtaking my fear of the sky, a fear that I will ground our kids. That I will pass my anxiety on to them, that one day they might not travel the world or have a holiday abroad with friends. Not because they simply don’t want to, but because they have learned my fear and it swallows them up too.

I still count flying and trips abroad as a privileged position to be in and be able to have our children experience. I don’t assume everyone can fly their kids abroad a few times or even once a year. But we have a chance this year to do it and I have a chance to face my fear, to get back to that place where I can show them it’s OK to be afraid as long as fear does not stop you doing what you want to do.

I won’t be able to get sloshed as we’re travelling with 3 kids at 6am. I will become an anxious nightmare for a good deal of time before we leave and for that I apologise to my husband and family right now. And I will have my hawk eye on all airline staff from the moment we enter the airport. I can’t pretend otherwise. My husband is thrilled.

But it’s happening and there’s no going back now so wish us luck and any tips much appreciated! (espeically by my husband).

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