Fear of Coasters: Not What It Seemed
For as long as I can remember, right up until this summer (2010), I have had a phobia about roller coasters. Granted, when I was a senior in college I went on one--twice, actually. But that was it. I swore never again would I do that.
I told people it was because I was acrophobic. And to a point, I am--I don't like being up high and feeling unstable (stop laughing, please, those who know me know why). Airplanes don't bother me; ladders do. Enclosed observation decks don't bother me; observation platforms with open sides do. Bridges don't bother me if I'm in a vehicle; pedestrian bridges do, most of the time.
And then, there are roller coasters.
The idea of hurtling through space in a little carlike thing, perhaps restrained by only a seat-belt of canvas, or perhaps by some kind of harness, or by one of those solid metal over-the-shoulder locking contraptions, did not thrill me. My husband is a roller coaster fanatic, and even he couldn't persuade me to try. I staunchly held to my "I have a phobia" story.
Truth to tell: It wasn't really a phobia at all. It was a self-esteem issue, at heart.
You see, for most of my adult life I was fat. (It's not a bad word. It's an adjective, and a useful one.) I was average height, being five feet seven inches, but I weighed anywhere from 230 to 277, with most of my years spent at the lower end of that range. For a short time I dipped to 177, but before long--when I stopped going to the gym because I couldn't afford the monthly dues, and stopped eating no/low-carb because money was too tight--I was back up over 200. I hung around the low 200's and high 190's for a few years.
Then, I was diagnosed with a predisposition to prediabetes. That woke me up, and I took steps to reverse that in as healthy a way as possible. I started paying attention to the glycemic index, and by doing so, I ate fewer calories in a day. I didn't do much in the way of exercise at the time, but the pounds began falling off anyway.
Long story short, I finally added the exercise (walking was my favorite!) last winter, and by my wedding day this past Memorial Day weekend, I was "normal."
Then, it happened.
We took the family to an amusement park, and I got brave. I rode one roller coaster.
And I loved it.
It wasn't about heights. It was about feeling secure. I was no longer afraid that the restraints would fail because I was just plain too big to fit into the seat. Secondary to that was the feeling that no one was watching me; no one would be pointing, or whispering "look at that cow, trying to get into the car!"
Okay, so I still don't open my eyes (much) during the ride. I prefer to sit back, eyes closed, and just roll with the sensations. But that is another essay, for another day.