Confronting the Fear of Heights

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The Burj al Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world, and I once thought it provided the perfect opportunity for me to cure my fear of heights through (outmoded) shock therapy. I was determined to emerge from its balcony waaaaaaay up in the sky—2,722 feet (to the tip) to be exact—a changed and better woman. I have the pictures to prove I did it!

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I was so proud of myself for not freaking out! And until my recent trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls, I thought I had experienced a full breakthrough, or at least turned a corner from debilitating fear.

No, my acrophobia reared its might once again in Toronto’s CN Tower. And then again on a ferris wheel. (Sigh.)

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Well, I approached CN Tower confidently, having already “conquered my fear.”

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Then we got in the elevator, which had see-through doors. Cool. I’ll look at the floor. When I looked down, I could see the ground through their fancy see-through floor panels. OHN. <— Oh. Hell. No! I panicked.

Then when we exited the elevator, it shifted as people, and their weight, emptied out. I could feel the elevator adjusting position as I leapt over the threshold with the grace of a gazelle on the Serengeti, running for its life. People gaped openly, but I didn't care.

The brave woman living her life with no fear of heights was no longer in the building. I approached the vast, circular wall of windows gingerly, and held onto their framing bulkheads. I glanced nervously at all seams and bolts, and winced visibly when I saw people placing their tiny children on the window ledges, against the windows, for pics.

This is how accidents happen, I thought with eyes wide open.

A lovely attraction in CN Tower is the see-through floor; it was the first of its kind. Although I stood by fearing for the lives of my friends who walked and LAID on it to take selfies, I claim the triumph of sitting close to its edge on the floor, leaning over for a pic of my own. 🙂

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If that wasn’t bad enough, we decided to have brunch and tour Niagara’s Tower. (What is with Canada and all the towers?)

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There, a nice woman took a photo of me losing my shit on the outdoor balcony. I was attempting to take a selfie while I held onto one of the tower viewers. Because wind. And because tower blowing over. Totally rational.

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Finally, I sought the peace of a ride on the ferris wheel. At midnight, alone. At this point, my nerves were shot completely, and I panicked in one of the lovely cabins.

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So, I’m good on towers for awhile. I have come away in need of reevaluating (once again) my life and goals related to this acrophobia. For now, the ground is enough.

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