Flying terrifies me. Nothing about it feels like something that should be humanly possible. I don’t like the idea that I’m hurtling through air, miles above solid ground. I really don’t like the idea that I have no control whatsoever over the journey. And I reeeeally don’t like the idea that if anything goes wrong, it will very likely go terribly, horribly wrong.
The first flight I ever took was when I flew from Los Angeles to Massachusetts to attend college. I was fascinated. I couldn’t take my eyes off the ground as we lifted up over the Pacific Ocean and circled back over the Southern California landmarks that I knew so well from a very different vantage point.
My nose was glued to the window the entire flight. Because this was back in ’99 when all airlines offered meals in coach, I was also super excited over my prepackaged corn flakes and strawberry yogurt and couldn’t hardly fathom my newly glamorous, jet-setting life.
I don’t know why I had to over-analyze. But I did, and halfway through the middle of my next flight, I looked out the window and realized that there was nothing below us. And thus ended my enamored view of air travel.
My flight anxiety used to be really bad. I would barely be able to make it through a cross-country flight. I would have panic attacks and shake uncontrollably and spend the whole six hours alternately gripping the armrests and praying to every deity I could think of. I’d start dreading having to fly a week in advance and would start saying my goodbyes to loved ones (I KNOW! Such a morbid child!).
When Mr. M and I decided to honeymoon in South Africa, I knew that I would not be able to cross the Atlantic without chemical assistance. And so I started taking medication for flight anxiety. The results are amazing. Please, please be assured that I am NOT promoting indiscriminate or even discriminate drug use- I’m one of those hippie types that refuses to take Ibuprofen for headaches- but… I repeat… my flight medication is Ah-MA-zing. I can travel like a normal person! (Fine, relatively normal. I still require several lucky stuffed animals to ensure a safe trip- one of which I hold the Entire flight. And I chant like a crazy person during takeoff and landing. But hey… ‘relatively’ normal is actually pretty good for me.)
The distinct downside to my taking meds is that I turn into a five-year old child. Highlights include:
*Leaving my crap behind… in airports, in airplane seat pockets, anywhere… I’ve lost phones, wallets, library books, really important documents. Basically, if it’s not affixed to my person, it’s probably gettin’ left.
*Acting the fool. Everything is SO FUNNY when I’m on my happy flying meds. I first watched the viral video Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife while on my meds in an airport lounge and snort-laughed so hard and loud that I was howling and doubled over crying, people were staring, and Mr. M was alternately threatening in hissed tones to have me removed from the lounge and looking at me- and then at the rest of the crowd- like, “Who is this chick? What’s her deal? Seriously. Does anyone know if she’s alright?…” like he wasn’t married to my sorry ass.
*Wanting to be lovey. Nothing X-rated. I just really want to cuddle. This isn’t catastrophic when traveling with the aforementioned husband. He reads his Kindle or works on his computer while I prop both elbows up on the armrest between us, rest my chin in my hands, and stare longingly at him like some creeper with a mad crush. For hours. Sometimes I’ll reach out and pet his cheek. He ignores me completely because he’s Mr. M and used to ignoring my antics. It’s a gift. The problem comes when I travel alone and start looking at my neighbor (man, woman, old, young- I don’t discriminate) like meet me in the bathroom, sailor.
Despite the mental anguish-slash-supreme embarrassment brought about by my fear of flying, I’m proud to say that it’s never, not once kept me from going somewhere I want to go. Somewhere in between hyperventilating and creeping on Mr. M, that quote that I’ve heard for forever finally struck home: you should be way more afraid of not living than you are of dying.
Although I truly believe this, phobias are, by definition, irrational fears… and thus, I’m still a bit of a freak on an airplane. So if you happen to be flying and look up to see a Crazy Girl clutching a stuffed buffalo and staring at her poor neighbor with an ID safety-pinned to her dress, come say hi. It’s just me. :)