Falling Off A Cliff – Why I’m scared of heights.

Tide pool image

Rock pool – Image author: Alvesgasper

Since I was very young I’ve been scared of heights, and there’s a good reason why too, as it involves witnessing the aftermath of a man falling off a cliff.

When I was around  6 years old I was taken on holiday to a beach which I can’t remember the name of, it may have been Swanage or Weymouth in England but I can’t be sure. Anyway, this is what I remember that put the fear of heights into me to this day . . .

I remember sitting on the beach with my mother and hearing ambulances in the distance at the other end of the beach. People were wandering over to a crowd that had gathered in the distance. So, being naturally curious we wandered over to where the crowd was gathered. As we wandered over we could see an ambulance at the top of the cliff leave and make its way to the local hospital.

When we caught up with the crowd we made our way to the front to see what had happened and I heard a man explaining to my mother that a man had been climbing the rough cliff face for fun and had slipped and fallen off. My mother then asked if the climber would be okay, but the man shook his head slowly and said “I doubt it as he cracked his head open badly.”

There was a rock pool at the base of the cliff face and it was red, full of blood from the accident, with some blood trailing across the sand. It is an image that has stuck in my mind until this day.

That’s why I’m afraid of heights. I put an article up recently titled ‘What would happen if you jumped off a skyscraper‘ which is a crazy title, but it goes into the specifics of what a fall from a height involves.

In particular, I don’t like the fact that when you are falling it is irreversible, and time would no doubt slow down in the fall as your life flashes before you. Falling off a cliff and heading toward sharp rocks would be an unimaginable nightmare.

I once went to Disney World in Florida and tried to conquer my fear of heights. Normally I hate roller coasters, but I worked my way up from the smallest roller coaster to the biggest roller coaster, I let go of the bar and had my hands up in the air in the end. I went on the ‘Tower of Terror’ which is a lift/elevator that plummets to the ground and a ridiculously high water slide.

I thought I had conquered my fear of heights after my visit to Disney World, but the facts of what it must be like to fall from a height and the image of the bloody rock pool linger in my mind. It took just a few months for my fear of heights to reach its peak again.

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