Now that I’ve regained use of my hands (for some reason my forearms were pretty much paralyzed last night after climbing. Trying to ride a bike home was….interesting.) I’d like to share all my thoughts about climbing last night…
So, I joined a climbing gym.
Since I went to Moab, UT in September to climb with first descents I haven’t climbed. When I got back from my VERY emotional week, I told my parents I probably wouldn’t climb again. At the time it felt too emotional and I was pretty much a wreck and I couldn’t understand why. You can read about it here.
Last night, I was afraid.
Afraid because I didn’t have the insular, protective unit that was First Descents and their expert guides. Afraid I might have another breakdown or do something embarrassing in front of a gym full of strangers (Which I did, but whatevs). Afraid I wouldn’t know anyone and wouldnt have anyone to climb with.
One thing I learned is it’s never as bad as we think it’s going to be.
Last night as I climbed again, I dealt with a multitude of insecurities all of which I quieted. My therapist has been trying to get me to be more social and do more meditative, spiritual practices and I thought that rock climbing would be perfect for my goals.
Rock Climbing as a spiritual practice?
Yes! To me it makes perfect sense. What is the main tenent of religion? Faith. I have to have faith that my belay partner will catch me when I fall, faith that I can reach the top, faith that I won’t fall and die, faith that my equipment won’t break. It’s a practice in trust and working with a partner. It also forces me to make new friends and push my own boundaries with socializing (In environments I’m not comfortable I get a little quiet and stay to myself. I also feel less comfortable in mostly male dominated spaces like climbing gyms). It forces me to believe in myself and to push myself to accomplish my goals. To endure. To figure out HOW to accomplish this goal.
After taking a beginning instruction from a teacher there, they put out the call for a partner for me over the loudspeaker. Within seconds, I had a partner. One of the things that prevented me from joining touchstone since Moab was my insecurity finding a partner. When it comes to socializing and meeting new people, It’s challenging for me. My life has been built around me being independent and not needing anyone. I also did not think they would help me find one. That was a really cool perk.
My partner didn’t care that I was new, inexperienced, attractive, cool, thin etc – all things I typically feel self conscious of at gyms. At the gym I felt older than everyone else, heavier, not as hip or cool and inexperienced. I also didn’t have the emotional support that I got at FD – people from down below cheering you on and high fiving when you get down. There was a point I screamed at the top of my lungs when I slipped and fell halfway up a 5.11 climb. As I swung back and forth over the crowd clinging to the rope I saw everyone looking up at me and my face flushed red. I got lowered down and almost cried. I took a few deep breaths and tried again.
“Is this your first time?” My partner asked me after my almost melt down. I told him yes and he showed me where some easier climbs were and told me everyone starts there. I climbed a 5.2 and it built up my confidence more.
I’ve decided that this gym is going to be my play time. As a kid we get recess. I’m treating the gym as my recess. I’ve decided I’m going to ask myself each day “What fun thing do you want to do today?”. Since I have rock climbing, TRX, Yoga and Cross fit to choose from I have options for how I’m feeling.
I think I’ve been converted to the religion of the rocks :)