I Hate Roller Coasters!
April 3, 2020 /
It’s April 2020, friend. It’s a crazy time in life right now. The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a dizzying halt, and let’s be real; it’s scary. Over the last couple of weeks, my self-reflection and introspection game has gone way up! And today, as I prep this message for you, all I can think of are roller coasters.
I was a young girl standing in line waiting to ride my first real roller coaster. My heart raced and my body temp rose on top of where it already was from the 100+ degree Texas summer heat. I felt the pulse of my heart in my throat as my mind raced. “Should I do this? Should I bailout? What am I doing? Why am I doing this?”
My faux-bravery won out as I climbed into my seat, fastened whatever security belt or harness I prayed to God would see me through the 3-minute ride in front of me. My heart neared max speed as we quickly rounded a corner and started, click…click…clicking up to the top of a 150-foot climb. I remember the sky in front of me. I remember the click…click…clicking of the chain lift pulling my seat further and closer to what I knew would be next.
My seat and my world took a massive plunge. As I opened my mouth to let out the fear and dread and energy that was pent up in my body, nothing came out. Let me say that again; NOTHING CAME OUT. I couldn’t scream. My body was stuck and refused to let go of or release the terrifying experience I was facing.
As my head whipped back and my chest rolled and rose again towards the next climb, I was finally able to take a gasp of air to help me make it the rest of the ride. We pulled to a stop, I got out and somehow remained upright even though I could not feel my legs. And I decided right then and there. I hate roller coasters!
I’ve thought about that experience so many times since then. IF ONLY I COULD SCREAM! IF ONLY I COULD RELEASE THE CRAZY EMOTIONS OF THE EXPERIENCE! IF ONLY I COULD BREATHE! Then maybe, just maybe, I’d ride a roller coaster again.
But I’ll be honest. I haven’t hopped on any other coasters to see if I could learn to scream, to relax, or find a way to enjoy the wild and crazy ups and downs. One time was good for me. I can choose not to hop on another roller coaster ever again. But often, I am thrown on to a different kind of roller coaster in my life without my permission. And I feel like that is precisely where we are right now.
I am, you are, we are all strapped into a crazy roller coaster of an experience that NONE OF US HAVE EVER experienced. We are riding emotional highs and lows. We are learning so many new things, racing with our intellect, and trusting and discerning from actual experts. We are searching for meaning and reasons why the heck we are here, why we are having to do this, and how we will make it through alive.
I did not choose to get on this crazy roller coaster. Neither did you. But I DO BELIEVE THAT I HAVE CHOICES. And so do you. Even though there is so much that I can not control. There are certain things I can. And so can you.
I can CHOOSE TO SCREAM. The normal and natural anger, rage, and disappointment I have deserve to be expressed in healthy and safe ways. I can CHOOSE TO RELEASE THE RISING and PENT UP EMOTIONAL TENSION. I can welcome laughter, tears, silence, mindfulness, and physical activity as they enter my life and want to be set free. And I can CHOOSE TO BREATHE. I work
to take multiple intentional, long deep breaths in through my nose and out through my nose until I feel my heart and mind settle. And you can choose to do all these things too.
So, maybe I don’t hate all roller coasters. Perhaps I just hate human-made ones where wood and metal and g-force are involved. But maybe I appreciate them for the gift of perspective that I can ride out the roller coasters of life. And you can too, friend.
We can care for ourselves as best we can, knowing that what we are feeling and needing will most likely change multiple times over a quick 3 minutes. We can ride this roller coaster out. We can do hard things.
I am with you, friend!