I hate flying. There. I said it. If I had 1 superpower, it would be teleportation. To instantly conjure up a location and then twinkle myself there immediately. Never need to fly anywhere again. I meet with many couples and when the subject of honeymoon comes up – there are many times when one of them says – I want to go – but I HATE FLYING. Me too. I feel you. BUT THERE IS HOPE!
I am an anxious person – I don’t like being in confined spaces. A plane that weighs a gajillion tons should not be able to stay in the air. Not to mention that the horrors of orphaning my children in a plane crash haunt my dreams at night. Years ago I had a very turbulent cross country plane ride that terrified me. Since then I avoid air travel whenever possible. That being said, I love to travel. I want to see the world. I love going places – it’s the getting there that’s hard for me.
A few years ago I met an amazing couple who wanted me to photograph their wedding in Aruba. ARUBA!!! A tropical dreamland of sand, water and relaxation (for those vacationing there). I loved this couple just after meeting them and I wanted to do their wedding SO badly. So I said yes. And thus began the year of anticipatory flight anxiety. Would I panic and freak out? Would I need to be medicated? What if the plane crashed and we orphaned our children?? Or worst of all – what if I somehow messed up their wedding??
In that same year we had decided to take our kids to Disney World – so that was another plane ride. A practice one, I told myself. I had to be brave for my kids. It was their first flight and my oldest son is wired just like me. He’s a nervous wreck and really takes his cues from me about what is concerning and what is not. So I really wanted to not show any fear – so he could enjoy his first flight. It was really really hard. Every bump. Every loud noise. That dropping feeling. Ugh. I broke out in a sweat. At one point I started to panic a little. I could feel my hands getting clammy, I felt out of it. I broke out in a sweat. I had some coping mechanisms I worked on for dealing with anxiety so I used them and they worked a little – but it was all I could do to hold on to my sanity. When we landed I kissed the ground and the fear of the return flight lingered in the back of my mind for the whole trip.
Once I got home – I was so anxious about the much longer Aruba flight (5 hours!!). I had no idea what to do. I even considered (briefly) telling my amazing clients that I couldn’t do their wedding. But if you’re a wedding photographer – you know that as long as it’s in our power, NOTHING can keep us from getting our job done. I asked around in my photographer forums and learned from a friend who was a destination wedding photographer that she also really struggled with flying – but had to do it all the time. She had found a program that had helped her immensely. SOAR with Captain Tom Bunn, MSW, LCSW. I checked out the website. I was skeptical. But I was also desperate, so I bought the “Rapid Relief” program and went to work. I only had a few days before my flight at this point.
I did the exercises. I downloaded the app (amazingly helpful). It worked. IT WORKED!!! The flight there was just OK. I’m not saying I enjoyed it. I did not freak out though. I managed. I even relaxed at some points! The wedding was AMAZING!! My husband stayed a few days extra because, ARUBA!! and had a wonderful relaxing time. I was still nervous to fly home – but it was manageable. Not consuming. The flight home was even better! By the end of the flight I actually was feeling comfortable and SO proud of myself that I was flying on a plane and not freaking out!!
I still do not like to fly – but I know I can now. Since Aruba I have flown again and using the techniques – it was a great flight. On our way home, our plane had to abandon take off and we were trapped on the runway with fire trucks (just a precaution) for 4 hours!!. But at no point did I panic. At no point did I lose my shit. Nope. I did crosswords and listened to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” and I was fine. When we finally took off I was calm. Unbelievably calm and content.
Dr. Bunn’s book is currently on sale on Amazon. I cannot recommend his program highly enough. Do it. And then go somewhere amazing. Take your honeymoon. Visit a far away friend. Take a vacation. Trust me – you’ll be OK and SO glad you did!!
Title courtesy of The Indigo Girls – Airplane.