Todays assignment: Fear of fear itself
When I was a child and young, I remember not being afraid of anything.
I climbed towers and walked into dangerous situations without ever thinking about it twice.
Then, when I was 19 years old, I climbed a tower in Laboe near Kiel in Germany. The tower is a monument of a kind and from the top you have a magnificent view over the land and the water nearby. To get up there you have to climb some shaky stairs on the inside of the tower and while you are climbing you can look all the way up and down inside the tower.
Have you ever had this dream, where you climb stairs in a tower and while you climb, the stairs disappear? So in the end you are stuck and have to decide either to stay stuck where you are, or jump through the empty space, to get out of there? These were that kind of stairs.
It was scary to climb up, but when I got up there the view was breathtaking and I enjoyed it, right till the moment when I looked straight down and discovered a huge red-brownish spot next to the tower.
It turned out that somebody had committed suicide a few hours before by jumping from that tower, and they hadn’t removed the blood yet.
A few weeks later a friend of mine committed suicide by jumping from another tower that was close to the house, where I was born and grew up.
I had known this friend for many years and when we were young, we swam together many times. At our beach at the river we had had a 1 meter tower and a 3 meter tower, and he often jumped from the 3 meter tower, back first with his arms around his legs, to make a huge splash, so everybody standing around got wet.
He jumped from the tower near my former home in the same way, and the people who found him the next morning, thought at first that he was asleep.
Somehow I mixed those two suicides up in my head, and since then I can’t climb a tower any more. I’ve tried.
Years later I bought a ticket to the Eiffel Tower, but was unable to walk up the stairs, and even later I bought a ticket to the former Reichstags building in Berlin, what’s now the new Bundestag, and again I was unable to get up in the tower.
Whenever I find myself in a situation where I am somewhere high up, from where I can look down, I get this feeling as if my legs are made of jello.I can barely walk and it’s like something is telling me to jump.
I know that I would never ever jump, and still I am horrified of the possibility that I could do it.
I wish I had never climbed that tower in Laboe.