Ever heard the old saying 'Once Bitten, Twice Shy'? It means that, after having a single unpleasant experience, it can often be twice as hard to go back.
As some of you may be aware, I was injured after falling from a pole about seven weeks ago: I slipped while doing an inversion and landed on my head, before rolling onto my shoulder and somehow ending up curled around the pole on my side. I only fell from a height of roughly half-a-meter (i.e. 30cms) and I was lucky enough to escape serious injury. I had concussion the next day and issues with neck movement that persisted for several weeks (although I somehow still managed to pull off a spin grading without full neck movement!) but, on the whole, I was physically OK and have since fully recovered.
But, despite my physical recovery, there are some psychological bruises that are taking longer to heal.
Prior to my fall, I felt confident executing a front straddle, holding a ballerina, climbing to the top of the pole (between three and four meters), doing tricks such as a fairy, back straddle, side arch, diva, layout and even kitten kicks (hideously painful things!) as part of aerial combos. I could also, much to my honest delight, execute a single spider climb while straddling on my left/gumbie side.
Now, the moment someone says 'Go upside down' my standard response is 'Wait one minute, I'll just grab a mat', even for inversions that I know I can do confidently, such as upside down flips or ankle hook hangs. I can't spider climb anymore, as I tend to freeze as I go to move my hands, even if I do have a mat under the pole. I have to talk myself into a front straddle and have developed a bad habit of immediately hooking my knee even before I've fully finished the straddle, as otherwise I start to panic and end up clinging on with my legs and sliding down inch by inch in case I fall.
But even more frustrating is that I have to force myself to climb.
I love climbing. As much as it's a bitch on the top of your feet, the feeling of being up there is just indescribable. I can climb both spin and static poles and do spiral and straight climbs, but since my fall I try to avoid climbing, keeping all my tricks low and even refusing to do others that require some height.
I know it's all mental, that this is a barrier I need to push through, and I will say I have made progress. I climbed during freestyle on Saturday and executed an aerial layout (claps for me!) but it took a whole lot of talking to myself to get up and do it.
I have a competition coming up in 20 days, I only have half a routine and I'm afraid to invert and climb at the moment.
So if there is anyone out there who might have a trick or two to help combat that kind of fear I'm all ears, because, right now, the only thing that feels good is having my Pleasers firmly on the floor. I want to fly again, but fear is like having weights around my ankles.
If you're afraid to fall it means you're prepared to brave the heights from which you might fly.
Me With No Apologies.