Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Bridge Phobia

Bonner Bridge to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Photo by my father, Ken Christison

You never expect to have a phobia. They just sneak up on you and shout, “Surprise!”

In 1990, we bought a 4-wheel drive Ford F-150 that was taller than the 2-wheel drive Chevy pickup I was used to driving. I didn’t think anything of it when I drove the new truck out east of town to our friends house. But I sure noticed it when I crossed the little one-lane wooden bridge near their house. Suddenly, the truck seemed like a monster truck with giant tires. My heart raced and I clenched the steering wheel. And I sighed with relief a second later when I reached the end of the bridge.

I didn’t think anything of it until we set out on a road trip from Colorado to North Carolina a few weeks later. I found myself watching for bridges when I drove, clenching the steering wheel over the bridge and sighing with relief when over the bridge. If the bridge happened to be on a curve, then I felt a little more panic.

Over the years, I began to drive less on our trips to the east coast. The bridges became BRIDGES (((shudder))) and I was certain the truck would decide to jump off the side of the bridge of its own volition. For some reason, I didn’t have any problem with my husband driving over bridges. The truck would only attempt suicide if I was driving.

First, I stopped driving in West Virginia. Then I stopped driving east of the Mississippi. The last trip we made, I only drove through Colorado and Kansas.

Thankfully, there aren’t many bridges in my part of Colorado and I don’t think anything about the bridges I drive over. Until last November…

I had a dental appointment in Parker and drove the back-roads to Highway 83. It started to snow a little. I happened to think of the bridge over Castlewood Canyon and thought I should have gone through Elizabeth. Especially with it snowing.

I started feeling anxious several miles before the bridge. I slowed down as I approached the bridge 65, 55, 45. My breathing became shallow, I clenched the steering wheel and my heart began racing the moment I hit the seam of the bridge. I expected to breathe a sigh of relief at the end of the 3 second bridge (yes, it takes 2-3 seconds to cross this bridge). The relief didn’t come. The panic stayed with me and gradually subsided.

In a matter of three seconds, my world changed. I knew I could not drive over the bridge feeling panic every time. So, I would no longer drive over the Castlewood Canyon Bridge. Case closed.

Stay tuned for next week’s Part 2 – Conquering My Castlewood Canyon Bridge Phobia

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