Claustrophobic me.

I spend a lot of time facing my own fears on this blog. I am often guilty of banging on about scrabbling up mountains with only a few crampon points touching terra firma or launching off tricky new paragliding sites.

Facing your fears, being brave, “boo rah-just do it” and all that shit right? Well, one fear I didn’t expect to be facing and one that I didn’t even realize I had is a fear of confined spaces. Yup, confined spaces…Claustrophobic me! I would like to think that I am relatively brave, that I can be reasonably cool under a bit of pressure but put me in a tiny room with no escape…

Jette is out shopping with our good friend Irina and I am at Irina’s place quietly working on a few writing jobs with looming deadlines. Between coffees I go to the loo. When I pull the door shut the handle comes off in my hands. Ablutions finished, I try to get out by simply pushing the wayward handle back on. The handle on the outside just pushes out. I stop shoving before the turn-y bit falls through completely. Chuckling to myself I try a few more times then decide to just wait. Thinking, ‘The girls should be home soon to rescue me…’ I make myself comfortable and settle in. Normally this would be a comical situation. Grown man gets in a silly situation when left alone for an afternoon, the girls will return soon to find me sitting on the toilet with big puppy dog eyes. At least I have water, if you have to get stuck this is a good place really.

The tiny room is deathly silent, occasionally I faintly hear people come up the stairs but they just pass, oblivious to my plight.

I wait. And wait… Some time later – maybe half an hour, maybe more – the walls start closing in.

Looking around the tiny room I begin to feel increasingly panicky. A desperate need to get out of this silent tomb overcomes me. With heart pounding I start gasping for air, sweating and feeling, really really uncomfortable. I push on the walls and door desperately like Han Solo inside the Death Star’s garbage compactor but to no avail.

Strangely I happily navigated my first 35 years thinking that I was completely phobia free, but here I am carrying on like a B-grade horror film actor with tears in my eyes. I am proper panicking. This will simply not do.

I yell out for help but my pathetic sound toughens me up somewhat so I decide to get ‘McGyvor’ on this door’s ass. Who cares if I break something? I can fix it later. Looking around I find a pair of tweezers and manage to carefully retrieve the middle bit, the rod that the handles attach to. Gripping it with the tweezers in both hands I turn. The tweezers just bend then slip. “Fuck” I mutter with golfer-just-missed-the-putt intensity.

I then stick the tweezers through the expansion split in the rod and turn. Again the tweezers just bend. I am proper stuck.

Sweating like a drug mule I try time and again to turn the rod but each time I straighten the tweezers they bend a little bit easier.

I brace myself against the wall and push on the door but this is an old apartment, it probably was built before Australia was settled and was made to last.

I give my tweezers one final effort. Jerking hard and not caring if they break I give my best shot. With an unceremonious “pop” the lock unlatches and I bundle out. About an hour and a half after going in I am finally free and surprised with how upset I’m feeling. I breathe the cool air imagining just how good it would feel to be outside after an extended time in isolation. I grab my boots and jacket ready for a calming walk.

As I leave the apartment Jette and Irina come home, laughing and happy with their shopping mission, they’re oblivious to my recent drama. When she sees me Jette immediately becomes serious and asks, “What’s wrong babe?” in a concerned voice. She later told me that when I was explaining my need to be outside I looked like I had seen a ghost. Now…well, I am mainly embarrassed that such a silly little thing would rattle me so badly (hence my need to share it with the world!) Why should a quiet enclosed space make me so upset?

Anyway I have grown from the experience and added four new items to my Bucketlist:

  1.  Never tease anyone about fears which may seem silly (Jette & spiders).
  2. Always carry my multi tool with me.
  3. Spend more time outside.
  4. Never get thrown in gaol.

4 Responses to Claustrophobic me.

  • Forest Parks says:

    Ha ha ha, sorry to be laughing but that is hilarious! I have actually had to get out of a bathroom with tweezers before. Luckily no claustrophobia in that instance for me!

    I do have an odd dislike of the idea of fish I can’t see so it makes it hard for me to swim in the sea!!! I do get in there eventually but am never 100% comfortable…. Odd what phobias we are gifted with.

    • Ben says:

      Weird isn’t it Forest…I also have this thing about cows and clowns (not together) but that is another story! Totally understand about the slimy ocean critters thing though.

  • Jette Godsk Gudiksen via Facebook says:

    Hahaha, love your form B! Despite my concern for you in light of the haunted look on your face after the ‘incident’ I am, however, quite sure I didn’t call you babe… If I ever do, I hereby give you permission to slap me!

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