I tried my first corn maze yesterday. It is a fall activity that I’ve been interested in for a couple of years but have never managed to participate in for one reason or another. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have been ready to enjoy it, given my heightened anxiety post-trauma, until this year. I was surprised in a displeased way at the towering height of the corn stalks through which the paths meandered. We were given what was termed a map, a glaring misnomer as it was essentially a page with haphazard squiggles, with no indication as to a start, orientation, exit, or even what was path versus what was corn. It was a pointless prop to hold that was perhaps intended to provide a sense of security, though anyone who’s ever seen a real map would know the whole thing was a sham. We took the map, each of us taking a stab at trying to make sense of it, and after confirming it was indeed useless, crumpled it into a pocket. Just a few twists in to the journey, I was suddenly flushed with a prickly panic that felt that an acid infused intravenously, starting in my feet and traveling upwards through my body to my head. My heart started thundering in my ears and I had to take deliberately slow breaths to stay poised and composed. I was with my husband and his college roommate so I wanted to appear calm, if not excited and giddy!
I wasn’t so much scared that I’d never get out, though there were twinges of that, but mostly I felt trapped in a potentially dangerous place. My irrational fear brain kept devising scary scenarios like how the corn maze could conceal hidden rapists, who have turned the meandering paths and looming stalks into their predatory playground. I had to focus on staying present with my companions to draw the shades on my ridiculous anxieties and remind myself that not only were they incredibly unlikely, but that I was also protected by the accompaniment of two strong, protective males. I felt more confident and safe when I was in the lead, seemingly in control of our safe destiny versus when I was blindly complying with the whims of one of the other guys, more worried that they would steer us in a leery direction. Of course, I recognize that this is idiotic; however, it was my reality. During most of our trek, I was able to relax and enjoy the conversation and walk, and as it was an unseasonably cool and windy morning, the natural wind shield afforded by the tall, enveloping stalks was a welcome benefit.
We did successfully navigate out of the maze at which point I made a silent agreement with myself that a person really only needs to do one corn maze on his or her life to scratch that permanently resolved itch. The hosting farm had a bunch of other fall activities to enjoy so we checked out a few of those and then selected a perfect carving pumpkin and headed out. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Ben to create some sort of funny face or design.
Given that I’ve had interest in walking through a corn maze for a few years, I’m still glad we went, even if it was scarier and less careless fun than I imagined it would be. I’m thankful I was with two guys I love and trust and that we were there in the daytime. I think it would have been terrifying alone at night! As it was, the maze was deserted when we went because it was early morning on a day that was forecasting rain and strong winds. In some ways, this unfavorable forecast was advantageous as we avoided any semblance of a crowd (which, I not only hate but also would have significantly detracted from the adventurousness of the maze experience with all sorts of kids running around screaming, “it’s this way!” and robbing others of the mystery), but it certainly contributed a certain spookiness to it as well, with the light mist, desertedness, and vague foggy haze. I feel like I conquered something in that simple farm attraction: I successfully overruled my fear brain’s insistence that I was in danger and I stayed present and joyful (mostly!) with my buddies.