The Channel Tunnel — or the “Chunnel” as it’s often called — is an underwater tunnel more than 31 miles long linking France and Great Britain. Though the idea for this tunnel was introduced in the early 1800s, construction of the actual project didn’t take place until nearly two centuries later and required six years of work and billions of dollars. Today, trains zip through the ocean carrying passengers and goods from one country to another at high speeds, making it a modern marvel for sure.

The thought of it makes my heart race — but not in a good way. More like a nightmare-come-true sort of way.

It’s not the fact that traveling in this manner requires riding on a train, although I’ll admit to having a deep, lifelong fear of trains. No, it’s the idea of being underwater, inside a tunnel, in a moving vehicle for so long that makes me panic. Thinking about being trapped and unable to escape literally takes my breath away.

Having never traveled to England or France, I had no idea I was afraid of the Chunnel until a friend mentioned it recently. It came up in a conversation about her vacation and places we’ve seen in our travels. In the blink of an eye, my brain went from dredging up all the memories I could find of mountains and roadside parks to pulling the shutters tight against the thought of being inside a train inside a tunnel under a large body of water. “Oh, I can’t even talk about it!” I declared, practically fanning myself at the mere thought of this voluntary imprisonment, I mean, mode of transportation.

It’s the same way I react to suggestions that I take a cruise. (Trapped on a boat in the middle of an ocean so vast I can’t see land in any direction? No thank you!) It’s the same way I’ve felt while my husband works long hours on the night shift, stuck at home caring for my daughters while my friends met for happy hours and zumba classes, book clubs and Pampered Chef parties. And it’s the same way I feel when I get too caught up in my darkest, most damaging fears and failures, spiraling into a pit that presses in from every side.

Tied down.

What does this have to do with freedom? A lot, actually. Keep reading over at (in)courage to find out what I mean.

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