Every year I try something new. It’s just what I started doing when I decided to live. I didn’t have anything wrong with me. No cancer or life altering accident, maybe just some therapy.
I lived in fear for most of my life. I still do but for the past almost ten years I decided not to let my fears prevent my living. I’ve found that some fears are a bit more difficult to push through than others.
I never learned how to swim. My brothers both took swim lessons early but for some reason I never got to take them before fear gripped me to a stand still. I still went to the pool and occasionally we’d head down south and go to the beach. I’d have a great time as long as I could comfortably put my feet to the ground or was death gripping a device that would keep me afloat.
I finally decided to take adult swim lessons. I’m on my third try. I always complete the classes and have some skill and comfort in the water, as long as I’m in the shallow kiddie 3–4 feet area. The instructors don’t seem to understand exactly what my issue is even as I’m explaining it. It’s different when you don’t trust a person or in my case an element.
I’ve almost drowned a few times. People watching it happen never felt that I was going to drown but when I would go under water without consent and unexpectedly my brain says “hey, you’re going to die now”. That feels like drowning. It’s actually quite terrifying and emotional.
I love water. I love how it makes me feel when I can relax floating, when I can feel waves crashing against my back as I sit on the beach letting the sand ride under me back to the ocean. However, I do not trust the water with my life.
I had one moment in the Bahamas twenty years ago between freshman and sophomore years of college. I visited my roommate’s home. We took a trip to an even smaller island than her island. It was kind of like a bay or cove or something. The water was calm and there was coral below in some spots.
They had the basic snorkel gear. We went over to the coral together. That was when I let go. I was floating looking at the ocean life below me. I knew if I stepped on the coral it would hurt and possibly hurt the coral too. I stayed there for what felt like hours but may have just been an hour. My friend had to call me in for our beach front cookout.
One of the best days, best feelings of my life with water. I wanted to go back but by the time we finished dinner it was late and we had to head back to the other island. I know I can have a good relationship with water because it hasn’t always been bad to me. I fear it will betray me and I won’t know how to get it’s strong grip from off my head.
So, I take lessons in hopes of gaining the confidence I need to stay afloat and not panic. Not just that but to enjoy the freedom of letting go. I almost have it and every time, I hope my brain finally clicks and allows me to be free to love. Maybe 3rd times a charm or maybe I’ll have to keep repeating the class. Either way I work hard to not let fear win. So until then I keep stepping into the pool, getting my face wet, blowing bubbles, kicking my feet, feeling my body rise, move my arms ahead of me and then along side my body then out of the water and back again. I will do it all until I win and can thank fear for making me stronger but your services are no longer needed.
I will swim!