This picture represents my first step towards overcoming my fear resulting from a childhood trauma.
I was around 6 or 7years old when I was first enrolled in a swimming school. I enjoyed being in the pool and soon became very confident swimming with the training float tied around my waist. I floated face down, went into the deep end by myself and enjoyed playing in the water. Until.....the day the trainer decided I was ready to swim without the float. Sounds reasonable. The practical next step. Sure. Except, he didn’t talk me through what to expect. He did not prep me by letting me into the shallow end without the float to experience, and get used to, the sensation of being heavy in water, practice kicking to become buoyant by myself and basically learn to swim without the aid of the float.
No. None of that.
Instead, he took me directly to the deep end of the pool and dropped me there like a hot potato. Yup. Can you guess what happened? - I SANK to the bottom. I can’t clearly remember what happened next. If he had to pull me out or if I managed to come up by myself. All I remember is, I was shaking, crying hysterically, begging him to “let me go to my mommy”.
I never went back for my lessons.
Since then, I have had a fear of water. Although I did teach myself to swim when I was older, to date I cannot put my head underwater. As soon as I do, my body reacts adversely. My heart rate shoots up and I hyperventilate. In short, I get a panic attack.
For a long while now, I have been wanting to transcend this fear. This photo commemorates my first steps. It is me in an ocean for the first time ever beyond just dipping my toes on the beach.
It was not easy at all. In fact made harder by the fact that this beach (Flat Rock beach, Killarney Heights) has weeds under water when I expected just sand. This added a whole new layer and dimension to my fear, and I almost gave up. I had to really focus on my breathing to keep myself calm. I kept repeating in my head – “I am strong, I can do this”. The result was, with each passing second, it got easier. I started to get used to the feeling of the weeds around my feet and eventually even knelt under water.
I even put my head under water for a split second - in & out.
Of course, I couldn’t do that without the help of my partner. I had to hold his hand to put my head under and would have turned around as soon as my feet touched the weeds if he hadn’t reassured and encouraged me.
The fear has been my reality for most of my life (still is). I always loved being in the beach, and yet enjoying the ocean even in the simplest of ways was only a dream. But now it is starting to look like a possibility. A distant one still, but a possibility all the same.
I am proud of myself for this achievement. I am proud of myself for the courage. And I am proud of myself for taking this huge first step towards healing.
For all of you out there battling with fears of any kind. Take this as an encouragement and an example. You can transcend your fear if you wish to, once ready. It takes will and determination, yes. But believe me, our mind crippled by fear makes everything way bigger than it really is. Like the weeds under water. It only took me minutes to get comfortable with them once I allowed myself to realise that there is nothing to be scared of. That they are JUST WEEDS. Give yourself the chance so that you can experience life without fear. Meanwhile.....
Wish me luck!🤞🏽😇❤️