I felt the urge to write after I got back from my swimming lesson. I have never been able to swim. My whole life I was convinced that I will meet my death in water. Sure I could wear a swimsuit and I could get into a pool – hardly ever straying from the shallow end of the pool. If I happened to get near the deep end, I always stuck by the edges where I could hold on.
The funny thing is that I was always so ashamed of the fact that I couldn’t swim that I vowed my own children wouldn’t feel that way because I was going to make sure they will be able to swim. All my children have had swimming lessons from babyhood. Smugness was a feeling I carried around whenever I thought about how enlightened I was. Even though I can’t swim I wouldn’t pass on a fear of drowning to my kids because I have empowered them! How wrong I was.
As a family, we travel a lot. Most places we end up have some large body of water. The kids and my husband love the seaside (especially a warm beach like Dubai or US ones in summer).
During these times I was constantly on edge, worried, concerned, agitated, tense. Constantly exhorting them to be careful, to watch out, cautioning. I would move from these gentle feelings and actions to stronger admonishments and occasional freaked out yelling the longer we were at the beach in the water.
My kids are comfortable in water. I was not. My anxiety was ruining what would have otherwise been an awesome time. The sad thing is that this wasn’t why I realised that I needed to learn to swim.
My decision to learn came out of 3 separate but interrelated issues
- My anxiety around water was the fear that I couldn’t dive in and save my child should they need me to.
- Feelings of powerlessness contribute to depression and taking an action helps with mental wellbeing (for me). I felt powerless about this possible scenario and learning to swim would empower me.
- I needed an aerobic regular exercise in addition to yoga (endorphin release that happens with exercise is good for mental wellbeing) that was gentle on joints – I had tried running (again) and after 2 weeks I remembered why running never sticks with me – my joints don’t like it.
These 3 combined pushed me to take the plunge and find adult swimming lessons. I was lucky enough to find a space on a Tueday morning class in October 2017. I have had 8 Tuesdays of swimming so far since I started (there have been half terms, school training days and Christmas holidays in between).
Guess what? Swimming was nowhere, nowhere, near as hard as I thought. I can now do front crawl and backstroke. Currently, I am working on improving on my left arm stroke, making my breathing more efficient and improving stamina. I can do laps now. The one hour in the pool flies by and I LOVE the time I am swimming. The glee that I feel when I am splashing about and diving around is all powerful. Why, oh why, did I not do this sooner? Why did I have to wait 37 years? I want to apologize to my children for curbing their enthusiasm and bliss when they were in the water and feeling like I now do. All I could see then was danger. I now know the joy – which I didn’t even consider while deciding to do it.
Even though I had made sure they had swimming lessons I was still passing on my fears because I hadn’t faced my fear. I did. I conquered it so easily it was like in those movies where the protagonist walks up to face the large, tall and menacing shadow looming from around the corner but it turns out to be a small creature standing in front of an angled light.
How many more fears have I not faced that are holding me back from living my best life? What I have gained from facing this fear is far more than I could have imagined when I decided to face it. So – this year I will continue to face my fears and let’s see where that takes me.
Thanks for reading my internal dialogue. Have you faced any fears in the recently?
Peace and love,