Facing my fears

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.

Ocean Grove, New Jersey. June 2017

 

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

  1. My anxiety around water was the fear that I couldn’t dive in and save my child should they need me to.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Tuesday 16th Jan 2018 10:35am

 

Peace and love,

Hila

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45 thoughts on “Facing my fears

  1. That’s great that you are learning to swim and that you had your kids learn at an early age. My mom was in your shoes. She did not know how to swim but had me and my siblings learn at an early age. A couple of us eventually became lifeguards and swimming instructors as teenagers because our mom had us take lessons early on and we thank her for that. Swimming is great and once you learn, you’ll always remember how to swim. It becomes a natural lifelong habit. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do really love it. My oldest has gone through all the levels and is finishing off his Rookie Lifeguard training. I am so proud of him and I hope I can make them proud of me too. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I often read your blog but never comment. I feel the need to comment on this one because it’s so close to home. I have been really struggling with anxiety recently and last week reached out in search of some therapy to help me. I’ve not even had an appointment yet but the day after making the appointment I felt so much better already, just because I had made positive steps towards feeling better. Facing those fears is good for us even if we don’t feel like it. Well done to you for getting in the water. BIG HUGE well done for letting yourself enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story too. Accepting that you need help is the biggest most daunting step. Well done you! Sending you e hugs and wishing all the best on your journey with conquering this fear. xxxxxx

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  3. I’m a swimmer but can still relate to what you are talking about as I have a fear of heights and have worked hard to overcome it including learning to fly. I’m still not thrilled up high but no longer drop to my knees and cry!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great that you’re loving swimming too now. I doubt your kids even noticed your fear (my mum is terrified of deep water and boats and I went on to be a scuba diving instructor and boat handler) but now you can enjoy the freedom of swimming

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lesley. I do have my oldest who channels me and I am now determined to ‘undo’ his water safety anxiety for his siblings. He can swim fine but he basically says more or less the same stuff I say. But if I could learn how to swim I can do this too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GOOD FOR YOU! Terror is such a compelling thing, and I think you were so smart to perceive what it was doing to you and to the energy you were giving to your children, and so brave to face it and do something about it. That to me is such an excellent example for them and for others, and they may well look back and tell stories about how you used to be so scared and freaking out and then you faced it and learned to swim and it made all the difference and they really respect that. Taking action really is the best thing to do to face fears, very often. Good for you! {Plus that is a very cute swimsuit, I must say–and a very serious The Matrix-looking face!)

    I keep having these tedious neardeath things and have been dealing with that–after I got electrocuted some ten years back there are leftover electrical messes in my body so I get epilepsy-type things, severe convulsions and choking episodes which have killed and half-killed me a few times and then I come back, and i have to tell you it is wearing on the system. I learned from a singing teacher that asthmatics can’t exhale, and that has saved me when my body chokes on a sip of water: I first time slammed the torso against the wall to get the air going again, and that worked, and other times have just tried to do versions of that to make the air come out and break the odd airlock in the body. So, yeah, that and starting a new tarot-reading office in Woodstock NY this month have been the be-brave things for me recently. Doesn’t it feel like things were terrifying for a few years, and now we are all getting braver…?

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    1. Thats a perfect description of it! I cant think of anything else when I am doing front crawl – there are moments when I get my stroke, alignment and breathing perfect and it feels like a zen moment. I am working on having more of those moments in the pool. x

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  6. Well done Hila! I was a qualified scuba diver and yet an appalling swimmer until I had adult improves swimming lessons – and at a somewhat more advanced age than you. I’m now delighted to be able to swim laps and still be able to move my neck the following day.
    Enjoy swimming – and don’t beat yourself up because you took your time getting there 😃.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely LOVED this post of yours. It takes a lot of guts to face up to your fears and I’m thrilled you’ve overcome this particular hurdle so easily. Good luck with your next endeavour.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done you!! It’s really empowering to conquer your fears. I love swimming, although haven’t been in ages. Growing up in the Southern hemisphere, swimming was a must. My girls love it too, my eldest’s coach called her “little shrimp” because she loved swimming so much.

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    1. The first time I manage to swim a lap non stop I was buzzing with so much joy! I felt like I could take on anything if I had done this :-). My kids love swimming too and I cant wait for our next holiday so I can show them what I can do now.

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      1. Not really. I am getting used to them though I find I have to stop avery 15 minutes or so to take them off. One of my swim teachers was saying that eventually I will get used to them. But then they also get foggy after wa while 🙂

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  9. Yay for you!!! I used to swim laps but I can only do breaststroke and gee I got bored. I have been doing deep water aqua running on and off for a few years now – we put on float belts and do running where you can’t touch the bottom and other exercises – great for the whole body, uses the resistance of the water but also supported by it for your joints. I love it ;o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aqua running sounds fun! I was chatting with another mum about my swimming lessons and she made me realise something. Now that I can swim and have water confidence , there are so many other water based activities that have opened up to me – I am keen on the idea of scuba diving and white water rafting. Eventually I want to try canoeing, kayaking – its like I have unlocked a whole new world 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Well done Hila, I’ve never been confident in water and now balance issues mean I’m really not safe in water. My kids are great swimmers and fortunately haven’t picked up my fears. Well done on both recognising and facing your fears head on 🙂

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    1. Thank you. I have also been lucky that most of my kids havent picked up my anxieties. My oldest one channels me though when it comes to the water thing and I hope I can ‘undo’ that particular anxiety in him. x

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  11. Oh Hila, I hear you! Swimming isn’t my issue, but there are other anxieties I’m so terrified of passing on to my children, and it never occurred to me that my fear of passing them on could be the thing that actually passes them on… I’m so admiring of your resolve and the empowerment it brings, and wish you years and years of joyful splashing around with your children!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Being a parent is so challenging and we are all just trying our best. I am so looking forward to our next holiday so I can show them what mummy can now do:-).

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  12. Wonderful that you are facing your fears and having a good time with it. If you ever have the chance to visit Ocean Grove, NJ again, please let me know. I would love to meet up with you. I do not live too far from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love to meet you too! I will let you know when we are going there next. We have a wedding to attend in June in the Annapolis area but we havent yet figured out what else we will be doing. Will let you know once I have finalised our plans and whether we’ll have time to go back to Ocean Grove. I love it there and we have been there 3 times so far.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Its so funny how its easy to think that you are the only one who is like that but we are not alone. Well done to you for facing your fear too! xxx

      Liked by 2 people

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