Rockin’ the side pony at Alki Beach, 1986
From an early age, I always loved the water. My mom used to tell me the stories about how when I was one and we went to visit my grandparents in southern California, I jumped into the deep end of the pool after only have been exposed to a few water babies classes. (Side note: apparently there was a time in my life when I had no fear…or I had a death wish. Same difference.) I still love the water and I relish any time when I’m able to get out into a lake, the ocean, or even a kiddie pool. I feel free in the water and I will wait until my skin is completely pruney and I’m on the verge of burning before I finally drag myself out. Given all this…
Why would I be afraid of scuba diving?
Here’s the thing about when I swim – I rarely put my face in. I will dunk myself under water to try to touch the bottom of the pool or to get over the shock of cold water. But if I’m under there and start to think about not being able to breathe, I panic. After many swim lessons, I still avoided doing it the “right way” because that meant putting my face in the water and only occasionally coming up for air. So instead I look like I’m drowning, pulling my face out every.single.stroke. Do you know how long you can swim doing that? Not long. I tend to prefer the backstroke.
On top of the water, where I belong
As we prepare ourselves to set off on this year-long adventure, the idea of scuba diving came up. I (foolishly) asked Shawn, “so, since we’re going to such popular scuba diving areas, do you want to try it out? It’s pretty expensive…” I sat there, waiting for his reply to be something along the lines of, “No way! I’m not paying all that money to suffocate under water and get left to drift off at sea. Forget that.” Instead I got, “yeah, I think that would be fun.” Shit. Ok, so his response was really what I was thinking.
I have this thing about breathing. I like it. I tend to give myself panic attacks when I get overwhelmed and since I have asthma, that usually means I start to hyperventilate. The idea of trusting myself to breathe with something in my mouth with a tank stuck to my back and being underwater for that long really freaks me out. I can’t even bring myself to snorkel.
But I love the ocean.
Much like outer space, the idea of the depths of the ocean fascinate me to no end. There’s a whole other world down there. Letting these fears win means missing out on all that.
Thinking about it, though, what do I really fear? It’s not the water. It’s not even really the breathing.
It’s the letting go.
I have this nasty habit of trying to control things. I plan and plan and plan until I give myself some illusion that I can actually control anything. I’ve learned some very hard lessons in the past couple of years about trying to control anything or anyone around me. It’s not possible. At some point, you have to state your intentions, trust the tools you’ve been given, take the leap and let go.
So, here it is: I’m going to do it. I’m stating my intentions. I’ve been given ample advice and resources from friends who scuba dive. It seems that each time the idea pops up into my brain, something happens that encourages it. And look what popped up on my Twitter feed today as I finalized this post.
Ok, I got it!
I feel like I need a challenge along the way to push me (as if travel for a year wasn’t enough of a challenge). To encourage me to let go. To test my own trust in myself and my abilities.
And I don’t think Shawn will let them forget me out at sea.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
“Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow.” Australian Associated Press
“… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams.” Nomadicmatt.com
“In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction.” Courier Mail