Sunday, April 11, 2010

I can do this! Right??

Today was the first swim lesson I have had in 32 years. The last time I took a lesson, (and those from Portland will know what I'm talking about...), Dishman pool was called Knott Street, the pool was outside, and there was a wickedly high diving board. I like to refer to it as the board of death, as it was that board that the Wicked Intstructor I had got very impatient with me taking too long to jump.

I remember loving to swim. I started when I was 7 years old and couldn't wait to go to lessons or open play. For almost 2 years I climbed the ranks from Goldfish to Shark (ok, could have been a different name, but I was up there!)So proud of my certificates gradutating me to the next level. I had no fear. I remember what it was like to feel fluid with the water. I remember the pressure of the water on my body, and the full feeling in my ears and head when I was fully submerged. It was awesome. I was a mermaid. I loved it. Then the Wicked Instructor, who I think ate small children for lunch, was having a bad day and just couldn't wait for me to be ready to make the plunge into the deep end (Yes, that would be 12 feet). She yanked the pole and I fell into the water, completed unprepared. I remember the searing, stinging pain in my nose, throat, eyes and chest as I tried to make my way to the surface. It was the first time I felt fear in the water.

That fear has held on to me and I to it every since that day. I never played in the water with my children. I made sure that they learned to swim and were comfortable in the water because I knew I wasn't going to be able to save them if they got in trouble. I felt comfortable in water aerobics, in the shallow side of course. As long as the water did not come past my chin I was fine.

Flash waaaay forward. Here I am, 40 years old and still terrified of relaxing in the water. Despite the fact that while on vacation I treaded water in the ocean, snorkeled and even floated on my back...I can't use a kickboard in the pool...Go figure! I still have dreams from time to time of swimming, feeling no fear, feeling completely natural in the water.

I am back in the same pool. It's now called Dishman community center. It's now indoors and the wickedly high dive board is gone. There is only one know, and it looks manageable. I want to feel that confidence I felt back when I was 8 years old. Diving for rings at the bottom of the pool. Backstroking. Butterflys. I want to feel no fear once again in the pool. I know I can do it. I have to trust myself and trust the water. I have to work with it, not against it. I want to be a mermaid again!! Yes, I CAN do this!!

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