Today, I was so proud of myself. We have a swimming pool at our condo that we utilize maybe twice a week. My husband and daughter are there much more than I am… I don’t know how to swim! I’m usually the one sitting on the side, putting my feet in, or just jumping around in the water (still able to touch the bottom with my feet) with the water height of 3ft.
But today, I was determined to at least figure out floating! This has always been a challenge because:
– I don’t like water in my ears (would absolutely rather shove myself into a full elevator where no one’s deodorant worked)
– I can’t stand water in my eyes (for some reason, it BURNS and I can’t get over it for a good 5 minutes)
– I don’t know how to swim (that seems important)
– I don’t like accidentally breathing in water through my nose (I can’t grasp holding my breath even just to put my mouth and nose under the water. Something tells me “there’s too much water” and “I’m going to be pulled under!” …so I hyperventilate)
Pretty valid reasons why I prefer to just dangle my feet, right? I thought so too.
Despite those fears, I wasn’t going to get out of the pool until… well… I don’t know until when. I just wanted to FLOAT. I wasn’t able to get my legs to rise to the surface either in front or behind me – that was impossible for the first hour. My niece Katrina tried to talk me through it, tried to pull me to get my legs to elevate, she and Jonny both kept telling me to relax… They could have been speaking Korean, it all sounded the same as it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t listening. I was tense and focused on there is too much water in this pool, I’m definitely going under!
They soon left me alone (not in a mean and antagonizing way like they were bullies and making fun of me)… just to kind of do their own thing in the pool, you know, show off their swimming skills – while “pooh” and I hung out by the rail and kick our legs in a splashing contest.
This floating thing didn’t seem possible, definitely not an option. Nevertheless, I picked up my floaty noodle, wrapped it around my chest, and let that thing sway me across the pool, with my fears and disbelief attached. That freaked me out. I even inhaled pool water through my nose and had that burning for a few minutes.
I started to be able to float (kind of) once I was willing to let the water touch my nose, mouth, and chin. I kept replaying in my mind, hearing Jonny and Katrina telling me to relax. Remembering to stay relaxed became extremely hard. I would notice one of my arms stiff as a board, or my shoulders raised up to the bottom of my earlobes… I was experiencing life changing moments where my body parts were confused on what my brain was telling it to do.
About 20 minutes of at least being able to float vertically (yeah, I didn’t make it to a horizontal position yet, “let’s not get carried away too soon” is what I was thinking) – someone suggested that I use both noodles… well what a marvel idea! I wrapped both of those things around my chest and back like it was a donut and I was the jelly filling in the center. That’s when the fun started to happen! I was FLOATING, on my own, and almost made it to 5ft of water (before I panicked because trying to reach the bottom of the pool while keeping most of my head above the surface meant that I was standing on my tiptoes.
My legs became visible in front of me like I was a marionette being controlled and told what to do. I couldn’t stop smiling an feeling accomplished! I was doing it, actually floating, letting the pool water fill my ears like refills of my morning coffee.
I relaxed – I stayed above water – and I focused on maintaining the moment.
I was able to float for maybe 10 minutes at a time before fear smacked me in the face. As the water carried my body closer the deeper part of the pool, I was okay with that, as long as I could touch the bottom of the pool (if I needed to).
After experiencing floating, and that was all that I knew, it was then hard for me to get out of a floating position without help. Before, my problem was that I couldn’t get my legs up – because it has never happened before, all I knew and experienced was my feet touching the bottom of the pool. Now that I felt (for myself) how to get my legs at surface level, I didn’t know how to get them back down to my original “safe” position.
After I got out of the pool, still feeling like I won a million dollars, I started thinking about staying above water and how that seemed to be a metaphor for life.
I wasn’t able to stay above water because I never experienced it. Other people could do it and make it look easy. But it wasn’t until I was determined to make floating something that I can do for myself. How many times have you seen someone else achieving great things, talking about faith, “showing off” their abilities – and you’re sitting there like, “that’s cool and all, but I can’t even get my legs to float in front of me” (get it? it’s a metaphor).
What we believe is true, is definitely true. But not until we experience it for ourselves, will we truly believe.
The key to getting my body to float today, or to simply conquer a fear – I had to really want it. It didn’t matter what anyone was telling me. Next, I had to RELAX and be calm. It put me in a place of surrendering and just being – completely letting go of all control.
If you are facing a fear, or are worried, or feel like there’s no other options because you haven’t experienced anything other than your current situation:
1. Get determined to WANT the change
2. Relax and be calm
3. Keep practicing until your new “change” is all you know (and you don’t know how to go back to just touching the bottom of the pool)
And remember, it doesn’t matter if you have support or help from others (if that’s what you want, or need). I NEEDED my noodles for support, and I’m sure I’ll use it again until I’m able to do it on my own. Saying you need help is a strength, not a weakness.