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Fighting Fear In Five Feet of Water

When I swim in water that is over my head my chest feels tight and I feel like I can not breath.

I like water.

I like water that comes up to my chin. I feel safe if my feet can touch the bottom of a swimming pool. I will put my face in the water. I can blow bubbles. I can do the back stroke. I can float. I am learning how to do the front crawl. I am learning how to put my arms in the water without sounding like a beaver slapping their tail in warning. I listen carefully when my children’s swimming instructors show them how to side breath and how to swim with their elbows up and make ice cream scoops with their hands.

The YMCA we belong to has two swimming pools. The North Pool and the South Poop. The North Pool  is a lap pool  where the local swim team practices.  It has cool water and is nine feet deep in the deepest end.  The South pool is a therapeutic pool and is used for swim lessons. The water is warm and the deep end is five feet.

I swim in the warmer pool. I am learning to side breath with the front crawl.  I send e-mails to my friend Joy who use to be a competitive swimmer, asking for advice. I am learning to not be afraid. I don’t want my past to define my present.

Five years ago when my son was eight he reluctantly took swimming lessons. I kept telling him to be brave. I would quote him  2 Timothy 1:7. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  Asking him to be brave when I was afraid myself.  I signed up for the Adult Fear of Water Class which ran concurrently with his class. I felt foolish, admitting fear. Admitting fear as an adult.  I was being brave for my son. Learning a little more about swimming each day. Chasing away the terror.

My prescription is -7 in one eye and -6 in the other. I can not see well without my glasses. When I took lessons as a child, I took my prescription glasses off and placed them on my towel before I got into the swimming pool. I could not see the instructor.  I could not hear her. I was scared of the water. Distances seemed farther away without my glasses.  I splashed in the water, and did not pass the class.

Several months ago, I ordered prescription goggles on-line. I can see when I swim now. I can open my eyes underwater. I am not as scared of the bottom of the pool now, as I can see it.

I can see myself swimming in the North lap pool where the water is nine feet deep. I can see myself swimming in a center lane where I can not grab the side of the pool. For now, I will keep swimming in five feet of water, gaining confidence and strength as I go slowly back and forth.

I will let you know when I go to the other pool. One day, just not yet.

About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

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  • — Asking him to be brave when I was afraid myself. I felt foolish, admitting fear. Admitting fear as an adult. Chasing away the terror. —
    I can understand that type of fear. Change the setting from a pool to a doctor’s office. Change the deep end to a blood pressure cuff. Complete fear for me. I can read about blood pressure cuffs and panic. I can see one and rush away in panic. I know it sounds so silly. Just as you can tie your fear back to being that little girl splashing in the water and not being able to see, I can related my fear back to specific doctor visits. I, too, am taking steps to beat my fear. I downloaded a heart rate monitor app on my phone. I can now calmly check my heart rate – and actually find it quite fun. Just finished on the treadmill – what’s my heart rate? Laying in bed – what’s my heartrate. I’m working on the blood pressure cuff part – I actually picked up one to buy at the store the other day – and then quickly in a panic set it back down. But it is progress. 🙂 (and don’t worry – last time I had my bp checked it was still within a fine range for the panic I felt – I just know it can be better without the panic. I know I can (with Jesus’ help and peace) beat the blood pressure cuff. (I’m sorry that was a long comment wasn’t it!)

    • A long and thoughtful comment. I am glad you told me. I will pray for you to be bold and brave.

  • I so enjoy reading what you write, the way you phrase things and the lens you see your life through. “I don’t want my past to define my present.” Facing fears with prescription goggles…brillant really.

    • Oh Kim, you do know how to cheer me up. I appreciate your comments. I am delighted that you enjoy my writing.