I have always been afraid of water. One of my most terrifying memories of being in the water was when I was 10 years old at a water park with my mom, aunt and cousins. I almost drowned in the Tidal Wave. As I braced for impact, the waves pushed me into the darkness. My body tensed up and as I gulped down water in between gasping for air, I was convinced I would die. Luckily someone (I don't recall who) helped me to safety. For years I avoided the water; large bodies especially. I was never a good swimmer so getting in a pool let alone ocean was daunting even with a life jacket. I also avoided snorkeling as I felt claustrophobic and panicked, holding my body tight, waiting for the inevitable fear that my body had held onto for all those years; the fear that I would drown.
My view of water changed during my recent trip to Maui.
In my search for PURE pleasure, pleasure without fear of a consequence* (*trauma survivors have a hard time relaxing and/or enjoying pleasure for fear that the other shoe will drop similar to their past when it actually did), on the first day of our trip, I decided to get in the water.
This was huge as I NEVER got in the water. I always sat on the beach or sideline watching others play. Granted I had a death grip on my partner as the waves crashed against us, some waves being bigger than others. I quickly noticed that the more I tensed up, the more it increased my fear and dread. However, if I loosened my grip, I noticed that there was a peaceful and gentle flow to the water and within me.
My fear of being in the water eventually subsided.
In the following days, we ended up swimming and even snorkeling (I actually snorkeled!!). I had an absolute life changing experience under water. Once I quieted my mind and let my body flow with the tide, there was a peace and calmness that I had never known existed. When I was able to get out of my head and relax, focusing on my deep inhales and soft exhales underwater, I went into what felt like a meditative state. It was as though I was one with the tropical fish and sea turtles. I could have stayed down there forever. I felt as though I was back in my mother's womb.
This year indeed has been a year of me feeling like I have been bracing for impact with various tidal waves hitting my shoreline causing an internal ripple of one kind or another. And yet each lesson has taught me that growth involves tidal waves and sometimes tsunamis; waves of good and bad, positive and negative. I am learning that it is not a matter of whether or not we will be hit by a tidal wave, but when; that this is part of the ebb and flow of life. We don't have to judge it or us. We don't have to judge ourselves when we are hit by a tidal wave. We don't have to blame ourselves, claiming we should have known better or why didn't we see the tidal wave coming?
For so long I had this belief (clearly a false one) that if I meditated daily, and did/followed everything I was supposed to (being positive, focusing on good intentions and the mere act of being a good person), that bad things wouldn't happen to me. As a trauma survivor, when big issues arise, it tends to trigger implicit memory of one's past which reignites PTSD symptoms. This had been my experience. As I kept bracing for the impact, I noticed I started to feel paralyzed. I am not one to be paralyzed.
Being in the water during that week taught me that no matter how strong the waves, I can roll with it. We all can.
I also learned that I can only own what is mine. I am not responsible for other people's shit. You are not either. We don't have to brace ourselves and wait for someone to shit on us or clean up another person's shit for them. We can continue to shine like the bright, beautiful stars that we are. Brilliant and fluid, loving and kind, peaceful and willing.
That is what life is about. Life is about rolling with the tidal waves; staying fluid amidst the choppy waters.
Stay fluid dear souls. We need more fluidity in life's ocean.
*I want to take a minute to acknowledge the courageous and beautiful souls who attended my Trauma Workshop this past weekend. Powerful healing took place. My workbook will be published this fall and I am working on a meditation cd. Stay Tuned!
Picture: by digitalresult.com
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