In keeping with this week’s theme of overcoming fears…
The beach has always been one of my favorite places. I find a deep relaxation laying along the shore in 90-degree temperatures with a hint of breeze occasionally teasing my skin. I love listening to the caws of seagulls and the sound of waves crashing. And, for many years, I enjoyed a cool swim just beyond the breakers whenever the sun became too hot and the breezes too few. Unfortunately, in recent years, my desire to swim has faded.
I haven’t done more than dip a toe in the ocean in five years. During Brian’s and my honeymoon, one of my internal circuits must have flipped and swimming=good became swimming=bad. At the time, we were attempting to snorkel at a South Kona beach. Well, I attempted while Brian succeeded. The moment I jumped from the lava rocks into the swirling waters of the Pacific, my breath caught, my heart fluttered and I was positive that the ocean was going to shove me into the rocks and cut me to pieces. Brian tried to coax me further into the bay and away from the rocks, but I just couldn’t do it. I panicked, dog-paddled back to shore, clawed my way out of the water and returned to the safety of our towels for the duration of the afternoon.
When we arrived on Kaua’i a few days later, I could only make myself enter the ocean at Baby Beach in Po’ipu, known for its child-friendly, reef-protected swimming area. Bucking up my courage, I went waist deep. Nevertheless, I still had moments of panic as I saw the waves coming at me, before they crashed into the reef and diminished a safe distance from me.
My fear of the ocean seems to have caught hold suddenly after many years and a series of incidents involving the wake of a giant navy ship, the pull of long-shore currents and a growing feeling of powerlessness against the strength of such a large body of water. It has been a tremendous surprise. After all, the most dangerous ocean encounter I’ve had occurred twenty years ago, and it had no immediate effect on my swimming habits. Over time, these experiences have apparently coalesced in my mind into something larger and life-altering.
So, what do I do? We’ve been on the Big Island of Hawaii for two months and we haven’t yet donned our swimsuits. But we have two more months, and I’m going to do it. I think it’s time to break the cycle of fear where it began, don’t you?
Having had no experience with overcoming phobias or irrational fears, however, I have no idea where to begin. I’ve looked into swimming beaches around Kona and have found several. I guess the next step is to put on my swimsuit and go scope them out. I’ll let you know how it goes…
P.S. If you know any tricks for overcoming fears or phobias, I’d love to hear them!