Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prose - Swimming

The fear of water began long before I got to a swimming pool. It began at a very young age, having my water element hampered through sexual abuse.
So when my Mom took me to the neighborhood pool, around five or six years of age, for swimming lessons, I was filled with apprehension. Somehow, I did okay until we had to put our heads underwater. My Mom said I wouldn’t go back after that.
As I got a little older, nine, ten years old, I began to hang out at the pool to be with my friends. All this playful hanging out resulted in being thrown in the deep end a few too many times. My fear pulled me down. There was no popping back up. Someone always had to jump in and get me. These times sealed it for me, water was not my friend. Where was the gumption I needed to work through this.
I loved the ocean though, getting to spend lots of summers in W. Palm Beach and Palm Beach with my Aunt Jean and favorite cousin, Sigrid. My cousin and her friends took the ocean for granted and loved spending their time in the swimming pools, just across Ocean Drive from the beach. But still I didn’t learn to swim.
In my teens, after I met my future husband, we would join others at a nearby lake for water-skiing. With a life jacket on, I attempted several times to get up, without success. I kept pushing down my failure about water.
When I had my own daughters, I made sure they learned to swim. It was a challenge for my youngest, having to have many special classes with Janet McCabe’s Swim School, where the teacher apologized for having to be so firm with Laura. But it worked.
Finally, a miracle came about in my early forties. Someone fell into my lap who wanted to give me private swimming lessons in trade for bodywork. We started at Rally Sport. Oh, my god, the water was so cold. I couldn’t relax enough, so we soon moved to Mapleton Center, where the water is much warmer. And at the time it was naturally sterilized. I actually began to have fun and enjoyed looking forward to my lesson and moving my body in the water. My special goggles helped a lot. I actually learned to swim, not great, but overcome some of my fear. Its never flowed fluidly, but, I still love to go to the Mapleton pool, whether to do my playful swimming with the floaters or their water aerobics. Each time the water welcomes me more and more.

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