Overcoming My Fear – Part 1 – The How

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I have a HUGE fear of water – to the point that I once went 22 years without setting foot in a pool, lake or ocean. I would break out in hives just thinking about getting into water. The first day of trying to get in the pool at my local gym resulted in the gym owner approaching me to make sure I was alright (and probably to make sure I didn’t have anything that was contagious!). I was an absolute mess! The Why of the fear is Part 2 of this blog.

Three years ago, I decided to try to overcome the fear and worked with a swim instructor who specialized in dealing with people with a fear of water. He was so patient and got me to the point that I could float on my back and kick my legs (with flippers on my feet) and actually propel myself down the lane. I was thrilled. As soon as I tried to add my arms into the mix, the instructor realized I had a serious issue which would prevent full range of motion on my right shoulder. After an MRI and surgery for a torn rotator cuff and then another surgery for frozen shoulder, I realized swimming just wasn’t for me. I had been enjoying aqua aerobics class at the gym and thought that may be my limit. I was happy to say that I no longer broke out in hives unless I thought about putting my head underwater.

Two years ago (after the surgeries), my family and I went on vacation to Mexico. I went snorkeling with my husband (who had an absolute death grip on my hand) and was able to go much farther from shore than I thought I could. The water was so clear and warm and I loved every second of it. My husband was so shocked I was able to do it. In fact, I even swam a bit by myself after he let go of my hand. We are planning to go to the same vacation spot in a few months and my husband has said he won’t go snorkeling with me this time. If I’m going to be able to get in the water alone, I need to be a better swimmer.

Last week, I got in the pool to try to swim. Same hives as before. I worked on doing what I could and trying to remember what the instructor had taught me. It’s been a very emotionally exhausting week. I am still testing the edges of my fear (which is complicated due to a memory block – see The Why blog) but I can now put my head underwater (as long as I’m holding my nose), do a fairly decent backstroke and do a breaststroke with my head above water. I still have a long way to go but I am happy to be making progress.

I am so proud of myself and SO thankful to all of my SparkFriends who have been very encouraging through all of this. I will say that this is one of the hardest things I have ever done. I know I will eventually reach the limits of my courage but I have been blessed with a strong body, a strong faith and a possibly unlimited amount of stubbornness.
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