I have a problem with water. It's actually a paralyzing issue with water, in that if it comes in contact with my face I have to close my eyes, my entire body tenses and I. CANNOT. BREATHE. This is a painful, and (living in Florida) often embarrassing predicament to find myself in.
|Just like Elphaba, I am doomed to melt.|
I did not take my first shower until I was 21, preferring instead to wake at 4:30 AM each morning to take a bath where I could have control as to whether the water would get in my face or not. To this day, I have to face away from the stream of water and my eyes remain closed as much as possible.
I used to laugh it off. "Fat girls don't need to learn to swim - fat floats". "Swimming messes up my tan, I am cool right here." And it worked. I didn't have to explain to anyone how monumentally terrified I was, I didn't have to tell anyone that my body was aching with fear and dread (and horrible thoughts of my lifeless body floating along the top of the water).
Then Z came along. And a study that said that 90% of our fears come from our mother. And the guilt that my child could be this afraid, could be this paralyzingly terrified, well it ruined me.
I put on a brave face, I take her to the lessons, I take her to the Springs, the lake, the beach, the pool. I smile and giggle when she splashes water into my face (even though every droplet is painfully burning it's way through my body, stinging, hurting, torturing me, even though I spend most of the time not breathing, even though my body is SO incredibly tense that EVERYTHING hurts). I try to help her learn to blow bubbles into the surface of the water, the same way that I have seen her instructors tell us. I try to help learn to use her arms and legs at the same time. I try to push all of the horrible images out of my brain, I try to pretend I am having fun.
It was so much easier when she was 6 months. She would hold tight to me and we would walk around the pool together, occasionally, gently splashing the surface. Or at 1 and 2, when she was more comfortable but still understood that she just needed to hold onto me, that I would not drop her, that I would not let her go.
But now she is a big kid (or so she says).
And now she believes (wholeheartedly) that she can swim. In fact, apparently she has always been able to swim. Her friends? They are all 3 and 4 years older than her. They know how. Of course, she knows it too. And there I am in the middle of several kids - splashing, kicking, going under, trying to hold on tight to my sunscreen-slippery child while she emulates everything that they are doing.
And on the inside? I am dying an awful, painful and incredibly emotional death.