Learning to Float


I don’t like going out in boats. There is something about a “recreational” structure floating out in the vast expanse of dark deep water where at any moment a storm could strike, sending me to an untimely death, which makes the idea of a relaxing boat ride nonexistent in my world. The bright orange vest I’m casually offered brings me no comfort.

When I first met my husband, the smell of chlorine would make my chest pound uncontrollably. My hands would shake and my eyes fill with tears. A bad learning to swim experience left me with a haunting and irrational fear. He was patient with me and encouraged me to spend time in the water. We spent days and days working on floating. He’d ask me to relax and lie on my back and he would support me, but I’d let fear take over and I’d find myself sinking.

Stop fighting against me, against the water. You need to trust me.

You need to trust the water will hold you.”

Despite the assurances from the person I love and trust most in the world, I’d still fight.

We had a bad week, just a bit ago. It started Sunday with a trip to the emergency room. Monday was a trip to the plastic surgeon to finish dealing with Sunday. Tuesday through Thursday were much of the same – blows coming to our family one after another, leaving us gasping for breath. Friday, at the end of the day, we toasted each other for making it 24 hours without an emergency. Saturday morning we got the call that unbeknownst to us, someone we loved had a heart attack right about the time we were patting ourselves on the back the previous evening.

When the storms come in my life, I fight. I flail my arms wildly and all I gain is exhaustion; I have yet to save myself from the waves that threaten me. The skies begin to darken and I prepare myself for the worst, my self-preservation skills kicking in while I start to distance myself from those around me. I distance myself from God. This is what I do every time.

But this time, as the waves began rolling in, each one stronger than the last, I leaned in. I decided to trust the water.

And I was held.

Brenna D'Ambrosio
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12 thoughts on “Learning to Float

  1. the physical sensation of floating became, for me, such an uplifting experience that in my night dreams I discovered that I can fly (be careful of the high-voltage wires in night dreams).

  2. It’s in my biggest storms that I hear “you are safe, you are held.” It becomes this rhythm that rolls over every sharp piece of my anxiety. This is such a good post, friend.

  3. Oh, such a good lesson to learn! And such a difficult one to hang onto sometimes. Thank you for this lovely, small piece.

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