Wary of Water
We were fishing in the spring in a fast mountain stream with family friends. I was six years old and watching my “uncle” fish. He hooked on to a real beauty, three pounds at least. Ever the helpful child, I walked into the stream with the fish net. The fish raced across the stream into the deeper water wrapping the fishing line around a root wad. I could clearly see the fish, so I raced towards it. I vaguely remember hearing my name being called over the rushing water. The fish was right there. The water deepened and the rocks were slick. I reached for the fish and was pulled off my feet and dragged under the water. All went dark and noisy. I tumbled and bounced along the rocks until my uncle pulled me out – a spitting and a sputtering.
I was thoroughly soaked, cold and shivering from both the cold and the event itself. I was placed by the campfire to dry out and warm up. The shivering continued even after I had warmed up. The shivering would come back over the next few weeks whenever I thought of my dark tumble in the stream.
It was decided that I should learn how to swim. Swimming lessons were the prescribed method. I now had a “healthy” fear of water and voluntarily going into water over your head just seemed silly. I would sit at the edge of the pooling freezing or brave the shallow end. Most of the class was younger than me and did not seem to have any fear at all – how crazy was that. One instructor believed in the sink or swim method and chucked me into the deep end. I sunk. I came up sputtering and got hauled out. I gave up on lessons. That is to say, I would not leave the house or get in the car to go.
Over the years, I realized that many activities occur in or around water. So I worked on overcoming the fear on my own. I taught myself to swim, not gracefully, but with forward motion at least. While I am not at peace with water, I have called a truce.