Sink or Swim!



Surviving one of my worst fears

I was on my honeymoon with my second husband Peter, in Bora Bora, Tahiti in 2016.  We wanted to experience as much as possible for I knew we’d likely not return to this beautiful place again.  Peter loved to scuba dive and was a natural; I was a total mess.  I was nervous from the moment I woke up that day, because of one of my deepest fears being claustrophobia and drowning.  I just knew somehow though, that if I could put aside that fear, I’d get through it.  Have you any fears?  Flying, deep sea diving or just leaving your home for the day to go shopping?  I’m hoping my post today will inspire you to conquer your fears somehow.

The morning was beautiful and the bus ride to the launch site really showed us so much more about the island than we could have imagined.  The mountains in the background, the vegetation and the shacks that appeared to be dotted along the coast line outside of the tourist resort areas, like the one we were vacationing at.  We finally arrive to our launch and our instructors/guides took us out into the ocean to a spot they obviously knew very well.

We had our “before” pics that scared the heck out of me, because she said “just in case, for insurance purposes.  Not a good way to start off I though, but I ignored any red flags that were trying to go off in my head.  I am know as a worrier, so I just wanted to put that aside for the day.  Our instructor guiding us down off the boat into the aqua blue sea below us, one by one to a rope below the surface of approximately 20 feet deep. It might not sound that deep to most, but with a 300 lb cast iron helmut on top of your head and shoulders, I could feel panic starting to bubble up under mine.

We were given mesh bags full of bread to wear around our necks, so we could feed the fish once we settled below.  I couldn’t understand how others weren’t scared and by now I was forgetting everything the instructor had told us up top.  I was about 7th in a group of 12 to defend into the deep. It was for a few seconds very beautiful and calming, but  within moments fish started to peck at my bag on my chest making it hard to see in front of me where I was going.  I started to feel alone and the weight of the helmut, plus I was having a hard time seeing as my helmut started to fog up.  I held the helmut with one hand on my chest and wasn’t going to let go for one second for fear water would seep inside.   It was bad enough that I could feel the water nipping at my chin already.  There was no oxygen tanks, only the oxygen inside your helmut that gave you air to breathe.  I wanted out of this thing badly and back up to safety of the surface!

Our guide noticed I was in a bit of distress and singled to me to go back up. I worried I’d lose my breath before we got to the surface, then suddenly her hand reached inside my helmut to wipe away some of the fog blurring my vision.  Now at least I could see the ladder before me. You couldn’t move very fast in the water and I was wishing I hadn’t gone on this excursion in the first place.  She was very gentle and assured me with her eyes I would be fine.  Once on the ladder, I was able to climb to the surface where her partner helped me take the helmut off.  She then quickly explained to me that I was breathing too fast and hyperventilating, fogging up my mask and that I should try to relax and decide if I wanted to go back down one more time.  I hesitated for a few minutes then thought; I didn’t fly 10,000 miles for nothing, so I said yes!

Once back down I felt a calmness about me this time, realizing that I was okay and that I just needed to breath normal.  Peter was waiting down there for me and grabbed my hand along with the guide who took me over to this rock with coral and little tiny fishes. I was able to touch some of the vegetation that felt like velvet and witnessed several tiny yellow and orange fishes swim in and out of their safe haven.  Then a beautiful stingray swam around us all. We had been told that there was a friendly stingray that just might appear, and to enjoy her visit if she came.  It was an incredible.

So yes, I still have some fear of drowning and claustophbia but I won’t let it interfere with all that life has to offer me.  I have to learn to take instructions better and decide if it is something I really want to do. No one forced me that day to go, I actually was the one that picked that activity when Peter knew my fear and said we can do anything you want.  I just knew that I would regret it if we didn’t get to experience this underwater adventure.

We all have choices in life to make when it comes to our own personal space and safety.  I know when we face our fears dead on and trust in ourselves that everything will be okay, then it will be.  I tend to overthink things sometimes, so one of the greatest lessons I am learning with gratitude for Peter, is to go with my gut instinct and not over analyze.  If I hadn’t said yes to returning down below, I would have missed out on seeing those beautiful fish, the colours and feeling the peacefulness of being one with nature.

What holds you back, can hold you back on everything.  The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, or the fear of disappointment.  Once you start to conquer your fears one at a time, confidence returns and you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.  I am so grateful I learned very early on in life as a youngster how to survive my fears.  Conquer yours and live your best life!

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