Taking the Plunge

The past can’t touch me now. It is over, and I am helping my body understand that. When my body is in the moment, my brain can’t keep me trapped in my hurt because there is no hurt in the present. It is just me, here, now, finally letting go and taking the plunge!

Yesterday I spent the day at the beach. It was a perfect blue sky, and the ocean water was warm and inviting. Ever since I moved here over a year ago, I have gone in the ocean but I have always been too scared to put my head under water. As much as I love the ocean, I also have an unreasonable fear of drowning. That fear, mixed with feeling out of control diving into a wave always stopped me from taking the plunge. But yesterday was my birthday, so what better day to push myself and finally go all the way in.

I decided the best way to do it was just to walk straight in. I knew if I hesitated that I would lose my courage. I also set up my camera to take a video to add a time pressure to it. I walked quickly into the ocean letting a few waves wash over my thighs, and then my waist until I got deep enough. Then I took a deep breathe, shut my eyes and I knelt down and put my head into the ocean. I was fully submerged. I breathed out bubbles and felt the water rush above my head as the wave made its way to the shore. I shut my eyes tighter as I let the water push me and pull me as it moved around my body. I tasted the salt in my mouth, and I felt my body start to let go, I was finally all in.

It was so liberating not to be scared anymore, so I spent the whole afternoon diving into the waves to make up for lost time. I felt like a mermaid, so beautiful and free! When I was completely submerged under the salt water and felt the waves rush over my body, it was like the ocean was welcoming me. I felt its warm embrace holding my body up and carrying me. It was if it was saying to me, ‘I got you.’

I have a hard time being in the moment and going with what is happening. I like to be prepared and ready to protect myself. I guess all these years, I wanted to protect myself from drowning but also I was stopping myself from truly living in the moment. When I feel out of control my mind goes to the worst case scenario, which is that I am going to drown and die. But it was different this time, letting go of control made me smile, and it made my body fill with joy. I did it! I conquered my fear, but I also learned that letting go of control feels good. It was invigorating, and I felt alive. How have I not let myself feel this for so long? I have been missing out!

I have been working on letting go and being in the moment through yoga since the beginning of this year. My body has sweated, protested, been angry and then finally let go of the energy it has kept trapped inside me for so long. It was not an easy task, and it often left me frustrated and in tears. But yoga didn’t make me feel that way, it just brought out what was already there. I had been trying to control my thoughts in my head, to control the feelings in my body. This was a habit that I developed from growing up in an environment where I was too young to process what was happening. I started living in my head at a young age, and I made my own imaginary world where I felt safe. My world had rules though, and those rules helped me to not feel what at the time would have devastated me.

So, I became a person that analyzed and intellectualized rather than feeling. Once I got to be an adult, I thought that was my personality. I didn’t realize that it was just a coping mechanism that I learned to protect myself. I thought that everything, even emotions, could be discussed and resolved. I didn’t realize that sometimes I just needed to feel the emotions in my body with no explanation or resolution. Just letting go and feeling my body felt too out of control for me. What if I was overwhelmed with emotion and I died? It seems silly that I actually used to think that now but I did. I used to feel like my emotions might disintegrate me into dust if I let them surface, and I would just disappear. Or I would lose my mind and have to spend my days in a mental institution. These were my real fears about feeling what my body had to tell me. I had been exposed to too much as a child, and then when I tried to process what I experienced I was told I didn’t really experience it, and that I was crazy and selfish. I learned that the feelings in my body were bad, and not to trust them.

All this stayed bottled up in me and I walked through my life as a numb observer, often feeling depressed and hopeless. As much as I tried and fought, I couldn’t get myself to the other side. But now I realize I was trying to get there through my brain, not my body. And I was trying too hard, I needed to let go in order to get there.

Diving in the waves yesterday I no longer felt like an observer. I felt one with nature, and with my body. I have learned that my body is safe, and it won’t overwhelm and destroy me with its story. I need to let it tell me what it has been through, and slowly heal. The past can’t touch me now. It is over, and I am helping my body understand that. When my body is in the moment, my brain can’t keep my trapped in my hurt because there is no hurt in the present. It is just me, here, now, finally letting go and taking the plunge!