Everyone has a fear of something. Sometimes a fear can be so extreme that it causes physical reactions.
Can you conquer a fear as well as the way your body reacts when faced with it?
I have been afraid of bodies of open water for as long as I can remember. I think that it stems back to when I was a child and watched Jaws without my parents knowing.
That enormous mouth of teeth, the silent attack, that frightening fin. That was all it took to plant the fear of water (and mostly whatever could be lurking in it) into my mind.
Swimming lessons were a nightmare for both me and my mom. It took the entire session just to get me comfortable enough to put my head under water.
I was in a pool where there were no sharks, no alligators, and nothing dangerously mysterious waiting to strike. But each time I closed my eyes to go under, I was surrounded by water and my fear.
I eventually learned to swim, mostly with my face above water, and even managed to enjoy sunny afternoon boat rides on the Wisconsin lakes.
Once, I was even on a boat tour in the Everglades where we stopped in the middle of the swamp so the instructor could throw marshmallows to the hovering alligators.
I don’t have any pictures of this event. I was frozen to my seat. I was terrified the entire time.
About 10 years ago, I decided to finally try and conquer my fear by snorkeling while on a trip with my husband and friends in Cabo San Lucas.
On the boat ride out to the snorkel site, I was starting to feel uneasy so my friend suggested a cocktail to calm my nerves. As I sipped it, my heart still continued to race.
When they announced overhead that it was time to get the snorkel gear ready, I was in a full panic. My chest felt like it was caving in.
I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My hands began to shake and my eyes were watering.
There were kids on the boat that could hardly wait to get into the water. But I couldn’t get off my seat.
I finally managed to get into the life jacket and slowly slide into the water for a few minutes but it was not enjoyable. It also did not cure my fear.
I have tried snorkeling two times since. Each time I think will be easier than the last. But the panicked feeling is always the same.
It doesn’t get better. It feels like self-torture every time.
I have come to realize that I just don’t like it and I am not going to force myself to do it anymore.
Maybe you can’t always conquer a fear. That’s okay.
Edited by Jody Smith