Before you judge me, what do you know about me? (air)

Jun 17, 2019

As a child I feared that I would die by drowning. It is somewhat funny that I did not have a fear of water. Remnants of the fear continued into adulthood but the fear was not debilitating. As an adult the fear would come in snippets at the fringe of sleep. In those snippets I would flash to another existence and I was drowning. I could feel the water fill my lungs. I could feel my lungs leaden and starving for air they could not get because they were already full. Throughout childhood I was quite familiar with my lungs straining for air. I am an asthmatic. All too often my lungs would betray me and stop working fully. The asthmatic response seemed to be so random. I could run and play for hours and then bam I could not breathe. I could enter a house and become short of breath. I could eat or drink something and then be starving for air. I did not make sense. Sometimes the asthma attack would last a few minutes and sometimes it would last days. There were nights that I gently cried myself to sleep. I had to cry gently so that the crying would not take away any more of my air. My cries were not for how laborious it was to breathe, the cries were because I was not sure if I would continue to breathe once I fell asleep. When I was twelve years old I was playing a game of tag with my brother and some friends at the Hammonton Lake. The local town lake had a floating dock. Two sides of the dock had shallow water and two sides of the dock had deep water. While trying to avoid being tagged I ran and jumped off the dock into the deep water. I jumped as far as I could to evade the tagger and mid stride I realized I was jumping into deep water. I did not panic. I can remember telling myself “sink to the bottom then push off toward the dock”. I took a big gulp of air and hit the water and willed myself to sink fast so I could jump back to the dock. I was sinking but there was no bottom. And still no bottom. I could not feel the bottom so I started reaching for the top flailing. Maybe just maybe if I flailed my arms for the top of the water I would start swimming. But I did not start swimming, I did start running out of air. The more I flailed the more I wanted air. I was twelve and I did not have a strong conviction and I was about to give up my struggle for air by trying to breathe water. Someone grabbed me. Whoever grabbed me was shoving hard. I did not have enough time to wonder who it was because the next thing I know I was touching the dock. I grabbed ahold of the ladder and climbed atop of the dock followed almost immediately by my big brother. I was gasping for air and my brother flopped down beside me also gasping for air. Although he did have enough air to say “Don’t jump into the deep end again. Next time I’m not saving you”. The following year I taught myself how to swim. By the age of fifteen I was a lifeguard. At sixteen I became a Water Safety Instructor where I was teaching others to swim and training lifeguards. I became comfortable and confident in and around water. I now have my advanced Open Water SCUBA certification. I have taken deep dives on the Cayman Trench in Jamaica and on the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. My comfort level in and around the water remains and yet deep within the recesses of my mind surfacing irregularly is the fear that I will die by drowning. My adult brain reasons that my struggle with air as a young asthmatic is why I fear dying by asphyxiation. Will it be drowning in water? Or will I drown on land as the asthmatic? Last year my mother died in a drowning accident at a spa. For a brief period after her death waves of panic would overtake me as I lingered on the edge of sleep. As I would fall asleep I would sink below the water and starve for air straining to breathe only to snatch awake chewing on fresh air. I am not sure these are premonitions of my own death. I do believe this is the fear of life being taken away before it has been fully lived.

Dreamcatcher BF
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