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Timing of the Rolling Waves


My freshman year in college, a group of friends and I went to the beach. I do not recall which beach, I recall that Jason was there. One of the group offered me a wetsuit, as the water was a bit chilly, and I said yes, gave it a go. I am pretty sure, though the memory is rough, that Jason was who offered me the wetsuit, a detail of no consequence. I went into the Pacific and was swimming around for a while before deciding to head back to the beach.

This might have been my first swim in an ocean, I don't know that this wasn't, but it wasn't my first time coming out of a large body of water. For the record, Lake Michigan waves in summer during weather when you would want to be at a Lake Michigan beach are not like Southern California Pacific Ocean waves in general. This beach in particular. I didn't know this, didn't think about it, didn't consider it, and swam for shore.

As soon as I was able to touch the sand in the water, I started walking out of the ocean. As I was walking out, a wave caught me from behind and took me under. I don't recall the details of that first wave, these many years later, but I do know that it started a cycle of my struggling to the surface to breathe, and going under as the next wave crashed over me. Over and over again. I was quickly struggling, unable to stand again. One wave shoved my face into the sand where I wanted my feet to be. I remember thinking keep moving forward, somehow I did. Eventually I was able to move into shallow enough water that I caught my breath, and crawled out of the ocean.

I looked up as I was crawling out, to see the lifeguard arriving at the water, an intense look on his face. He helped me stand and walked me out of the water. He made sure I was okay at our towels before leaving me with my friends. Did I almost drown in the ocean that day? I was totally safe. I had a wetsuit on. I knew how to swim. I was surrounded by friends. The day was sunny and beautiful. There was a lifeguard looking out for me. I didn't almost drown that day, of course not.

Let's be real, yes, I almost drowned that day.

In the active healing process I've been doing this last month or so, I can see the timing of those rolling waves echoing in my life. The effort of standing up, only to be knocked down again, time and time and time again, until nearly drowned. While metaphorical this go around, the relentless onslaught of the waves of consequences of my past choices, in a storm of my own making, nearly drowned me. With the help of friends over the long time, and at the end, some parts anger (his), some parts desperation (me), and all parts WTF (us), I managed to crawl out of the situation. Actually, let's be real, I was tossed out of the waves and somehow managed a shore.

However the method of arrival, I finally have the space to breathe.

In that space and time, I see just how badly I f'cked up on things. I look back on some of the decisions I made, and recognize now that I made them responding to that wave that took me out. They weren't what I would have chosen given the space to consider. They weren't in line with who I thought I was, who I want to be. My decisions, my responding to the waves, hurt a lot of people. I deeply regret those pains I inflicted. No one manages life without some pain, but, man, talk about doing things the hard way, leaving a trail of destruction in my wake. WTF, Past me?

Loss aversion is thing with me. I will be weirdly delusional about things around loss. Letting go, accepting things as they are, leaving space for others to be uncomfortable when I state what I want, hell, even stating what I want and, as Dena says, having a definite end, is hard for me. Some of those are the result of being a woman. Some of those are the result of my childhood. Some of those are the result of my brain. All of them landed me here.

Healing from my grief has meant radical acceptance of just about everything, no wishes of what could have been, should have been, no shuffling blame to someone else, no what ifs. Just this. Letting go. Seeing the beauty of the ocean without being in it. Sitting on the beach, sun on my face, gentle wind in my hair, sand caught in places sand shouldn't go, causing itches and pain in said places, and, I don't know, a calm, a space to just be, figure out what's next.

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