What I'm Afraid Of | Sheryl Steines

What I’m Afraid Of

I've carried with me since childhood, a fear of water. Since I was six years old when I took swim lessons in Lake Zurich. I will never forget sitting on those wood docks, so old splinters would stick in your rear. They had us jump in. I felt nothing as I waited my turn, as others jumped in and were immediatly plucked from the water and returned to the dock.

When my turn came, I obliged my swim instructor, jumped in and waited, what seemed to be a lengthy time under the water. I still remember being completely submerged, staring at the ball of sun through the cloudy water wondering when they were going to pull me out. It was that one simple perceived inaction that left me terrified, frightened and still wakes me from sleep.

I managed to live with the fear as I grew up only sometimes being forced to deal with it. My PE teacher attempted to teach me to swim. She floated me to the deep end where I started to shake. Uncontrollable shakes and she gave up, before we even began, advising me that she’s never seen anyone more afraid of water than me.

I couldn't hide from the water after my kids were born. I didn't want to instill the fear in them and took on purpose swim lessons at the YMCA. After explaining to the teacher just how frightened I was, she nodded in understanding and worked on making me comfortable in the water. One day, she slipped a life jacket around my neck and floated me toward the deep end of the pool.

At the end of the pool while holding on to the edge, for the first time, I realized there was small ledge about two feet under the water. I enjoyed the sensation before climbing out of the water. As I stood at the edge of the pool looking into the deep end, my teacher said, “Jump In.” My brain said jump in, my legs said, “F#$# that!” She literally had to pull me in.

While there, I tried desperately to acclimate myself to the water, (I had a life jacket on you know), and as I doggy paddled, fear gripped me, my heart stuck in my throat and I ran, well swam away from the deep end. After all it’s water dreams of myself floating and sinking that still wake me from sleep.

We’re afraid of the unknown, afraid of losing ourselves in uncontrollable situations which is why the world of the supernatural and horror is so stimulating and gripping, because even as the fear takes hold of us, it’s safe and the turmoil only lives in our head.

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