Monday, March 14, 2011

Adventure Bowl
Take a Surfing Lesson, Part 2

When we last left off, I had fear swirling all around me about this adventure.  It's funny how that happens... fears creep up behind us and quickly zap all the joy and excitement we were initially feeling about an experience.

My lesson was for 3pm that day and the fear starting building that morning.  A lot of it stemmed from risking the loss of safety.  When I was 19, I panicked in the ocean and had to be dragged in by my best friend.  This was a feeling I NEVER experienced my whole life.  I was a certified life guard, grew up by the ocean.  Since that time, I have had 2 or 3 other big panic attacks in water over my head.  

But there was more to it than that.  More to the fear.  Every since I fell and broken/dislocated my shoulder, it's very hard for me to give up control.  To think about putting myself in a situation that I cannot control.  It's hard to explain - it's two pronged really - 1)  Fear of hurting myself or putting myself in danger where I cannot control the outcome and 2) The fact that my body is still weak in the shoulder area post surgery makes me hard for me to rely on my strength for things.

Another factor was just ego.  Was I willing to look like a fool?  Knowing I had less strength to work with, how would I feel about not being able to pop up on the board?  Or swim against the tide with the weight of a board under me?

I don't know why I feel shame about my own strength.  Even thinking about it makes me cry.  I hate that this accident has held me back in so many ways and has taken so long to get over.  The past few months, I have pushed myself to take gym classes that push me -- but it's embarrassing to not have the upper arm strength to do a push up (granted, they are push ups with our legs suspended in air - it's a crazy class).

I guess I feel... it's hard for me to be vulnerable in my own weakness.  I hate explaining:  Hey, I might look like a fool doing this, please don't make fun of me.  I just can't physically do some stuff.

I don't want to be less than.  So then I wonder, WHY AM I PUTTING MYSELF IN THIS POSITION???  Why am I even doing this stupid adventure if it's just going to make me feel bad?  

Then the reprieve:  My great aunt called.  The one who lost her husband recently.  Would I come over for lunch and spend time with my ailing grandmother.  Why, yes!  Yes I would!  It was 1pm.  This just might be the perfect thing to get me out of my surf lesson.  And I'd come out smelling like a rose - giving up my big time fun surfing adventure to spend time with the ill and the elderly?  What a good person I was!

Off I went to lunch with my great aunt and grandmother.   

And I was shocked by how what I saw there... would completely change me...

My grandmother is failing in her health.  That much I knew.  But I was surprised when I arrived at the elderly care facility that she stays in, that she could not walk unassisted.  And I don't mean just a hand on her elbow to guide her, I mean, she needs two people nearly taking on all her weight to get her from the couch to her bed.

And even with this help, all she can talk about it how afraid she is.  She doesn't want to walk.  She can't do it.  She looks lonely and isolated.  My mother's take on it is that the more my grandmother has let the fear creep into her that she will fall and hurt herself, the less she has walked, the more muscle mass she has lost, the weaker she has become.

Our minds, they play tricks.

Watching her -  and I realize this might be a very selfish reaction - but all I could think about was how grateful I am, to have my arms and my legs.  To be able to move, to be able to get better - to be able to surf though I might not be able to do it well.

I started to feel, almost a panic feeling, that's just how badly I wanted to get out of there and get on a surf board, as if doing that would wash away all the "ungratitude" I had for the use of my body.   

I was late for my lesson.   To them, it was as easy as just rescheduling.  To me, I had to do it, THAT DAY.  Today, right, now, I had to get up on that board.  I thought if I started to explain why, it would all come out so crazily, I might even cry.  I left and called a friend.  I knew he had the gear and could get me in the water. 

And soon, there we were, out there.  And I was right about a few things.  Yes, my injury got in the way.  My right arm does not have the strength to paddle me out very far - it just does not have it's full rotation yet.  So turning myself around and paddling faster than a wave in order to get me up - THAT WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.  

But instead of making me feel bad... it made me laugh.  Maybe it was giddiness... yeah, I'm not strong enough to do this NOW but I can get stronger.  I have all of that in my reach.  I just have to work harder for it.   

The other stuff, the other fears and insecurities fell away...  no, it was not the perfect adventure.  It was very IMperfect.  Just like me.  I flailed and looked silly and felt my weakness but I felt strong of heart.  Strong with boldness that I got out there.

And I was really proud of that.

Is there an adventure you would like to do but worry about physical limitations?  Or maybe you have a fear you need to overcome.  I'd love to hear it.  As much as my adventure was "imperfect," it felt really great just to try.