I went for a long lake swim this morning. I am very grateful for the unselfish generosity of my friend Christopher Soprano (yes, that’s really his name, and yes he grew up in Jersey City) who volunteered to kayak next to me for 3 and a half hours across Schroon Lake so I wouldn’t get run over by boats or hit any rocks.
As we start heading across all I can think about is: How deep the lake is in that section. The giant lake monster living down there thinking what a delicious appetizer I would be. The giant ominous dark hooded snapper lake turtle slowly opening his jaw before taking a bite out of my toe. Terrifying lake plants reaching up from the watery depths to wrap around my ankle and drag me down to my doom. Getting hit by a boat. Quietly slipping under the surface never to return. Lake snakes. Human eating fish. Drowning, burning, boiling, freezing, choking, flailing, screaming, sneezing!
And somehow ALL of these things happening simultaneously.
Within the span of 5 seconds.
My heart is racing, I’m on the verge of a panic attack.
But I have now done this quite a few times! I’ve done weekends at Brighton Beach, in the cold, in the chop, in the rain. I swam 10.5 miles across Lake Tahoe. I escaped from Alcatraz for crying out loud!!
Why are these thoughts still omnipresent and taking over my swim?!
Confusion and frustration start to exhaust my already fatigued did-too-many-pull-ups-at-the-gym-and-now-totally-regretting-it arms.
I couldn’t believe it.
I will be battling my fears forever.
Friends that have gone through AA or NA have said no matter how long they have been in recovery they still have to take each day as a new step, as a new challenge.
I am an RFH (Recovering Fearful Human), and it is very possible I will be fearful the rest of my life.
I take comfort in knowing endurance training, endurance sports, triathlons, open water swimming have given me the space, time and exhaustion to cultivate the awareness of how to take that next step forward.
I have my mantras. And when I come back to them (or hear new ones) the path in front of me seems a little less scary and a little more manageable.