Daily Archives: June 11, 2015

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***midlife crisis: washing out to sea***


i have had an irrational fear of water

since I was a tiny girl.

My fear of water lasts longer than my memory

with fuzzy bits of a flash

popping up

to remind me of my paralyzing panic.

I would become hysterical if my mother ran the bath

and left the room

certain that the tub would overfill and flood the house.

screams for help

she told me i was silly

and went to do the dishes.

I experienced my most memorable nightmare

when I was five.

In the dream,

our two story house flooded with water.

But my fear extended to any source of running water.

I was in first grade

before I was willing to turn on the faucet by myself.

When I was 7, I still refused to take a shower alone.

One time I turned the faucet the wrong direction and the water did not turn off.

My irrational outburst was from utter terror.

As I got older

I had no interest in swim lessons.

When I was in fifth grade I had to attend emergency lessons

because I could not swim.

It was literally called

‘drown proofing’

and mandated by our public school district.

And, in junior high I was the last person to finish the required 200 meter swim.

I would move my arms

and kick my legs

yet somehow remain stationary.

If i can’t touch the bottom,

I don’t go in.

I don’t do cruises.

And, I kindly ask that flight attendants

give me a xanax

before possible preparation for a ‘waterborne landing’


the thought

of impending failure


being washed out to sea

A treacherous notion


nothing to grasp

to save me from drowning

my panic

taking hold

and the fear

that I will never again be able to touch

what if I have taken my last step?

but failure is not a bathroom sink

for which the tap can be turned off

to insulate me from the unknown

and the wonderful irony of the situation

is that the only way to experience the exhilaration of success

is to bob along in that blue water

for the ocean is the place of calm beauty

that somehow powers my creativity.

All I can do

is balance

and have the will

to challenge the rip current

longer than it

challenges me.

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