For as long as I can remember I've been afraid of water. Not afraid in the sense of I can't go in the water. I could go in, wade around, go under, etc, etc. But, when I got to a point that the water was over my head and my feet could not touch, I'd start to freak out. So, I guess you could say I have more a fear of drowning than of water. I'm sure the DSM (the big counseling book with all the clinical diagnoses) has some name for it, but I'll just call it "the thing I've been most afraid of my entire life."
I've spent my whole life in the "shallow" end of the pool. I've forced myself to avoid water because of the anxiety and fear it stirred up in me. And, it was fairly easy to avoid it because I don't HAVE to go in the water if I don't want too.
But, what I started to realize this year is that I don't want to pass this fear on in my family. As a dad I'm the "gatekeeper" of my home and I take a personal responsibility for what comes through our doors. I don't want fear to be one of the things I pass on to my kids. So, I decided to walk through some of my intense fears and take some swim lessons. I'll only be able to take my family as far as I've gone myself and I just don't want my fears to hinder my family. So, last week I took my first swim lesson. Yesterday I took my second swim lesson and thankfully my teacher doesn't "baby" me. She's like "OK, just do it." So, for the first time yesterday I jumped in to water that was over my head ... and I came up! I treaded water for the very first time in my life! And, it was AWESOME! Don't get me wrong, I still have some fear. I need to re-train my mind. 40 years of fear doesn't leave easily. But, now I know I can do it.
Ironically enough, the very next day, my son jumped in the deep end without a life jacket and swam ... and then jumped in again and swam some more ... and again, again, again ... probably like 50 times! Now, I'm not taking credit for that. My wife is the one who's been working with him all summer and he's been to the same swim instructor I'm going to now, but he's never jumped in without the life jacket before and it's "ironic" that he did it after I was willing to do it.
As dads, we'll only take our families as far as we are willing to go ourselves. I don't want my fears to hinder where my kids go in life ... and there are many that I need to walk through. But, it's so worth it! My son jumps in at 4 and I jump in at 40. I'm glad that both of us don't need to stay in the shallow end any more.
Ezra jumping off the diving board!
Swimming to mom. Seriously, the kid swam the entire length of the pool from shallow end to deep end. I have no idea how he did it!