Updated: Sep 9, 2021
When I was two or three, something pivotal happened that has affected my relationship with my dad all my life. On a family trip to Pickwick Lake; a summer hotspot for swimming, boating, and fishing in west Tennessee, my father dove into the water and swam with the confidence and joy of a fish that had been trapped in a bowl, released back into his natural habitat. He disappeared underneath the surface of the murky lake water, only to pop up a great distance away and wave at me as I walked near my mom on the shore. The sandy shores held small shells and other treasures, and I was enthralled in my new surroundings, exploring safe within the gaze of my mother, who was sitting on a patchwork quilt.
My father resurfaced in the water, closer to me, standing in water that was up to his waist and he began to call me. "Lori, come in the water! I’ve got you! Come on out into the water with me!”
I was wary. I enjoyed taking baths and having adventures in the tub at night, but Pickwick was no bathtub. I had never seen so much water in all my young life. It was new to me, and deep in my heart I already knew that there were no secret fins and gills beneath my skin like my dad seemed to have. I was happy walking by the shore looking at the water and finding treasures with each step.
My father persisted, “Come on in, Lori! The water is just right! You can walk to me! I am right here, and I’ve got you!”
I surveyed the distance to my dad in the water, and looked back to my mother who was still sitting on her quilt. She nodded at daddy, encouraging me to go into the water if I wanted to, but I wasn’t convinced. Mom didn’t seem worried, her white rubber swimmer’s cap sat safely beside her. She was happy on her blanket, and the hat was only there in case she decided to go for a dip; which nearly never happened, I now know.
“I might come out there too if y’all are having a lot of fun.” She encouraged me to walk out to my dad, and I decided to give it a go.
I walked timidly towards my daddy in the water. The water was cold, and the slick mud on the bottom of the lake oozed up between my toes. My father shouted encouragement with each of my steps, but he was also openly irritated at my hesitation; I could see it on his face and hear it in his voice.
Suddenly, a ski boat zoomed by in the area behind my father. The water began to quiver in the wake of the boat, and my attempts to balance in the water as I walked on the slimy mud got the better of me. My feet flew out from under me and I breathed in a lung full of water. I remember seeing the particles in the murky water as I thrashed, trying to get my head above the ripples. My father’s hands eventually reached through and pulled me up to his chest and he patted my back . I choked and cried at the same time and panicked as I tried to breathe. I am sure the whole misadventure lasted less than 30 seconds of real-time, but to me, it was an eternity.
Daddy took me to mother’s waiting arms and they dried me and helped me expel the water. I choked and choked, and daddy insisted I was safe the whole time despite how I felt. He was just a few feet away, after all. He had me the whole time, it was ok for me to stop crying. I didn’t feel safe again for the rest of the day. I clung to my mom and refused to go back near the water. I remember falling asleep as mom held me. I stirred as she placed me on the seat in the car that evening. She whispered sweet nothings and the warm seat against my cheek was a welcome feeling on the drive home.
My father joined the Navy at 17. He told stories during my childhood of the ships he served on that would let the sailors swim in spots in the middle of the ocean, with no land around them within sight. He would also fish off the sponson, and catch fish that was prepared for the captain’s dinner. Sometimes the captain let him dine with him. There was also a story of how he was swimming by himself in open water once, as porpoises swam nearby. One of them hit my dad while he swam and knocked him above the water. He returned to the ship and soon sharks were seen near where he was swimming. The porpoise was likely trying to warn him, he reasoned. I grew up knowing I was sure I would never have had the courage or desire to do the things my dad did.
My dad believed all people should know how to swim. I took lessons, but clung to the side of the pool most of times I entered in. This was appalling to my dad, who felt like it was one of his life’s purposes that I learn to swim. He yelled at me to relax as he tried to teach me to float. He lost his temper frequently during these lessons, admonishing me that I should trust him, all the while threatening to throw me in and let me sink or swim if I didn’t learn. That threat always made me very uneasy, because I knew without a doubt, I would sink to the bottom.
Years later, I learned to swim in college. I still don’t like swimming or even getting in a pool. Water fascinates me, but I like it best on a boat or the shore.
Lately, I feel the panic I felt in the water that day when I was a little girl about my whole life in general.
This story is a microcosm for all I am experiencing, even the stern voice in my head encouraging me to relax into life’s waters and allow myself to be carried down the River; instead of thrashing about, flailing, and struggling to be in control of big situations I have no control over. I am also hanging on the side of the pool edge in my professional pursuits. I have felt the pull to write and have a blog, and so I am beginning that with this post. I would like to put my professional services out more. It is clear that faith in greater hands has never been harder for me, or more important.
Thanks to all who take the time to read my post. I will do my best to post regularly, as I have things to say. Namaste y’all. ❤️
Letting go card from Tosha Silver’s Divine Abundance Oracle Deck