Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #5
Don’t lose sight of your dreams. You can get better, you can deal with your symptoms. You need to find inspiration where you can. Anything that inspires you to move forward towards your goals and away from your negative past experiences is very good.
One of my sources was a person who crossed my path many years ago when we both worked on the same IT project. I’ve known Ms. Fuchsia while she pursued her dream and made it happen. My goals are very different from hers. But you don’t have to share someone’s dream to be inspired by them. I belong in my garage, surrounded by strips of brass, with my model trains displayed on the wall, adding lanterns to the turnouts of my model train layout. This is not her dream, and her dreams are not mine. I saw her pursue her dream with a level of humanity that impressed me.
No matter what your issues are, you can find inspiration in those around you, those you respect. This person continues to remind me that you can pursue your dreams and achieve your goals, and you don’t have to hurt people along the way. Watching others achieve their goals will also remind you that you need to get going if you are to make any progress.
My symptoms were interfering with achieving my goals, were keeping my dreams from becoming real. We can do great things, but we have to deal with our issues. Look around you. Who do you know that is achieving their goals? What do you need to do next, in the very near future, to make progress for yourself? I had to deal with what was causing my symptoms so I could pursue my goals. I encourage you to do the same.
–Learning to Swim
Specific words can be scary. Words like ‘therapy’ and ‘mental illness’ are words people are afraid of. This makes it difficult for people to be rational about whatever caused these words to be used. With that in mind, it can help to understand a complex subject if we can change the words. If we can change the story, to use different words, words that aren’t so scary, we can remove the fear from the discussion. By removing the words that can upset people, we can look at the issues more clearly.
I want to discuss how I learned to swim. While this book is not about learning to swim, I ask that you read this and see where we end up. I believe it will be very worthwhile. It will help you understand the process and the benefit of therapy from a different perspective.
For many people, this isn’t an issue because they already know how to swim. Therefore, the discussion of the process of learning to swim doesn’t carry the potential to upset anyone, the way a discussion of therapy can.
I was afraid of the water. I had built up a sophisticated logic to justify not learning how to swim. I would tell you that it didn’t matter because, in most disaster situations, it wouldn’t matter if you could swim or not. While I may actually have been right, the fact was, I was simply avoiding my fear of the water. Learning to swim may not save anyone from some specific boating accident, but, I would have enjoyed knowing how, if only to avoid the embarrassment I felt anytime the issue came up.
Because I was avoiding my fear, I was very sensitive to the subject and it seemed to come up often. A friend had a birthday pool party for example. In high school, my PE class required time in the pool. Every time this issue came up, I was upset. I had to keep justifying my not knowing how to swim to try to deal with the upset.
When I was young, I was very aware that I didn’t know how to swim. Most of my peers could swim. Some had pools at home, and most learned from someone in their family.
My fear of the water wasn’t helped when one of my siblings informed me that because I didn’t know how to swim, I would “fall in the ocean and drown”. Because they were older than me I believed them. At the same time, my situation provided me no way to learn how to swim. I don’t know if my parents could swim or not because I never saw them swim. They never offered to teach me to swim. My siblings never offered to teach me. Notice the insanity of scaring a child by telling them they will drown while providing no way for them to learn how to swim. Who does that? My family did that.
The same issues keep coming up. What I experienced growing up echoes throughout my life. Whenever the issue of swimming came up, I would relive my sibling telling me I would die. I’d feel embarrassed that I couldn’t swim. I’d feel the frustration that comes from being criticized for something you have no power to change.
I wanted to learn how to swim. I wanted to not have to feel bad about something that was so normal for most people.
in 2004 we were planning a trip to Hawaii. My oldest son would soon be in high school and his PE class would be swimming. I didn’t want him to suffer the same way I did. My wife wanted both our sons to take swimming lessons and I did as well. She told me I should learn too. I had built up a complicated rationalization for why I didn’t need to know how to swim, but it was really just a cover for my fear of the water. I knew she was right and arranged for myself and my sons to take lessons. I found a local swim school where they advertised how they made it easy to learn. The heated pool was indoors and shallow. You could stand up at any time. No one was going to drown.