mission completed: learning to breathe again –part one…

I am sure you are all gasping(!) to hear how my last mission went.

Well my young-hearted followers, I am proud to say that I am now the holder of an International Open Water Diving License!

Of course it did not come without trial, actually many trials, if it did it would not have been much of a mission would it?

Let me take you back to where I left you…

It was a chilly October morning, 7am, my ‘missionary partner’ arrived at my doorstep, coffee in hand and smile on lips. We were both bright and brilliantly bold, being morning people, and the anticipation was delicious. We parried jokes between us… bang-bang… one pun after another, giggling with delight at our forthcoming endeavour. It was a great feeling.

That feeling lasted about as long as it took to drive the 2kms to the dive centre.

Then… *gulp* wow– I am really doing this… and it’s f*cking cold… and I don’t like this place… or that guy… or that smell… or this idea… anymore,

Get me out of here!

The first day was probably physically the hardest day I have had since I was a child learning to walk.

11 hours of training, in and out of the freezing cold swimming pool. Lifting and lugging a 20kg tank around most of the day. And learning to breathe by sucking compressed air through a plastic tube, when all I really wanted to be sucking on was a big warm latte.

All day I fought the urge to jump out of the pool and run the 2kms home, dripping wet with my shrivelled-up tail wedged comfortably between my legs and the only thing attached to my back would have been my regret. I could have done it. Noone was holding me hostage. It was my idea to be there. My friend would have quite willingly joined me and we would have laughed about it for years.

No, nothing was holding me in that water  –with those strangers, breathing through that dirty tube that thousands before me had clenched in their teeth– but my will.

My will reluctantly guided me through day 1 and day 2 of the course; in fact it skilfully piloted me safely up to the last half an hour of day 3… Until that last half-an-hour I was feeling energised by my journey and had somehow begun to believe it was the right place for me to be. I was organically discovering more and more of my strengths throughout the mission; from realising my physical capacity –the exertion was tremendous and my body managed to keep up…to believing in my mental capabilities –passing the theory test with very little ‘study’ pleasantly surprised me!

Actually no, I was not surprised at these 2 things –although I have very little esteem in either of these areas, I do know it’s in me somewhere –my physical and mental strength –and from whence it lay, it had dutifully arisen to aid my mission.

However, the one part of my being that I have less control over is my anxiety. The shaky, little, nervous baby that sits in my tummy, ready to tickle and tug at all my muscles simultaneously, at the most inopportune moments; stopping me from whimsically going about my days.

That baby (anxiety) had been sleeping peacefully within throughout day 1,2 & most of 3…Nothing had stirred it up as yet. Perhaps it was being rocked to sleep by it’s big brother bravery; and bravery had done a good job at it too, keeping my anxiety rested… But toward the end of day 3 it happened…

I was 5 metres down, bobbing buoyantly at the bottom of a cement cylinder, filled with ice-cold water, surrounded by complete strangers, breathing through a tube… It was at that moment big brother bravery stepped out for a smoko… and he must have slammed the door behind him, because something woke that damn baby!

It was the final ‘skills’ revision practice before the certification dive the following day. For some unreasonable reason one of the ‘skills’ that I had already mastered the day before –clearing my mask and recovering my regulator (the tube with air coming out of it) successively -–> suddenly became the most difficult thing in the world to accomplish.

I just could not do it. Water was getting first in my eyes, then up my nose, then in my mouth. Then I looked around and there was water everywhere!– I know, right? 

I started to panic. Baby anxiety started to wake and shake and pull at every chord it could grab. Down under that water, in that tank, I all of a sudden did not belong.

Luckily for me I have sense of mind (even when I suffer anxiety) so when I did decide to exit the situation I did remember to breathe and to ascend with ease…baby aint gettin’ the bends… But by golly, I was ascending!

I needed air… and I wanted to breathe it through my nose and mouth and ears at the same time! I needed real air! And it was my right to have it!

So, up I went.

…to be continued.