Contentious. Or maybe conflicted is the word. Incongruent. Is the relationship I’ve had with the ocean. Which is so wrong for so many reasons. I’m a Pisces and the ocean calls to me. But ever sense I watched Jaws, I was maybe 10? I remember going upstairs after I watched it and jumped on my bed and was afraid to get off my bed. I was so delusional with fear I thought the shark could get me if I got off the bed. I wasn’t 3, mind you. 10 years old, or so. I was afraid in swimming pools if it was night time, the lake (at all times), and the ocean. Forget about the ocean. And I wanted to be in it so bad! And this continued until LAST YEAR. I very rarely got in the ocean and that was only through: shame from my family, alcohol, or accepting my impending death. For example: ‘okay, Emily, lets do this. We have to get in there. If we’re gonna die, we’re gonna die’.
My family has been going to Kauai for a long time, I think I went the first time when I was 13? And my parents fell in love with the place before we were all born, I believe. About 3 trips ago, my cousin Will (him and his family were with us this time) was trying to help me get in the water. My whole family knows about the shark thing. Finding Nemo was recently out and Nemo gets the nickname Sharkbait when he’s in the fish tank. So will was saying ‘Sharkbait, oo hah hah!’. And he told me we could go snorkeling and he would be my shark bait. And because I am crazy, I said, “ok”. I will put this child (he was like, 10 or 12?) between me and the ocean and me and any shark so the shark can get him and not me. Seriously. And I told him to stay between me and the ocean and he said, ‘ok’. Not because he’s crazy but because he knew I was crazy.
Cut to last year (2015). I knew Jeff and I were going to Kauai for our big Wedding Trip in 2016. And I had to get in the water. Had to. This had to end. I had Dr Hemerson, our energy doctor, work on it all year. Just clearing out the blocks. The information he got was that it was carried over from previous lives. I’d heard this from 3 different sources. I had him focus on the scuba diving. I would be completing my scuba diving certification in Kauai and I wanted the energy all clear. And it was. I would visualize the whole scene and I felt good. Very minimal fear. I could see the dives being successful. But when I visualized the beach and me going in to swim or snorkel, it was all death and destruction still. I texted Dr. Hemerson the weekend before we left, and I felt an almost immediate shift in my thinking. It was like some reasonable thought was allowed to enter my mind. And so many people had attempted to do this. To reason me out of my phobia. Or explain, or console. I trusted NO ONE. They were all just trying to get me killed. I can’t even remember what the reasonable thought was now.
The second day in Kauai my niece, my dad, my brother, and Jeff all went for our first dive. The instruction I was getting (this was my first open water dive, part of the training) was overwhelming me. Everything is so heavy, we had to walk to the shore and climb in. Face the shore, put on the fins, and swim out. Deeper than I had EVER been in the ocean. And my family is watching me. But there’s no instruction that caters to someone with a delusional phobia of sharks. So no words are spoken about them. We’re here to dive. And for three of us, for the first time. And the ocean is choppy. And I did it. It was fucking hard. And not because of the shark thing. Hard of its own accord. It took all of my concentration to do all the things I was supposed to do. The following Friday is our wedding and our second day of diving. Today we would do our last 2 of 4 dives that make up the Open Water training portion. By the 4th dive, its all about fun. Right when I went under, I could feel it. This would be our best dive. This was all about fun. And it was. I was now a certified diver, big bucket list item checked off.
And I swam in the ocean everyday after. I felt like a transformed person. I knew magical things would happen on our trip and this was the first. It was a major spiritual experience and opened up a world of possibilities to me. What else could I do?
Each time, before I would get in the water, I would feel a little trepidation. But I now had this amazing ability to talk reason to myself. One of which was what my scuba instructor had taught me: Sharks are not interested in you. He provided me with so much valuable information. Just by him being who he was and sharing his experiences. On one of his innumerable previous dives, there were sharks around and he cut his finger. He thought to himself, ‘well its been a good life’. He told us he watched the shark very closely, “No change in his behavior. And I had earlier seen a fish that was bleeding; the shark’s behavior was very different, changed immediately”. So I would tell myself, ‘they are not interested in you, thank god, and sharks are not put on this earth to track me’. Often the first dip into the ocean of the day I was less confident but then the second one was so much better.
Jeff was so inspired and impressed with me. It made me so proud. And he was so supportive. He acted as my shark bait for the first snorkel we did. I made him swim with me connected to him, arms linked. Once I got under water, and there was so much to look at, it helped tremendously. I would just keep my head down, focused on what was right in front of me.
Jeff even presented me with a gift because he was so proud of me, and he wanted to honor my accomplishment. I got my very own wetsuit!! And it is very special. High fashion wetsuit.
It feels so right to be connected to the ocean. Again. I truly thought I would never live to see the day.