Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thalassophobia

I've never truly suffered from a phobia that I can recall, but when we started planning our beach vacation for next September something inside of me went berserk.

I always knew I didn't like the ocean much. I enjoy sitting in the sand, but I can count on one hand the number of times, in my entire life, I've gone in the water. I don't relish encountering marine life unexpectedly, for one thing. Also, the beaches we visited when I was a child were on the gulf of Mexico, where there were hardly any waves at all. When I started going to Sandbridge with SOB, I was timid about challenging the powerful surf. After ending up with a bloody nose and fat lip the first time I got up enough courage to go in further than my ankles, I decided I was much more content on dry land. I forced myself to go snorkeling once in the Bahamas, but I never let go of a rope that was tied to our boat. I'm a fairly strong swimmer, and I love pools. I just don't like the ocean.

However, it turns out that I have a deep, burning fear of the ocean that didn't make itself known until I had children. Anyone who has ever had 'that' conversation with me knows that I think drowning would be the most terrible way to die. Well, when I came upon SOB browsing beach houses on Sunday afternoon, the first image that popped into my head was Sammy's little body being tossed about by the waves, and me never being able to find him. All day I was plagued with these thoughts until finally, after a movie and a football game, I lost it. We had just crawled up to bed, and I was in the bathroom washing my face. It was late, but all of a sudden I was sobbing and yelling that we couldn't ever go to the beach again.

SOB must have thought I was insane. We talked for a little while, but agreed to get some sleep and talk the next day. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep. Disaster scenarios and worse kept running through my mind. On Monday morning, I was exhausted.

The trouble is, I can contain my own fears because I have total control over my body, and whether or not my body goes into the ocean. But I can't control my children. What if Sam adores the ocean? What if swimming in the sea brings him more pleasure than anything else? Denying him that pleasure would make me a horrible parent, but I would in a second if I knew I could get away with it.

So we're skipping the beach this year. In addition to my crippling fears, the last time we went it wasn't very relaxing for me. Sam didn't sleep well, so I didn't either. With a 2.5 year old and a 1 year old, I can't imagine it will be any better. This gives me a year and a half to work on my phobia. Maybe some therapy will be necessary.

And swim lessons. The kids are definitely getting swim lessons.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So no vacation then?

-Tori

Annita said...

Good luck overcoming your fear! Your kids will most certainly appreciate it.

I have the opposite: thalassophilia! :-)

Arizaphale said...

Wow. that is a tough one. So you wouldn't have been cool with my sailing post the other day? Small Boy is like you..he can't stand the ocean, whereas the Baby Angel is a FISH! (I blame the water birth)She freaks me out sometimes. It does get easier as they get older though. I remember when the Baby Angel was that age I couldn't even stay in the room if there was a movie about something bad happening to a child. I would hyperventilate. What if something like that happened to MY baby???? 'Ransom' was a case in point. You do get over it. Hope so for all your sakes anyway....