I watched the sun as it seemed to rise from the rippled surface. It was like I was on the edge of the world. The edge of my world. Looking back, I know I really was.
I was on my way to swim with wild dolphins in the Pacific Ocean.
I was terrified.
When the sun was up, we found a pod of dolphins. I was the last in, climbing off the back of the boat hesitantly. The night before flashed in my mind, piece by piece. The nightmares, the uncertainties of this whole thing. The fears, so many that I couldn't even piece them together. The fears I didn't even know were still hiding there, until that night.
And as my body hit the water I knew I couldn't do it. Still, I followed the others out, dutifully kicking my legs but ignoring the calls from the boat: 'Look down!' I looked up. I knew there were just too many fears for me to conquer this. It was all too much.
And then I couldn't breathe.
I tried getting back to the boat. I kicked but got nowhere. I looked to the others for help; they were having too much fun to notice the fear on my face. So I raised my arm and the boat came for me.
'It's so cold it took my breath away.' I faked cheerfulness to the guide. Still, he knew. I knew he knew and he knew I knew he knew. 'Try again,' he said. 'Just breathe.'
So I did. I sat for a minute and I practiced breathing, gave myself a talking to. Then I put on a brave smile and climbed back in.
And I realised it. It took going to the edge of my world to find this truth.
I'm terrified of myself.
I'm so scared that I'll let myself down. That I'll be too weak. That I'll trap myself.
If I'm trapped, I can't breathe. If I can't breathe, I don't live.
And I let that go, into the waves of the ocean. I breathed, and I looked down into the water's depths. There they were, swimming under me. But the whole thing wasn't about seeing dolphins anymore. It was about seeing me.
When I climbed back into the boat, all I could say was, 'I did it. I did it.'
I can do it.