Explorations of mind, paths, and life

Blue… Blue…Blue

Posted on February 23, 2016 - Filed Under 2016, adventure, mermaid


Squeezing into my first experience with a wet suit and dive gear, the 72 degree water lapping at my knees, I find myself adjusting to much more than the gear. I am staring into an experience I have deeply mixed feelings about. My sister, her love of diving something I envy, days of being mermaids long behind me, leaving her to continue on with her fins before fear took mine, speaks to all that I have lost. I stand hopeful, feeling that terrified voice bellowing from some deep cavern in my being, all the ways in which the sea is more powerful than I am. Feeling the little girl, lost in that same cavern, her swimming tail a bit damaged yet functional, coaxing me to step in, deeper… Perhaps I will find her there.

Gustavo, holding 32 years of experience like a bubble of safety, goes through easing me into the water.

“Do you know why the waters of Cozumel are such beautiful blue?” He asks.
I go through a barrage of answers, filled with scientific knowledge, doubting myself as he shakes his head, his lined and weathered face grinning.
“Because every morning the little fish all wake up and go… (He puckers his lips) blue… blue… blue.” I laugh. The water is spectacular.

He eases me further. Reminding me.
Breathe… Deep… Slow… Calm… In…. Out… Steady.
I practice above water, then we slide under the embryonic seal, arms of mother. I panic. I pop my head out of the water. Fear traveling to my mind… Reminding me that I don’t breathe like this. Slow and steady, Gustavo reminds me I have early memories of this, slow… Deep… Calm. He holds my hand. We are safe, he says. It is all in the mind. I know this.

This quickly began a whirlwind between the acidic and stinging fear and my desire to find my courage. I hear a part of me navigating with encouragement, hearing her remind to breathe deeply, steadily. Again, another wave of trusting, then battling a current of fear that moves up to my lungs and constricts my breathing… tossing me into a frenzied effort to find escape routes. To find air that isn’t feeling squeezed into me, or the voracious energy of endless consumption, big gasps of air that are not satiated by the regulator. I seek air that is there for me… I am awash with anger at fear. IT HOLDS ME TIGHTLY! There is a little mermaid child, waiting to be found again… And then, somehow, I return to the fish dancing in and out of castles of rocks and coral, flashing their colors, watching me swim. Then I return to the distraction of beauty, of the crackle of the sand as it swish-swashes with the currents, of the waving fans of coral, of the hand that is taking me on a walk with fins. Blue, blue, blue go the bubbles from my regulator. I watch them, silvery ubiquitous dancing blobs of air. “Never come up faster than the bubbles,” I remember Gustavo saying, and again the fear, and again the distraction.

Sometimes I really wonder what we are capable of if we didn’t navigate with so much fear. I didn’t find fear under the water until my early 30’s. Before then I was a fish, landlocked, often starving for a chance to swim. Florida offered waters that were warm and calm. I was returned to something familiar. I knew how to swim. I spent days with my sister snorkeling when our parents traveled, or in pools practicing our mermaid form and grace. I love water, and under the membrane of the surface, there is a different kind of calm. As children we practiced staying under, holding our air and our bodies still, discovering how the gentle steady and light release of air furthered our time beneath the surface. Yet, as I floated along with gadgets and tanks attached, I wanted to know how much air was left. How much deeper we were going to go? I returned Gustavo to the shore twice, so I could check all my parts were still attached, both physically and emotionally. After the second return to shallow waters, he asked if I wanted to go out again… I shook my head no, but I heard myself say yes. He took my hand, and we went a little deeper, a little further… Breathe… Deep… Slow… Calm… In…. Out… Steady… Blue, blue, blue went the little bubbles. Striped yellow fish watching me with curiosity. “What is to fear?” they coaxed, and I held tightly to the hand guiding me into the deep.

I emerged from this, still deeply conflicted. Did I like this? Fear and self-soothing, a continual wheel in my being, one after the next. I went snorkeling with my sister a few days later, watching her legs swish and move, following her pointed finger to discover smaller things as she dove down and up, while I hovered, close to the air that is a ruse. It isn’t just the air or fear, it is so deeply about trusting myself. Trusting my body, recognizing the ways in which I believe I have control and lose connection, lose that state of presence. When I am properly connected I discover depths to myself and beauty that open me further. Staying present in the depths was challenging. How many ways do I disengage, failing to see what is right here, now. How many fish dissolved from my sight when hot liquid fear found its way into my regulator, into my field of vision. Like water in my mask, it burns and distorts the world.

Step back to 2000, barely into my new marriage, with a man who at the time placed music and his dreams well ahead of connecting to me. I wondered a lot, that first year, about his raging resentment, or perhaps regret, a sentiment I assumed he carried once he drove me across the USA to Florida. That denied anger triggered my first protective blocks amidst the beautiful waves of desire to be closer to him. It was a levy. Although we found a much healthier dynamic in later years, I had already started to find my own way alone, through activity and exploration, without him. He was too busy. I had no friends, was new to Florida, and needed that quiet time that settled me amidst second guessing the enormous move I had just made.

We were staying at a beach-side hotel. He had a show the night before, so I knew he likely would sleep well towards the afternoon. I, however, desired to put my feet in the water. The ocean has always been a cornerstone to helping me reground myself. I seek it. I need it. It is made of the tears of this planet. It washes away the hard edges of my soul. It provides me truth in the quiet of lapping melodic waves. So, I quietly took to the ocean at 7 in the morning. Heading in, I found snorkelers swimming and enjoying the reef. I tossed myself into the waves, letting them hold me, as I watched clouds, and swam.

A man, early that morning, along with his niece, were fishing off shore. I was sandwiched between his line and tide pools and reef. Seeing those snorkelers, I figured I could also poke around, badly equipped but trusting my mermaid legs, my ease with the ocean, my love of the water. She swam near me and warned that it could get strong by the reef, but not gauging my movement I got pulled in by the waves. She swam just outside, looking worried. As the waves began pushing me towards the tide pool edges which dropped nearly 8 feet into the shoreline, I was unable to avoid being slammed into the wall of coral. Every effort to pull away back into safer water resulted in being drug under the edge, my body gasping for air amidst the salty and turbulent break. Coral tugging on the fibers of my skin.

I remember my panic bubbling forward, a light socket of fear I had been plugged into. Coming up for a breath, seeing her scared face, and hearing the edge of her fear call to me, “are you ok?” I immediately was infused with a vision of my son without a mother. I was not ok. His father, a drunken and gifted man, disillusioned by his anger and depression, being all he would have left to guide him, my family fighting to be part of his world once again. I could not fathom, in that moment, allowing the ocean to take me from him. I emerged from another pressing wave to call to her, grabbing the wall of coral, the rough edges eating into my ribs and legs. I clung, I clung with the love of being a mother, for dear life, gasping and struggling to keep air in my lungs against every breaking wave. And she, her own mermaid tail, back to shore to call to her uncle who had come running, barefooted and strong, across the tide pools, to the edge of the wall, to pull me free from the antagonizing waves.

As I drew air at the surface, holding his hand as I navigated the tide pools, my vision blurred from salt and fear, my body dripping with streams of blood where the coral had etched its warning into my skin, I fell into awareness and anger. I don’t remember my rescuers face, or that of his niece, who sat me at the shore to watch me collect the fragments of myself together. I do remember the deep gratitude I felt, the tears that fell, as he reminded me it would be ok. I was just married. Just 30. Just so new to Florida, having left everything behind for this marriage. Where was he? Where was the safety of having him near? Where was my mermaid tail? Where was my ease with the ocean?

Collected but shaking, I returned to our hotel room, bloody and breathless. Scared. Scared of the current, of the ways in which the ocean exerted its power over me. My fins had been severed by the coral and taken out to sea. All that was left were scars.

I’ve struggled with my need to control the world for an eternity. I learned young, that the more control I had in my world, the more protected I believed myself to be. I could better identify potential danger and flailing rage. I learned to read people, their state, sensitive to the body language that could change my sense of safety in the world.

As children, our mermaid adventures were a haven of play and safety. Nothing could harm the courageous mermaid, swimming powerfully from coral castle to kingdoms nestled at the bottom of the sea. No one could harm me in the safety of that world, my little sister’s long lanky legs gliding her like a fish, little bubbles from our noses, speaking mermaid. But now, the ocean had betrayed me.


However, the ocean doesn’t cease to keep me connected, washing away stress. It whispers like a lover, soothing melodies to my soul, a memory of being a mermaid, a lentil in the womb of mother, a soothing current. So, I step into that deep blue, because that mermaid child is out there somewhere. I step into that current so that it might take me to her, trying to relearn trusting my lungs and resisting that the dagger of fear that wields itself. I step into the blue because my sister is there, her graceful tail luring and gentle. I step in, aqua green and delicate blue, listening to the fish, “blue… blue… blue.”


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