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Facing Fears

This week seems to be a week of facing some fears. It’s quite amazing how this has happened and since I’m a big believer of everything happens for a reason and you are exactly where you are supposed to be, I’m going with this journey.

This last Tuesday, whilst we were filming for the Expresso Show, I went for a surfing lesson. It was a spontaneous thing and a little inner voice chanting: “Do it… Do it… Do it!”

In my head I am a PRO surfer. I am basically a phone call away from Billabong or Roxy giving me a call to become their new Surfer Girl.

Obviously.

Having been land locked most of my life, living in Johannesburg, I was never going to be that surfer girl. I may have the blonde hair but that’s about it. In my head (yet again) I wanted to be that surfer girl with the beachy blonde waves, the tan (obviously I’d have it all year round) and the toned surfers body.

Um… in reality, I’m pale (unless I’ve been on holiday) and I’m terrified of the ocean.

Insert record scratch here.

“Surfer girl” scared of the Ocean.

Fail.

I am allowed to be scared of the ocean, to have an unbelievable respect for it, since I had a near death, drowning experience when I was 12 years old. It is something I will never ever forget. Just typing this, my shoulders and neck are tense, I’m almost holding my breath as I relive the memories and the feelings that went with fighting for oxygen as wave after wave smashed us into the bottom of the sea in a washing machine affect.

When I was l2 and my sister was 9, we were at St. Francis Bay on holiday. My sister had received flippers as one of her Christmas presents. Typically, it rained for the last few days of our holidays until the day we were set to bundle into the car and drive back.

It was the most perfect day, so our parents decided we would spend the morning on the beach and drive back at lunch time. My sister was delighted to be able to use her flippers and off we went into the ocean. The rule was that when we were in the ocean, we were to always look back towards the beach and use our towels/mom and dad as a marker. If we drifted to the left or right of them, we should go back to our marker and ensure we weren’t being caught in any currents.

My sister and I were so fearless when it came to the waves and I always wanted to go out as far as I could.

After some time playing around, I looked back to see our marker of mom and dad and discovered we had been pulled so far out, that they looked like teeny tiny ants on the beach. When I faced forward I suddenly realised we were right at the base of the very last wave, which is always the biggest and even bigger for 12 and 9 year olds. We couldn’t seem to get out of that spot. The waves kept crashing onto us, pushing us deep down, but keeping us right there. We would both kick like mad to get to the surface for air, only to find a new huge wave crashing down onto us. I kept trying to grab my little sister to keep her close to me so I didn’t lose her, but each waves power and force would separate us and I’d kick like mad to get to the top to find her and see she was safe.

I started panicking when I realised we couldn’t get out of it and when my sister started panicking too, I was beside myself. At this stage, our parents had discovered how far out we were and my dad ran in and swam out to us, whilst my mom started calling for help. I just remember seeing her waving her arms like mad.

Dad got caught in the current too and now we were all stuck.

My little leg and arm muscles were burning as I desperately tried to tread water and as I would finally come up to the surface, gasping for air, a new huge wave would smash into me and I’d breath in water. Salty water that burned my lungs, made me want to vomit and had me feeling light headed. I started vomiting, whilst being dumped again and inhaled water and vomit. I was terrified I wasn’t going to survive. It’s that raw feeling that you can’t explain unless someone else has been faced with it too.

My dad told my sister, who had the flippers on, to kick like mad when the new wave came and try to get to shore. He couldn’t leave me because I was losing strength and vomiting. I remember on the last wave that pushed me down in a washing machine affect that I just couldn’t kick my legs and arms anymore. I felt like I had nothing left and I almost surrendered. I didn’t want to give up, but I felt my body failing. I remember sinking down really peacefully now, in comparison to the terror I felt and the roar of the crashing waves. It was peaceful and I just floated a bit. I was pulled back into reality quite literally when a surfer jumped in, swam down and pulled me out of the water and onto his surfboard. My dad was pulled out too and we were brought back to shore where my mom had wrapped my sister in a towel. I remember my dad bursting into tears seeing that my sister was safe and sound. He had a really hard time afterwards, for a long time, because he felt like he had chosen daughters, which was absolutely untrue. He definitely did the right thing, but you can imagine the trauma he felt of trying to help both of us and having to let the one go because she had a slight advantage of the flippers.

My dad will always be our hero for more reasons than just this one.

So you can well imagine how terrified I am now of the ocean and of waves. I don’t go in very far and if I do, I start to hyperventilate and cry. I get sucked right back into being a 12 year old. It’s very awkward when you’re a grown woman crying in the ocean whilst little kids swim right past. Hence the reason, you don’t find me going too far into the ocean.

Fast forward to present day (Tuesday the 14 October) and here I am facing the waves and my fears. It took me a good 20 minutes to get quite deep and quite a few nerve wrecking, hyperventilating moments of me saying to the instructor: “No no no no no no… I don’t want to go further. Wait. Wait. Wait. No no no…” and deep breaths. LOTS of deep breaths. As soon as I got used to the waves knocking into me and I felt a little more in control, I’d go further in. By the end of the hour I was completely calm and felt really good. So… in my head I might have been a Pro Surfer but in reality I managed to push up and get a foot on the board before falling in.

I nearly stood.

Nearly.

It felt incredible to face a fear and take away its gripping power.

Here I am in a wetsuit that was too big and a grin that hides how I was shaking inside.

Here I am afterwards feeling exhilarated but quite exhausted..

Tomorrow I am going paragliding. Yes, the girl who is also scared of heights! Somehow this doesn’t terrify me as much. Bungee jumping and climbing high up is far more terrifying for me than sky diving and paragliding.

My mind is a strange one, I know.

Superga Italian shoes have a whole bunch of bucket list adventures they have assigned to a few celebrities. You simply had to go onto the Facebook page, see the photo and comment on what you thought was happening:

Our next story is full of adventure and open sky. What would you have to be doing to see this view? Post your answers below and you could be doing it on Friday morning in a brand new pair of 2750s. Cape Town only. #SupergaTalk

I will be wearing these gold metallic beauties as I dangle from the sky overlooking Cape Town. Weather permitting of course.

On Sunday I have been entered into the Impi Challenge with Team SWEAT 1000. It’s a 12km race of obstacles in the mud – what good (not so clean) fun!! I, however, shy away from competitions. This comes from when I was a little girl and was always forced into swimming competitions. I’d freeze as the gun went off or the whistle was blown and a teacher would push me into the pool. It’s a small thing, but it has put me off competitions.

So whilst some fears are bigger than others, it seems that this is my week to face them!

What are your fears (big or small)?

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