Bye-Bye, Breath Grabber!

Jenn, the ten-year-old protagonist in my novel, THE POWER OF HARMONY, is terrified of water, not-so-affectionately known as “The Breath Grabber.” That was me for my entire life. (Note I said “was,” as in past-tense)

While I was in Lunenburg this fall, I finally overcame my lifelong fear of water, with the help of an 85-year-old Wise Wonder Woman named Jean and dozens of YouTube videos. When I took swimming lessons as a seven-year-old (see pic), we were told to jump in the 12-foot end the very first day, an obviously misguided approach to teaching kids to swim. When I finally fought my way back to the surface, it was game over for me and water for the next 47+ years.img003

This fall, I spent many, many hours in the warm salt-water Lunenburg pool, gradually learning to trust in my ability to float and convincing myself I wouldn’t inhale water so long as I kept my mouth closed and didn’t try to breathe underwater. I had to talk myself out of panicking over and over again.

But I did it!

And now I can comfortably swim the breast stroke, frog kick and all, keeping my head above water for the most part. I haven’t ventured into the deep end yet, but I will someday. And I want to take some lessons to learn a speedier stroke, like the front crawl.

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Okay, I don’t look quite like the woman in this picture, but I’m so proud of my brave self. Overcoming my fear of water was something I never thought I’d become strong enough to do.  How about you? Any lifelong fears you’ve conquered?

14 thoughts on “Bye-Bye, Breath Grabber!

  1. I’m proud of you, too. Facing fears is everything in this life.
    DS told his first swim-teacher who asked him what he was afraid of, “I’m afraid of drowning.” Simple.

  2. Wow! What an achievement. I have many fears, some that I’ve overcome — dogs, swimming, speaking, writing — and some that I’ve not: writing.

    • Hi, Vijaya – Interesting that you list writing as both a fear you’ve overcome, and not… I suppose every time we send our words out into the world, there’s lots of fear attached. But at least we’re brave enough to send them out in the first place!

    • Hi, Anna – nice to see you:) In telling people about my experience, I find that only people who have really deep fears understand the thrill of “victory.” Empathy is hard when you don’t have first-hand experience, I suppose.

  3. Wonderful news, Jan. My phobia? Riding in elevators. I thought I’d conquered my fear, but an elevator I was riding a few years ago stopped a few feet short of the ground floor, and a fellow passenger forced open the door so we could jump down. Back to square one!

  4. Hi, Peggy – thanks for saying hi! I think I’m a little claustrophobic, too, although (knock on wood) I’ve never been stuck inside an elevator. Figures it would happen to you, because of your fear, but I’m sure you’ll get in another one someday (especially if you need to go to the 22nd floor or something…)

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