When my daughter was two years old, we discovered her love for water. Not drinking it, but playing in it – with no fear – so I nicknamed her ‘Fish’. When we started taking our annual beach vacation four years ago, she was instantly in love. She and her brother would spend hours in the bay, playing and splashing.
This year was no different until about the fifth day of our trip. We ventured to Port Aransas and decided to play in the ‘real water’. Everything was going fine until a group of minnows decided to swim around her feet. That set off a storm of screams, tears, and pleas to get out of the water. My husband and I laughed and assured her that they weren’t biting and wouldn’t hurt her. She gave us her epic side-eye and decided to spend the rest of her time on shore.
Two days later I tried to coax her back into the water. She was reluctant at first but eventually went it. Not as far as usual but she went in. Her whole experience is a perfect analogy of my life with anxiety. I’ll be going along, living life, doing what I do and love, and those little minnows will come along and tickle my feet. I know that they’re small, only a blip in the realm of my life, but I completely freak out.
It took her two days to get back in the water and even when she did, the thought that those fish would come back lived in her subconscious. I totally get it. Every day, even though things are okay, going fine, there’s always that feeling that the ‘fish’ might come back. What if the kids choke on their lunch? What if Jacob gets fired? What if? What if? What if?
I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what I was feeling lately and when I did, I shared it with my husband. And it was freeing. Because even though I know the fish can, and will come back, I have to do exactly what my sweet girl did – go back into the water. Even if it’s a little bit at a time.
Until next time…