And maybe, just maybe, that’ll take you exactly where you were supposed to be.
According to country music I was supposed to get diagnosed, and then go skydiving, and stop and smell the roses, enjoy each day as if it were my last, the list goes on. But I didn’t actually do any of those things. Yes, I promised myself a better life, but that didn’t happen overnight. Here’s the deal, you have to let go of your anger and resentment before you can truly enjoy your life again. And I don’t mean anger towards God or the world, but at yourself. I deeply believed I was to blame for getting sick. I thought I had brought in on myself, that maybe I was such a disappointment I deserved to be sick. So, I slipped into a depression that seemed impossible to climb out of. I become more and more insecure and beat down as each day passed.
When I went to college I was still struggling with finding myself and my joy again. I wanted to get the most out of the experience, but that’s not an easy task when you feel so down.
I’d just faced a grueling week at school, and a massive fight with my boyfriend when one of my friends invited me to this giant spring fed pool in Austin called Barton Springs. My immediate response was no, but something inside of me told me to go.
I’d been so caught up in things that didn’t matter and stress that wasn’t worth worrying over I felt with complete certainty that I was supposed to go to Barton Springs. It was a full moon that night and every full moon they open up Barton Springs for one hour and anyone and everyone is invited to go. When we got there tons of people were swimming- teens, college students, families, senior citizens, kids. It was amazing to see. And then someone howled. A legitimate wolfs howl. Then there was another, and then everybody there was howling. It was amazing. I felt like we were all a part of this secret community and everybody got to be themselves and just be free, even if it was just for the night. My friends started to head for the water but stopped short when they realized I wasn’t following. One of them turned around, “aren’t you coming?” I wanted to. I needed to, but my insecurities made me hesitate. I didn’t take chances anymore. I didn’t like to go outside my comfort zone. And I certainly didn’t feel comfortable in a bathing suit after a 40 pound weight gain post surgery. And besides I hate being cold and Barton Springs is famous for its low temperatures.
Then everyone howled again.
Not tonight. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from this experience. I took off my towel and jumped in.
The cold hit me before I even got wet. I sunk to the bottom, shocked over the extreme climate change, my body propelled me back to the surface, out of the freezing water. The air engulfed my body like an old friend. Goosebumps covered my skin and I opened my eyes. I couldn’t recall a time I had felt this alive. The cold water turned everything else cold and my blood rushed through my body pulsing through my veins. Every molecule was excited. I felt each droplet of water fall from my hair and race down my face. Immediately I started swimming. I went in every which direction that my body pulled me. I was fighting for warmth, but I wasn’t fighting against the cold. Swimming and panting and heating up my body that was immersed in an ice box created perfect harmony with in my soul. It awakened in me a spirit that was long forgotten. The water touched my tongue and I became parched with a lust for life. I forced my face back under the water and took in the cold, piercing touch of each wave as it put its hand over me. We all swam and talked with the other Austinites, marveling at the undiscovered experience that was swimming under the light of a full moon. Just as the 65 degree water hit me, so did the realization that this ice box very well saved a part of me that was on the verge of disappearing.