Why I Need Water

7 May

I awoke this morning kicking myself for scheduling a client today at 10:00 am instead of seeing her last night after my work at the hospital. This would have freed me up to surf on a day of stupendous weather but now that won’t happen. So let’s play our tiny violins, Lise. But seriously, as I felt a pang in my chest almost like suffocation at the thought of not being in water, I had to contemplate – why is not being in water (be it ocean, pool or bath) create such a state of emergency within?

I have loved the water ever since I was a little girl. Because my mother worshiped the sun, I spent a considerable amount of time in the pool or ocean while she sunbathed. It was kind of how we spent time together even though she didn’t swim because it messed up her hair. So who knows. Maybe the connection to water reflects some type of connection my mother. But I would guess more accurately that the water became a surrogate mother; a trace memory of floating in an amniotic sac and being inside my mother. A longing to reclaim unity that was difficult to experience outside of her body and in the physical world. 

For me, water is no longer just mother. It is Father/Mother/God. It is redemption. Purification. Salvation.

When in high school my mother would fall asleep early from drinking too much vodka, I’d slip down to the pool and swim away my frustrations with her alcoholism. I’d soak in the jacuzzi after ballet class, when my toes were blistered and look up at the stars at night and dream of being far away from home. In high school, I swam on swim team. And in college, I walked down to Blacks Beach every morning to go running, worshipping the Pacific with the surfers at 6:00 am before class. When a knee injury kept me from running, I took to lap swimming again and fell so in love with the pool, I actually painted a portrait of it with steam rising off the water. 

But it wasn’t until I became a therapist that swimming became essential to my functioning. Because for me it’s impossible to absorb people’s energy, emotions and pain all day without needing to wash it off afterwards. It is my exorcism of intra-psychic energy that is not mine; it is the way for me to reset the computer. And when it comes to my internal landscape – my dreams, emotions, intuition and troubles, it is the only thing that moves these elements up and out to prevent a debilitating depression. So for me, swimming is serious business. 

I will make it to the pool today in-between stuff and I will get to surf tomorrow. And when I’m really desperate, there is always the bathtub. (I love the scene in Splash where Darrell Hannah, playing a mermaid on land is desperate to get into the bath to nourish her scales). And bizarrely, the surf board that stands against the wall by my desk smiles down on me as I write this saying, “I am here for you. I am your friend. Your ticket to sanity. Your Mother/Father/God. Because I connect you to water. To sun. To adventure. To life.”

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