Monday, October 19, 2009

Facing My Fears (one of them)

I have a water phobia. Not any water, only moving water. I used to love water as a child. We always had a swimming pool, and I spent many, many hours in it. The phobia started when I was about 10 years old, with a near-drowning incident in the resort pool at Disneyworld. This was followed by a series of events including, but not limited to:

-A 4th of July outing on the family boat to watch the fireworks in downtown Nashville. All the other boats leaving created extremely treacherous waters and high waves in the river, which overtook our small boat and nearly capsized us. Everyone and everything flew out of the boat, flooded the motor, and we were stuck in the middle of the river with the General Jackson coming right at us.

-A guided rafting trip down the Ocoee River, in which my boyfriend at the time and my father were both ejected and carried downstream through the rapids while I was stuck on the boat wondering what happened to them because I couldn't see them anymore.

It's a pretty awful phobia to have, and in the past has really cramped the fun factor in my life. I have often sat things out because of it when I probably would have had fun. But I think drowning is probably one of the absolute worst ways to die, and usually that's just not worth the risk. In fact, my phobia is so bad that I don't even like to put my face under the stream in the shower. I'm a face-splasher.

So you can see where my head was at when a friend of mine suggested going whitewater rafting a couple of months ago. I tried to politely put off making a decision, hoping she would get the hint and stop asking. But oh, no. She pushed me, and I tried to make light of it, saying something like, "Yeah, I don't know... I have a water thing." This tactic did not work, and when she got wind of the fact that Justyn used to be a professional whitewater raft guide (meaning they could save $ on the trip), it was all over for me. So, I took it like a champ and decided I would go. After all, as long as Justyn was there, everything would be fine, right? Plus, Justyn loves the water, and rivers in particular. He wants me to love water,too, so isn't it my wifely duty to try and overcome my fear?

This is me and one of my boat companions. I might look happy here, but I'm not. I'm very, very scared. We were waiting for our shuttle to get back so we could launch the boat, and I decided that while I was waiting I better go pee, because I sure as hell wasn't going to be getting in the water to do it. On my way back from the bathroom, I passed the little guide station and saw this:

There were a couple of things about this sign that bothered me. The first was, "Life jackets increase your survival time." I could see where they were going with it, but there was something not right about the phrase "survival time" entering into my brain at that moment. The second was the Mark Twain quote. I mean, honestly? The river might have secrets, but I don't want to know what they are, nor do I want the river whispering them to me. That's just freaky. You can see how irrational I was, at the time. I had already cried in the car on the way to the put-in, and this was not helping. At all.

These were some other people getting safety instructions from their guide. It sounded very informative from what I could tell. Our guide? Our guide was my husband. Which, in some ways was awesome, and in some ways was not awesome. I mean, I know him. I know he'll break a rule every chance he gets. I know that he hasn't guided a whitewater raft in over 7 years. I know that he takes off his shoes every night and leaves them in the living room until they are all packed underneath the coffee table and he can't find any of them. I mean, does he really know what he's doing?

But, he sure is hunky, though, right? Check out those aviator sunglasses. What a bad-ass. Life jacket? He don't need no stinking life jacket. (For the record, he did wear a life jacket, he did a fantastic job, and of course he knows exactly what he's doing.)

There was a lot to look at while we waited for the rest of our people to arrive, and I saw this guy who had cut the top out of his cowboy hat, just leaving the brim around his head like a visor:

I saw this, and I thought I might be in Tennessee for a second. But then I saw this guy who had on a pirate hat:

Nope, definitely not in Tennessee. Pirate hat = You're in Oregon.

Anyway, we finally launched the boat and it took us about 2 and a half hours to run the whole river, including stopping to eat lunch. It was fun, and I didn't fall out. In fact, the Deschutes River is a lot more mellow than the Ocoee, so that was great. I was pretty scared most of the time, and totally almost fell out once (the people around me did, and I think it was purely my insane fear of going in the water that kept me in the boat.) But, it was fun. And, I'm less scared now than I was before and would definitely consider doing it again. But I'm still not putting my face under the shower. Not quite there yet.


Amy said...

Hahahaha... best post ever.

That sign is hilarious. the wording that bothers me is the use of INCREASE. as in: You may not survive, but if you wear a life jacket, you are increasing your survival rate. Scary, indeed. Plus, everyone knows that mark twain was a drunk bastard.

I'm glad you survived and ended up having a good time!

Mara LeGrand, Skydancer Productions said...

I'm glad to hear you went on the trip. Phobias are meant to be overcome and totally forgotten.