A Metaphorical Aquaphobia

After all, it’s not just what’s in the water. It’s the water itself. Who’d ever think that something so valuable to human sustainability would be so terrifying?

It’s nearly October. As autumn turns great oaks fiery red and the insects go to Hell for the winter, all things scary come out to play. I mean, stores like Walmart have been teeming with spooky decor since July, but now it’s finally socially acceptable to the public. I’m personally ready for the autumn breeze chilling my ugly pumpkin-colored sweaters, and I hope everyone isn’t worn out by just how overbearing retail can be with these festivities.

What’s great about the fall and the cooling weather is I don’t have to worry about the beach anymore. There’s something about the waves and the sea’s volatile nature that petrifies me.

See, when I was young, I almost drowned. A wave engulfed me and all I could see was the most beautifully chaotic azure I only thought could be part of the afterlife. Surely, I knew I was gone, swept out into the Atlantic to mingle with the currents. Oceanic tides slammed me into the sand and my lungs filled up with merciless sea water. Everything I knew was blue and only blue - no other color existed. And that’s where it began.

The ocean brings me to a panic. When the sea licks at my toes for forgiveness, my heart rate quickens and sometimes I even find it hard to breathe - I drown within myself in a way just as traumatic as when the ocean took me that day. I remember the pang of sea salt in my mouth burning my throat. I remember the life being taken from me for just a moment. I remember not being able to breathe. I remember it all, and that day I danced with Death.

My biggest fear is drowning, and yet I drown almost every day. Sometimes, I feel I am the ocean: chaotic at its core, shimmering with its murky depth. The ocean is such a misunderstood creature, her deepest secrets still but a mystery that humanity hasn’t dwelled, for it is too hellbent on the stars. Her everlasting rage, perhaps, is one lusting for the world to see her. Have you ever considered the ocean wreaks the havoc she does so the world will turn to her once more?

Alas, I digress.

The trenches of my mind are so complex, such as everyone else. I have to remind myself that I’m not the only other human on Earth and then I drown in existential realization that the world is so loud! Louder than the ocean’s own unholy screaming! Louder than the times my brain is out to splatter my heart scarlet against the sky. I’ve drowned so many times in the inner workings of my own volcanic soul, spewing white-hot fire that sears into ice within moments. This mix of the elements is simply too much. My weary mind cannot comprehend this excess emotion.

My aquaphobia is treacherous, because not only do I fear the ocean in her physical form, but also the oceans of my mind, churning just as alive as whirlpools. I see myself overcoming tides only to be shot back down, but my motto is I don’t have to let her win. When I feel myself drowning, I remember that unless I’m submerged in water (which, thankfully, I almost never am), I actually can breathe. I can indeed handle what ocean my mind has flung me into. And so, I taught myself not only how to swim, but also how to out up a fight and stand up against the current.

If the ocean can persevere so beautifully, then so can I. If she can remain, despite it all, then I will too. I’ll be just like her, in all her chaos. In all her beauty.

This inspired piece was written by Beth Smith (Sezbeth)