Fear of drowning.
I had a strange dream last night.
Upon awakening, I realized that my brain is definitely trying to work something out.
In the dream, I was walking through my old neighborhood, on my way to visit a dear childhood friend of mine, Katherine. It had been raining all day, and it was dusk by the time that I had started out for her home. Oddly enough, I wasn’t afraid of the dark (as I usually am, since the night *is* dark and full of terrors in New England this time of year), and I was quite confident that I would reach her home before long.
Another prevalent detail was that I was wearing a pair of brand-new white sneakers, but for some reason, I didn’t want them to get dirty. (This is another odd thing, because I am usually much more worried about reaching my destination than I am about worrying over whether or not my shoes are going to still be ‘clean’ by the time I get there.) But, such as it was, the street was full of puddles, and try as I might to avoid stepping in the puddles, the persistent rain throughout the day had flooded the street, and the roadside was saturated with mud. So I walked, with my head down, my feet sloshing into each unavoidable puddle, watching the dark muddy water turn my sneakers grey, and I realized that I was surprisingly becoming irritable with that sodden sponginess of my wet socks and shoes.
But I reminded myself that while I couldn’t avoid walking, and I couldn’t avoid getting wet, I very much wanted to visit my friend, so I convinced myself that this temporary discomfort was at least worth that joy in some way.
Then I noticed that what was once mere puddles on the sidewalk and the street had turned into wide, low ruts, swollen with water. I now felt water sloshing against my ankles, and even my calves, soaking through my jeans as I walked. These shoes are definitely ruined, I thought grouchily, and I might need a change of clothes when I get there.
Then, while I was moving through a particularly wide rut in the middle of an empty street, I felt the ground turn spongy and completely give way. I felt myself sliding downward, and I realized that I must have fallen into a sinkhole in the street. I felt the shock of the icy, fetid water soaking into my clothes.
As I slid further down, I began immediately to panic: I realized that I couldn’t feel the bottom of the hole, and I was treading water.
Soon, I will be gulping water, my panicked brain screamed, and I felt the water go over my head.
Suddenly, the view of the street-lamps above me were a blur of hazy brown-grey light about 12″ above me, and I tried desperately not to inhale water.
I pushed myself upward, and I gasped for help.
My voice sounded small and choked to my own ears, and the water churned as I thrashed about.
In the brief moments that I could break the surface, I saw that I was right outside Katherine’s house.
I howled for help as loudly as I could, but I kept sinking back beneath the water.
I have a desperate fear of drowning, by the way, and I was beginning to despair that I would not be heard.
The force of my anger at my failure at being heard and my fear of drowning seemed to be driving me however, to keep trying. I was so angry that it seemed to give me the energy to keep treading water, and my fear of drowning, of dying, kept me working to get myself above the surface of the water, however briefly, to call for help.
I saw the brief hazy light of Katherine’s porch-light for a split second moment during each of my attempts to surface, and that sight made me resent my predicament. Oh, how I felt such an odd hatred for the serene glow of that porch light, the welcoming glimmer that bled around the window-shades!
How could she not hear me?
And then I realized that I had been treading water in just one spot.
In my panic, I hadn’t thought to try to find the edges of the sink-hole. I hadn’t thought to open my arms or search for anything in the water at all.
I had been just… flailing in place.
So I resolved to stop struggling, and I relaxed, and breathed.
I let myself float/roll a few feet to the left.
And there was the edge. And there was a handhold.
And I was suddenly able to climb out… quite easily.
Oh, I felt grateful.
But I felt more ashamed and embarrassed.
And it wasn’t just because I was wet, dirty, and soaked with the sweat of my effort and fear.
It suddenly occurred to me that the solution to my situation was not only available to me, but ridiculously close, and yet I had allowed myself to panic.
Did I trust myself to find the solution?
I hadn’t even tried.
I immediately began calling for help.
I had believed that I was in danger…but I was not. Not really.
If that was not a lesson, I don’t know what is.
Upon awakening, while I lay there in bed, feeling my pulse slacken, several things occurred to me.
Though I had felt stupid, this was not a stupid dream.
I mean, really.
How often have I called out to Him, and He has been silent?
How often have I felt Him just out of reach
always with that calm and infinitely patient look on His face….
…and I have resented Him for His silence, for His inaction?
Is He hearing me?
Why isn’t He helping me?
But it is just as it is with this dream, once I have calmed myself, and looked around, I’ve realized that I’ve the tools, the means, and sometimes, the answer to my own questions.
Sometimes, the solution has been within my grasp all along; sometimes I’m already in possession of everything required to solve the problem…and He is just waiting for me to realize it.
Sometimes the situation isn’t exactly dire…but it becomes exacerbated in my mind, and things suddenly seem insurmountable due to my impatience, my fear, my anger, or my rush to negativity.
(Oh, how I have cursed the light…)
I confess that I’ve got several emotional blind spots..and I’ve developed a pessimism, or perhaps, a learned helplessless about some of them.
Despite that, He’s got a word for each of those blind spots:
And I remember:
Whenever I have truly been in danger
(… could have been killed)
He has been there
(…the house could have burned down…)
He has heard
(…had been trying to hurt me…)
…and He has offered me guidance, and He has offered me help.
(Even though I have been known to stubbornly refuse to listen to and/or accept it.)
But one thing is certain: I do have a fear of drowning.
Sometimes, I think that I am drowning…
But then it turns out that I’m just struggling
I’m just flailing in place
…and I am making a lot of noise about it.
Maybe this is why the rune Laguz keeps coming up.
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