Emotional Surfing

I have never surfed in my life. I don’t really like the water and I am not a strong swimmer. Yet here I am, straddling a chunk of fiberglass, holding on with every bit of strength I have as an invisible tow line carries me farther and farther out into the chaotic, endlessly heaving waves.

I am afraid. I desperately want to be back on the shore. Dry land. Solid earth beneath my feet. Yet farther out I am led until, in one giant movement, I am sucked under a tremendous wave. I am engulfed in total darkness. I cannot breathe, or see light, or think coherent thoughts. It is so dark here. I am so alone. My tears, held in so carefully and dutifully for so many years of obedient emotional withholding, rise up in giant torrents of pain that scare me. I let them out; they mix with the saltwater and become one with the vast ocean around me. I cannot stop these tears and I cry so many that the waves become higher and move powerful with each sob. The movement is making me nauseous and the crying is making my head pound. I fear I may drown. I think I may welcome this.

Then I am yanked upward and I am on top of a wave, crouching on the surfboard, not yet ready to stand but feeling a hint of one distinct emotion I had lost sight of: hope. I ride this wave tentatively; I do not dare to give this emotion too much power. It has burned holes in my soul in the past.

Shall I continue? I could go back out and ride another wave or return to the safety of the beach. The beach looks welcoming with its comfortable chairs and colorful umbrellas. I would be safe there. I could lie there and never have to feel anything again. But another wave is coming quickly. I have to decide.

Maybe this surfing sounds dangerous, like a really bad idea for me. Yet maybe within the darkness of these waves there is catharsis. Maybe if I ride enough of theses waves, the still and small feeling of hope will grow until I feel it more than the pain. And then maybe, just maybe, this feeling of hope will grow into contentment. I don’t know what to do.

This is my decision to make. This is my fork in the road.


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