It’s extremely interesting to me, this issue of change and how we learn to deal with it.
I just read my last post of over a month ago (yes, I know it has been a while) and so much has changed. We’ve had our lives turned upside down. Emotions have run high and spirits have run very, very low. There has been shouting and groundings and iPhone restrictions. There have been tears and anger and recriminations. Ultimatums issued and shouts of, “You just don’t understand!”
In short, it’s been a tumultuous month and a half.
“What could it be?” you ask yourself. “Did someone die?” No, thank God. “Did someone lose their job?” Again, no … and again, thanking God.
Our swim team of 11 years ceased operations at the pool near where we lived and told us to find another team or do the impossible. It was sudden and shocking. Our entire way of life, built around our kids and their abilities in the pool – getting them to practice, feeding them the right food, organizing vacations around meets and the taper schedule (not always Husband’s favorite thing), making sure dinner was made by 10am so that even if I or Husband was out driving or picking up from the pool, there would still be something warm and nourishing to eat for those at home – had been pulled out from underneath us.
I realize to some that read this, the situation might not seem so dire. “Go to another pool,” would be the quick answer, after all, our (former) team swims out of 4 different pools. No problem, right? Well, given where we live, the sheer concentration of humanity and stoplights and stores and … traffic, traveling across town at four in the afternoon is impossible. It is especially impossible when one has four, sometimes five swimmers, all in different groups and skill levels, all out of school at different times. Criss-crossing the county or worse, driving 25 miles to the next county just doesn’t work. Apparation and Disapparation never was wished for more than now.
“Go to another team,” would be the other answer and one that we eventually embraced despite the issue of distance (the new team isn’t super close either, but we can make it work). Our new team is not new to us, in that I’ve known the coaches for many years. We will be happy there, but that neat and clean answer doesn’t address the very real issue of identity.
Abby, my swimmer who fought her way back to the pool last spring tooth and nail after shoulder rehab was stunned by this whole upheaval. Whoever Abby thought she was and who she thought she would end up being, she was always a Stingray. It was a part of her very being, her personality, her identity. Just as the threads holding the letters on the back of her parka will be shredded with a seam ripper, she felt like part of her very self had been ripped off and thrown away. That’s what loyalty means. It means being so far “in” that when you’re out, you’re entirely lost.
It’s been a time of renewal in our family. What does the sport of swimming mean to each of us? What does it provide for all of us? For Husband and myself, it gives us a way to provide a healthy lifestyle. For Emma, beginning with her high school team after years of swimming competitively, it gives her a way to exercise and do something good for her team. For Lizzie and Bennett, set to start with a new coach and a new team next week, it means fun times ahead, an opportunity to meet new people and make friends. For Mollie, it means a chance to get better because there will be a different set of eyes on her. Eyes that haven’t known her since she was three, eyes that will give her a fresh perspective.
For Abby though, it means all of that, but also a lot of different things.
She’s had to examine who she thought she was and compare it to who she actually is, and further compare to who she wants to become. For her, this meant a straight up confrontation with her fear. Gone is the comfortable situation where she knew everyone and everyone knew her. Gone is the coach who has loved her like an uncle for the last eight years. Gone are the excuses and cozy understandings. What if she could actually do this and do it well? Would people expect things from her? What if she can’t do it? Will she be embarrassed? These very real thoughts are what has stymied her these past few weeks. Unable to move in any direction because she’s been tethered to the wall of insecurity.
Finally yesterday, she made the decision after six weeks to get back in the water. She will be sore. She will be tired and she will be hungry. She might even be “slow” … for a little bit. I’m immensely proud of her though, and I could care less if she makes the state cuts or the senior cuts. “Do your best and have fun,” are my only requirements. Facing one’s fears is just about the scariest thing any of us could ever do. But it is only when we embrace the change, the fears, the unknowns that we grow and become more of what we are supposed to be.