I fought the boogey man…and won!

As a child, I remember sitting at the end of a dock, staring down at the icky murky water of the lake. I imagined all the creatures ready and waiting for me with open jaws. I knew there were slimy rocks and mushy sand – you know the kind that feels like dog poo squishing between your toes. Ugh. I hate that feeling.

Well, my Aunt Jo Beth used to swim out to the middle of the lake and back. By herself. I was in awe that someone would dare to do that when they couldn’t see below them. I swore it was something I’d never do. I’d stick with good ole chlorine and pools with clear water.

Today, we don’t have a pool. We have a beautiful lake five minutes away with a public beach with okay sand. I mean I’ll actually go swim in it with only minor cringes. And I’m thankful for the lake. I wouldn’t trade it now for a pool for anything.

But, last week, My sister and I, and our kids, were back at the same lake, the same dock from when I was a child. My sister is training for a triathalon and asked if I’d swim across the lake and back. I cooly said, “Sure.” What was I thinking? I swore I’d never do this!

But I did. I swam across the lake. And back.

I know. Big deal. But I plunged into the cool water and swam. I freed myself of the boogeyman. Nothing reached up and grabbed my legs. I didn’t even feel any fish. Half way through I even did the back float and looked up at the blue sky. The perspective of the mountains around me and the sky was different from the middle of the lake. I realized how small I am in this big big world.

As I swam, I couldn’t help but think of characters and their fears. I laughed to myself. I swam across the lake without any high stakes or fear of death. In a book, my sister would have been drowning in the middle of the lake for me to conquer my fears. Or someone would me chasing me and I’d swim to safety.

What are your childhood fears? Have you conquered any of them?

23 Responses to I fought the boogey man…and won!

  1. Elaine July 26, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I admire your swimming feat and feet. I didn’t have individual fears as a child. Do you not just think, sometimes, the time is right to do the things you never dared to do before?

  2. anne gallagher July 26, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Well, I am just so proud of you because I would never swim in a lake. And I know there are more dangerous creatures in the ocean but just the thought of lake water, ooh, I’m getting creepies just thinking about it.

    I was afraid of the dark for many years and always slept with the light on. Now I can’t stand to have any kind of light on. It’s weird to think of what frightened us when we were kids.

  3. Jody Hedlund July 26, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    You summarized exactly why I don’t like swimming in lakes–the dog poo sand. 🙂 And actually I was just talking to my kids about why I never liked swimming in lakes when I was a kid–they’re dirty. However, now with having kids and swimming in both lakes and pools I realize pools aren’t all that clean either with half the swimming population more than likely peeing in the water!

    • Laura July 26, 2010 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks everyone, I guess I’m not the only one who thinks lakes are a tiny bit creepy. But now, kayaking on them and seeing the sun set on the water, tinging it with pink – I’m thankful for it.

  4. Nelsa July 26, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Perfect description of that yucky lake bed sand, Laura!!

    And my biggest fear is swimming – I can’t. I took lessons when I was 22 and learned to jump in the deep end of the pool and swim to safety on the other side but I’ve never felt comfortable in the water. And a lake? Let’s just say I’m strapping on the life vest every time, baby. So good for you that you conquered that fear! I know it’s not an easy thing to do.

  5. Stina Lindenblatt July 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    This sounds exactly like me–including how you would have written the scene. 😀

  6. Creepy Query Girl July 26, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    You know, I never feared very much for myself growing up. I used to love swinging from trees, wandering alone in forests and swimming in murkey water. My biggest fear was losing one of my sisters or someone I loved in the above. My sisters lost in the forest. My sisters falling from a tree or drowning. Never realised it till now. I did, however, freak myself out with ghost stories. I was terrified of ghosts.

  7. Laura July 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    Nelsa – Don’t feel bad – my husband can’t swim either. That’s what happens when you grow up landlocked! 🙂

    STina – I think lots of people don’t like the bottom of lakes!

    Katie – That’s great you never had those fears. And I think a good ghost story can make anyone a bit scared. 🙂

  8. Anna July 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Hooray for conquering your fear! My biggest fear has always been talking to people I don’t know. I was painfully shy when I was young and that hermit instinct still lurks inside me. But I keep pushing and pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and it’s actually been working pretty well.

  9. patti July 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Laura, LOVE this post! Right up my lane in the swimming pool, especially as I conquered my fears of those murky Louisiana swamp waters years ago.

    Hmmm. Have also conquered a fear of cats birthday by childhood nightmares.

    Keep on writing, dear one. Your place here is amazing.

  10. Laura Marcella July 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Great story! Good for you for conquering your fears!!!

    I feared spiders as a child. I still fear them. No matter how small they are, their legs and speed just freaks me out! When I saw Jaws for the first time, sharks became a huge fear. That was ten years ago, and still I can only go in the ocean for about ten minutes at a time. So silly, I know! I also don’t like dark windows. It’s scary to think when you have the lights on at night, someone could be staring at you through your window and you wouldn’t even know. So blinds must be closed tight as soon as it gets dark!

    Lol, my fears are so pathetic!

    • Laura July 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

      Anna – I’ll remember that next year at NESCBWI! 😉

      Patti – Okay, swimming across a NH lake is one thing, but Louisiana murky swamps? uh, uh, not going to happen. Aren’t there alligators?

    • Laura July 26, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

      Laura – I guess it really comes down to the fear of the unknown and things we can’t control.

  11. Catherine A. Winn July 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    I solve the ickky, horrible, squooshy pooh feeling by always wearing lake shoes. Having said that, I think this story was so good. I can just picture you as a little girl on the dock.

  12. Lisa Green July 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    I have to laugh at myself now because the scariest thing to me as a child were werewolves. Who knew the stuff that scared me would become what fascinates me as an adult? Strange how that works. But good job on conquering your fears!

  13. Patti Nielson July 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    I totally had that fear. I still hate swimming where I can’t touch, it creeps me out.

    • Laura July 26, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

      Catherine – I know. I should wear shoes in water but those two things just don’t go for me. Shoes and water?

      Lisa – That is pretty amazing. Maybe that is why it fascinates you!

      Patti – I don’t know if I could swim out alone. That would be another feat entirely in it’s own right.

  14. Sherrie Petersen July 26, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    My son did this while we were camping last week. He never thought he could swim across the cove. One afternoon, he did it seven times in a row. We were all astounded and so proud of him 🙂

  15. Kelly Polark July 27, 2010 at 3:21 am #

    Good for you to face your fears for your sister!
    I know exactly about the muck at the bottom of lakes. I grew up swimming in one nearby and tread water instead of touching it. Though I didn’t fear it then, I wouldn’t do it now. I’m more cautious now about things than ever!
    Funny you are talking about fears today, my blog post tomorrow morn is about what freaks me out…bats!

  16. Susan July 27, 2010 at 4:27 am #

    I would never have been able to do it 🙂 Did you see me in that Kayak! I thought the boogeyman was going to tip me over into that seaweed! YIKES. You are amazing.

    • Laura July 27, 2010 at 11:56 am #

      Sherrie – Great for your son! What a feat!

      Kelly – I’m sure bats rate pretty high on my list of creepy things too.

      Susan – Trust me – the lake I swam in was nothing like the pond we kayaked in. I would never do that!!!!!!

  17. Karen Strong July 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    That’s great that you faced that fear and conquered it. Swimming in a lake can be scary.

    I’m still dealing with my fear of heights after being stuck in the parachute ride (at the top!) at Six Flags.

  18. Jackee July 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Great story, Laura! Now I want to go to the lake so bad. :o)

    I had a huge fear of hieghts as a kid. So I learned to rock climb. Honestly, it really did help, but now I’ve created the crutch of a harness and a rope. I get dizzy if I don’t have those on.

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