Night Swim 2a - Broken Body, Swimming Blind, Crying Convulsions, Elements Collapsing, No Help Coming
I got to Mike and Aszjeca's earlier than the previous night, but still a little later than I would have hoped for. In a certain sense, I was much more prepared than the night before. I was still exhausted though. I ended up being awake for almost 28 hours by the time I got home and crawled into bed for a quick siesta in the morning after the first swim.
I also went and shot some ball, and then for a swim in the river too during the day. Not too much sleep.
I was beat up, and that tiredness was permeating everything inside me, but at least I now knew kind of what to expect with the external conditions, rather than going in blind like the night before. That had its plusses for sure, but it absolutely levelled me with anxiety because now I knew what I had to go through to drag myself to the other end.
The anxiety was crippling to me. I almost left Mike and Aszjeca's several times when I was getting my wetsuit on and stuff. The only thing that distracted me from the anxiety was when I would start crying about Michelle. I was a total mess.
"Perfect time to do an overnight stupid swim that grinded you down to nothin' the night before. You dumb bastard!!"
When I got all my stuff together, and started walking to the beach, I broke right down. Constantly! I don't mean walking with tears, I mean I had to keep stopping to collect myself...crying with my full body.
The swim was obviously on my mind, and the anxiety was building and building, but all I could see was Michelle, and I just kept imploding. My senses had no idea what was going on. I was all over the place. My body was physically sore and exhausted. My anxiety was slicing and dicing everything about me. Emotionally, I was completely broken into tiny pieces...
And that's how I walked myself to the beach...
Standing in the sand on the water's edge, getting the rest of my stuff ready, and putting on my wetsuit the rest of the way, I felt like I was more efficient with what I was doing, but it definitely was going slower. My whole sense of time was completely warped.
I took out my mixture of sage and tobacco again to give an offering in each of the four directions. While I was doing that, I was asking for the earth and spirits to watch over Michelle. I didn't care about a safe swim for me, I only cared about her. I'd figure my own stuff out, I wanted her to be OK. That was the only thing of importance.
The cross between my anxiety and devastation was so bad that I was almost throwing up on the sand. I had to fight that off. I was successful in that moment, but not the whole night...
Tonight I was wearing the good ol' trusty adidas swim cap. (I love that thing. It's so much better than all the ones you get at every triathlon race.) With how cold I was the night before, I figured wrapping up my head would be a good idea. I wasn't gonna start with goggles though. They hurt my face too much, and I don't like 'em. I kept them on the outside of my gear, roped through the line of my floatie and dry bag, so I could get them if I needed them.
(Just as I don't like swimming in a wetsuit, I also can't stand swimming with goggles. I like free. Water on skin. The natural way. You feel more of the essence of the water that way. The best way!)
Now, as ready to go as I was gonna be, I started walking out into the water. You have to walk out for quite far before it's deep enough for proper swimming. That gave me a lot of time to be in my head before I was actually goin' for it, and I'll say that that wasn't a good thing.
Knowing what I had ahead now was decimating me. The anxiety was twisting and twisting and twisting. The smoke was thick too. I couldn't see the outlines of the mountains. It was very eerie. It made me feel like it was open ocean with nothing around. I couldn't figure out if I liked that or not. I guess sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't. Getting into the water though, the smoke didn't seem to make it easier.
I almost turned around and left from Aszjeca and Mike's, I almost turned around left from the beach, and standing there in the water, I almost turned around then too.
Perhaps my biggest problem was that I knew I could do the swim, so I had to do it! If I didn't, I would destroy myself over that.
I know myself too well. I wouldn't be living that down, and self inflicted torture would ensue. Those who know me best know the extent of that. I had to get out of my head enough to just get on with it. From there, I'm committed.
"Stop bein' a lil' bitch. Stop thinkin' about it. Get in the fuckin' water, and just fuckin' go!"
That plowed in my head and that's exactly what I did!
I floated on my back for maybe the first 50 yards. I just wanted to loosen up quickly, real quickly, and then I turned over and got right at it. This wasn't the sightseeing tour the previous night was for the most part. I was thinking a lot about the pre-dawn eagles that I had to fight the first time, and that I just wanted to get through that section before they were out fishing...for my scalp.
I swam for three hours straight. I've never swam that long in a row like that before. It was a relaxing thing because it told me that I was ready for any distance of a triathlon swim. I needed to know that, because when I spontaneously knocked off three consecutive weeks of triathlons in 2018, I couldn't breathe in the water while stretched out swimming. It was a weird thing that had never happened before. I haven't forgotten that, and it had been on my mind, but now that all dissolved away. That was awesome. I was happy about that. It was a nice momentary pause that I got to enjoy in the madness of everything else.
"Small victories, maaan! Small victories!"
When I was swimming like that, despite how cold I already was, and being the dark of night, it was just beautiful simple swimming. The natural instinct of it immediately set in. It was like this way cooler lap pool, but no turns, no other people, no chlorine, no shitty music playing...just pure natural fresh water. I loved that. It was a nice thing of familiarity, but in a new way, better way.
The reason for this second night swim, and the art within it, was on my mind as much as Michelle was. I was always gonna do just the one swim for the fun of it, but this art piece, and the reason behind it, made me get in the water for more...and I was prepared to put myself through real hell to do it.
Two people know what I'm doin', and one of them told me she thought I was losin' the plot. I told her that wasn't the first time I've been told that. My general thought is,
"But hey, didn't Vincent Van Gogh cut off his own ear? Crazy bastids and their art!"
I do natural art with wood, feathers, dried flowers, etc. I feel that they are gifts from the earth that need to be respected, hence the prayers and blessings before the swim. I also feel that anyone can make anything, but to honour these gifts from the earth, and the muse for whoever I make something for to give to, I feel I need to earn that right, which is entirely why I went in the water for the second swim. For the art, for the muse, and to respect the earth where the pieces came from.
I pour my soul into the art I do, by going past the art itself...
I think in pictures and images, so the two different images of Michelle and the muse, just bounced back and forth between each other in my mind. I found myself taking the profound love and pain, and every bit of emotion surrounding Michelle, and I poured all of that into the reason I was doing this whole second swim.
The emotions were crazy. The thick smoke, and no mountains because of it, added that extra unexpected ambiance. Not being able to see anything was a weird twitch on the mentalscape of my mind. (Little did I know what I was really in for in terms of sight...it's a doozy!)
Even though I was flowing along in the water during those first three hours, and generally feeling like I was crushing it, I was still broken inside. When those bouncing images would fall on Michelle, I just kept seeing her helpless in her hospital bed from the perspective of me hovering up above the room looking down upon her. The love that exploded in me for this beautiful creature was next level, off the charts like I have not experienced; but coupled with the helplessness of not being able to do anything to help her, it was killing me.
Not only was I bawling my eyes out in the water, I finally did vomit a bit three different times from all the grips of anxiety as well. I was broken in every sense of the term...
And that's before things went bad...
My eyes had not been feeling right for a bit. It was very noticeable, so I stopped. I was 2:59 into the swim. As soon as I started treading water, and my head popped up, I knew I had a big problem. My eyes felt like they were rubbed raw, and my vision was blurry. It also felt like something was poking me in each eye, which forced me to blink excessively.
However, I did see the bats!
I forgot about the bats, because when in the fluid state of swimming for hours, and the rhythm held inside that, above the surface didn't really exist. it was just the stroke and breath, just like swimming anywhere. The bats made me giggle though. Them and their last second turns from splatting into your face are kinda hilarious after a bit.
I didn't have time to really care about bats though, because I was realizing really fast how much of a bad situation that I was in. I was treading water at first, but hypothermia sensations came slamming into me like I couldn't believe. I immediately turned onto my back.
"Keep moving. Arms and legs! Keep moving. Just keep moving..."
My eyes adjusted a tiny bit when I was on my back looking up, and just like when I turned over in the weeds the night before, there was a tiny little gap in the smoke right above me. I got to see some shooting stars, especially one super fatty! I was so cold though that I had to turn over and figure something out.
I tried swimming again so I could get my body moving faster, but I only got three or four strokes in before everything shut down. I was so cold, but my eyes were so bad that I couldn't see...just like that! I even tried reeling in my little orange floatie, using it like a flutter board and started kicking. I couldn't do that well though because my shin splints feelin' crap legs wouldn't let me.
I was going nowhere fast. I got my goggles and tried swimming with those. I got maybe six or seven strokes with that, and they were a strong no.
I was fucked!
I couldn't see. It was devastating to kick my legs. (It's 10 days later that I'm writing this, and my legs still aren't OK.) Treading water, floating on my back, or using my little dry bag floatie were out. I was so cold that it was penetrating the furthest reaches of me. I was broken emotionally, and in tears. I was in the middle of this nasty-ass cold dark water that was collapsing in on me in a very unforgiving way. On top of that, I still had roughly four and a half hours to go. (From yesterday's time)
Everything was broken. My mind, my body, my heart, my soul, and my spirit...
And I was in this water that felt like it was trying to kill me. I wasn't panicked, but I was desperate, and I was long outta time. I didn't know what to do. I was horrified. When I was looking towards the shore, I was tearing myself apart at the thought of calling it quits. I just couldn't do it, but what else could I do. The other thing to add to all of it, was that I still hadn't gotten to the weeds.
"Let's just add in even more anxiety here..."
The biggest thing playing through the mind was knowing that there's no help coming. It is all on me to make it out of this alive. I had to figure it out, because I couldn't quit. I had to find the courage within that would enable me to find the way.
I was crying about Michelle. I was cursing myself out at even the thought of giving up...just from looking towards the shore and letting that enter my mind, because I was disgusted by the notion.
This is the moment I suspected was coming. Life on the line, facing my maker with everything collapsing around me, the elements closing in on me, and no help coming.
"Time to find out the truth about yourself! Do you have the courage?!"
Not being able to quit, but also unable to continue as is, I only had one choice...
"I have to swim blind!"
Immediately when that came into mind, I knew it was the way I needed to follow, so I had to try. What it meant was that I had to swim with my eyes closed for the next 4.5 hours. I didn't have time to think about it, or hesitate, my body was shutting down way too fast from the cold.
"Get on with it right fuckin' now!!"
So, that's what I did. I pointed forward, and started diggin' in with my eyes closed.
When I started swimming with my eyes closed, it wasn't that big of a deal to me, but that changed pretty quickly. It was nice to feel my face washing through the water, but the only place I had to look was inside my head, and all I saw was Michelle...
And then I cried!
In the darkness all around me, from without and within, everything was blacked out, except for seeing Michelle in her hospital bed. I saw her as if I was hovering above the room again, so sweet and gentle...and all I wanted to do was help her, but I couldn't...
And then I completely lost my shit!
I was tired. I was freezing. I was beat up. I was swimming blind. I was in full body panic bawling my eyes out. I was having full body convulsions of a different kind from the ones I got from the cold at the end of last night's swim. I was completely broken. It felt like I just swam myself into a true life and death situation. I wasn't afraid of it though. When all the questions of panic, stupidity, options came into mind, and the real test of my spirit began, that's when I made the conscious choice to draw on the love for Michelle to fuel me forward.
This is the way the loop played itself out in my head...
-I would see Michelle in her hospital bed from above.
-That would flash to me seeing the way I used to stare at her from blind captivation because of her shimmering beauty.
-I'd stare at her in her hospital bed the same way with that blind captivation all those years ago, seeing her the same exact way as always...this most beautiful and astonishing person.
-I'd start crying as I started yelling in my mind at the helplessness of only wanting to help her, but being unable to.
-Then I started yelling to trade places with her, and getting furiously mad that I couldn't
That's when I would realize that I was in full convulsions throughout my body while bawling my eyes out in the water.
The convulsions are what eventually snapped me out of it to try and collect myself.
As soon as I shook it off, and got back into my lil' blind rhythm, I'd see the image of Michelle again, and that's when I'd kind of black out until I realized I was in convulsions again. It was a quick pattern that asserted itself with a suffocating hold on me.
What I mean by black out in this sense, is that I had zero awareness of my physical surroundings. I didn't know I was swimming, even though I was doing it. I didn't feel the water, even though it was holding the balance of my life. I didn't know that my eyes couldn't see, because I could see in my mind. Michelle was the only thing that existed, and the only thing I could see, until my flailing body snapped me out of it.
It was crazy!!
I gotta say, the functional aspect of bawling your eyes out with your face pressed in the dark water of night is a unique one. I don't really think the two were meant to go together...at least from my quick crash-course research.
The good thing is that I still had about 4.5 hours and the weeds still to go. (Enter sarcasm here...)
"Mutherfuckerrr! This shit is hard!"
That was only the emotional side of things, because I also quickly discovered that I wasn't just fucked, I was ultra-super fucked!
Swimming blind, not seeing the mountains because of the smoke, from even when I could see, led me straight into a new challenge. The most detrimental one...
More times than I could count, I was turned right around swimming in the wrong direction...upstream towards Balfour!!
"What in the serious fuck is this shit?!!"
So, not only was I swimming blind and rapidly breaking down physically, I was swimming upstream in the wrong direction. That was needlessly sapping the low strength I had. The combination of the emotional breakdown, the physical breakdown in my body, and the conditions I was immersed feeling nastier and nastier...
Complete mental collapse time!!!
"Keep moving. Keep moving. Just keep moving."
I kept telling myself that right from the beginning both nights.
"Don't stop. Keep moving."
My problem is that I didn't know how to keep moving, even though I had to, because I was too broken. The alternative was that that's a wrap! In the thing I wrote about Michelle, I said my heart is strong. That is where this comes into play.
I looked in the furthest reaches of everything I know to find every bit of emotion for Michelle, even the current pain, frustration and sadness, and I turned it all into love...
The most love I've ever generated!!
That's how I was able to get through. Love! Everything was imploding at once, unlike anything I've ever experienced. I was kind of expecting something like that going into this 6-Mile to Nelson swim thing, but nothing like this.
I knew I would be broken into pieces, and then have to see if I had the courage to figure my way through that void to where the real truth about one's self resides. That's as far as I was expecting, but with no idea of what any of that meant.
But when I had no way out, it was love that pulled me through.
'Imagine that?! Love!
When I kind of clued into that, I embraced it, and charged head on into it without hesitation. I really drew on what this person has meant to my life to pull me through an impossible situation.
It didn't make anything easier in the least, per se, but it at least made it possible.
My body was still breaking down. I still was swimming blind. I was getting colder and colder. I was still getting turned around and swimming in the wrong direction. I was still stuck on that loop with Michelle.
I was a total mess. Love got me through that. My heart is a tenacious bastard. It can take heavy knocks, and still find a way through, and in this sense, when it comes to Michelle, there is nothing that my heart will dig in further for. Nothing!
Remember, I still had the weeds to go...