It was dark. The cold of winter chilled my cheeks. Wind whipped through my leggins and up inside my coat. My tongue touching my cheeks was the only part of my body that seems to harbor warmth. I was scared even though I knew I was safe. As a child my family was privileged to have a ski house which we went to every weekend during snow season (unimaginable to my now!). Waking up groggy from the three hour drive from Massachusetts, I remember feeling this unfounded fear during car to house transitions in the winter. I would look to my mother for safety. She knew which order to bring bags in. She would prioritize me and my brother, getting us in the house and making us cozy before the unspoken momentous task of unpacking a weekend worth of adventure clothes, food, skiing items, treasured childhood treasures and stuffed animals. She was so strong no matter the conditions I knew in a way a child does but does not say so. I grew up feeling this fear of the cold and dark I did not rationally comprehend.
Fast forward 35 years, and here I am living in Maine. But as you know, that child that you were continues to live inside you. Their voice pops up in unexpected ways and situations. For me, the cold and 4:00 o'clock winter night time hour did it for me. It took time for me to face.
Then one day, my mother (yes, my mother!) suggested that I do a polar swim with Two Maine Mermaids. I consider myself a relatively adventurous person. Swimming in the icy Atlantic was something I was always going to do. Next year. This year. Next year. However, after 6 solid years of being a Mainer, I had not. That happens when you are a grown up. Someday turns into never. It becomes a pattern. You hear yourself use the word "next" or "maybe" or "if"and it and it feels terrible.
I decided, that little scared girl and I, shrunken post breastfed boobs and giggly bum; we were going to do it together. So I did. It was exhilarating. I felt powerful and confident, capable of conquering my deep seeded worries as I walked out of the 40 degree water. I felt one with this group of women I did not know. I felt like a strong woman. Hell, I am a strong woman, and so are you.
So, the next time, I invited women I barely knew through my daughter's school and one woman said 'yes'. She told me she had always wanted to do this. We had something in common other than have given birth to a child. It became a beginning of us being connected. The beginning of friendship and past "Hi, how are you?". It felt warm.
Now, I am someone who enjoys this frigid swims and looks forward to them. Now, the cold and I are better friends than we were when I said "next year".