the first time it happens, i think i’m dying.

no, not dying.

dying would be better than this,

this gasping for air,

this clawing for a grip,

this panic that weighs in my bones and in my heart and in my lungs.

pulling me down,

down,

down,

leaving me stranded.

my throat is hoarse but i haven’t opened my mouth.

i am screaming an unheard scream

into a deep dark oblivion.

no one cares.

the second time i know what is happening.

it doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

i feel as if a hundred,

a thousand,

a million

boulders are pushing me down.

and i’m flailing

i’m pushing up against them

but i can’t win.

i can never win.

and i keep this secret.

the next time and the next and the next do not feel the same.

sometimes i gasp out like the living.

sometimes i freeze up like the dead.

and i am scared.

of the lake, yes, but also

but also the threat that i will fall in to begin with.

this fear

this overwhelming, overreaching, overarching fear that holds me

is worse than the drowning itself.

but

i can learn to swim.

and one day,

i will never fear drowning again.

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