So, it was suggested to me that I write about how I survived for weeks without even putting my toes in the water and even longer without swimming. Bear in mind that I am trans and was isolating for elective surgery that I was looking forward to, so my mindset was different to say that of a person who may have been having surgery for different reasons, and also, I'm just a me with my own views and my own perspective. But I can tell you that while it was not easy, it was worth the wait. My wait was for freedom, remember?
Initially it wasn't so bad. Like I kind of was distracted by the fact that my surgery was looming and that I had to totally isolate for 2 weeks prior to the event itself. I was nervous and distracted by things like covid tests and arranging how to do things like get down to Newcastle from Edinburgh and all those things. Probably the time I really should have been in the sea, to be fair but it was not the top priority, you know?
What was the really tough bit was after surgery. It was tough all round as I had no energy, and I was in a strange place where it was almost like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable one. I had a tonne of energy in my head, like I wanted to get out and do things and see people and hit the waves. I even booked a roller skating lesson (I know - lets blame the post surgical euphoria for that one - how was I going to learn to skate when I couldn't move my arms?!) but I could barely stay awake for two weeks and I was so bloated and uncomfortable and swollen. I barely had the energy to talk to people. It's because of that (I think) that I got a taste of post surgical depression and the need for the sea HIT. Like I was kind of jonesing. It was like claustrophobia or something. And so that's when I deployed the following:-
I begged people to send me pictures of the sea when they went. I needed to see the openness and to just pretend. I don't drink and I ask friends to let me smell their drinks because I want a taste but can't have one. I've been doing that for years and thought this would be the same. It was. But it wasn't too. I missed the sea more than I will ever miss drinking.
I upped my activity in online wild swimming groups. I fell quietly in love with the vibrant characters in each one. There was one poster that regularly posted pictures of her doing ridiculous 'sexy' poses in the water. Her heart and soul gave me life, and made me feel a million times better. I told her that I loved her pics. She said I should do a photo-shoot with her. I should go do that. I am scared to, but I might anyway because I feel braver now. I have some emotional real estate available now that I didn't before.
I crocheted. A busy mind and busy hands meant that I wasn't listening to the yearning.
I slept for Britain.
A week after surgery, I asked a family friend to take me to Whitley Bay. The visit with her wasn't easy - I hadn't seen her since I was in my twenties and she felt the need to give me photos. Photos that were of pre-transition me. I think that hurt, but it was worth it to go to the bay. I want to swim there sometime soon. It's beautiful.
This is the most important one - I made my friend E take me to the beach and allow me to put my toes in the water while she swam and smiled a lot. It wasn't enough, but it was something, like I said before. I was close to being submerged and cold and feeling the freedom again.
If you ever find yourself in the place where you crave the water again, but can't do anything like I was? Maybe try giving these a go. But do so at your own discretion - it may make you crave it more.