At first glance, you may look at the above picture and believe that I am lost in a powerful moment of prayer, breathwork, or meditation, but I am here to assure you that this is not at all the case. In fact, when this picture was snapped unbeknownst to me, I was in the middle of the ocean on a beautiful, sunny day, skin kissed by a warm breeze, in the throes of the most terrifying and life-altering panic attack I have ever experienced in my entire existence. In fact, the story I am about to share with you was quite honestly one of the most vulnerable and powerful moments of my entire life.
My weekend adventure immersing myself in the warm, calming flow, and bold, brilliant colors of the middle of the Atlantic ocean started out amazingly well. As my best friend and I jumped into the water with our masks and snorkels, I was instantly engulfed in the beauty and mystery of the coral reef below me. I spent forty-five fascinating minutes exploring before we decided to head back to the boat, take off our gear, and go for an unencumbered swim. I removed my flippers and mask, ran to the back of the boat, and jumped right into the crystal clear water. I remember a fleeting thought entering my consciousness…”The world is SO big and I feel so small right now.” and all of a sudden I was gripped by panic. My body became instantly cold and numb as waves of fear washed from my head all the way down through my toes. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe, my heart racing a million miles per minute. I couldn’t get out fast enough and when I did, it took every effort to suck in enough air to prevent me from passing out. With forty other people milling about, I’m sure you can imagine that it wasn’t exactly helping the onset of panic. As I sat on the front of the boat trying desperately to calm myself down, a realization hit me that I was completely vulnerable out here. If I was indeed dying in this moment (as my mind kept assuring me that I was), there was legitimately nothing I could do about it.
I made my way cautiously back to my seat and something of a miracle happened then. As I lifted my gaze to focus on the horizon, my eyes caught those of a woman across from me who was probably in her late 50’s, early 60’s. She mouthed, “Are you okay?” to me, and my usually stoic composure crumbled as I mouthed back, “No.” Without hesitation, this woman crossed the deck, sat down next to me, and swept me up in her arms. She softly reminded me to breathe and to close my eyes as she rocked me back and forth and wrapped me up in her towel. Another woman brought me water, and yet another encouraged me to eat a small snack. At first, my typical self-preservation kicked in and I resisted the temptation to curl into the unknown comfort of this mystery woman, but gradually, I felt myself allow her to draw me in and I rested my head on her shoulder as she continued to squeeze me close. This amazingly beautiful woman held me like this for a full 45-minute boat ride, never even knowing my name or anything about me…and I allowed myself in that moment to let go of all of my defenses and be taken care of.
As we neared shore and I began to feel more at ease, I sat up a little straighter and looked around me. One by one, every woman on the boat locked her gaze with me and nodded, almost as though they, too, were breathing easier for me. I was later informed by my best friend that the moment my body curled into this woman who had been holding me, each woman on the boat sat up straighter and closed their eyes, taking deep, methodical breaths. She said it was the most incredible thing she had ever seen. I thanked my amazing Angel Mama (who I found out was named Anne), and although she humbly accepted the gratitude, I don’t truly know if she understands what she did for me. I don’t know that any of those women do. I am notoriously a person who takes care of herself and others. Rarely do I allow myself the opportunity to be truly nurtured, particularly by strangers, but these beautiful women from all over the world who spoke probably six languages between them, came together in a stoic show of support to provide a safe container for me to experience the very real terror and weakness that I was feeling. I don’t want to exclude the men here either, all of whom tapped into their own Goddess energy and supported me by offering a smile, a squeeze as I walked off the boat, or as far as Anne’s husband goes, his wife.
When we got back to my car, I let myself cry harder than I’ve cried in a long time. We often move through life forgetting that we need others to support us in our moments of weakness, maybe even sometimes feeling like we don’t deserve to be supported. When we can cross over those self-imposed blocks, we open to possibility and allow Universal love to flow to us and even through us. The truth is, it is always there, even when we don’t see it, and the scary thing is that if we let our fear of looking weak or vulnerable become greater than our need for love and connection, we may stand to miss out on the incredible freedom and power it can bring into our lives.
What I experienced this weekend was the power of love, the power of a group of women working toward a common goal, the power of the Warrior Goddess energy that exists within each of us regardless of our sex, and the power of treating others as though they are not separate. At the base of it all, we are all humans, needing, seeking, and desiring love, acceptance, and the right to be ourselves at any given moment. These women and men gave me a gift that I will work hard to pass on to others in any way that I can. We often have no idea how great of an impact our small acts of kindness might have on another person. As far as Anne and the other passengers on that boat go, they have unknowingly helped to heal some long-existing wounds that have prevented me from fully allowing myself to become close to others, females in particular. They have helped to birth a better version of myself and have encouraged me to pass that feeling along. Hopefully, this story inspires you to do the same. Let your Warrior Goddess light shine bright…the world needs it so badly right now and always.
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