It has been a good six years since I've ventured out onto my surfboard. I've thought about it many times, but never took the step to get back out there. It's like a switch was flipped in my brain that triggered a pretty persistent fear that hadn't been there before. I can't really explain it, but it was very real and not something I knew how to overcome. I wasn't afraid for a long time and then one day the light switch flipped. It's like all the things that I wasn't afraid of before finally kicked in.
Here I am a few years later and with the support of a great group of veterans and others who have experienced some traumatic injuries and other conditions, they not only gave me the confidence to get on my feet once, but repeatedly. It was all still wired and felt like second-nature.
I shared with one of the guys that the reason that I was drawn to surfing years back was because it was an easy place to be. PTSD and TBI gave me so many variables to deal with that being in the water was easy. I had three choices each time I was in the water. 1. Duck under the wave. 2. Ride the wave. 3. Be tumbled and dragged by the wave. Those three choices were easy to read. I knew exactly what to do with each one and when to do it. There wasn't a whole lot of gray area to deal with because either way, one of those three things were going to take place. Fewer choices made it easy to know what to do and how to do it. Life wasn't that simple for me outside of the water. There was a lot of gray area that wasn't easy to navigate. I didn't know what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. It was challenging, exhausting, and self-defeating, so I spent a lot of my time in and at the ocean.
I'm thrilled to have been a part of the Operation Beachhead event today in Wildwood, NJ and I look forward to being back in the water with those guys soon in Sea Girt, NJ. Being a part of a community of people who know the challenges of life, yet make a choice to rise above it to support each other means an awful lot to the soul of every person they interact with.
*Image: Google Images