This time next week I will have (hopefully!) completed my first open water swim in Lake Windermere.
I am terrified.
Not of doing it, but more of failing to do it. It is for this reason that I am avoiding sharing my plans with all but my very closest friends and family until we are near enough to the date for me to be confident that my body will not fail me. I have, for most of my adult life, believed that you can accomplish whatever you set out to achieve; that if you will something with sufficient vehement intent, you can make it so. Yet I have had to concede the possibility that, despite my clear intention to swim 1 mile, and my commitment to do so, there is a very real possibility that this will not be a very real possibility.
Although I have openly acknowledged this to those that I have told, what I have not been so willing to do is be equally open in acknowledging the total fear that this strikes into me. Admitting that there could be circumstances (I mean MS related issues) that could force me to abandon this whimsical plan…well, it’s not easy.
It in turn forces me to admit some degree of acceptance (albeit reluctant) of the realities of living with MS – the unpredictable nature of life with this condition. It backs me into a corner where I have to hold up my hands and concede that, yes – my life is, actually, now you mention it, different. “Before”, I would have planned this event and its accompanying road trip; made a social media song and dance about the preparations; begged for sponsorship and kept everyone (Facebook-)posted on the whole process. Pictures of me successfully (but inelegantly) wrestled into my hired swimsuit and shiny new goggles would have been shared, liked and blushed at. I would have taken great joy in enfolding my social circle into the anticipation of this challenge.
But instead, I plan to remain tight-lipped and uncharacteristically guarded until pretty much the last day or two. My typical candour is curtailed, and I am nursing my nerves alone, on this draft page, unwilling to shout and share in the usual fashion.
So I have to allow myself to admit that this is changing me, already has changed me. I am different because I have MS. I am becoming a new person and am shedding swathes of my previous persona.
This is new, and I cannot clearly see the way ahead for me right now. Unable to touch the solid ground of familiar habits and behaviours, and a bit like swimming in a cold English lake, it is bloody terrifying!
Written 7th June
To be posted on 14th June