Years ago, at the base of the Santa Cruz foothills, I fastened the surfboard tie around my ankle. Waves crashed in front of me as my heart skipped out of my chest.
The surf instructor began to speak. Following his lead, I stood on top of the surfboard, which was still resting in the sand. Even on solid ground, my legs wobbled like a newborn horse trying to stand. Meanwhile, my pride uttered pure confidence. Kelly Slater style.
I recalled one piece of information. Duck dives. A small dive under passing waves, with a forward motion into the waves. When you come up, regain your footing so you are prepared to move forward. Growing up on the beaches of San Diego, I thought he was just asking me to re-live my childhood summers.
The rest of the story goes like this: here comes a wave, down goes Cathie. Duck dive success. Here comes another wave. Down goes Cathie. Duck dive success. Exhaustion.
My clients often tell me that they’re doing everything in their power not to feel the waves crashing around them in the throes of their fertility narrative.
“I just don’t want to feel _________.”
“I’m trying to distract myself so I don’t feel _________.”
“If I felt ____________ then I wouldn’t recover.”
When did emotions become like the plague? Avoiding the plague is a good thing for your health. Avoiding emotions isn’t. They’re going to rear their ugly head. You think you covertly moved past them but they’ll find you. They promise.
I’d like to suggest emotional duck dives. What if you gave yourself permission to experience emotions without diving to the depths of despair. Do you remember the teachers instructions? You have to do a duck dive with a forward motion into the waves.
Emotional duck divers do so with intent. They dive towards health and healing. They dive just below the surface and not into the depths of depression and anxiety. (If you’re there already, there is no shame. It’s easy. Please consider coaching or another support person).
Emotional duck divers come back up to the surface. They have completed their task. They’re moving forward. They are ready to reengage with all that is above the surface.
Emotional duck divers don’t just dive once. When necessary, they make another forward moving dive into their emotions with the desire of healing. Infertility doesn’t just elicit one emotion from one source. We all know that. Throughout your journey, or throughout your 28-day cycle, you may need to make several emotional duck dives into your feelings so that you can proceed in a healthy manner.
Next time an emotion presents itself, don’t distract yourself. Don't avoid. Grab a box of tissues and allow yourself a couple moments to do an emotional duck dive. Blot your tears and proceed.
Just to toot my own horn: I was able to ride a couple waves. A couple feet.