Tuesday, 15 November 2011

On Guilt

April. Last entry, April. Seven months ago.  A post which was a promise to update on what happened in between when I hadn't posted for ages before.


Guilt, a sinking feeling, a searching for excuses.

In brief: I got scared. I talked to actual channel swimmers. I got scared. I had someone look at my stroke. (I should probably start trying to kick my legs...) I got scared. I should have gone down to the channel swimmer's season over summer. I got scared.

In length:

I will probably have to give everything up.  Just swim for two years. Live, breath in water. On a costal town. With nothing, no one for company ...but this provoked in me the romantic side, alone by the sea, like a sailor, a runaway, a castaway, a poet. Not the reality in boredom and salt cracked bone ache, in a town whose only soul has been thrown to sea (I'm not specifically referencing Dover).

I continued to watch (through being part of the channel swimmmer's email list) people make it across to the other side. I saw the discussion and preparation and support and camaraderie. I got annoyed by David Walliams.

I got distracted, I got distracted by another project that went well (an obsession about a postcard -there's stuff about here) and wasn't about swimming, and I forgot. Well I didn't forget, it was always there sitting there somewhere nagging me. Dragging at me.

I took the show that was nothing to do with swimming to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in preparation I researched and I looked and I found out where the pools were near to me. I imagined getting up, early and walking to the pool, walking back, doing the show, staying slim, early nights, eating fruit , being healthy, not smoking.

I stayed up late, I drank too much, I smoked everyday, I mainly ate cheese sandwiches. Or burgers. And I swam once. In the sea. And only because my mum took me.

And when I was in the sea I tried to count my strokes, still swimming in the lengths of pools. Bite against the cold in a calm sea with mountains eiether side.  Swam to far, a little to far. And saw my mother undress with no humiliation on a windswept beach, while a family all clothed, head to foot pretended not to notice her unapologetic flesh.

But once I was in the sea. I didn't want to get out, it was only the promise of a proper hot meal that made me leave the salty waters.

People ask me how the swimming is going. I make high pitch dismissal sounds when anyone asks. I lie about it if they pushed me. I look at videos from those 7 months ago, when I was swimming, four at least four (oh OK not really more than four miles). I am envious of my slimmer outline and the confidence in my contours.

At this point I have forgiven myself, let myself swim a mile at a time, no more two mile swims, no more jogs, no more pilates DVD's.  Even a little swim is better than nothing.

I had a lot on. I tell myself insistently.

Instead I buy books about Whales and get distracted by mermaids and kelpies, seahorses and sharks. Thinking isn't doing. And now even they sit by the side of my bed or the bottom my bag weighed down with the guilt. Swim guilt. Project guilt. Fallacy guilt.

I had so much to write, so much to say in the time that has happened in between, but for now I'm going to start with recent memories, recent happenings, in the hope that I can begin to pin back together training, and researching and writing the story of the swim.

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