Heart, Mind, & Body

Anxiety Safe Place: Night Swimming

I am starting to see a pattern: when I want to write something lovely, I think of an old memory. A glimpse of the past flashes through my mind, and I want to bring it back to life. Reliving these beautiful memories brings me peace when I’m dealing with anxiety. Sometimes I just need to rest my mind, give it something soothing to land on. I share it with you so you can feel it too, because that’s what it is more than anything- a remembered feeling, an overwhelming sensation that draws me in. And just like that- I’m ten again.

Night Swimming

Although this title probably brings to mind a country song with reckless teens stripping down in a creek, this memory transports me to a time of innocence.

I grew up on a lovely property out in the country in Georgia, where I rambled through the fields and woods barefoot like a little Indian. I’m immune to poison ivy, mosquitos don’t like me, and my skin stays chilly to the touch in 100 degree weather. I made the perfect farm girl.

We had a swimming pool surrounded by a latticed brick wall. I loved to perch up on top of the brick columns like a cat, which would dry me out in a flash after swimming. My brother Buddy made it his tradition to jump in on New Year’s Day each year. I didn’t do cold swimming, so I never participated. But for two thirds of the year, we were in the pool.

At ten years old, there was nothing more magical to me than night swimming. I donned my goggles and slipped into a sparkling new dimension. Light bounced around the pool in little rainbows. The colors shifted as the water moved, and I chased the rainbows around the bottom of the pool.

I could hold my breath for a long time, maybe two minutes, so I would stay at the bottom with my palms on the slick liner, trying to catch the fragmented light. I knew it wasn’t catchable, but it painted my hands and arms, and I became dancing water too.

Slowly I floated belly up towards the inky sky. I let out my breath as I broke the surface, and a giant bubble popped around my face. The summer air hardly felt different than the warm pool water, and I felt peaceful. Content. Relaxed. Laughter and music touched my ears.

I floated on my back with arms spread wide, gazing at the stars sprinkled across the sky. It was darker out in the country. I could see the Milky Way and several constellations. I took another breath and then sunk back into my wonderland.

No thoughts crossed my mind except one: I am a mermaid.

What strikes me about this memory, even more than the beauty and the warmth, is that I was so in the present moment. No worries tried to barge in, no thoughts of other events or words said, only water. Light. Stars. Sky. Mermaid.

Oh, how I love this memory. Isn’t the carefree spirit of a child a beautiful thing? This is my third memory shared. The first was San Juan Island and the second was Angel From Below.

Do you have a memory that comforts you? Have you ever created a “safe place” to help with anxiety?

4 thoughts on “Anxiety Safe Place: Night Swimming”

  1. Hey Holly,

    My name is Chris and I am a therapist exploring the topic of mental health and community in the age of social media. I started a podcast and website to motivate me in my exploration.

    I just came across your website and enjoyed this piece a lot! I too look back on old memories when in need of some positivity. Anyway, I would very much like to feature this piece on my “MH Shorts” page on oldcoveroad.com. My goal is to create a space where people can share their thoughts and experiences and learn from each other. If you are interested in sharing, let me know and we can further discuss.



  2. I love this!!!!

    I also have some fond memories of being in a pool and my parents got a big pool when I was 10. Originally we would get the kiddie ones that you had to unfold from a cardboard box haha. I remember so many memories of swimming in the summer and sometimes at night. I have one particular memory of swimming in COLD water near the start of summer. It was really refreshing and it was like every time you dipped back into the water there was this exhilarating chill. The inside of the pool was a few different shades of blue and it was fun to “explore”. I also had some time pretending I was a mermaid too!

    Liked by 1 person

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