In Cornwall this summer I had a sort of rebirth. After my son’s T1 diagnosis, broken leg and GCSE worry and stress I found myself unable to stop the anxiety treadmill I’d become locked on, with this seamless never ending-ness of it all, there seemed to be no point for a half decent breath. I’d tried but it was all just a big blancmange and whichever I went it was the same, no light or relief. ‘Where else I can I go?’ is a line from Running by Beyonce being played on the radio all summer, and I didn’t know where to go, the more I tried the harder it became. I’ve been going to Cornwall for over 25 years and it’s always been a place for solace and energy, but I couldn’t find it, I was strained and out of sorts waiting for Cornwall to do its job and help me. The weather was so hot and the whole beach seemed to be loving it all, expect me. Going for a long sea swim gave me the answer in the form of a coach load of Ghanaians, visiting the church on the beach. They arrived in all their colourful glory, with the local vicar, and at least four of them were dunked head to toe into the sea to music, shout and cheers from those gathered on the beach. And I found myself doing the same, under the water I let go, the cold sea water over my head and shoulders seeped into my body and blood vessels chasing out the sadness and stagnant feelings I carried – descaled like a kettle.
‘If I lose my self I lose it all’ is another line from the same song and with my self-taught rebirth, it marked a moment, a line not in the sand but the sea. A moment that marked the past and now, moving forward. A demarcation line from one moment to the next, a physical imperceptible marker for most but deep needed meaning for me. Our circumstances are the same, but I now know that they won’t easily drag me under, and if they do, I can bob back up again and keep moving forward without the weight of the past year dragging me down. This act was like a switch, no thoughts or feelings would have done the same, it needed to be physical and involve my body and ocean to propel everything in a new direction.
As the sun set around 9pm and we were the only family on the beach, I gathered up several largish rocks around my ankles and chucked in one at a time with all my might, naming each one as I sent it flying into the waves to be gobbled up, despatched with, off me and into a bigger hungrier beast to break up and wash away. All named with my anger, sadness, frustrations and angst.
Three months after do I still feel the same way? Did it help? Yes, it has, something about the physical act of going under the water and throwing large named rocks worked and I thank Cornwall for helping me in a way I never imagined.