I never made it to the shore.
Sometimes it is when the panic is over that we feel it the most. Sitting on the edge of the boat I tried to catch my breath. The danger was gone, but now was when my body wanted to react. Muscles cramping in my entire body, heart beating too fast and the sun bearing down on me. The contrast was unbelievable. I had never seen such a serene sight. Blue ocean for kilometres, clear skies and not a trace of wind. I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t come down from the panic, adrenaline was forcing my body into a state that didn’t match where I was. The disconnect between where I was and my internal explosion was unbearable.
“Hey do you want to come have a drink?”
I stood up, I knew I looked stable, I looked strong, but inside I was trembling. I walked into the main area of the big yacht and accepted the drink. Cold water filled my stomach and once again the contrast of in and out was too much. The icy liquid pouring down my throat felt like it was burning its way through me. Hitting my stomach like a ball of lead.
I had to get control. I climbed the steps into the top cabin. Leathery brown skin greeted me. A brass pipe in his hand and a smile that welcomed all, but frightened those who looked closer. Greying hair and a thin body, slender arms passed the pipe my way.
“Do you smoke?”
“Yeah but never with a pipe, only joints and the occasional bong”
“This is the best way to do it I tell ya! Here, just hold the lighter to the end, and breathe in. It’s already packed.”
Pipe to my lips, lighter in hand, I breathed deeply. The hit was almost instantaneous. Finally the insides where matching the outside. The calm moved from my lungs and outwards, spreading to my fingertips and toes. I coughed. He laughed.
I passed the pipe back and he unscrewed the end, showing me the inner workings of my new brass friend. Packing in more of my grass green elixir, he kept talking. Telling tales of himself that I didn’t really care to listen to.
It is funny how even under the veil of drugs, the panic sits, waiting. My breathing had come back to normal, the cramps had disappeared and I was feeling loose, but I wasn’t comfortable. A part of me still wasn’t right. It sat there waiting, occasionally interrupting my thoughts, ensuring I wasn’t feeling whole. Nipping at my heels like an angry dog, I hogged the pipe, I wanted to black it out, push the panic away. Slowly obliterating my mind, I finally felt like I was winning the war. Grinning, I continued, I drowned the panic like the panic tried to drown me.
Sitting on the bow of the yacht, I stared at my feet dangling over the ocean. Floating, soaring, calm – lying to myself. I lay back and let the sun restore me. It was still there, hiding deep in the well of my heart, clawing its way to the surface, but my brain wasn’t listening – I am pretending I have won. The biggest act of all time – survival by denial.
I never made it to the shore.