White Water Rafting
“I don’t know if I want to go on this trip.” I’m moaning to Steve while he’s
in the kitchen packing lunch. I’m stuffing dry clothes into a back pack that
we will put on after the festivities are over. I’m still not over my last
visit to the hospital. That was in November and it’s March already but I’m
still struggling with going to places for a certain length of time.
“If I really think that I’m better than I can go on an adventure, right?”
I’m seriously trying to figure out in my head how to tell Steve that I am
too afraid to go white water rafting. He did all this work to set up the
trip for us.
“OH Sweeetie. You’ll do great. We’ll be fine. Trust me.” Steve hugs me and I
try to squirm away which is what I do when I’m confused or not sure of
something. “This is a beginner class babe, nothing can go wrong.” Steve’s
been on three rafting trips. All were in
and on much faster rivers so I’m sure it will be fine. I just get scared.
My mind is starting to talk…”This is too scary, don’t do it. People die
doing this stuff all of the time. Not only that…it’s too cold. I don’t want
to be cold.” See? Manic depression controls you.
I’m totally reluctant getting in the car and it takes six hugs from Steve
and about 3 more reassurances that we are going to have a good day and it is
going to be fine.
Just to be sure I write out a positive plan for the day: “Today will be a
great and safe day. We will meet and enjoy people in nature and we will be
safe…and did I mention a safe day blessed by God and safe…..” I do this to
make myself feel better but my anxiety which should have a name by now is
tough and it has a voice.
It’s been about an hour of driving and I need to stop. My stomach is
nauseous. Steve pulls over by this little store with big signs that say
“GAS. FOOD. WETSUITS.”
We get some snacks and get back to the car. I’m sort of shaking. “I’m really
scared. What if something happens. What if I’m not ready for this?” Steve
hugs me again. “Honey, trust me, we’re going to have a great day. Look at
the sun. It’s gorgeous.” I cry because I know that I always have a bad time.
I don’t know how to have fun. My brain begins to spin with bad thoughts and
I can’t make them stop. I guess I’m at a panic. Steve holds my hand. He’s
been through these anxiety attacks hundreds of times and I still can’t
believe he married me like this. “I’m not going to let anything happen to
you.” Steve starts to sing the Grateful dead and rubs my hand. “It’s your
We pull into a grassy parking area and we see a tent next to a van with a
few people beneath it preparing sandwiches. “That must be the company. No
one is here yet. Are you ready babe?” I’m not ready. Not at all. My mind has
completely decided to not do this. I just haven’t told Steve yet. I look at
myself in the mirror. My face is all red and my make-up in smeared. Oh my
god, their going to think I’m such a princess because I have make-up on a
rafting trip. I wipe is off as much as I can. I didn’t eat much and I’m
thinking were going to need some energy to power through the day. I’m still
nauseous from the car ride and now just both nauseous and hungry. My
fibromaylgia kicked in half way and my knees feel like their burning. I took
all my meds so I feel oozy and not straight which is average everyday for
me. Food is included on this trip. What if I get nauseous in the raft and
need to throw up. There’s that fear again. Why would that even happen? It’s
not like you can just stop the boat. By God, you are out in nature.
Steve stops before he gets out introducing us and he reminds me of things to
remember…”remember you baseball cap, are both socks on, keep your dry
clothes here and I’ll carry your water bottle.” Sometimes I swear I’m his
kid. It makes sense. I’m usually whining and or crying.
I walk up to where new friends are lined up and I smile. “Oh we can't
let HER on the raft.” An older couple is looking me up and over. “And her
Yankees hat!.” All the people bust out laughing. I forgot….I wear my Yankees
and it really pisses the Mariner fans off. I just don’t get into that and I
forget that it’s this big thing. I love baseball but only because my father
and grandfather and my uncles loved it. And they were all Yankee fans so the
game and team are special to me but to just make off set remarks is just so
rude. It’s not my fault that your team sucks. Oh wait, I’ll correct myself.
Mariner games are awesome. Mariner games are my favorite place to meditate!
Steve just says “Oh, she’s my Italian princess.” I decide to walk back to
the car to finish getting my three level layer of outfit now….two pair of
socks, insulated undees, undees, thin pair of yoga pants under my jeans then
sports bra, (like I’m so sporty I actually own one.)t-shirt, long shirt, t
shirt again, hoodie and of course hat.
“Hon, they didn’t really have anything vegetarian…We ordered two vegetarian
plates so I just tore apart this meat wrap for you and saved the veggies.” I
know…he’s amazing right? I take the plate and pout. “I’m allergic to
peppers.” “Okay. so don’t eat em.” I'm pushing him.
“I’m sorry. I’m just scared and these people are assholes.” I’m eating
pieces of rolled up pita with mayonnaise. I’m eating sparingly b/c I don’t
want any food in my stomach in case I feel sick so I’m glad they forgot our
“Why don’t you just come over and meet some people? Tell them a story.
They’ll love you.” Steve is putting on all his garb now. “ They were just
teasing you. Forget about it. Roll it off. We have the right to be proud of
our favorite team. “
I’m still shaking as I walk over to the bigger crowd. I just look down. I
don’t feel confident to make friends. I just want to know how safe this
activity is, how long and how do I feel when it’s over. “Okay, folks, this
is a 4 hour tour, so hope you’ve gone to the bathroom.” The leader announces
like he just read my mind. We all just put on our wetsuits and now we have
to take them off and go to the bathroom. We wait in line for the port a
potty which is the only real changing room other than our cars. I’m so not
I come out of the porty and walk over to Steve and the much larger crowed
now. I take a big breath. ”Okay, I’m going to have fun. I can have fun.”
From a completely different women, older again and with female companion,
“EWE We’re not letting her in. YANKEES, eh?” “Eh? Oh yeah, I sometimes
forget that we live an hour from
. I just want to laugh.
“REALLY?” I dart my eyes at her like I’m going to take her right before our
happy gay little rafting trip and I’m going to beat her in my wet suit! I
start walking away.
Steve comes after me. “I can’t do this. I can’t go on this trip. I’m scared.
I’m scared I can’t handle it. Please don’t make me go…Please.”
“Honey, we have special arrangements with the representatives of this
organization. We really need to go. I promised Mike I’d do a blog post about
I wipe my tears and boogers on the wetsuit. “But we don’t know the
company…They don’t seem that nice.”
Steve looks at his cell phone for the time and thinks for a bit. “Remind me
to put this in the car. There are about 10 minutes before they call us over
for orientation.” Then he pulls me close to him. “Look, if you decide at the
last minute that you just can’t do it then I’ll give you the keys. You take
the car and go relax in town and I’ll go on the trip and you just pick me
back up in four hours, Okay honey?” I’m so relieved and never thought he
would say that but...to just let him go alone after it’s been two months
that we’ve been planning it. He doesn’t want to go alone. I don’t want to
I’m going to beat this fucking anxiety/depression mental disorder. I’m going
to plow over this scary wimpy mind and decide that I want to live my life
and have fun! I put a smile on my face. “I’m proud of you.” Steve takes my
hand and we go back over to the crowed.
We shake hands and I don’t remember anyone’s name. I take a look at the
light around them all (a different story) and look at their auras (something
I do when I am adjusting to an experience or atmosphere.) I smile but most
of them do not smile back. I guess they are just really serious rafters.
Now in a fast paced manner the team that are suited up in the same colors
start talking fast and giving orders. They're all on walkie talkies. There
are 4 boat drivers and 2 emergency boat vehicles plus an intern and the
owner of the group. They all seem smug to me. Their all joking with each
other but with none of the guests. None of them ever ask if we are new. They
are all busy doing their little rafting preparation jobs.
One of the drivers begins the seriously non-material like safety class.
“GRAB A BUEY BAG IF SOMEONE IS OUT OF THE BOAT. BUT WHAT DOESN’T HAPPEN HERE
CLASS?” The class yells “NO ONE GETS OUT OF THE BOAT.” Captain YELL yells
again. “WE WILL HAVE MUCH MORE FUN IF EVERYONE STAYS IN THE BOAT. WHERE DOES
EVERYONE STAY? Everyone yells “EVERYONE STAYS IN THE BOAT.” So I've got it.
No one gets out of the boat and I’ve got send out a buoy bag if someone
does? How can that be all we need to know? I guess I can ask questions as
They repeat the TEAM issue that we and each boat is a TEAM which means we
row together. Rowing apart means that we are not a team so we must row
together. When he says row…we row…when he says stop, we stop. Somehow I feel
like none of this information is going to save our lives.
The first task on hand is to pick up our raft from land and drag it into the
water. It takes 8 people to do this because that sucker is heavy and if you
are shorter than everyone else you can’t hold on to the damn thing and it’s
wet so…I’m frustrated already. None of us are really walking in unison and
the ropes are burning my palms as I try to hold on. I keep dropping the
raft.I slip and fall into the water. It’s in March in friekin’
. I try not to cry. No one is paying attention.
We get in the raft. Oh look. It’s the first lady that said the snotty remark
about my hat. I think to myself. “I hope SHE doesn’t fall in.” She is really
close to her 70’s and I think how cool that she and her husband are going on
this adventure. The crew instruct us to sit on the side of the raft which is
very bumpy. It feels like I’m going to slip backwards any second. We are
allowed to push our feet under the next seat in front of us. Steve and I are
in the last seat while the driver is behind us. He answers our questions
with short quips and he seems snappy. Steve tries to lighten the mood and
starts conversation with people. We begin to move. I take a deep
breath…”Okay, this is pretty.” I look at the rows and rows of greenery on
the sides of the riverbank. It feels so bumpy. I try to push my butt more on
the raft but I get corrected by the instructor. “YOU want to stay on the
side. And paddle.” It takes my whole body to paddle to the point where I can
get the paddle all of the way into the water. I'm practically standing to do
it. I’m 5’1 and I notice the women in front is bending over pretty much all
the way to get hers into the water. I’m concerned if we are doing this
right. “Are we doing this right?” “Your fine just keep paddling and stop
when I tell you.” I concentrate on his instruction.
I hear a rushing and I’m not recognizing what that sound is until I see the
rushing wather ahead of us. I want to get in the raft but the instructor is
screaming at us to paddle harder, paddle harder. His heart is pounding. He
seems more nervous than I am. I can totally see his weariness and work he’s
putting on steering this boat. All I can feel is fear. There are rocks ahead
of us and the water is rushing in huge amounts. This fear that I should have
listened to maybe is not depression but inhibition. I look at Steve. He is
looking very serious. He reaches out and puts his finger through a loop in
my jeans to keep me in the boat. How he did that the entire time and paddled
is beyond me.
BOOM! We wash over a rock again and I take a breath and water just crashes
into my face and all over me. BOOM! It HAPPENS AGAIN. I’m trying to breath
and every time I inhale water comes into my mouth. The instructor screams at
me. “PADDLE, PADDLE.” My head is so close to the water, my foot is jammed
under the seat. THIS SUCKS. My eyes are burning. The next bump hits and I
try to keep paddling. It's so jarring.There is so much rocking I can barely
tell what is happening but at the corner of my eye I see a paddle go flying
and then the body that held onto it. My Mariner opponent is thrown out of
I look at the instructor. He is screaming for me to get the buoy bag. I go
to reach for it and can't find it and my foot is jammed under the seat. I
try to move it but it's completely stuck. He grabs the bag and throws it
out. I remember the training; I put out my paddle do Mrs Marinerladyfan vsn
swim to it.
“PULL HER IN…PULL HER IN.” This asshole is still screaming. I look down and
there is a body face down in the water. I do everything in my power to grab
her and pull her out. Here I am a 117Iib depressed women that barely ate,
having muscles spasms and pain and I’m trying to pull a 180Ilb cold wet lady
out of the water? I’m trying…I’m trying so hard and I’m wishing I was so
much stronger. So much better of a person. So much better at a human
being. Another girl on the other side tries to help me. The two of us both
can't pull her out of the water. The commotion is mind boggling. Three
people fell out of our raft. Three fell out of another. Two from another.
There are bodies just out there in the rapids waving and waiting for help.
Steve and another guy pull the lady in and they lay her on top of my leg
that is stuck under the seat. The force is moving my ankle in a different
direction than my foot. I can feel my ankle begin to slowly dislocate
itself. I don’t want to say anything. MrsMarinerladyfan almost died on my
legs. I put my hand on her head and ask her if she is okay. She said that
she was scared and dizzy. She says she doesn't feel any injuries and it
appears like she doesn't have any. I take her hand and tell her that she is
safe now. She needs time to catch her breath. She is okay and begins to talk
to us about her experience. I flush a bunch of love from my heart to her and
pray for her. She is shaken and in shock but she is so glad to be alive.
They finally help her up and I can tell my ankle is sprained. Why even bring
it up now?
Everything stops and quiets down. The teacher pulls us over so that we can
all take a rest. I want to get the hell off this raft. I’m shaking and
crying to myself but not so that anyone notices. I wasn’t ready for this.
Everyone is soaked so no one notices my wet face. I don’t want to be the
weak one. I don’t want to be the one that gets voted off the raft. I think
that’s irrelevant now. I’m mad at Steve and don’t want to talk to him. He
told me everything would be fine. He told me to trust him. He is my husband
and I trust him. He looks really concerned right now. He is still holding
onto my belt loop.
There is nothing I can do. We continue on. More rapids and more of the same.
More YELLING, more people falling out. More saving lives with no experience
whatsoever in emergency training. It’s just a trip to get home now. Everyone
tries to stay lighthearted in the raft. We are more bonded now. We are a
true team now. The instructor is still an asshole. We all sit more in the
raft and closer to the inside. We paddle when we can and not when we are on
the verge of falling out. I know this experience is a love for some people.
I know this adventure is normal to some but to me it is scary. I bet if we
had a difference group, it might be a little different.
We are towards the end. I am so ready for this to be over that I suddenly
get a happy feeling. I’m present. I enjoy the trees and the sun and the
water. Actually I’m cold as hell and I’ve seen and drank enough water. I
brought my water bottle with me and it is still rolling at the bottom of the
raft. It looks so funny. I carry a bottle of water and I was almost
completely engulfed by a raging waterfall. We are floating and I begin to
gaze in the water. I am that water. I feel myself let go. We go over a
little bump. It’s okay.
We stop for one more rest on this little island of pollywogs. Steve hugs me
and asks if I’m okay. I’m limping. We are allowed to walk the rest of the
way because there is one more set of 5 rapids. Steve assumes I want to walk.
I decide that I’m going with the raft. Just we and another couple take the
rapids. I feel that I want to beat what I’m afraid of. I can do it now
because it’s over.
We take those rapids and everyone stays in the raft. Then I see the van with
the owner. I am super happy. I jump out and happily do whatever I am
supposed to do. I thank everyone and tell them I had a good time. I lied. I
just want to get the hell out of here. They don’t even respond in a nice
way. These people suck.
Our fellow travelers seem to feel the way we do. They look at us and smile.
“You did a good job” A few of the others wink at me. They know I beat my
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Denise Galasso-Liedlich.
Published on e-Stories.org on 02/25/2011.