CHALLENGE YOURSELF: EAT, PRAY, LOVE IN BALI: THE BATTLE WITH GRINDYLOWS … FINDING NEMO AND THE MERMAID
Raising children = fear. For their safety, their wellbeing. We try to protect them, keep them safe, shelter them from harm. But in
the process we may not realize that we are unwittingly passing down our own fears and anxieties — whether it’s a fear of
something tangible like airplane travel, dogs, heights or anxiety over something less concrete like social skills. Younger children
react to what their parents do and say — whether these are good habits parents want to encourage, or bad habits they
don’t want to install.
(Grindylows are water demons that appear to us from British folklore. They were water demons that liked to wait in cold water for a victim to happen by – usually a child. When a child ventured into cold water, the Grindylow would pull him into the water with long fingers and drown him. It is thought that the Grindylow was invented to keep children from wandering off into dangerous waters…)
As far back as I can remember, I feared water. I grew up with the story of Grindylows. “Stay away from the sea. Grindylows will
pull you in, swallow you, take you to the deep-deep sea. And we will never find you again.” I was terrified. Of being swallowed,
dragged into the sea, never seeing my parents again. Of dying… whatever that meant to a 4 year old. I stayed clear… stood
in shallow waters, hardly covering my feet. Murky swimming pools… a no-go. The monster was waiting. Through primary school, high school and university… the fear remained.
My honeymoon – In peak summer. Always too much to do. Never time to swim. Then holidays to the Great Barrier Reef, Phuket,
Phi Phi Islands, Greece. A massive effort… innovative excuses… heated arguments… My secret safe.
Our children loved swimming. “Join us Ma”. Sodwana – Dad and them scuba diving…“Ma, Why don’t you ever swim?” Pride /
Embarrassment = Stupidity. My secret safe. The years passed. My secret remained safe. But at some point I had to conquer my fear. And the time and place was Bali. To finally get rid of Grindlows.
In a moment of mental instability I booked the USS Liberty Shipwreck Scuba Dive online. Three hours from Kuta to Tulamben. Enough time for me to cross examine the instructor. And to start doubting … reconsidering. The dive instructor was laid back… nonchalant. Unaffected by my obvious panic.
On arrival everyone was issued with kit. I thanked the Universe my wet suit fitted for a change. And I was thinking hard on
a plan to escape this madness. None in sight. Lunch. Bad idea unless I had to feed the fish… Then. Sent from above. My escape!!! A Health questionnaire!!!
“Intro – be honest. Any of the under mentioned health problems can be dangerous when diving”
1. Problems with hearing – well I sometimes struggle to hear the magistrate in court…. tick yes.
2. High blood pressure – well I actually suffers from low blood pressure, but if angry (which happens frequently) I’m sure
my blood pressure rises abnormally – tick yes
3. Heart problems – well no. But I recently broke off a relationship and my heart is still sore – tick yes.
4. Lung disease – Mann!! – smoking definitely qualifies – tick yes
5. Psychological diseases – well I’m not depressed… but who will know?? No, I laugh too much. Think… bipolar… borderline… psychotic… no, overboard. What about panic attacks / anxiety. Yes!!! It hoeka feels as if one is imminent – tick yes
I think this is enough for them to send me home!!!
Handed my list to the instructor. He looked into my eyes. “No man. Don’t worry. I’ll dive with you. I’ll hold your hand. You
fine” Fuck!!! Fuck!!!
And off we went. He kept his word. He did everything. Putting on my gloves, fins, tank, mask (after he washed it with soap),
carrying me into the sea and showing me what to do (of which fokkol registered). Warning me about a gadget I had to keep
in my hand at all times. That thing I never saw again throughout the dive… on the photos it was swinging behind me like a lost
I was beside myself with fear. He had to actually push my head under the water… and all I could think of was Grindylows
waiting for me. Within two seconds I signaled him to go up. He ignored me… pushing ahead. Dragging me. I couldn’t breathe… felt as if the air was stuck somewhere…signaled again…UP!!! No response. I knew then I was going to die here… a slow death of suffocating… wanted to rip the contraption from my mouth… to breathe normally… but instinctively knew it would be fatal…
And then came the anger. If on dry land, I would have killed that man with my bare hands. How dare he ignore my instructions!!! The fish swimming by… I didn’t even notice their beautiful bright colours… I wanted to slap them too… shout at them… “Get out of my way!!! You’re hindering my struggle to survive!!!” Can’t they see I’m dying here!!!
Suddenly!!! Out of nowhere. The shipwreck!!! I almost fainted. The bloody man dragged me 15 meters under the sea without
me noticing. Ignoring my panic signals. And now there’s no way I can go back. I’ll get lost!!! And the current was too strong. He never even mentioned a current when I complained about the weights around my waste being too heavy. I was struggling to stay on one spot. And clinging to his hand like bubblegum. Him… trying to take photos and videos for which I have paid a fortune.
But a bit difficult with one hand!!! Because the other one could just have been amputated… I was not leaving his side (and hand) for one minute!!! The water was pitch dark. All around us. As from nowhere other divers would appear… just to vanish within seconds. I could see a turtle swimming by. A snake!!! But the beauty of everything mostly escaped me.
What felt like eternity he signaled… going back. I collapsed on dry land. Not quite registering what happened. What I
experienced. Struggled out of the wet suit. Stood under the warm shower… feeling the water slowly bringing back my life. My
brain. I was quiet. From nowhere I remembered the words of Rumi – “Listen to the silence. It has a lot to say” I couldn’t add anything.
Low and behold… I also did the second dive two hours later!!! More relaxed, acknowledging the beauty of my surroundings.
Grindylows was banned from my memory. Forever.
I missed the sunset. But it was with a feeling of Ecstasy, triumph and joy that fell into the breaking waves of Kuta. With
no fear of being pulled in by Grindylows.