I couldn’t breathe.
I felt my body being pulled out of the water and onto a backboard. I heard the Velcro of the neck brace pull apart just before someone lifted my head and stabilized my neck.
My eyes squeezed shut.
Sounds of whistles blowing and worried voices filled the air. I tried not to move.
“Has anyone called for an ambulance?” I heard one lifeguard shout to another. “Yeah, they’re on their way,” the response.
Stay still, just a little longer. You can do this.
“Okay, everyone calm down this is just a drill. Carrie, you may open your eyes now,” the Programs Manager announced to the crowd that formed around me. “Everything is fine. She’s not hurt.”
I faked it. The whole thing.
In a swimming pool full of high schoolers at summer camp, I jumped off the trapeze and didn’t come up when I hit the water. I did the dead man’s float until someone came in after me. The Programs Manager and I schemed the whole thing as a drill to test the lifeguards.
A lie, a trick, a sham. A “drill.”
Recently, my roommate said something I think rings true with many of us: “I am fine to talk about the stuff in my past that I’ve overcome, it’s the stuff of today I don’t always want to open up about.”
The stuff that we’re “over” is easier to talk to people about, it’s not a part of us anymore and we’ve improved and we’re great now. Talking about the stuff of today means admitting we are not perfect.
The truth is most of us are just faking our own deaths.
Death to envy, bitterness, insecurities, fears, addictions. We trick people into believing the old mess is dead. Done. Gone forever.
I am really good at faking my own death. I pretend to not care when I am hurting, to be independent when I am lonely, to say, “It’s fine,” when it absolutely is not fine. The old me used to care or feel this way, but not anymore, not Carrie 2.0, she has moved on from all of that.
I still hurt. I still feel lonely sometimes. I still get jealous when she gets everything handed to her on a silver platter, while I have nothing to show for my work. I am still prideful, performance-driven, and selfish most days, but I will talk about these issues like they are a thing of the past. Pat me on the back, I’ve defeated resentment! (Not!)
Now that I’ve found a safe place and my blocks are scattered across the floor, I think I am done faking it, the death of my own mess. Gone are the days of pretending I have it all together and my only faults are from the past. I am not admitting defeat — I am admitting I need help, I am not perfect and never will be.
And I am thankful to say I am surrounded by people who love me enough to to keep me from covering up my flaws and instead work toward stepping into actual greatness each day; people who challenge me — not to be perfect — just more like Jesus.
To die will be an awfully big adventure. -James M. Barrie