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  • jeniferfoster2

The less than great days...

Updated: May 31, 2023

I think it is important sometimes to stop what you’re doing and acknowledge both the good and the bad. I focus a lot on gratitude – because I think gratitude helps to counter all the negative in our minds. We (in the US... possibly elsewhere, but definitely in the US) have a cultural tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life. I know we’ve all done it – someone says a hundred fabulous things about us, and one slightly negative thing – and we get stuck on that one negative comment. It’s trained into us at a pretty young age. However, I think of gratitude differently than a lot of people. Gratitude does not mean everything is rosy. It means that I am able to acknowledge and appreciate both happy and less than happy things that have happened to me. I had an imperfect childhood (as I think most of us do). However, I’m able to understand how some of the challenging parts of my childhood have led me to be the person that I am now. So, I appreciate them, despite the fact that when I was going through them, they were really hard.

So, quitting my job and moving to Honduras has been amazing. I am absolutely grateful every single day for the opportunity. I know that not everyone can do what I am doing. Maybe not everyone should. But, I don’t want to give the wrong idea. It’s not always a cakewalk. There are days that I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes I am pretty lonely and isolated. Occasionally, I’ve been overcome with fear. This isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’m incredibly thankful that I have the opportunity, but I won’t say it’s been easy.

This week has been hard.

I think the first thing is that I’ve had an open water diving student who really should not be diving. I don’t say that easily. I think most people can benefit from diving. Ideally, however, someone who dives likes the water. Someone who dives appreciates the ocean. A diver is someone who wants to find the benefit in hanging out with fish. This woman does not like the ocean. She admitted to me that she does not really like water sports. She is not a comfortable or confident swimmer. So, why in the world would she want to dive? Her boyfriend wants her to. (I’ll call them Sally and John to protect their confidentiality).

Watching their dynamic has probably hit on some triggers for me. John signed Sally up for the class. My boss said all of her communication was with him. That was a slight red flag for me. When they first walked into the dive shop, I was immediately aware that John kept overtalking Sally. My boss asked her a question, and he would answer it. It got worse. He insisted on reading her the quick review that she needed to take. When she got most of the questions wrong, he insisted she must be tired. The next morning when I took over and read her questions, she still got most of the questions wrong. Seems pretty obvious that she had not done the e-learning by herself. It’s possible she didn’t do it at all.

What I’m really struggling with, however, is that this woman can hardly swim. I’ve seen very young children who can swim faster and are more confident. She also has no body awareness. As many of the exercises require us to kneel on the bottom, we had warned her that she might want to get something to cover her legs. She didn’t. But, what has me puzzling is that when kneeling on the bottom, if she simply looked where she was in the water, she would see she is kneeling on a rock when there is soft sand literally inches over. I try to tell her, but she is oblivious.

To make matters worse, she has been complaining about everything. The first day she said she stepped on a sea urchin (I had literally warned her about sea urchins several times at the point she allegedly stepped on one). She limped around the entire resort for 24 hours, until I asked if she really wanted to continue diving if she was hurt. She quickly recovered. She then complained that her ears were “traumatized.” (We went down to 8 feet). She told the nurse that her mouth got dry and she swallowed her spit and that is what caused her ear trauma. The nurse told her swallowing would not cause ear trauma. She told my boss that the coral attacked her. My boss told her that coral doesn’t move.

I tried to give her an out. I told her that diving did not seem to be her thing. I explained that she is not a confident swimmer at the surface and that I had concerns about her going to any sort of depth. I told her that it seems like her ears/body was trying to tell her that diving isn’t her thing. I told her that she did not seem to be enjoying herself. She said she wanted to “power through.” I scoffed. Diving is supposed to be fun! Diving is supposed to be relaxing! Diving is supposed to be enjoyable. People shouldn’t have to “power through.” She insisted.

It's been four days. We’ve gotten through one and a half training sessions. We have five to do before starting the open water portion of the class. I’m exhausted. I’m also scared. How the hell do I take someone who is such a mess down to forty feet? If she gets hurt, then she’ll certainly say it is my fault. Every time I think I’ve talked to her into quitting, she talks to her boyfriend and then is convinced that she needs to push forward.

And, I’m sorry. This is not what I signed up for. I’m all about helping people overcome their fears. But, putting someone’s life at risk because she wants to please her controlling boyfriend? Yeah – not my thing.

But, this week has opened up some emotions that I’ve been ignoring. On top of this frustration with this student, out comes my anxiety that I’m going down the wrong path. I want to interweave counseling and diving. Most of my clients have anxiety. If I can’t handle this woman, maybe I shouldn’t be trying to start down this path at all? One of my best friends has been visiting this week. While it has been great having her, it has reminded me how isolated I feel. Now, I’m homesick. I miss my boyfriend, my friends and family. This week has also opened up the guilt I have being away. My father had a stroke about a year and a half ago. He needs visitors to care for him. I’m not there. This week has also opened up the fact that I’ve been pushing most of this down in my attempt to appreciate this experience. I guess it’s important to sit with this for a while.

What’s the point? The point is that growth can be painful. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy – even when living in “paradise.” There are occasionally days when it would be nice to call it quits. But, I’ve awoken my soul. I cannot return to monotony. I won’t go back to sitting at a desk all day. I can’t. And, these hard days remind me that I’m stretching. I’m uncomfortable. But, I’ve never been more sure of the fact that there is a way forward. There is an important lesson I’m learning from working with this woman. I don’t know what it is yet. But, there is something here. One step in front of the other. I just don’t want you to think that every day is easy.

Picture courtesy of Mickey Charteris. You can find more of his pictures on Facebook or on his website:

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