“We cannot erase people’s traumas, but we can give them positive memories to overcome the effects of negative ones” Jeroen taught us in his freediving coach training (diving without scuba gear). And that: lots of positive memories, he delivered! In 10 days, I got over a long list of fears, some I didn’t even know I had. Fear of drowning, suffocating, exhaustion, darkness, cold, getting lost, being wet, seasickness, crowds, dogs with skin diseases, tentacles on my face, insects, touching feces, sewage, garbage, infection…to name a few. Growing up in a family of doctors, where everything had to be sterile before we could touch it, I had a mild case of germophobia. After 10 days with Jeroen, I’m definitely over it! The best part is that I didn’t die or even get sick. It was, as always, all in my head.
I traveled for 10 hours by trike (tricycle), plane, taxi, bus, ferry and foot to finally reach the dive house: Jeroen’s place. Luckily dinner was ready. 26 more people joined and we all sat on the floor, in his tiny apartment and ate the delicious curry he made. 27 of us, ages 9-60, only 3 non Filipinos, trained and dove together. Lived, cooked and ate 3 meals together in a tiny 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment where our collective luggage was piled ceiling high in one corner. I was freediving in the Filipino culture as much as in the ocean. When I went in the bathroom, my heart sank: A toilet, sink with soap and a large tub of water with scoopers. No toilet paper, no trashcan, no bidet or flusher, no shower. I badly wanted to ask somebody how to deal with #2 but my pride got the best of me. I thought, as an engineer, I should be able to figure it out. Back to the basics: pour water on your butt and rinse it with the other hand. Aiming the scooper took a couple of trials but you learn fast. Even though it’s dirty business, you get to know your ass hole intimately and it’s much cleaner than TP, no smearing action! And, you save lots of trees. Just wash your hands afterwards and you’re good to go. Embracing the shadow side of life is very liberating and empowering. Instead of fear, tension and disgust, I now feel gratitude, appreciation and a stronger connection to my ass hole. I know I’m not fully relaxed until I can relax my anal sphincter. Now I have a clean relaxation gauge!
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